About the Pioneer Radio History Site

This site was originally conceived as an offshoot of Mark Roberts’s radio website, The Mid-America Radio Page, in 1995. After he moved to Chicago two years later, he was no longer able keep the radio dial updated, but decided to retain the historical information because he had done so much research and wanted to keep it available.

Mark’s work on the histories of the Kansas City stations led me to do my own research into the Lawrence Radio Stations, KLWN, KLZR [now KKSW] and KMXN. The history of KLWN that I had written would also be used as the “official” history when the station made its first web presence.

In mid-2008, Mark took down the site due to relatively low utilization and limited web space. With Mark’s blessing, I am taking over maintenance of this site to keep his research publicly available. In addition, I plan on doing additional research.


Assisting greatly in tracking down dates and other facts have been Frank Absher, Barry Mishkind, Jeff Miller, Thomas Hamilton White, and other members of the Oldradio mailing list. Xen Scott provided transcriptions of the official Federal Communications Commission records for many pioneer stations. Al Germond, former principal owner of KFRU in Columbia, generously provided materials for KFRU’s history and was very helpful in providing copies of the Radio Index and other radio listings of the 1920s and 1930s, as well as brochures from W9XBY’s early days in 1935. A critical resource was the Document Delivery department of the Kansas City (Mo.) public library. Especially helpful for WLBF/KCKN was the Wyandotte County, Kansas public library. Also recommended as an exhaustive history of KCKN is Joe Vaughan’s K.C. Media: Crystal Sets to Satellite Service (self-published, ISBN 0-9636863-7-2, 1997).

For later history, Television Digest and Broadcasting magazine were key resources, originally researched by Mark from the University of Missouri Journalism Library (Columbia) and Ellis Library, the University’s central library; now available online at americanradiohistory.com. Scott Fybush, originally of Northeast Radio Watch, provided information and insight into time-sharing arrangements in the Chicago area, as described on the Time-Sharing Stations page.

Thanks also to Bob Roske for sharing his 2005 find of an early W9XBY poster.

Several web sites at the University of Kansas were helpful in providing more information about the time-sharing arrangement between KFKU and WREN, as well as a more authoritative September 1987 date for both stations’ departure from the air. Notable are a history of broadcasting at the University of Kansas by professor emeritus Bruce Linton and a more recent history written by KU history professor John McCool.

The paper African-Americans in Local Broadcasting: Kansas City, 1922-1982 , by William James Ryan, written in 1992, furnished an alternate version of the story of Count Basie’s “discovery” during his band’s broadcasts on W9XBY, and filled in more details regarding the early days of KPRS in Kansas City.

For the KLWN/KLZR/KMXN history, assistance was gladly provided by Hank Booth, former General Manager, as well as Bob Newton, former station manager and producer/engineer of the Jayhawk Radio Network. The Vertical files and Journal-World microfilm archives at the Lawrence Public Library also provided additonal research. Much of the ownership changes and prior call signs of KMXN were also found via public access to the FCC database at www.fcc.gov

St. Louis information

In addition to the sources cited above, the following sources were helpful in researching the histories of St. Louis stations that are related to pioneer stations in the region.

St. Louis broadcasting historian Frank Absher (stlradio.com) made available excerpts from a manuscript by Tom Eschen.

Other sources included a special 16-page section on St. Louis radio in Broadcasting, March 14, 1949; Master’s thesis, The History of Radio Station KSD, St. Louis, by L. Clark Secrest (University of Missouri, 1961); Master’s thesis, A History of the St. Louis Star-Times, by Charles R. Suits (University of Missouri, 1970); We Pay Our Respects To–Lester Arthur Benson, Broadcasting, June 15, 1934; WIL Requests Writ to Restrain KFWF, Broadcasting, October 15, 1931; KWK Time-Teller Novel and Profitable, Broadcasting, November 15, 1931; Nets Tell Congress Status of Holdings, Broadcasting, March 15, 1932; Full Time for WIL, Broadcasting, April 15, 1933; Convey, KWK Operator, Dies After an Operation, Broadcasting, June 1, 1934; numerous Broadcasting articles on the KWK license revocation, cited with the KWK history.