History of KCMO-FM

While KMBZ is the oldest station overall, the oldest FM station in Kansas City is the partner of KCMO.

In October 1945, KCMO owners Tom Evans, Lester Cox, and C.C. Payne applied to build a new FM station at 95.9 MHz. The Application was approved for 98.3 MHz with 20kW. In the 1947 change of FM allocations, KCMO-FM was assigned to 104.3 MHz. KCMO-FM applied to change their allocation to 94.9 MHz. The FCC approved the application to 94.9 in September of 1947. After multiple extensions to the construction permit and briefly holding the call letters KCFM, KCMO-FM was licensed on December 9, 1949.

Initially, KCMO-FM was slated to broadcast from the Fidelity Building in downtown Kansas City. By the time the station made it to air, the station was broadcasting from 31st and Main on Union Hill in midtown Kansas City. The Studios of KCMO(AM) also moved in to this site.

KCMO-FM started out as a affiliate of the Transit Radio service, which was intended for passengers on public transit. Two passengers in DC sued the DC Public Utilities Commission, claiming that being compelled to listen to Transit Radio on their commute violated their first and fifth amendment rights. Although the litigation ended in favor of Transit Radio before the US Supreme Court, the uncertainty surrounding the litigation resulted in Transit Radio failing, with KCMO-FM one of the last subscribers to Transit Radio. After Transit Radio folded around 1953, KCMO-FM started to simulcast its AM counterpart. By this time, KOZY and the first iteration of KMBC-FM had both folded, leaving KCMO-FM as the only commercial FM station in Kansas City.

When KCMO-TV was brought into the air in 1953, it used the same site as the FM station. KCMO-AM/FM/TV were sold to Meredith Engineering Co. on November 11, 1953. The station built a new 1200-foot self-supporting tower for KCMO-TV and KCMO-FM in 1955.

By 1959, KCMO-FM adopted an “middle of the road” format and begun to increase power and raise antenna height. Power was increased to 65kW and the antenna was raised to 850 feet by 1960. Power was raised to 100 kW at 850 feet by 1965.

In March 1968, the station changed call letters to KFMU and begun a Easy Listening format. In 1974, the antenna was raised to 1060 feet with power reduced to 97 kW (the initial permit was for 1057 feet). In May of 1974, the call letters were changed to KCEZ and the station adopted the moniker “EZ 95,” maintaining the easy listening format.

In April of 1976, Meredith applied to change their studio location to (as specified on the FCC history cards) “Approximately 4.7 miles south-southwest and 1.8 miles west of State Line Road” in Fairway, Kansas. Other sources indicate that the KCMO studios did not move to Kansas until 1983

KCMO and KCEZ were separated from KCMO-TV by the sale of the radio stations to Fairbanks Broadcasting on June 21, 1983. Fairbanks retained the KCMO(AM) calls, while the TV station became KCTV. On the FM side, Fairbanks dropped the Easy Listening format for Country, restoring the KCMO-FM calls with the moniker “KC 95.”

The stations were subsequently sold to Summit Communications in June of 1985. Summit subsequently changed the format to a dance-oriented Contemporary-hit station with the moniker “B-95” and call letters KBKC. The B-95 format lasted only a year before Summit sold to Pacific and Southern Co. (Gannett) on July 29, 1986. Gannett moved the station to a more traditional CHR stance and changed the moniker to “Power 95,” with corresponding calls of KCPW. In 1987, KCPW would lower the antenna to 1057 feet, allowing it to transmit at 100 kW once again.

KCPW had difficulty competing with the dominant CHR station at the time, KBEQ, and so, in 1989, Gannett dumped CHR for 50s and 60s music, becoming “Oldies 95” and restoring the KCMO-FM calls for a third time.

Gannett would sell KCMO and KCMO-FM to Bonneville Broadcasting on October 27, 1993, placing the stations in common ownership with KMBZ(AM) and KLTH(FM). On January 6, 1997, Bonneville announced plans to trade its Kansas City and Seattle stations to Entercom (Entertainment Communications) of Philadelphia in exchange for KLDE(FM) Houston and $5 million cash. Entercom took control of the Kansas City stations March 1, 1997.

In 1999, Entercom acquired the radio properties of Sinclair Media, including KXTR(FM), KQRC(FM), KCFX(FM), and KCIY(FM) in the Kansas City market, placing Entercom over the FCC limits on multiple-station ownership in Kansas City. Entercom announced that it would sell KCMO-AM/FM and KCFX to Susquehanna Radio Corp. of York, Pennsylvania on May 12, 2000. In 2001, Susquehanna would apply to move the transmitter site of KCMO-FM off of its longtime home on the KCTV tower and into a tower complex on the east side of town near Blue Ridge Boulevard and Truman Road, and increase the antenna height from 1057 feet to 1119 feet. The move was completed by 2003. In 2005, Susquehanna would drop the “Oldies 95” tag in favor of using the KCMO call letters. By this time, the “oldies” music had also shifted from the 50s and 60s to the 70s and 80s. Susquehanna’s stations were subsequently purchased by Cumulus Media in 2006, with Cumulus assuming control May 5, 2006.

In 2008, Cumulus applied to change the city of license for KCMO-FM from Kansas City to the suburb of Shawnee, Kansas. Prior to Cumulus’s acquisition of the Susquehanna stations, it had applied to move KMAJ-FM from Topeka to Shawnee in an effort to enter the Kansas City market. The acquisition not only eliminated the rationale for moving KMAJ-FM, but it also placed Cumulus over the ownership limits for the Kansas City market. In order to compensate for the “paper” removal of the only radio service licensed to Shawnee, Cumulus applied to change the city of license for KCMO-FM. KCMO-FM was officially re-licensed to Shawnee on June 25, 2009. On the same day, KMAJ-FM moved to a new transmitter site and was re-licensed to Carbondale, Kansas, placing it back in the Topeka market.

Technical Facilities

Main Transmitter: 100 kW ERP at 341.1 m (1,119 ft) above average terrain on tower site located near Blue Ridge Boulevard and Truman Road.
Auxiliary Transmitter: 3.9kW ERP at 322.1 m (1,056 ft) above average terrain at the same tower site.

Technical History

Initial permit for 98.3 MHz, 20kW March 7, 1946. Frequency changed to 104.3 MHz as part of 1947 channel re-spacing. ERP upgraded to 54kW/350 ft on 104.3 August 7, 1947. Assignment changed to 94.9 MHz September 19, 1947. Power increased to 55.8 Kw/390 ft December 20, 1950. CP to increase to 65kW/850 ft granted July 20, 1959, licensed April 14, 1960. CP to increase ERP to 100kW granted May 27, 1965, licensed October 19, 1965. CP to increase antenna height to 1057 ft granted December 26, 1973, licensed August 8, 1974 at 97kW/1060 ft. CP to lower antenna to 1057 ft and increase ERP back to 100kW granted August 28, 1987, licensed April 28, 1988. CP to move from Union Hill to current location and increase to 100kW/1119 ft granted August 22, 2001, licensed March 14, 2003.

Related Links