KMFG Radio

2006 - Radio Station

KFMG Radio in Des Moines was the ‘rebel’ station of the late 60’s through early 70’s. The original KFMG had little to do with ‘traditional’ rock and roll.

The staff at the station was less concerned about having people remember their names than having people remember the music they played. They believed there was great music out there going unheard….and it needed to be heard. That time period in our nation’s history was tumultuous and the music reflected those times. The growth in the number of albums and groups was amazing; but not enough of it was being heard.

Enter KFMG and people who played and loved the music; doing their best to share the good and bad, silly and profound, with the baby boomers who were coming of age.

The story of the original KFMG was one of daily battles between management and a staff of ‘scruffy no-names’ who thought they knew what was happening in the world.

Ron Sorenson and Jay Martin were the ones truly responsible for getting the station into a full time progressive rock format. Bill Plymat, Joe Rosenberg, Rocky Pritchard, Mike Frisbie, Dave Mallow and Steve Monaco were among those given the air time to present music from every genre to the public.

The staff put out an irregular publication called “Radio Thrills Monthly” (although it never was monthly), sponsored free concerts and gatherings in Greenwood Park, much to the dismay of nearby residents and law enforcement officers. They played old radio shows late at night, actually read stories on the air, sponsored shows at the old Science Center Planetarium, played entire albums all the way through. The station brought in acts like Taj Mahal, It’s A Beautiful Day and many more.

Overall, the station was an amazing mix of rock, jazz, folk, blues, avant-garde and mainstream music that managed to find a home, in harmony, on the same airwaves. Artists like Pink Floyd, Chicago, Elton John, Yes, Jethro Tull and others too numerous to mention got their first Iowa airtime on KFMG.

The station’s tenure was during a time when FM radio was in its infancy. There were few FM receivers and listeners were hard to come by. KFMG’s lifetime was more limited than many radio stations but it did more to promote and give airtime to a wide range of local Iowa musicians than most. The success of this station was not measured by ratings or revenues but in terms of the music the staff believed in and those who believed in KFMG Radio. The station’s impact on the Iowa music scene carried on long after the station went off the air.

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