KMA

2008 - Radio

On August 12, 1925, KMA Radio first began broadcasting programs to the people of the Midwest. Located in Shenandoah IA, the history of KMA closely parallels the development of commercial radio in the United States. A second milestone occurred less than one month later on September 1, 1925. KMA officially took to the musical air with a drum, banjo and piano ensemble featuring Mary Crandell and her cousins from Riverton IA and the music has just kept coming across the KMA airwaves ever since.

For many years farm-oriented programming filled about one third of the station’s air time. Another third came from popular network offerings like ‘The George Burns Show’, ‘Fibber McGee and Molly’, ‘The Lone Ranger’ and other programs that many stations throughout the country made the heart of their entertainment fare. That left about four to five hours daily for the station to fill. KMA relied heavily on musicians to entertain its audience.

Many musicians came to Shenandoah just to have the opportunity to play with one of the groups specifically formed for live radio performances. They came from places like Kentucky, Tennessee, Texas, the Ozarks, Alabama and anywhere else that KMA could be heard. The station was home to several groups such as the Bar Nothin’ Ranch Hands, the Delmonico Dreamers, the Dixie Four, the Blackwood Brothers, the Williams Brothers and The Pals of the Prairie. Many performers got the chance at KMA to hone their talents and went on to achieve stardom.

In 1945 Ike and Margaret Everly were among the musicians who came to Shenandoah to perform on KMA. They ended up settling in the town as it seemed to be a good place to raise their two sons Don and Phil. KMA radio was the where the Everly Brothers got their first taste of performing on the Everly Family Program which aired at 5:30 in the morning. This provided the impetus for the brothers to go on to become rock n’ roll icons.

For the opportunity KMA provided to the rockabilly musicians who pioneered the music that became rock n’ roll; and for their open-mike policy that began in 1925 and spanned the 40’s, 50’s & 60’s, we proudly add KMA Radio of Shenandoah to our list of inductees into the Iowa Rock n Roll Music Association Hall of Fame with the Class of 2008.

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