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Kma Radio: The First Sixty Years

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Kelly’s KMA Radio Chocolate Pecan Pie

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.

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.

KMA Radio - The First 60 Years, by Robert Birkby, 1985

Evelyn broadcasting from KMA radio in 1990

KMA Radio - The First 60 Years, by Robert Birkby, 1985

Each station also celebrated a Shenandoah fall “Jubilee” weekend, which drew huge crowds to watch the live radio broadcasts and eat free pancakes. The KMA Radio Jubilee started in 1925 and took place every year into the early 40’s. Its first jubilee drew 25,000 visitors, and the following year the Earl May Seed and Nursery Company’s business quadrupled. KFNF frequently held its Jubilee on the same weekend as KMA, which grew into a super festival with carnival rides and exhibits. By 1930, the attendance had grown to 439,200.

Each station also celebrated a Shenandoah fall “Jubilee” weekend, which drew huge crowds to watch the live radio broadcasts and eat free pancakes. The KMA Radio Jubilee started in 1925 and took place every year into the early 40’s. Its first jubilee drew 25,000 visitors, and the following year the Earl May Seed and Nursery Company’s business quadrupled. KFNF frequently held its Jubilee on the same weekend as KMA, which grew into a super festival with carnival rides and exhibits. By 1930, the attendance had grown to 439,200.