|Nearly 50 Years Of Iola Radio Broadcasting
The History of 101.5 KIKS and 1370 KIOL
Iola radio broadcasting began on July 25, 1961 when 1370
AM KALN (KIOL's former call letters) signed on the air.
1370 AM was a daytime-only operation, as were many
radio stations in small towns at the time. The station was
started by Lloyd C. McKenney of Carthage, Missouri, who
also owned KRMO, Monett, Missouri, and KMDO in Fort
Scott. Welcome Stanton was the manager of the station for
According to papers filed in 1962 with the FCC, 1370 AM
was affiliated with the Kansas University Sports Network.
Other programs listed as being broadcast included
"Church Notes", "Church World News", "Thought For The
Day", "Farm Service Hour", "School News", "Sports
Parade", "Perkin' with Gerkin", "On The Square", and, of
course, "Trading Post." Religious programming made up
6.6% of the airtime, agricultural 9.2%, news 16.3%,
educational 0.4%, discussion 0.6%, and other talk 4.7%.
The rest, 62.2%, was entertainment programming.
Moving ahead a decade, 1370 AM continued in a similar
vein, listing programs in 1971 that included "The Allen
County Juco Show" (news at the college), "Time Out With
Iris" (Iris Stanton givng community news), "The Tom
Maxwell Program" (farm news), and "The Social Security
Show." Documents showed that the station was affiliated
with The KU Sports network, The K-State Radio Network,
The Kansas Association of Radio Broadcasters Network
and The Kansas Broadcasting Industry Network.
The earliest surviving rate card we can find is from this
time. The average cost of a 30-second ad on the rate card
of 9/1/72 was $2.16. Adjusted for inflation, that works out
to a rate of $10.95 in 2007...proving once again what a
great value today's radio advertising really is!
Change came to KALN in 1973 when McKenney decided to
sell the station to Mike and Lovetta Russell. The Russells
came from Wichita, where Mike had considerable
experience working in radio at stations such as KFBI, KANS
and KAKE. He'd also spent time broadcasting in Denver,
where he became acquainted with another young
broadcaster by the name of Peter Jennings. Yes, THAT
Peter Jennings! On August 31, 1973, the Russells officially
became the second owners of the radio station. Welcome
Stanton continued as Station Manager and Mike assumed
the title of General Manager.
Around a year later, the station changed the type of music
it played to contemporary hits. On March 1, 1976, the call
letters of the radio station became KIKS. Mike Russell had
seen in a trade publication that another station had just
given up those call letters and he thought that "KIKS"
standing for an abbreviation for "Iola, KS" would be perfect
for the station. He must have been right...those call letters
have been in Iola ever since!
Around that same time it was determined that an FM
station should be added. The AM station was still a daytime
operation and adding an FM would give the company the
means to broadcast past sunset. On April 21, 1975, an
application was filed with the FCC to build the new FM
station. On June 9, 1977, the new station at 99.3 FM was
finally on the air with the call letters KIOL. Again, as with
KIKS, the "KIOL" call letters were a tie back to the city of
Iola, taking the first three letters of the city's name.
The station continued with the call letters KIKS and KIOL
until April 2, 1984 when the call letters of the FM station
were changed to KIKS-FM to reflect an increased amount
of simulcasting being done on the two stations. For a while
during the 80's, a dual-city identification of "Iola-Chanute"
was used. That was dropped later when the focus returned
to Iola. It was also during this time that the owners, the
Russells, were living in Lawton, Oklahoma, running another
station they owned there, KKRX.
In 1991, it was decided that the programming of the two
stations should be split again to take advantage of being
able to provide two independent sources of programming.
AM 1370 was changed to a country music format. Its
original call letters, KALN, were restored and the station
was named "K-Allen." The station experienced another
change two years later on August 8, 1993 when the FCC
permitted 1370 AM to broadcast at night for the very first
It was also in 1993 when Mike and Lovetta Russell moved
back to Iola from Oklahoma to resume day-to-day
operation of the radio stations. In the late 1990's, it was
obvious that everything was moving to computers, and in
1998 an extensive amount of computers were installed to
allow the station to move away from airing taped
commercials on the air. Now, everything was recorded and
played digitally on computer!
On the night of the Presidential election of 2000, a new
voice was heard on KIKS and KALN. It was Tom Norris,
who had moved from Hutchinson to assume the role of
Station Manager. Norris had been in broadcasting since
1979 having worked at stations around the central part of
the state such as KWHK, KSKU, KWLS, and KKRD. He
would take over the morning slot on KIKS.
Shortly after the attack on America on September 11,
2001, the format on 1370 KALN was changed from country
to oldies. At the time, there were no oldies stations in the
area and the station filled a void for those who enjoyed
music from an earlier era. The format change was
originally planned for the Friday of the week of the attack.
Because of the attention placed on those events the switch
was pushed back a week.
In 2004, KIKS was in store for an upgrade. Topeka station
KWIC, which also broadcast on 99.3 FM wanted a power
upgrade so it could better compete with other higher-power
stations in the market. In order for this to be achieved,
KIKS and another station in Emporia would have to be
moved to different frequencies to eliminate interference. It
was determined that KIKS should move to 101.5 FM. Doing
so would provide an extra benefit to KIKS: it, too, would be
able to increase its power. The increase would roughly
quadruple the output, enabling KIKS to serve even more
listeners. On May 20, 2004, KIKS moved from 99.3 to
101.5 FM at the higher power.
During the years between 2001 and 2007, plans were
made to transfer the ownership of the station from the
Russells to Tom and Monica Norris. Monica, who had also
worked in radio along with time spent at The Hutchinson
News and its shopper The Bee, began working at KIKS and
KALN along with Tom. Starting off selling advertising, she
quickly became an instrumental part of all aspects of the
stations, from recording ads, to live on-air work, to running
the traffic and accounting systems.
On May 1, 2007 it was official: the station had its third set
of owners as Tom and Monica took over the operation.
They were delighted to find out that Mike and Lovetta still
wanted to remain onboard in smaller roles.
Over the Labor Day weekend 2007, KIKS ran a "Country
Club Weekend." While it was assumed that there were a lot
of country music fans in the area, the response was
overwhelming. It was decided during the following week to
keep the format of KIKS as country. That has proved to be
a wise decision as the station's listenership has increased
since the change. It was also around this time that Kansas
City Chiefs game broadcasts were added to 1370, along
with The Rush Limbaugh Show. The KIOL format gradually
evolved into the talk format you hear today.
In August 2008, the station experienced a stroke of luck.
The original call letters of the FM station, KIOL, became
available after being tied up on a Houston station for many
years. It was always thought that the original AM-FM
combination of KIKS and KIOL sounded great, so the KIOL
call letters were brought back to 1370 AM. That brings us
to today. What's next for Iola Broadcasting? Stay tuned
and you'll find out!
P.S. Just for purposes of accuracy, it should be noted that
there WAS another radio station in Iola before this...but it
didn't last long! Ross Arbuckle opened his garage at 223
South Street on December 28, 1918. He operated radio
station KFID 1220 AM from the building in 1923 and
became one of Iola's first pilots. KFID operated with a
whopping 20 watts of power! The latest we can find
records of this station operating is June 30, 1924.
Call Letter Chronology