March 29, 2012

KMEM 100.5 FM Celebrating 30 Years on the Air



Rick Fischer has been taking his turn at the microphone at KMEM 100.5 FM ever since the radio station took to the air waves 30 years ago.


Over the past 30 years KMEM has changed spots on the radio dial, been sold twice and moved to three different locations, but one thing has remained constant, the on-air voices of Rick Fischer and Dave Boden.

The two broadcasters have been with the station since its first day on air, March 29, 1982. The duo will be among the many current employees of the station that will be celebrating the station's 30th anniversary with the public on Friday, March 30th.

KMEM will be broadcasting live from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. with guest appearances by former employees and area representatives discussing the station's 30-year history. Free hot dogs and soda will be served and prizes will be given away every 30 minutes.

KMEM was founded in 1982 by Sam Berkowitz and his family. The radio station was located in the east end of what is today the Sunrise Motel.

Fischer got his start with the station that year as the evening disc jockey before ultimately moving into his current role as news and programming director.

Boden also got his start with the station in 1982 in a part-time role. He worked in that capacity over most of the first 25 plus years before taking a full-time position as promotions director upon his retirement from the Scotland County School District.

"I was there the first morning the station went on the air, Fischer said. "I didn't officially go on until later that afternoon, but I was there when it all started."

The Berkowitz family owned and operated the station until 1988, when KMEM was sold to the Boyer Broadcasting group led by Keith and Ruth Ann Boyer. Their daughter-in-law, Denise Boyer managed the station until it was sold in 2001 to a group from Ottumwa, IA, including Mark and Karen McVey, Mark and Lisa Denney and Rich Brown.

Mark Denny currently serves as the station's general manager while Mark McVey is the station's chief engineer.

KMEM originally got its start at the 96.7 spot on the dial. But when an Iowa station expanded its coverage area by boosting the station's wattage, KMEM was forced to move its frequency to 100.5 on the FM dial.

"In hindsight that was a good move for us," said Fischer. "It allowed us to boost our coverage area as well, as we went from 3,000 watts to our current 25,000 watt output."

The move paved the way for expanding what has become the mainstay of KMEM, its sports coverage.

"Sports is what keeps us going," said Boden. "We broadcast the Cardinals and Mizzou basketball and football, but it's our local sports coverage that is the key."

That's where Boden got his start, broadcasting games with Berkowitz, Jim Sears and Dan O'Donnell. Boden is best known as the host of the Pepsi-Cola post game show, a fan favorite that offers scores from around the area as well as interviews with coaches.



The Luray Head Start recently visited KMEM radio where they learned about a new career. They are pictured here speaking with long-time broadcaster Dave Boden. Luray Head Start is comprised of children from Scotland, Clark, Gorin and Revere School Districts.


The station has expanded its local coverage to include basketball, football, softball and baseball from five northeast Missouri school districts. The expansion has been overseen by sports director Donnie Middleton. Middleton has been with the station for 25 years, getting his start as host of Nostalgia Sunday. His rendition of Yellow Polk-a-Dot Bikini is nearly as well know as his sign of following sports broadcasts - "See Ya Soon".

The station obviously has been well connected over the 30 years. Senator John Danforth was flown by helicopter to Memphis to help celebrate the station's grand opening.

Politics remained in the blood of the station's staff as well. The late Jim Sears, who served as news director under Berkowitz, went on to be elected First District State Representative. Years after Sears's untimely death in a car crash, Berkowitz, was elected to the same seat in the House of Representatives.

While Fischer, Boden and Middleton have probably gained the popularity and name recognition through KMEM, none have confessed any plans to seek jobs in Jefferson City.

They all plan to stick to bringing their listeners quality country music, local news and sports well past the station's next milestone.

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