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By Echo Menges, NEMOnews Media Group
Exactly 40 years after coming to fruition, KMEM 100.5 FM owners, past and present, are celebrating the station’s deep community roots. The Memphis based radio station officially aired its first broadcast on March 29, 1982.
On Tuesday, March 29, 2022, original owner Sam Berkowitz, 75, of Memphis joined past owners Keith and Ruth Ann Boyer, and current co-owner Mark McVey, 64, of Ottumwa, for the station’s logtime morning interview show Coffee Break with KMEM News Director and host Corey Stott.
The KMEM alumni spent the morning talking about the challenges of getting an independent radio station on the air in small-town Northeast Missouri. The group laughed over stories of long past memories and paid homage to several dedicated staffers throughout the years – none more so than the towering Rick Fischer, the station’s very first employee, and the late Jim Sears, who is still deeply missed at the station.
KMEM’s humble beginnings were established at the first station headquarters at the Sunrise Motel in Memphis. The station took up the east wing of the motel.
It opened with a lot of fanfare from the Scotland County community and included an event featuring U.S. Sen. John Danforth who flew in on a helicopter for the occasion and gave a speech marking the importance for Memphis and surrounding communities.
A large crowd gathered at the motel to see Danforth and hear his remarks, and the Scotland County High School Band played in the parking lot marking the yearlong push to open the station.
“I wanted everything to be perfect,” said Sam Berkowitz. “Of course, it wasn’t.”
“It wasn’t, but it was,” said his wife, Sheila Berkowitz.
“A lot of people think you can just turn a switch on and get it started,” Sam Berkowitz told Corey Stott during the show. “It’s not that easy.”
If you missed the reunion, you can listen to the tribute show at tririversbroadcasting.com. Also, the Memphis Democrat published a couple of “behind the scenes” videos of Tuesday’s Coffee Break radio show on our Facebook page – in honor of the occasion.