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Shawnee radio station honored by mayor

By Vicky O. Misa | Vicky.misa@news-star.com | (405) 214-3962 | Twitter: @Vicky_NewsStar
The Shawnee News-Star
With his back to the camera, Shawnee City Commissioner Bob Weaver reads a mayoral proclamation to longtime KGFF Manager Mike Askins. Mayor Ed Bolt allowed Weaver the honor of presenting the document since his father played a significant role in the radio station's local history.

This week Mayor Ed Bolt signed a proclamation naming Dec. 10, 2020, KGFF 90th Anniversary Celebration Day. The local radio station broadcasted for the first time Dec. 10, 1930 — 90 years ago.

“KGFF has consistently cast a spotlight on local news since their beginning, providing coverage of local events that have impacted the citizens of Shawnee and surrounding communities,” the document reads. “KGFF has historically worked closely with local news to keep local communities up to date with current affairs, including establishing a system to alert the public and provide live coverage of wartime events as soon as information was acquired during WWII.”

Some fun facts during KGFF's service to the community:

• Alfred J. Spooner was listed as program coordinator for KGFF in the early '30s.

• In April 1931 a special program came to KGFF: A picture in words and music of the growth of Shawnee and the presentation of KGFF’s first radio play to begin with the coming of the white man to Shawnee and end with the bringing of KGFF and the latest civic development to the city. The 15-week series was written and performed in collaboration with several OBU students and professors.

• A program note from April 12, 1931, showed an appearance that Sunday afternoon by Ethel Barrymore. The Mammoth Department Store sponsored the thirty-minute show. There were no other notes to explain the details of her visit to Shawnee.

• Until 1937 all of KGFF’s programs were local or recorded. More listeners were demanding the highly competitive and sophisticated shows produced by the networks. That year KGFF became a member of the Mutual Broadcasting System in a cooperative effort with several other stations in the state.

• In May 1937 KGFF was given special permission to stay on the air all night to broadcast live coverage of the coronation of Britain’s King George VI.

• KGFF Sports was on the air for its first football season in 1931. A program schedule for Nov. 11, 1931, shows that in addition to a special Armistice Day program from a combined meeting of the Rotary, Kiwanis and Lions Clubs at 2 p.m., there was a broadcast of Wolves football: Shawnee High School vs El Reno High School Football Game. There was also Friday night college football coverage: “Oklahoma Baptist University vs Phillips University of Enid.

• The earliest record of baseball in the network file was from 1939 when KGFF reported to the FCC that the 1939 World Series was broadcast from the Mutual Network sponsored by Gillette.

• An article in the Pottawatomie County History reported on KGFF’s all-woman staff during WWII. KGFF’s female manager said at the time, “Our announcing staff was one of our weakest points. Up to a few months ago we had only women announcers and were getting a lot of criticism on that score. I’ve succeeded in getting two boys under draft age who are turning out fine.”

• On the potential rise of television, in a 1944 memo from station manager Maxine Eddy to owner Oscar Stauffer (of Stauffer Communications), she suggested there were too many unanswered questions.

“There is still a lot to be done to make television worthwhile from any angle — ownership or listener. Television plans are being made by the networks, but it looks as if the commission (FCC) will have something to say about whether the present networks will be able to form television networks or not.”

• After the Golden Age of Radio on the 1930s, '40s and '50s, nationally produced Radio Shows were on the decline and KGFF began airing fewer live music shows and joined the trend to use local Announcers/Disc Jockeys playing records between the news and other feature programs.

• The format for KGFF has gone through many changes: in the mid to late 1970s was considered MOR (Middle Of the Road) with a light popular music base in the daytime and a more Top 40 sound that mixed Rock’n’Roll with Disco and other genres of Hit Radio at night.

• In the early 1980s, KGFF followed the Urban Cowboy craze and went to a Country format for a short time.

• In 1984 the Oldies sound was popular again and KGFF shifted to a '50s, '60s, '70s Rock’n’Roll format.

• Another format change sparked a switch to adult contemporary music in 1992.

• In 1994 it was back to the Past Hits with '50s through '80s music.

• In 2000, the station changed its image to Legends 1450 KGFF, playing an eclectic mixture of music from the Big Band era through the Light Pop sounds of the 1990s and 2000s.

• In December of 2009, KGFF changed its image to Kool Gold KGFF, playing a mix of pop/rock music from the '60s, '70s, '80s and '90s.

• In 2016 KGFF modified that image to Classic Hits KGFF.

Find the full story about KGFF's recent anniversary online, at news-star.com.