Ad Astra Radio Family Brands

🎂Celebrating 75 Years of KNEX-KMCP🎉


By Lucky Kidd


McPHERSON, Kan. — The month of January marks milestones for two Ad Astra Radio stations.

Hank Dais was part of the original staff and served as general manager of the station from approximately 1951 to 1955. (Photo from 1949)

On January 4th, 1949, KNEX 1540 AM signed on the air for the first time, climaxing a nearly two-year effort to bring local radio to McPherson. Now KMCP, Thursday will mark 75 years on the air. KNEX-KMCP was founded by drug store chain operator John Griffith, attorney Ewart Mills and newspaper publisher Kenneth R. Krehbiel.

The original application to the Federal Communications Commission asked for a daytime-only station at 650 AM, the clear channel frequency held by WSM in Nashville. One month after the February 1947 filing, WSM requested a hearing on the McPherson application connected to an effort by it and other clear channel stations who were at the time seeking to be able to substantially increase power above the 50,000 watts permitted.

In June of 1948 the McPherson group, operating as McPherson Broadcasting Company, amended their application to change the requested frequency to 1540 AM. With the amendment, the FCC issued a construction permit on October 25, 1948. They wasted no time in building and had hoped to be on the air Christmas day, but delays in a required pre-sign on inspection, delivery of the report to Washington, and delayed receipt of the telegram needed for KNEX to open until the evening of January 3rd, 1949, with sign on the following morning at 7:45 AM.

Originally an FM station was included in the operation, application for which was granted prior to the AM permit. The original KNEX-FM only operated for a brief time before the license was turned back in due to the limited number of FM radios at the time.

This is the second home of McPherson Radio, constructed in 1973 at the time 96.7 was built. It was located north of the original farmhouse home south of McPherson where the AM began in 1949 and was used until the early 2000s when the studio was moved to the present 411 E. Euclid location.

In March of 1973, with the number of FM radios at a point where it was feasible to move forward, a permit was granted by the FCC to construct 96.7 FM, which signed on January 12, 1974. What was then KNEX-FM is now Mix 96.7 KMPK which marks 50 years on the air this year.

Left to Right: Wanda Morris, the longtime officer manager for the station, Bob Hapgood and Claude Hughes.

Kenneth Krehbiel bought out the other two partners in 1952, and his family owned the station until 1983, when it was sold to Joe Engel and Bernie Brown who two years later sold it to Jerry and Diane Davies, who owned what was by then KNGL-AM and KBBE-FM until its purchase in 2022 by Ad Astra Per Aspera Broadcasting.

In the coming weeks we will be sharing many stories about the history of the McPherson radio stations. We’d love to hear yours, especially if you or a family member worked for the station at any point. If you have a story to share or any photos, contact Lucky Kidd at [email protected] or call (620) 241-1504, extension 209.