Ad Astra Radio Family Brands

Tribute to Jerry Davies (1941-2024) Owner of McPherson’s KNGL-KBBE from 1985 to 2022

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By Lucky Kidd

 

A person involved with McPherson radio for close to half of its 75 years has passed away. Jerry Davies, who with his wife Diane owned what was KNGL-KBBE from 1985 to 2022 died January 18th at the age of 81.

According to his obituary, Jerry Davies grew up in Miami, Florida where he graduated high school. After graduation he moved to southern California where he started an acting and musical career, including playing guitar in the folk band The Townsmen and appearing in several television shows and movies.

Following a stint in the Marine Corps, Jerry returned to Miami where he received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami, and later received a Master of Science degree in Journalism from Iowa State University. While working on his master’s degree he worked in Des Moines, where he met his wife Diane, who he later married and shared 54 years together.

As Diane Davies explained in an interview Ad Astra News recorded earlier this month as part of the 75th anniversary of McPherson Radio, they were both working for KRNT, the CBS radio and television affiliate in Des Moines. Diane worked on the radio side of the operation while Jerry was an on-air weather and news reporter for KRNT-TV.

After they married, Jerry and Diane moved to Miami where both continued to work in broadcasting. It was during this time Jerry began a long career in the insurance industry, focusing on marketing and public relations. It was that career that brought them to McPherson, and ultimately to ownership of KNGL-KBBE.

Davies Communications would during this time acquire Modern Graphics, a McPherson printing company which also published the Big Mac Shopper, along with The Ledger newspaper in Moundridge and what was then KQNS-FM in Salina.

It was also during this time that Jerry Davies would play a role in the downtown McPherson we have today. Jerry was the subject of an article in a February 1993 issue of Small Market Radio Newsletter, a weekly publication that focused on radio stations in smaller communities. SMRN, as it was known, regularly did profiles of small town broadcasters.

As the article explained, in 1989 a combination of a weak retail economy and the opening of McPherson’s Walmart the year earlier left 23 of the 130 downtown retail spaces vacant. Jerry Davies explained he and a number of other community leaders got together to formulate a plan to attract new businesses that could survive in the 1990s in a rural Kansas community. Within three years, the number of vacant spaces had dropped to one.

The newspapers and KQNS would later be sold, and KQNS, now KLBG, became re- connected with the McPherson radio stations in May, 2023 when they were purchased by Ad Astra Per Aspera Broadcasting, which purchased KNGL-KBBE, now KMCP and KMPK, in June, 2022.

The Davies would be involved in the day to day operation of the radio stations until 1995, when they moved to California where Jerry resumed his work in the insurance industry, concluding his career as a vice-president for Farmers Insurance Group and head of the Fire Safe Council of California.

After retirement, Jerry Davies would try his hand as a fiction writer, with three books published including “Brim’s Law”, “Brim’s Justice” and “Idaho Wild.”

In addition to Diane, Jerry is survived by daughters Valeri Burton and Leane Williams, both of Topeka, their husbands, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

Funeral Services for Jerry Davies will be held Saturday morning at 11 AM at Dove Funeral Home Southwest Chapel at 3700 Southwest Wanamaker Road in Topeka. Memorials for Jerry Davies can be made to Helping Hands Humane Society, 5720 SW 21st Street, Topeka, KS 66604-3720.

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