Monday, November 08, 2010
Then in 1919 he took over the old Armstrong Seedhouse. In stead of starting a radio station, Earl started a program on WOAW-AM in Omaha. It was probably the first gardening program ever aired. It was about about planting, landscaping, caring for ornamental trees, fruit trees, and flowers. At first he trekked to 590 WOAW to do the program. Later, in 1924 he built a special studio in the May Seed Company building and through the Omaha station transmitted his programs sixty-six miles by wire.
He branched out into selling dry goods on his program: dried fruit, canned fruit, frozen fish, and citrus. Things went so well he decided to start his own radio station.On August 12,1925, operating at that time on a wave length of 252 meters with a power of five hundred watts, 960 KMA-AM broadcast its initial program. It did so well, that he began building a proper studio. It was finished in the fall of 1927, its auditorium seated one thousand people.It was called "The Cornbelt station in the Heart of the Nation."
These men had had a bit of a rivalry in business and in broadcasting of course. but over time KFNF withered and KMA thrived. KMA grew to 5,000 watts. KFNF was still only 1,000 in the 1950s. Eventually KMA-AM became a business concern in it's own right, and a member of the NBC Blue Network and a Mutual Broadcasting affiliate. Things changed. In the 1950s KFNF was the Mutual affiliate, KMA moved on to ABC. Earl May died in 1946, but his family took over operation of the station. KFMF was already in private hands. Today KMA's license is held by KMA Broadcasting, which is still in the family. KFNF wasn't as lucky, it's calls changed to KYFR in 1977 a religious sat-caster, one of seven "family" stations in the Midwest.