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WHB (810 AM, "Sportsradio 810 WHB") is a commercial sports radio station in Kansas City, Missourimarker. While its five directional towers are located along Interstate 435 in the Northland, its studios are located in the suburb of Overland Park, Kansasmarker, also the headquarters of its owner, Union Broadcasting.

WHB is the Kansas City market affiliate for Kansas State Wildcats and UMKC Kangaroos athletics.

History

Early broadcasting years (1922-1954)

Established by Sam Adair and John T. Schilling, WHB debuted on April 10, 1922 at the frequency 833 kHz, and remains Kansas City's second oldest radio station. WHB formally gained its license on May 10. Originally owned by Sweeney Automotive School, Cook Paint and Varnish Company purchased the station in 1930. The station jumped between 730 kHz and 850 kHz before 1946, when the Federal Communications Commission authorized the station to broadcast at its desired position at 710 kHz.

The station published a quarterly magazine called Swing, keeping readers up to date with the Kansas City music scene, which had waned in the wake of the Pendergast Machine's downfall and World War II.

While owned by Cook, WHB expanded briefly into FM radio and television, operating on the frequency 102.1 MHz (now KCKC-FM) and sharing Channel 9 with KMBC-TVmarker.

Todd Storz and "SEVENTY-ONEderful" (1954-1985)

Omaha entrepreneur Todd Storz and his Mid-Continent Broadcasting Company purchased WHB from Cook on June 10, 1954. Upon the sale, WHB-TV was absorbed by KMBC-TV, which Cook purchased the month before.

Building on his successful attempts at increasing listenership at KOWHmarker in Omahamarker (now KCRO) and WTIX-AM in New Orleansmarker, Storz discontinued WHB's network affiliation programming and introduced a Top 40 format. WHB became an instant hit in Kansas City, becoming the most popular station by the end of the year. With 10,000 watts in the daytime, WHB became one of the most powerful Top-40 stations in the country, attracting programming directors and station owners from across the country to observe Storz's operations. One observer was Gordon McLendon, who went back to Dallas and introduced his version of Top-40 radio at KLIF. Another personage, Rick Sklar, also heard WHB and adapted elements of its format to build Top-40 formats in New York City, most notably, Musicradio 77 WABCmarker, which became the most listened to radio station in North America during the 1970s. There is another New York connection. Ruth Meyer worked at WHB in the late 1950s, and went on to become the program director of WMCA, leading the station to the position of #1 pop music station in New York between 1963 and 1966.

Storz cultivated listenership numbers by one of his treasure hunts. One day in 1955, WHB broadcast clues telling listeners where they might find a prize worth $1000. After leading listeners throughout the metropolitan area; the final clue resulted in traffic tie-ups outside Loose Park as listeners tried to be the first to find the station's logo painted on the back of a turtle. Although listenership soared to as much as 50 percent, Kansas City, MO police chief Bernard Brannon suggested in the June 4, 1956 issue of Time Magazine that Storz's treasure hunts should be banned. Storz continued to operate daily, weekly, and monthly cash promotions to maintain listenership.

WHB also pioneered the talk radio format with their late-night program "NiteBeat". Using a multi-line system invented by WHB engineer Dale Moody, deejays and hosts could field calls from across the Midwest as guests from all walks of life visited the studio. WHB also kept their listeners informed with "News at 55" and a world time check at the top of every hour, which the station claimed to be accurate "to 1/20000 of a second."

"Yours truly, WHB"

WHB used the melodic and catchy PAMS jingles to keep listeners tuned to the station, as well as limiting the number of commercials per hour and a tight playlist limited to songs on the Top 40. Those jingles called WHB the "World's Happiest Broadcasters."

WHB's popularity increased as songs on the Top 40 began to include rock and roll hits by Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, and The Beatles. Months after the Beatles landed in the United States, Todd Storz died of a stroke at age 39. Despite Storz's death, WHB remained on top, as prolific deejays including Johnny Dolan and Phil Jay commanded the WHB Air Force. As late as 1981, WHB's ratings remained in the double digits.

Decline of AM

WHB, however, could not fend off the increasing competition from FM radio. Starting in 1972 with KBEQ-FM, WHB's listenership declined as more Kansas Citians listened to their favorite hits with less interference. While KBEQ and KUDL transitioned from their AM to FM frequencies, WHB never acquired an FM frequency, nor did any of their sister stations. Ironically, the previous owners of WHB and KXOK (St. Louis) were listed in 1950 as holding FM licenses: WHB-FM at 102.1 MHz and KXOK-FM at 94.7 MHz. By the mid-seventies, these frequencies would become homes to KYYS (Kansas City) and KSHE (St. Louis), each filling the air with 100,000 watts of album-based progressive rock music.

Oldies (1985-1993)

Storz Broadcasting, then led by Todd's father Robert, sold WHB to Shamrock Broadcasting, a group led by Roy Disney, in 1985. WHB discontinued Top-40 in favor of an oldies format, capitalizing on the playlists they maintained in the past. In 1989, KCMO-FM became Oldies 95 and quickly won over former WHB listeners. Once commanding 50 percent of Kansas City's 1.1 million radio listeners, WHB only attained a 1.2 rating in Winter 1990.

"The Farm" (1993-1999)

Shamrock leased WHB in 1993 to Apollo Communications, who upon buying the station on September 24, sold the station to Kanza Communications of Carrollton, Missourimarker. Kanza simulcasted their farm format already playing on FM stations in Carrollton and Tarkio, Missourimarker. Competing with four other country stations in Kansas City alone (including longtime rival WDAF, still at 610 kHz, and KBEQ, who switched to country in February), WHB struggled to gain a sufficient audience. A frequency swap with talk radio station KCMO-AMmarker on October 3, 1998 gave WHB a larger daytime coverage area. However, the station could not remain at 50,000 watts overnight, as KGOmarker in San Franciscomarker and WGYmarker in Schenectady, New Yorkmarker have clear channel dominance.

Today: "Sportsradio"

Union Broadcasting, led by banker Jerry Green, former Royals pitcher Jeff Montgomery, broadcaster Kevin Kietzman and Chad Boeger, owner of the sports station KCTE-AM in Independence, Missourimarker, purchased WHB from Kanza for an unprecedented USD$8 million. Because KCTE could only broadcast in the daytime, Union transferred the sports radio format, including news from ESPN Radio and games from the Westwood One radio network, to WHB in October 1999. In response, Entercom moved WDAF to FM in 2002 to make way for a rival sports station, KCSPmarker. Jason Whitlock, Bill Maas, and Tim Grunhard were a part of the first years of WHB programming. All three left for KCSP. Soren Petro joined WHB after KMBZmarker ended sports talk and moved it to KCSP. He started in January 2004.

WHB picked up broadcasting rights to Kansas City Royals baseball games in 2003, allowing its Arbitron ratings share to peak in the spring at 4.0. In 2007, WHB withdrew its bid to renew their rights and Entercom began broadcasting games on KCSP in 2008. Even when the Royals were not playing or Kansas State, WHB still maintains a sizably larger audience than KCSP, yet consider FM rock stations KQRC-FM, KYYS (now KKSNmarker),KMXV, and KCFXmarker their primary rivals for listeners in the 18-49 male market. "Between the Lines", hosted by Kevin Kietzman, former WDAF-TVmarker sportscaster, from 2-6 p.m.,with 6 PM being a bonus hour, ranks among the top-rated shows in the city. However, Petro consistently obtains high ratings in a less favorable time slot, now from 10 AM till 2 PM. Dave Stewart, also of Metro Sports and formerly of KMBCmarker hosted a show from 9 AM to 11 AM with Frank Boal until 2008. A few months later, after Frank left, the show was cancelled. Dave and Frank were sometimes joined by Len Dawson or ex-Royals George Brett or Joe Randa and NFL, NBA and NCAA Basketball announcer Kevin Harlan, among a list of rotating people on that show. Kevin Harlan still comes on other shows now. WHB is now one of the nation's largest all-sports radio stations, with their signal reaching to Iowa, Nebraska, part of Oklahoma, and far western Kansas except after 8:00 pm when the station must power down.

WHB and Union's programming options have broadened, airing Kansas City Brigade arena football games in 2006 and 2007. On January 4, 2007, sister station KCXM became a full simulcast of ESPN Radio, allowing WHB to focus more on local sports talk. Days later, Jerry Green, the majority shareholder in Union Broadcasting, filed suit against Boeger and Union Broadcasting, for the switch to sports talk on KCXM. Green, whose health had been declining, eventually would remove his interest from Union Broadcasting and died on August 15, 2007, at the age of 77.

In 2007, host "Bulldog" Bob Fescoe left WHB for Saint Louismarker sports station KFNS.

On December 1, 2007, WHB assumed the full ESPN Radio lineup when KCXM was sold to Educational Media Foundation, which operates the K-LOVE brand of contemporary Christian radio stations and changed KCXM to that format as KLRX. Due to the change of ownership on FM and the signal restrictions on AM, Union chose not to renew the Royals radio contract. The new flagship station is KCSPmarker, which held the rights for some years in the 1990s as WDAF.

On Friday, February 22, 2008, Frank Boal announced his retirement from his mid-morning show "Crunch Time."

On Wednesday, October 7, 2009, Keitzman stated that a police report(obtained through public records) identified Scot Pollard as the owner of a vehicle involved in a minor accident that was being operated by a current Kansas University Basketball Player (no other individuals names involved in the accident were mentioned) and questioned weather or not it constituted an inproper benefit to the player. The Kansas University Athletic Department has since stated that Pollard had sold the vehicle, a 1997 Chevy Tahoe worth a little less than $5,000, to another current Kansas player in a sale that was sanctioned by the NCAA The AD was, however, unwilling to comment on why the vehicle was still registered to Pollard. Scot Pollard called into the show that day in an attempt to "correct the record" on Keitzman's statement. Pollard has since commented about his conversation with Kietzman and it can be found on his website planetpollard.com.

Personalities then and now

1922-1954

  • Emory Sweeney
  • John T. Schilling
  • Hobie Shep
  • Johnie Pearson


1954-1993

  • Phil Jay
  • Don Laughnane
  • Dan O'Shea
  • Wayne Stitt
  • Jeff Roberts
  • Wayne Combs
  • Charles Gray
  • Annie Austin
  • Dan Donovan
  • Pam Whiting
  • Chickenman
  • Eddie Clark
  • Bob Mead


Current Sportsradio

  • Jason Anderson, host, including "Sports Saturday"
  • Dave Armstrong, former host of the evening show and now a guest
  • Frank Boal, guest and former host
  • Nate Bukaty
  • Danny Clinkscale
  • Tim Grunhard, former host and now a guest since being fired off KCSP.
  • Kevin Harlan
  • Todd Leabo
  • Kevin Kietzman
  • Soren Petro
  • Steven St. John
  • Kurtis Seaboldt
  • Dave Stewart, former host
  • Doug Stewart
  • Kenny and Ozone. former hosts


References



External links




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