40 years of public radio history

Wayne Bledsoe, longtime host of “Bluegrass for a Saturday Night” and general manager of KMST, is helping the station celebrate 40 years on the air waves.

On Aug. 1, 1973, “Bluegrass for a Saturday Night” introduced area radio listeners to what would become an institution in public radio. Since then, KMST has broadcast an eclectic mix of music and NPR news and garnered a worldwide following.

Known then as KUMR, the station was on the air as early as 1963 as KMSM. At that time it was affiliated with the campus’ student radio station. When National Public Radio was formed in 1970, the University of Missouri System created radio stations at each of its four campuses.

The first locally produced show KMST aired, “Bluegrass for a Saturday Night,” was born of necessity, says General Manager Wayne Bledsoe.

“Bluegrass was virtually the only form of music we had enough LPs of to run an hour-long show,” he says. Those LPs — which will soon become history thanks to digital music broadcasts —  were donated from KMST’s sister station KBIA in Columbia.

Bledsoe joined the S&T faculty as an assistant professor of history and political science in 1968 and retired as professor and chair of the department in 2002. But he has been around KMST from the start, first as a volunteer, then as a contributing writer to the station’s program guide. In 1979 he took over the reins of the station’s flagship bluegrass program.

When the university announced plans to change its name to Missouri S&T in 2007, a small California radio station called KMST was in the process of going out of business.

“We timed it just right,” Bledsoe says. The FCC approved the transfer of the KMST call letters on July 16, 2007, making the radio station the first official harbinger of the name change.

KMST broadcasts at 88.5 FM in Rolla, Mo., and 96.3 FM in Lebanon, Mo., and livestreams its programming at kmst.org. Thanks to the Internet, KMST has contributing members in 47 states and 41 countries.

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Comments

  1. Proud to have been the first Chief Engineer and to have constructed the studios in the library basement in 1973 when KUMR went on the air. Prior to that I was student Chief Engineer at the 300 watt KMSM on 88.5 which was displaced by the 100KW KUMR. With the Board of Curator’s help we established a new station license on 89.7 but had to get a new call letter since the Montana School of Mines took the abandoned KMSM. Thus KMNR was born and is still in operation.
    As an ECE Academy member I visited Rolla a few months ago and delighted to hear Norm Movitz on the air on KMST. He was there when I was – I left in 1975!

  2. Ronald Sherard says:

    I was the first “News Director” when KMSM decided to broadcast news from “your world and around the world”. We had a teletype and everything! Probably the biggest story covered was the fire in the Chemistry Building. We even got to go to St. Louis and cover UMR recognition at a Cardinals baseball game. We used to take requests and got lots from the soldiers. Biggest star of the day was probably Wally Edwards (Edward Wallenstein) spinning the platters and doing the Mystery broadcasts.