First Air Date: September 30, 1940
Operating Power: 1000 Watts
Original Call Letters: KHAS
Format: AC/Full Service
General Manager: Orville Rennie
Program Director: Al Ray Brown
Sales Manager: Ed McIntyre
Chief Engineer: Walter Ely
Issued To: The Nebraska Broadcasting Company
Tagged:A.A. Smith Alray Brown Bill Hay Christopher Morrison D.W. Clarke Dan Foley Dave Brock Ed McIntire Fred A. Seaton Fred Seaton H.A. Lainson H.G.Platt Henry G. Smith Jack Kidd Jack Nixon James Conway James D. Conway Jim Kokesh Jim Stevens John Powell L.H. Picket Leonard T. Waterman Mark Alan Mike Treps Orville Rennie Richard Chapin Richard Wagner Steve Physioc Walter Ely Wayne Specht Wm. J. Rinder
Through the Years
Fred Seaton came to Hastings and began asking why the town did not have a radio station. (Fred Seaton owned The Hastings Tribune for a time). Money was tight back then because of the Great Depression but Fred, with the help of James Conway, undertook the project. Through this partnership The Nebraska Broadcasting Company was formed and money for the station was gathered from stockholders. Thus KHAS Radio station was constructed and began broadcasting in September, 1940.
KHAS Radio was incorporated on March 9th, 1939 with the following board of directors: Henry G. Smith-President, Wm. J. Rinder- 1st Vice President, James D. Conway-2nd Vice President, H.A. Lainson, Jr- Secretary, D.W. Clarke-Treasurer, Fred A. Seaton, H.G. Pratt, L.H. Picket and A.A. Smith.
People who were stockholders who invested to make KHAS Radio a reality were: J.B. Hillers, O.A. Hichcock, S.M. James, Adam D. Kohl, Albert E & Dettler Smith, Jas. D. Wagner, James Cosmos, Ralph E. Bryant, W. C Bienkowski, F. M. McClelland, J. T. Cottingham, H.L. Harse, A.D. VanSickle, E.E. Cushing, B.J. Sherman, H. C. Rurup, A.J. Koellling, Floyde H. Eldredge, C.E. Linn, John Spady, Dr. E.C. Foote, Sander Debus, Lloyd C. Thomas, F. Harold Hamil and C.J. Lienhart.
In a July 5th, 1939 stockholders and board meeting, Mr. A.A. Smith moved studio to be at the Brandies Building and it was so adopted. Mr. Seaton, who was a huge part of getting KHAS Radio established, noted the need for an adequate news service and instructed for the board to proceed to negotiate.
The actual KHAS Radio station began broadcasting September 20, 1940 on the second floor of the Hastings Tribune building at 7:30pm. When KHAS first went on air then Mayor Leonard T. Waterman gave the welcoming address live. A recorded transcript sent by Bill Hay, a popular announcer with The Amos & Andy program was played over the air.
The first Manager of KHAS was Orville Rennie, former manager of The Strand and Rivoli Theatres. Assisting him were a technical staff composed of Chief Engineer Walter Ely and Operators George Egli and Roy Kenyon. Ed McIntire headed the Sales Department and Alray Brown was the Program Director. Also with the station were Russell Van Dyke and Duane Watts. Judy Green served das station hostess. Fay Bohlke was Station Secretary, Joe Ahlin was the station pianist.
When KHAS first began broadcasting, local merchants began to advertise they had radios for sale too. There were no transistor radios back then so families most likely gathered around the big console radio that was usually kept in the living room. KHAS originally had three studios. Studio A seated 300 people and had a stage 25’x16′ in size. Studio B would seat 75 people and Studio C, also called the announcers room, was 12’x20’and was the announcers’ private domain.
High atop the Tribune building was the KHAS tower, then a marvel of construction in itself. The tower weighed five tons, and stood 225′ tall. This was so amazing because it was free standing with no guy wires to hold the tower in place.
Probably one of the most unusual broadcast programs originated in Hastings celebrating the 3rd anniversary of the old KFKX radio station. The anniversary was celebrated with a marathon broadcast, lasting over 26 hours. One of the features of the program was a hog calling contest broadcast over the air.
Probably the most famous radio personality to begin his career in Hastings was Bill Hay, who later became famous as the announcer for the Amos & Andy program so popular in the golden days of radio.
KHAS was branded as “The Good Companion Station”, during the 50’s.
KHAS was branded as “Modern Radio for Modern People” during the 1960’s.
In the early 1960’s, KHAS was designated a Civil Defense Station and received government funding for an underground fallout shelter that still remains at Brickyard Park.
An article from a local paper did a story of KHAS Radio entitled “KHAS in It’s Biggest Year”. In this article, John Powell, the then General Manager, discussed office remodeling plans, additional equipment and other technical improvements. Powell stated that KHAS had also established a state-wide reputation for its outstanding coverage of local sports events. During 1961, Powell said, KHAS personnel traveled over 20,000 miles to broadcast nearly 150 basketball, baseball and football games.
In approximately 1963, Mike Treps was the Sports Director and was advertised as representing Hastings football over KHAS radio when it was known as “The Good Companion Station!”.
KHAS expanded its daytime power from 250 to 1,000 watts and a new tower and transmitter were built east of Brickyard Park.
September of 1970 market the Golden Anniversary year of KHAS radio, which was then known as “Responsible-Responsive Radio”. The anniversary market 30 years of service to Mid-Nebraska and Northern Kansas.
Fred Seaton, who was instrumental in the formation of KHAS Radio, died on January 21st, 1974. Fred Seaton had been a former Secretary of the Interior, Assistant Secretary of Defense, U.S. Senator, State Senator, Sportsman and Newspaper Publisher. Seaton died at the age of 65 after having a series of mini strokes.
In a local newspaper article, Jack Nixon was named the new KHAS sports director, replacing Dan Foley who had resigned.
KHAS radio Production Director Jack Kidd was honored by being awarded first place in the Cornhusker Ad Festival. KHAS won in the category of “Local Sponsor 60 Seconds”. There were over 150 entries submitted so winning this award was a great honor.
The Nebraska Associated Press welcomed Hastings Radio Station KHAS into its membership. This membership was recorded on December 15, 1975.
Acting Chief Engineer James John McClusky submitted a report to General Manager and Executive Vice President John Powell about the need to purchase a MW-1A Harris Transmitter and Orban Optimod Am Audio Processor. This was a large investment for the day as the new transmitter would cost $14,000 and the audio processor would cost $4,300, but was highly encouraged to escape the old tube transmitter frequency limitations.
KHAS received an honorable mention in the Ak-Sar-Ben Community Service Awards.
Jim Kokesh was named operations director at KHAS radio.
In a Sunday World-Herald article dated February 24, 1980, a story ran about Brother Christopher Morrison, a disc jockey who worked at KHAS starting in 1973 every Sunday evening from 8pm to 10pm. He played big band music from the 1920’s to the 1950’s and provided commentary about the music he played.
KHAS Radio was rated Number 1 Radio Station in the area. KHAS score was based off of market research conducted for Adams, Clay, Nuckolls and Webster Counties in Nebraska.
For the 40th Anniversary of KHAS Radio, the station held a “Jingle Contest” where more than 100 entries were received.
In the early morning hours of November 7th, 1980, KHAS’s tower was damaged. The 180′ broadcasting tower had 140′ of the tower twisted to the ground by someone striking one of the guy wires with a vehicle, allowing a great deal of the tower to fall to the ground. The radio station was off air temporarily due to this incident. A new tower was erected within a week costing the station a total of around $13,000.
KHAS received 1st place in the Ak-Sar-Ben Community Service Awards.
An ad ran in the September 25th, 1981 Hastings Tribune which advertised KHAS Radio as the number one community service station in South Central Nebraska, since 1940. Jim Kokesh was highlighted in the ad for his idea of having a state and national Freedom Day for all hostages and prisoners of war.
KHAS won 2-Gold and 2-Silver awards through the Ak-Sar-Ben Community Service Awards.
Ad ad printed on 9/10/82 advertised Mark Alan as the current KHAS Radio Sports Director.
KHAS received 4-Associated Press news coverage awards.
KHAS received an honorable mention in the Ak-Sar-Ben community Service Awards.
John Powell, who had been the KHAS Vice President and General Manager for 28 years retired the week of August 3rd, 1985. Powell came to KHAS in 1957 from KSMN in Mason City, Iowa, where had been station manager.
KHAS Radio was chosen as one of the 10 Crystal Award Winners at the “Radio ’87” National Association of Broadcasters convention. The was award was presented to KHAS because of their demonstration of community involvement, ability to “reflect” the market, and commitment to their community. This was a very special award to receive as it was the first year the Crystal Radio Award was presented. Station Manager Jim Kokesh accepted the award and stated, “this attention reflects the pride KHAS Radio has in the Hastings Area”.
The National Association of Broadcasters awarded one of its Best-of-the-Best awards to Hastings Radio Station KHAS. KHAS received the award for sales promotion in the Small Radio Market category.
In February, 1990, Jim Kokesh, general manager of KHAS, won a Silver Medal in the Mid-Nebraska Advertising Federation ADDY Awards.
KHAS was awarded both a Gold and Silver Award from Ak-Sar-Ben in the category of Public Service Announcements/Community Service Projects.
As of May 25, 1990, KHAS was granted a license by the Federal Communications Commission to serve the public interest as a Public Trustee until June 1, 1997.
KHAS was a finalist in the 1990 National Association of Broadcasters Marconi Radio Awards. KHAS was one of only five finalists nationwide for Small Market Stations of the Year.
The Omaha World-Herald an an article on Steve Physioc, an ESPN Broadcaster who was once the sports director at KHAS radio in 1977, where he got his start in the broadcasting industry.
KHAS Radio paired with the Hastings Jaycees to put on an Easter Egg Hunt at Chautauqua Park. A write up was run in the Hastings Tribune on April 1, 1991.
The Federal Communications Commission approved the sale of KHAS radio to three out-of-town buyers. The three new owners were Wayne Specht, Richard Chapin, and Richard Wagner. These three owners formed the corporation KHAS Broadcasting, Inc. The station was formerly owned by the Nebraska Broadcasting Co. Inc.
On July 22, 1994, KHAS Broadcasting Inc filed an application with the FCC requesting consent for transfer of control of the station from Richard Wagner and Richard Chapin to Wayne Specht
KHAS Sports Director Dave Brock was voted Nebraska Sportscaster of the year at the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association. Also, Jim Stevens, KHAS Radio Program Director, received an Ak-Sar-Ben Gold Award for Best Commercial Announcement/ Campaign and Honorable Mention Award for Best In-Depth/Investigative story.
Wayne Specht purchased KHAS’s AM competitor KMEM, formerly KICS from Three Eagles Communications Inc. of Lincoln. KMEM station was located on US Highway 6. Dated May 30, 1998.
Platte River Radio Inc. of Kearney purchased KLIQ-FM 94.5 from Waitt Media of Omaha and AM stations KHAS 1230 and KICS 1550 from KHAS Broadcasting Inc. of Hastings. KLIQ was purchased for $700,000 and KHAS/KICS were purchased for $575,000. This news story was sprinted on February 1, 2006.
KHAS received a Silver Award from the Nebraska Broadcasters Association in the category of Service to Community Public Service Project or Program for the station’s support of Chautauqua Park.
KHAS received a Gold Award from the Nebraska Broadcasters Association in the category of Service to Agriculture for their “Sunrise 60 Close-Ups: Ag Week Series”.
KHAS received a Gold Award from the Nebraska Broadcasters Association in the category of Promotional Best for their High School Football Coverage. Also, KHAS received a Bronze Award in the category of Best Promotional Spot Announcement or Campaign for their Hastings College 2011 Bronco Football Promo’s.