Feature of the Month
50,000 Watts of AM Radio Power in the 1960’s

Written on 9.08.09

This is the eighth edition of the Feature of the Month for the South Dakota Rock & Roll Music Association. We are rock and roll fans, and looking to write a feature each month, that will not only bring back wonderful memories, but will also remind us all of the history that was made in our great state of South Dakota. We are hoping to write a feature each month selecting one of the many talented Bands, DJ's, Radio Stations, and Dance Halls throughout SD.

Growing up as a teenager in the 1960’s (and while you were “cruising the loop” at night) there were many great, area AM radio stations playing rock and roll & Top 40, but from approximately 6:00 pm to 6:00 am, three AM stations blasted across the Midwest airwaves and further with their 50,000 watts of power. Do you remember WLS in Chicago, KOMA in Oklahoma City, and KAAY in Little Rock? 

WLS…890 on your dial. In the 1960’s WLS was a major force in introducing new music and recording artists. They were voted by broadcasters nationally as “The Station of the Year” in 1967, 1968, & 1969. Some of the notable disc jockeys who worked there included Dick Biondi, Art Robert, Ron Riley, Larry Lujack, and Dex Card. 

KAAY…1090 on your dial. “The mighty ten ninety” could be heard clearly at night in Key West, Florida, and as far to the northwest as Jamestown, North Dakota. KAAY’s cult status was forged in the late 1960’s when after 11:00 each evening, the station abandoned the standard Top 40 format for three hours of underground music with the program Beaker Street. A few of the on-air personalities included Mike McCormick, Doc Holiday, Buddy Kerr, and Ken Knight.

KOMA…1520 on your dial. KOMA had a listenable signal in such far away locales as Denver, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, and even Los Angeles. Fans of rock and roll & Top 40 music living in North and South Dakota could enjoy listening to the music in the evening. Do you remember those ads promoting dances by - The Blue Things; The Fabulous Flippers; Spider and the Crabs; and the Red Dogs to name a few? A few of the notable DJ’s were Charlie Tuna, Robert Morgan, Ronnie Kaye, and John Peel. 

These three powerhouse AM stations and the local AM stations allowed us to hear, enjoy and appreciate the great rock and roll music of the 1960’s. Thank you AM radio and all the great DJ’s for the memories!