860 AM KKOW has come a long way since it was first put on the air over 70 years ago. We were first licensed as KOAM Radio to E. Victor Baxter of Pittsburg and Lester L. Cox of Springfield, Missouri. We signed on the air October 11, 1937 on a frequency of 790 KHZ with a power of 1 KW and were a daytime only station. We later moved to 810 kHz with the same power of 1 KW but in 1947 we traded that frequency to KCMO in Kansas City for 860 AM ... the frequency we have today.
In 1937, the KOAM transmitter was located on the south edge of Pittsburg, just south of what is now Centennial Street. The studios and offices were located on the 4th floor of the Professional Building (Crowell Drug Store) at 4th & Broadway.
When we changed power and frequency in 1947, the KOAM transmitter was moved to its present location four miles east of Pittsburg. In 1953, a new studio and office building was added to the site.
In 1937 KOAM was an NBC affiliate carrying programs from both the red and blue network as well as local recorded programs.
In 1939, KOAM started using local live talent. A staff of 12 - 20 musicians was carried for a number of years. With the addition of live talent, KOAM became a mail order type of station in 1939 with one of the most productive records in the entire nation for many, many years.
The original home permanent, "Charm Curl" was sold for the first time anywhere on KOAM radio. The inventor of "Charm Curl" used KOAM as a test station selling the permanents for 49 cents or 59 cents. Even with that low price KOAM was so productive, the company became a success. The original "Charm Curl" was sold to the Toni Company around 1940 to become Toni Home Permanents, which are still around today.
KOAM's early day programming consisted mostly of local live country music headlined by a local baker named A.J. Cripe and his band. A.J. was known for his unique arrangement of "Pistol Packin' Mama", which included firing a blank pistol during the performance. He also sang "The Little Red Fox" (his own composition) that delighted youngsters and sold a lot of Town Talk Bread. In addition to a daily "Studio Window" audience, these performers delighted four state area people with stage shows at school auditoriums everywhere.
KOAM radio maintained their pioneer format of block programming through its existence with a variety of religious, music, news, weather, and farm reports. A more music policy was followed primarily until the mid 70's, when an all county music policy was adopted.
The station remained in the hands of Mr. Cox until his death in 1975. The A.M.I. Corporation purchased the station from the Baxter trust with the transfer approved on May 11, 1981. On May 18, 1981, KOAM's call letters were changed to KKOW.
Today, 860 AM KKOW is the official voice of the Pittsburg State University Gorillas, an affiliate of CBS News, the Kansas City Royals, Kansas City Chiefs and has a local commitment to news, farm, sports and weather, second to none.