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Friday, December 4, 2009

KJAM Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Who is that man with the face too good for radio?

Guys used to wear neckties on the radio. Really! And they didn't even have webcams back then.

That's original KJAM broadcaster John Goeman, who was on the air on Day 1, December 3, 1959. Goeman was actually in the studio two months before that. He says he arrived with his degree from the Brown School of Broadcasting and thought he knew everything. He climbed up to the studio, dumped out a box of radio gear, and wondered, "What do I do with all this?"

Caption 1: Believe it or not, this is Goeman 50 years later.
Caption 2: Note the sweatshirt: Goeman never misses a chance
to boost the
Highway 34 expansion project.

Goeman figured out what to do pretty quickly. He rose from the broadcast booth to own and operate the station for years. He dropped by the station to share some old photos and stories with current general manager Loren Larsen at KJAM's 50th anniversary open house yesterday. The station, now owned by Lincoln Nebraska-based* Three Eagles Communications (darned media consolidation!), must be doing well: they had free punch and cookies. Loren even urged me to take an extra cookie home—the Divine Miss K was suitably pleased when I got home.

The station is making some technical progress. Their new website does more than the old one. The news team is also using the site to include audio clips with stories (serious improvement!) plus some extended interviews à la NPR and other fancy-pants broadcasters. They're also catching with technology on remote broadcasts: where broadcasting a ball game or other event outside the studio used to require hauling a big forty-pound box around, Matt and Matt and Brian (the new guy... and what accent, Brian? :-) ) can each do live play-by-play with nothing but a one-pound netbook, a headset, and a cell phone signal (small is beautiful!). Plus, if the AM and FM stations are already occupied with DSU and MHS games, they can broadcast more games from Dell Rapids, Chester, Howard, and other exotic locales live over the website. (When-oh-when will the Madison Daily Leader figure out how to add value like that with its website?)

When I was little, KJAM was my ticket to free ice cream cones, tacos, and movies on QuizBiz. Now, they're my competition... and a source of a fair chunk of local blog fodder.

Thanks, KJAM, and happy anniversary! I look forward to another 50 years of local news and links!

Update 2009.12.05 09:43 CST: Learn more about KJAM's history—and the origin of those jammin' call letters!—from sports director Matt Hendrickson at the Jackrabbit's Den. [And note the correction: Three Eagles Communications—my apologies to corporate!]

*Grammar note: I really struggled with the punctuation there. Suggestions?
  • Lincoln Nebraska-based Three Eagles...?
  • Lincoln, Nebraska-based, Three Eagles...?
  • Lincoln, Nebraska,-based Three Eagles...?
  • Three Eagles Communication (based in Lincoln, Nebraska—darned media consolidation!),... ?


  1. Lincoln, Nebraska-based Three Eagles...

    Comma between city and state, hyphen for the compound adjective.

    That's what I would do.

  2. Thanks, Rebecca! What threw me was the usual commas after the state in mid-sentence flow. I wasn't sure if I could justify negating that comma with the hyphen.

  3. Talking with John Goeman yesterday, I had not realized that there was another station in Madison before KJAM.

    Apparently KBRK-AM had a satellite studio that they set up in Madison, just above Dakota Drug. When the Mugglys stared KJAM in 1959, KBRK pretty much said it wasn't going to compete with us and shut down its Madison studio.

    How funny that fifty years later, both stations have the same owners!


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