Radio stations KMA and KFNF put Shenandoah on the national map during the 1920's.
Sending their powerful signals across all 48 states, these two pioneer stations had a profound impact on rural America.
Henry Field's KFNF began broadcasting in 1924, and Earl May started KMA one year later, in 1925. These two rivals, each a born salesman, promoted their own seed and nursery products along with entertainment. Spurred by radio advertising, both mail order and retail business skyrocketed. These stations brought news, weather forecasts, and farming advice into the homes of isolated farmers and ranchers throughout the Midwest.
Thousands of visitors flocked to Shenandoah to buy merchandise at Field's Spanish style shopping center and to see the live broadcasts at KMA's magnificent Mayfair Auditorium. The two stations attracted a flood of itinerant musicians and entertainers, all eager to make it big in the new world of radio.
A carnvial atmosphere prevailed in Shenandoah, with May and Field each trying to outdo the other. Huge promotions such as May's "Jubilee Days" advertised free pancakes and non-stop entertainment to all who came. And come they did - by the thousands.
Less flamboyant but perhaps more influential were the radio homemakers. These remarkable women provided advice and companionship to generations of Midwestern housewives. Throughout the depression, World War II, and into the 1970's, radio was the great communicator for women.
The heyday of live radio ended with the advent of recorded music and network programming. KFNF closed, but KMA continues the long tradition of Shenandoah radio.