New Owners, Format for KHST-FM

by James McNary, Editor

Over the past few weeks, listeners to KHST-FM 101.7 will have noticed that the station has been playing different tunes than the country and western tracks that had been heard on that frequency since at least 2011.

The change in format happened together with a change in ownership, as Chanute, Kan.,-based broadcaster My Town Media, Inc., swapped stations with longtime Joplin station-owner Bobby Landis.

“We finally closed the deal a couple weeks ago, and the format changed about a month ago, though we took over operations back in September,” said Kevin Welch, operations manager.

Landis currently owns WMBH-AM 1560 and its FM translator, licensed to Joplin. In exchange for sports broadcaster KSEK-AM 1340 and its FM-band translator in Pittsburg, Landis got KHST-FM from My Town Media.

Welch described the new format as music from the ’60s and ’70s, and maybe even some from the ‘50s on occasion. The station currently has no on-air disk jockeys, which Welch said was a conscious decision.

“You could kind of say that our target audience is the old Hippies in the area,” said Welch with a chuckle. “We want to give them the hits as well as some of the more obscure songs from the era: we have over 3,500 songs in our library.”

Welch said that there isn’t really another station with this format in the Joplin market, of which the Lamar station is typically considered a part. As part of their effort to include all kinds of music from the area, they’re even including some local artists in their playlists — and of course have some tracks from the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

“There’s nobody really doing this here,” said Welch. “We’re kind of bridging the gap from what you would have heard on the old AM radio stations: a lot of variety. We want to help people hear artists that they haven’t heard in this market, or haven’t heard in years.”

Welch said that the new owners are currently working on a new website and a new livestream feed for the station. Also, though licensed for 25,000 watts, Welch said the station is currently operating at only half-power, though plans are to increase to full licensed power as soon as a new transmitter is installed at the broadcast site.

The new sister station to KHST-FM, WMBH-AM 1560, is one of the oldest stations in the area, first going on the air in 1927 at the 1450 AM frequency. It is the only station in the area with a “W” beginning its call letters as opposed to the “K” more common in the western two-thirds of the United States. WMBH currently broadcasts as “Somo Sports Radio,” following the split from KSEK-AM. It also a CBS Sports Radio network affiliate.

Being sister stations with a sports broadcaster means KHST-FM will have some sports programming, including games of the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals. Welch said they plan to continue including coverage of Lamar area sports as well.

“We take our music seriously, but not ourselves,” said Welch of the new operators’ style. “We just want it to be fun.”