Silent (Friday) night


The legendary radio stations in Moberly, Mo. fired their on-air staff this week.

Being a native of Northeast Missouri and having spent the vast majority of my professional career in local media, the ever-evolving landscape is just something I’m accustomed to.

It’s what allowed Muddy River News/Sports/TV to fill some of the breach.

But, there are some things you thought would always be there.

Like high school sports on KRES-KWIX-KIRK in Moberly, Mo. We’ll just say KRES for the purpose of this random stream of consciousness.

Playing football for Mark Twain High School in Center, Mo., it was a big deal if one of the radio stations showed up to broadcast a game. Ralls County didn’t have its own radio station, but many of the schools in the Clarence Cannon Conference at the time did.

KICK-FM covered the Palmyra Panthers. KJFM carried the Louisiana Bulldogs. KLCQ-FM broadcast the Monroe City Panthers.

But KRES out of Moberly carried EVERYBODY. While their sister station KWIX was carrying their hometown Moberly Spartans, the FM 100,000 watt blow torch KRES was covering the KRES Game of The Week. The South Shelby Cardinals. The Centralia Panthers. The Macon Tigers. The Marceline Tigers. And an occasional Mark Twain Tigers football game (Lots of Tiger teams in Northeast Missouri. Probably had something to do with the state’s flagship college nickname, the Missouri Tigers).

We would get done with a football game on Friday nights in Center, usually coming out on the losing end, and we were getting in our cars to go out with our girlfriends, usually to Hannibal, Vandalia or Mexico to get something to eat … but not drink, of course … we were minors at the time after all.

The girls would always want to listen to whatever hairband was popular at the time, but the guys needed to listen to KRES. They needed to hear Endzone.

Endzone was the Friday night postgame show for Northeast Missouri high school football. Ken Kujawa hosted when I first started listening, then Brad Boyer became a part of it and eventually took it over when Kujawa went off to teach at Missouri Valley College in Marshall.

We wanted to hear how our rivals did. We weren’t going to go home and watch Channel 7 or Channel 10. We were going to get the score and the details from KRES.

The coaches would call in religiously. Well, religiously, if they won. To be fair, many coaches would call to discuss the game and promote their players win, lose or tie. There were some coaches you probably didn’t want to hear from after a loss because they were so pissed off.

When I went to Mizzou and began shooting high school football highlights for KOMU-TV as part of my Journalism School training, I made sure the radio in my 1986 Ford Escort was tuned into 104.7 so I could hear what the boys just up Highway 63 were saying about the teams in Central and Northeast Missouri.

Just listening was a graduate school course in sports broadcasting while I was getting my undergraduate degree from the world’s oldest (and finest) journalism school. And I could feed tidbits to Brian Nuener, the sports director at KOMU, about not only the game I had just shot, but other games we cared about. If you needed a final score, you listened to KRES on the radio in the newsroom.

Then I went to work at KHQA-TV in Quincy in July 1990 and was shooting high school football back home in Northeast Missouri that fall. KHMO was great to catch the end of the Hannibal Pirates game and KICK-FM still had the Panthers, but I would listen to KRES in my car in the parking lot of the KHQA studio in Hannibal to get all of the other scores we needed for the Friday night 10 p.m. sportscast.

When Muddy River Sports started in 2021, I covered Northeast Missouri football for Matt Schuckman to help get things going. As soon as I got in my car after being in Center, Monroe City or Palmyra, the radio went right back to 104.7 FM, just like it did more than a quarter-century earlier.

Here in Quincy we have bemoaned the demise of high school sports on the radio. WGEM-AM went dark. WGEM-FM carries St. Louis Cardinals baseball on most fall Friday nights. WTAD-AM still did a game of the week, but who knows how much longer that will last. Townsquare Media’s KHMO/KICK continues to plug along with the Hannibal Pirates and Palmyra Panthers games.

But after decades of broadcasting thousands of high school sporting events, KRES has also thrown in the towel.

Boyer, who also did play-by-play for the Truman State Bulldogs in Kirksville and has made his way to Quincy to broadcast numerous games, announced Tuesday on Twitter he was signing off. Matt Schuckman and Chris Duerr of KHQA both confirmed that the parent company of KRES, Alpha Media of Portland, Ore., had laid off the entire on-air staff. Alpha has owned the Moberly stations since 2016.

There’s been no announcement about the end of local sports broadcasting by the company, but it’s kind of hard to do that without a staff. Instead of Boyer broadcasting from the Moberly studio Wednesday morning, it was some syndicated yutz. Great. Just what we need.

Yes, the community must support local broadcasting, just like it must support local journalism of any sort. But if some bean counter in Portland deems these little stations in Missouri aren’t generating enough profit by doing so, they are just going to pull the plug. We’ve seen this movie before.

Alpha owns 135 radio stations. They have many major market stations, including those in Portland and San Francisco, and they also have other stations in towns the size of Moberly. But as we have said many times, if your owner isn’t local, the buy-in just isn’t there as it is when the owner is listening, watching or reading every day.

I would love to look into what it would take to do a viable program along the lines of Endzone, but it would be a pale imitation at best to start. Perhaps Boyer can come up with his own streaming alternative. Maybe talk to the guys at Central Illinois Sports who do such a great job streaming local games on this side of the river.

All I know is, Friday nights in Northeast Missouri just got a whole lot quieter.

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