50 Stories for 50 Years: First WKMS Broadcast

Jan 13, 2020

The May 15th, 1970 edition of the Murray State News depicts the first broadcast of WKMS-FM
Credit Murray State University Archives

It’s WKMS 50th year of broadcasting and we’re celebrating with 50 stories for 50 years. 

In our second story we recall the first broadcast of WKMS on May 11th, 1970. Dr. Ray Mofield was the Director of Communications in the School of Arts and Science at Murray State. He spoke some of the first words heard on WKMS.  


It was 78 years ago this year. According to testimony of reliable witnesses in Murray, when Nathan B Stubblefield broadcast a program more than a mile without wires calling out, according to various authorities, some such remark as do you hear me Rainey, which referred to Dr. Rainey T. Wells, generally regarded as the founder of Murray State normal school and today of course Murray state university.

In 1902 as documented by Dr. L. J. Horton. He broadcast from a boat in the Potomac River and secured in that year a patent for the United States patent office becoming the first person to broadcast radio telephony today known as radio.

Dr Mofield then introduced then Murray State President Harry Sparks

Dr. Mofield, guests, infant radio audience. Today, Murray State University has reached another milestone with the inauguration of radio broadcasting on WKMS-FM we lengthen the shadow and multiply the sphere of influence of this university. I want to challenge the students and the faculty to make of this modern educational medium, a vital information force and not a pale imitation of what other colleges and commercial stations offer and I would like for all music played on this station to be the greatest music of the ages. That is, it might not compete with some of the music that our commercial friends offer but that it would provide an additional choice of programming for the neglected few or not being served

Murray State President Harry Sparks was followed by Executive Vice President Marvin Wrather.

First thing I want to say is to pay a tribute to the students I see here in this studio and around it and if it is a success, you and the people who follow you will make it a success. We are delighted that you could be here and be a part of this initial opening and I predict for it a long life and rendered great service to all of us concerned. Thank you. 

These were some of the first words mentioned on WKMS on May 11th 1970 from a small studio in Wilson Hall. This broadcast almost didn’t happen, as there are reports of a lightning strike to the WKMS transmitter on the day, and then engineer J.D. McClure worked frantically to get the transmitter operational by airtime.

You can share your memories here or call us and leave a message at 270-809-2070.