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50 Stories for 50 Years: From Calloway to California WKMS Goes Long

Murray State University

Today we hear from WKMS Alumnus Greg Aplin. He attended Murray State and started working as a student in 1979. That spring he was producing the morning classical music program that was hosted by Bobby Bryan. 

“That summer they told me that it was going to have a new host,” said Aplin. “I said that’s great who is it? And they said, it's you. And Bobby and Joe Jackson grinned wickedly at me and literally said, here's how you turn on the microphone. Here's how you start the turn tables, don't break anything.”

It was a sink or swim moment and Aplin said you could hear his heart beating over the microphone during his first show.

Greg stuck with it, and ended up hosting morning classics for close to three years. He also found himself producing an afternoon program and a jazz program. 

But one of his most memorable experiences came a year into his work at WKMS. 

“If memory serves, it was the summer of 1980,” said Aplin. “And we got a letter from San Francisco saying, hey, we love your programming, we really enjoying listening to you and we were like, what?”

This was 1980, there was no internet streaming, or the option to listen on a smart speaker. So the letter from San Francisco was odd.

“If the conditions are just so in the atmosphere, your signal will bounce across and be picked up way far away from where it should be,” said Aplin.” “And we caught about a three week window where people in and around San Francisco were able to pick up WKMS.”

The phenomenon is commonly referred to as e-skip or sporadic-E where the radio waves can bounce off ionized atmospheric gases and send signals thousands of miles from their starting point.

“We would get an occasional letter from here and there,” said Aplin.  “But it was like our signal was beaming to San Francisco for a few weeks and they seemed to like it.”

Share your story as we celebrate 50 years of WKMS broadcasting with 50 stories of our history. You can share your story at 270-809-2070 or fill out this form.

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