Kansas City’s KPRS part of history, as oldest black-owned radio station in the country

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — KPRS has been on Kansas City’s airwaves for decades, and has heard it all.

“The name, like I said, Carter Broadcast Group around here means a lot coming from what’s been beforehand,” KPRS radio personality, Chris ‘Playmaker’ Stimpson said.

Andrew ‘Skip’ Carter began Carter Broadcasting on the AM dial in 1949, and the next year, launched KPRS-AM. It became the first black-owned radio station west of the Mississippi, and is the oldest continually black-owned station in the country.

Today KPRS-FM operates under Carter Broadcast Group. The company also owns KPRT, which broadcasts on the AM side.

“We were the only place that black music could be started at, be played at. There were a lot of companies that played cover music. But the Stevie Wonders, Aretha Franklin, all of those folks, that’s where, we basically, Carter Broadcast Group..was where the music got to be played,” Carter Broadcast Group President Michael Carter said.

KPRS and KPRT have given African-Americans in Kansas City a platform to use their voice. From interviews with community leaders, to sponsoring ‘Generation Rap’ — a radio show produced and hosted by middle and high schoolers.

“It was the only place where black folks could say, ‘Hey, this is what’s going on,'” Carter said.

Unlike most media companies, Carter Broadcast Group is family-owned. With a deep love for Kansas City, they are committed to the community.

“We do the toy drives, we go to schools and speak. Whatever is, of course now it’s been virtual. Whatever is needed, raising funds, we were involved in civic engagement, making sure people knew the voting information and that their voice has power,” KPRS radio personality Julee Jonez said.

The radio station has been running for over 70 years. The family hopes to keep it going for many more.

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