KANSAS CITY, Mo. — KPRS is celebrating its 65th Anniversary, you may know it best as Hot 103 Jamz. The station is proud of his legacy as a historically black-owned radio station, and the influential Carters say making it this far wasn’t always easy.
KPRS is the oldest continually African-American family owned radio station in the country. Mike Carter’s grandfather — Andrew ‘Skip’ Carter — always dreamed of operating a black radio station.
“My grandparents started this radio station back in the time when that wasn`t supposed to happen,” said Mike.
KPRS-AM debuted as the nation`s first black radio station west of the Mississippi River in May of 1950.
“He got the license with the help of Governor Alf Landon and he got his transmitter put up on the old Monarch Stadium and in right field, he ran some wires out of the back of the transmitter and on May 15th he turned on KPRS-AM,” Mike added.
In 1971, KPRS-AM became KPRS-FM.
“I got to meet Michael Jackson and the Temptations and those types of folks,” Mike said.
In 1975, it became one of the first fully automated radio stations in the Midwest.
“There were some rough times, believe me, being a black radio station in the Midwest was really trying, and still today it`s still rough,” Mike said.
In 1987, Mike was named president of the company, due to his grandfather’s declining health. One of Mike`s first moves was to take both stations back to the “live” formats.
“I remember coming to the radio station in the 1980s and looking at some of the jocks and they were just bigger than life to me,” said Chris Carter, Mike’s cousin and vice president of the company.
Chris said when his grandparents passed away, they wanted to keep it within the family. He said it was their desire, pride, and hard work that`s kept it running this long, and of course the listeners.
“This station is driven by the community,” said Chris, “without the community we wouldn`t be in existence.”
In 1995, KPRS achieved its highest ratings with a number one slot. KPRS continues to be the top rated radio station in Kansas City, and the Carter`s legacy lives on.
“It`s pretty unbelievable, there`s a lot of companies out there who have come and gone – especially black companies,” said Mike.
The Carters say they’re hoping for another 65.