Keener’s Westside Sister
It was the winter of 1964 and an alchemy of music, talent and timing were coalescing in suburban Detroit to take a small 5000 watt station in Dearborn to the top of the Motor City radio ziggurat. WKNR had arrived. And Mrs. Knorr began to think about how Keener’s success might be duplicated across the Knorr Broadcasting portfolio.
Besides the obvious financial benefits, having Keener clones in the family could provide a built-in farm team, where talent could marinate until they might be ready to move up to the majors. The programming concept of “intelligent flexibility” could test new ideas in multiple markets, bubbling up best practices with the speed of a Beatle record climbing the WKNR Music Guide.
Across the state in Battle Creek, station WELL made the transformation. It became WKFR, Keener 14. PAMS cut jingles identical in nearly every way to those that were winning the battle in Motown, and a group of Battle Creek Keener Keymen emerged as the most popular personalities in West Michigan.
Knorr Broadcasting sold the station in 1967, but the Keener legend is still alive in Battle Creek. A local weblog helped initiate a recent reunion of WKFR personalities that was chronicled in the local paper, along with another story about Keener 14s glory days.
Read the list of WKNR personalities and you’ll recognize some very familiar Detroit radio names.
Thanks to Tom Ryan for sharing the links!