Religious station adding FM, boosting power, going 24 hours

Friday, January 12, 2018
The 26-year-old KNGN AM Radio plans to add FM broadcast capabilities with new translator equipment that will facilitate 24-hour-a-day broadcasting. KNGN board of directors treasurer Judy Schow of McCook said recently that other changes may be implemented in the future to quintuple the wattage on KNGN’s AM 1360 side from 10,000 watts to 50,000 watts.
Connie Jo Discoe/McCook Gazette

McCOOK, Neb. — KNGN Radio supporter and board member Judy Schow finds it comforting that with the radio station’s new FM capabilities, she’ll be able to fall asleep listening to music and radio programming that so deeply touches her heart.

When the Federal Communications Commission approves the radio station’s application for its new FM translator station and new equipment is installed, KNGN will be able to broadcast 24 hours a day, “not just dawn to dusk,” Judy says. “This is the main reason we’re adding the FM signal to our existing AM signal.”

KNGN’s new low-wattage FM signal will cover an area of about 30 miles, on a good day, from the radio station three miles west of McCook. The higher up on the radio tower the translator is located, the further the signal can reach, Judy said.

Judy said that KAGR in Arapahoe has a similar FM setup, and a listener donated space for the FM translator way up high on his own tower. That station’s message carries from Holdrege to McCook on good days, she said. There were KAGR listeners who were skeptical about going FM, Judy said, but they’ve become believers as they realize how the expanded coverage and broadcasts of local church services reach shut-ins and those in nursing homes and assisted living facilities.

“Hopefully, our new FM will reach more listeners, too,” Judy said.

To finance the new FM equipment, estimated to cost $8,000 to $10,000, KNGN’s board of directors and avid supporters plan fund-raisers, including a fun “Groundhog Day Pancake Supper.”

“We’re not serving the little rodent that comes out of his hole to check for his shadow,” Judy chuckled. “We’re serving groundhog — you know, pig, pork, hog — in the form of sausage,” along with pancakes and gluten-free pancakes.

Organizers schedule the fund-raiser on Groundhog Day, Friday, Feb. 2, starting at 4:30 p.m. MT, at Zion Lutheran Church in Imperial.

Supporters plan more fund-raisers as the FM process progresses. “Running a radio station is expensive,” said Judy, who serves as board treasurer.

“We are entirely listener-supported,” Judy said. “We don’t sell advertising. We’re able to do what we do because of the support of and donations from our listeners.”

There have been times in the past couple of years that the future of KNGN was in doubt. “Just when things looked their worst, and we thought the station might have to close, the Lord stepped in and said, ‘You’re not done’,” Judy said, and board members explored the possibility and capabilities of an FM signal.

Judy and KNGN supporters know that God is in control of whatever happens. Judy believes, “Wherever God takes us from here …”


In the late 1980s, a commercial AM radio station in McCook went FM and offered the AM station license to Peace Lutheran Church. On Easter Sunday in April 1992, the new station — KNGN, Kansas Nebraska Good News — started broadcasting from a closet at the church.

KNGN operated as a flagship station for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod-owned KFUO Radio out of St. Louis, Mo., rebroadcasting many programs created by KFUO.

As time passed, the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod could no longer afford the McCook station’s operating costs and gave station operators two choices: shut down and abandon the KNGN mission, or incorporate and become locally owned. The station was reformed under the new name, “Kansas Nebraska Good News Broadcasting Corp.”

In 1996, KNGN was blessed with a new facility, a former country school located at 38005 Road 717 west of McCook, and KNGN moved its base of operations to the schoolhouse and annex.

KNGN continues its mission supported by the generosity of listeners and the grace of Jesus Christ.

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