|Ken Mills, age 10, with Research Radio and Research Telephone|
KEN'S SUMMER 1960 SIOUX FALLS
WHICH STATION IS YOUR FAVORITE?
Other (WNAX, Yankton) 2
• KSOO at 1140am was the mom and dad station. Rosemary Clooney tunes and a morning guy who had conversations with himself in high-pitched nasally voice.
• KISD at 1230am was automated, mainly featuring the voice of Jim Ameche, Don Ameche’s brother, playing what was then known as “beautiful music.”
• KELO at 1320am had talk shows, MOR music and hour after hour of NBC's Monitor.
• And KIHO – my favorite station -- outlaw rock at 1270am.
KIHO, or KI’-ho, as it was known, played 24/7 rock n roll. KIHO was owned by a company from Chicago. Having seen “The Untouchables,” my friends and I speculated that the mob had something to do with the station -- a rumor that made KIHO all the more appealing to us.
KIHO, with jocks Smiling Jack Shafer, Dandy Dan, “The Morning Mayor KIHO Helgie” played the hits without regard for parental sensibilities. I was in love with that skywave, particularly The Coke Show, a Saturday night request show where I had made my first on-air appearance answering a trivia question.
My dad and I had a disagreement about KIHO. He didn’t like station. I claimed KIHO had more listeners than any other Sioux Falls station. He disagreed -- certainly KSOO had the most listeners, he bragged. After all, KSOO was where he bought his political campaign ads.
So, on a Saturday afternoon in June 1960, my parents and my little sister went somewhere, leaving me home alone for a few hours. I decided that the only way to prove my dad wrong was to do a survey that would prove that KIHO was the most popular.
I got the phone book. I marked every tenth phone number.
Then, I started calling the numbers.
I’d say, “I’m taking a survey -- what your favorite radio station?”
Some of the people getting my call would say “who is this”? and “who do you work for?" But almost no one hung up on me and most gave me the call letters of their favorite station.
After three hours of calls, the final count was:
Other (WNAX, Yankton) 2
When my parents and sister got home, I could hardly wait to show my dad the “proof” of KIHO’s superior popularity.
To my surprise, when I told him about the survey he wasn’t pleased.
“You did what?”
I went through my methodology.
There was a quiet conference between my mom and dad. My sister said I was in Big Trouble.
My telephone privileges were ended until further notice and I was sternly advised not to do this again. But my dad never again said that KIHO wasn’t number one.
The lesson for me was that research works.