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KMA
Shenandoah, Iowa

Earl May at his announcer's desk in the studio in the mid-1920sEarl May was an early 20th Century businessman who was struggling to get his seed company off the ground.  The pivotal turning point in the growth and success of the company can likely be attributed to Mr. May's foresight into the opportunity that the new technology of radio had to offer.

The closest station to him was WOAW in Omaha, Nebraska.  In 1923 he began taking local talent by bus to the station and personally spoke on various topics.  In January of 1924 he offered the first 10,000 listeners who mailed him a card a free gift of iris roots.  It seems that he recognized that radio was the key to his success.  However, he would not be the first seedsman to capitalize on the technology for on February 22, 1924, Henry Field and his Seedhouse Folk began broadcasting from their new station, KFNF, just three blocks away from May'sEarl May's KMA Studio seedhouse.

However, Earl May's broadcasts, a nice mix of musical talent and agricultural information, became quite popular and so in June of 1924, WOAW and May Seed and Nursery announced the construction of a remote studio in the company's administration building. Using Earl May's Seedhousetelephone lines to connect to the WOAW transmitter sixty miles away in Omaha, the May studio was perhaps the longest remote radio connection of the day.

It was not long (September of 1925) before they received aKMA's Mayfair Auditorium license to operate and were assigned the call letters of KMA.

Using radio to entertain and promote, Earl's leadership grew the mail order business to a point where over two million catalogs were mailed annually. Radio advertising helped boost catalog sales.  Mr. May not only acted as 1935 KMA Daily Radio Programming Schedulethe chief broadcaster, he continued to write copy for the catalogs.

Earl passed away in 1946 but family still manage the company.  Betty Jane Shaw, Earl May's granddaughter, is the current president.

The company ceased producing a mail order catalog in 1991 and focused on growing into a large, regional retail nursery and garden center chain.KMA "Verified Reception Stamp"

According to FCC records, the station is currently owned by KMA Broadcasting, L.P., an entity made up of Eleanor J. May (Edward W. May's widow), and her children - Edward W. May, Jr., Annette M. Marra, and Karen L. Sislo.

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Last Updated December 31, 2013.