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KEWI-AM 690 — a Benton station dedicated to preserving old time radio

By: 25 August 2010 4 Comments

When old time radio (OTR) was in its heyday, finding stations that broadcast shows such as Lum and Abner and Amos and Andy was no problem.

It goes without saying that’s changed over the years. There are a few radio stations across the country that still broadcast those shows to the benefit of people who grew up listening to them and new fans.

We’ve got one of those stations here in Benton — Landers Broadcasting’s KEWI-AM 690. That station broadcasts episodes of either Lum and Abner or Amos and Andy following the local 7 a.m. news broadcasts.

KEWI also broadcasts an hour of various OTR programs at 11 a.m. KEWI’s Jim Landers said he took over the station 16 years ago and has been mixing OTR shows into format since then. He’s collected boxes of the programs and keeps purchasing them for his audience, which has been more than receptive to tuning in to classic radio shows regularly.

Landers said the shows are, of course, popular with people who grew up listening to them during the genre’s heyday from the 1920s through the 1950s, but those episodes have also attracted a younger audience.

“It appeals to them,” Landers said. “They’ve never heard anything like this. The Green Hornet and Dagwood and Blondie are new to them.”

Landers said the decision to broadcast old time radio shows is all part of his station’s “block programming” format. Listeners can hear everything from the likes to Frank Sinatra to old time rock and roll on the station — the goal is to offer as many listeners as possible something they’ll enjoy.

The station does something else rare these days — local people pick the programming. That’s novel in an area where corporate conglomerates play similar formats on stations they own throughout the country.

“We get calls from people all over … saying ‘please don’t change this. This is hometown radio. This is what we like.”

About: Ethan C. Nobles:
Benton resident. Rogue journalist. Recovering attorney. Email =


  • Donnie Pitchford said:

    I wish I could pick up this station in East Texas!

    I taught broadcasting for 25 years at our local high school. For 15 of those years we produced an “old time radio show,” first on the audio signal of our public access cable TV channel, and from 2004-2010 on an FM radio station that covered the Longview-Kilgore-Tyler, Texas area. Every Sunday night my students hosted a pre-recorded hour of programs, 52 weeks a year. Sadly, when I announced my retirement, the owner-manager of that station decided to cancel all OTR offerings, even though I was willing to produce it myself (my replacements had no desire to produce “old” material).

    So I have a deep respect for broadcasters who love radios “Golden Age” and work to reintroduce these classic programs to modern audiences. Of course, “Lum and Abner” is a personal favorite, and it’s great to know “Amos ‘n’ Andy” is being heard again. I was never allowed to broadcast examples of their programs due to the misconceptions about the program. It certainly was important to Depression-era listeners of all backgrounds, keeping them entertained, often providing realistic situations and cliffhangers during its “strip show” (15-minutes continued each weekday) era.

    Many thanks Mr. Landers and KEWI!

    -Donnie Pitchford / NLAS
    Carthage, Texas

  • Ethan C. Nobles (author) said:

    Donnie — Yes, we’re lucky here in central Arkansas to have that station around. Great deal — daily OTR for our listening pleasure.

    And, indeed, the fact KEWI has a bit of an emphasis on Lum and Abner is appreciated here in central Arkansas.

  • Edward Hutchison said:

    I, too, wish I could pick you up where I live.

    I hope your listeners know how fortunate they are to have a
    resource like your station. OTR was such a comfort to people
    during the Depression and the War that today’s young people
    should study it for that reason alone. Nevermind that it makes
    for great humor!!!

    Edward Hutchison
    Madison, MS

  • Ed Howell said:

    Having worked as engineer in both radio and television, radio is my first love. I installed equipment for BC station in my home town while I was still in High School, many, many years ago. Later designed several AM and FM stations across SE United States. Was consulting engineer for years. Have nice library of old radio shows and really enjoy listening to them now and then. When I was a preteen, I built tube-type radios in cigar boxes, even built one in a pith helmet.

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