90 years young in 2015, the oldest station in central Missouri, KFRU in Columbia actually has its origins in Oklahoma. Stephens College was looking for a station and the private women’s college bought the Oklahoma station in September of 1925 and began regular broadcasting on October 7. The Great Depression forced Stephens to sell the station in 1932 and it sold twice again before being purchased by the St. Louis Star-Times newspaper. The new owners leased a former fraternity house on the northeast corner of Ninth and Elm for the station’s new home. At one time, KFRU employed more than 40 entertainers, some of whom made use of an impromptu dormitory on the third floor of the station’s studios.
In 1940 KFRU won the prestigious George Foster Peabody award and moved from being a regional station that reached several states to a local station with a narrower range at 1400am. Mahlon Aldridge, Jr. became KFRU’s manager in 1945. Aldridge began energetically promoting local news, attracting the attention of Columbia Daily Tribune publisher Jack Waters, Jr. and in 1948, Aldridge and Waters joined forces to buy KFRU. In 1950 a new studio and transmitter building was completed on the Business Loop.
Waters’ son Hank inherited his father’s interest in the station and would after buying Aldridge’s interest in 1983, Waters sold KFRU to a partnership that transitioned the station to its present news/talk format. In 1992 the owners of KARO-FM, Al Germond and David Baugher, purchased KFRU, and then in 2004, after nearly 60 years of local ownership, KFRU was purchased by Cumulus Broadcasting. Today the station features local favorite programs including Columbia Morning with David Lile and The Morning Meeting with Simon and Renee and has a loyal and devoted following of several generations of Boone Countians. From dance music in the 1930s through decades of Mizzou Sports, St. Louis Cardinals baseball, top-notch local reporting and the stations support and sponsorship of thousands of local organizations, KFRU has always been a trusted source of information and entertainment for the community it serves.