FAIRMONT - As KFMC-FM approaches 35 years on the air, the station and its management, Woodward Broadcasting, has received several recognitions.
Station owner Woody Woodward was inducted in the Minnesota Broadcasters Hall of Fame last year, and now the neighboring state of Iowa is inducting the station into its Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame this past weekend.
"It's an interesting thing," Woodward said. "We're only 10 miles north of the Iowa border, and in many things, that border may as well be an iron wall. ... But we've been able to break that wall down with music and promotion."
While it may be unusual for an out-of-state radio station to be honored, it isn't unheard of. KKOJ-KRAQ of Jackson was inducted into the Hall of Fame last year.
Tom Alan Bethke, who received last year's Lifetime Achievement Award, may have played a role in KFMC's induction.
"He worked here, and he came up with the idea of having 'Tom Alan's Rock and Roll Revival,'" Woodward recalled. "He played '50s and '60s music, and he did the show for years before he moved. It was really the start of rock and roll on KFMC. I also wrote a piece about him for when he was inducted to the Iowa Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame."
KFMC wasn't always the home of rock and roll. In fact, the original format for KFMC when it started airing in 1978 was more easy listening.
"John Denver was about as risky as it got," Woodward recalled. "Then we went to adult contemporary. Then in the early 2000s, we were noticing the music was becoming more urban, there was more rap, squealy voices. We looked at the demographics and realized that people in that demographic weren't in our area. So we took the plunge into classic rock, knowing it was dated."
The gamble paid off, as the station has gained more listeners.
"Our Iowa followship is getting stronger," Woodward said. "As we do the Harley promotion each summer, we keep a map of where the entries are coming from and it shows us where the audience is. This last time, we had 92 cities in the registration. For a small market, that's huge. ... We've been blessed that way; it's been a good thing for us."
Woodward shares the credit for KFMC's recognition throughout the region with his staff.
"It's great to get recognition, but the credit goes to our staff," he said. "They create the sound that gets us noticed, and they deserve the credit."