Steve Clark, 1400 AM/103.3 FM WKFR “Keener 14” Battle Creek, MI| July 1968

WKNR Detroit, Keener 13

Listening to this I had to do a double take… KEENER FOURTEEN!

An apparent WKNR knockoff (or perhaps it was co-owned), WKFR in Battle Creek sounds suspiciously similar to WKNR Detroit, with similar jingles, even a jock that sounds like Steve Robbins, who was on WKNR in ’67! Steve Clark does a great job on an aircheck taken right off the original master reel!

Stunning audio quality featured here, and instantly it’s 1968 all over again!

WKNR Detroit, Keener 13

30 Comments


  1. WKFR was co-owned with WKNR, by Knorr Broadcasting, and was used as WKNR’s “farm club” for up and coming talent. Both Steve Clark (aka Robbins on Keener 13) and Jim Jeffries worked in Battle Creek prior to making the hop to Detroit. WKFR switched from WELL in 1964, about a year after WKNR switched from WKMH.

    The Knorr’s also owned WKHM in Jackson, WKMF in Flint and either WSAM in Saginaw or WBCM in Bay City. After Fred Knorr’s death in 1961, his widow, Nellie Knorr sold all but the stations in Dearborn, Jackson & Battle Creek. As a matter of fact, the switch to WKNR was supposed to hype the station in order to sell it off. But after WKNR ended up dominating Detroit radio with 30 shares, Knorr Broadcasting decided to ride it out. Jackson was sold off in the late 60s, WKFR was sold to Kent Kalega’s Engineering Investment Corp.
    in 1970, and WKNR was sold to Johns Communications that same year.


    • A small correction: The station VP & GM at the time was Kent Kanaga (Kn-AYga)
      We called him The Friar because of his small stature, goodly girth and bald pate. A very decent man was Kent. God rest him.
      JM


  2. I listened to Keener 14 starting in late 1968 or early 1969. During this period, I recorded two tapes of the Bob Nyles Sunday Subway; one in July 1969 and the other in December 1969.

    This weekly program running Sunday from 7 (later 8)pm to 1am had a theme made up of a 3 song segue: 1. A Song Is A Room (John Hartford), 2. Sgt. Pepper Opening (Beatles) and 3. Underground (artist unknown). Anyone with information on the third song “Underground” should comment on this board.

    Bob Nyles, the show host is still in radio out of Orlando, Florida. He does not recall who performed “Underground”.

    Thanks


  3. WOW !! loved Keener 13 – Keen 14 sounded just as great – Michigan had some great stations in the 60’s and 70’s !!


  4. The reverb sure brings back memories. I started at Keener in 1968 with Steve Clark, Bob Nyles, Jim Robinson, and others. Great memories.

    Randy Sly aka “Randolph W. Sly”


  5. Great aircheck. Like turning the clock back 40 years. Worked at Keener 14 1972-76. Great station then, and the aircheck tells me it was great in the 60’s as well.


  6. Are we sure this clip is dated correctly?

    The clip mentions winter (not July) and 007 Thunderball just coming out (this happened in December 1965).


    • From the news & sports “clues” scattered through the aircheck:

      The first 2/3rds of the aircheck is from Monday afternoon, July 25, 1966.

      The last third of the aircheck (starting around the mention of the “warm winter forecast”) is from Tuesday afternoon, January 4, 1966.


      • Appreciate listener corrections. When posting airchecks, I rely on the date printed on the tape, unless there is a note from the contributor or some other obvious clue that I happen to catch that changes it. That’s how the dates listed sometimes get posted in error. Please, continue to write corrections as you find them. I’ll leave things alone and let our visitors find out via these comments.


  7. I grew up listening to Kenner 14. What a hoot man. This is the place to be when you want to hear real good music. It brings back awesome memoirs. And Steve Clark was the man…


  8. Loved hearing these as I grew up in Battle Creek…I bet I heard these broadcasts live! As good as WKFR was, it never had more than 250 watts and was hard to get if you got a few miles from town. It put boring old WBCK in the shade, that’s for sure!


  9. WKFR was 1000 watts day and 250 watts night. Its original antenna was on top of the Michigan National Bank Building. It had a bad shadow to the west, caused by the bad “ground plane” of the building and the Security National Bank Building, to its west. In the late 1960’s the antenna and transmitter were moved to Territorial Road near riverside Drive, improving the western coverage.


  10. I worked at “Keener 14” and WKFR in about ’77 and ’78 with Barb Roth (previously from Salt Lake City) and the great “Wally Coleman,” actually Wally Ahlers. Great people. Especially fond memories of Mike Kinosian and the ever-termperamental but hilarious Eric Schwartkopf. I was in plays with his mother, Maida. (spelling?) Love to hear from any of you or anyone else from the Keener/WKFR late Seventies shift.


  11. Love revisiting those great old days .. and remembering all the amazing people I was fortunate enough to work for and with. I was there at the very beginning .. but made the mistake of staying too long. That’s when big corporate radio began sucking the fun and creativity out of the business. Also believe it’s responsible for limiting opportunities to develop new talent. It was great while it lasted, though.


  12. Keener 14’s transmitter had a big limiting resistor inline to the tower to lower the day and night signals. I was told by an engineer at the time it was to protect WSJM in St. Joseph, MI also on 1400khz, and I think I saw it referenced on the station license. I worked there 3 times in the early to mid-70s between and in addition to other radio jobs. They also picked up the WKNR calls for the AM in 1972 (the WKFR calls stayed on the FM) after the Detroit (Dearborn) stations became WNIC-AM and WNIC-FM. WKFR also would get hand me downs – I was also told the Scully reel to reel decks were used previously at WKNR. And Joseph Waldschmitt out of Washington, D.C. and Maryland owned Engineering Investment Corp. I don’t know if Kent Kanaga had any ownership but he could have since he had been there from the Enquirer and News days, through the Knorr days and right up to when Dave Hicks bought the stations from Waldschmitt. //www.battlecreekenquirer.com/assets/pdf/A513995786.PDF It was a great station!


  13. This is not the KHJ/WOR-FM/WWDJ Steve Clark. He was at KHJ at the time of this aircheck, and would be on his way to
    WOR-FM within a year.


  14. I worked the overnite/weekend shift at WKNR/WKFR-FM in 1977 when it was owned by Engineering Investment Corporation. Both stations were the first in the nation to be automated…….with Drake-Chenault programming.You can read my history at DRAKE-Chenault Hit Parade Demo here on U Tube………


  15. I grew up listening to this station. As a teenager, I went to their studios in the bank tower downtown to apply for my first radio job-only to be escorted out by bank security guards! WKMI-AM in Kalamazoo was a little more approachable, so I got my first weekend shift there, instead.


  16. I have no doubt that “Keener 14” was a knockoff of “Keener 13”. I know that WKNR was in Detroit in the ’60s, but many years later, the calls were used for 1220 in Cleveland, which previously had been WGAR. I don’t know what 1220 in Cleveland is now, but before 1310 (Detroit) was WKNR, it was WKMH.


  17. Follow up from my Aug. 2007 post. Finally found “Underground”. The tune was performed by the New Hobbits, believed to be one man act, Jimmy Curtiss. Curtiss went on to create Perception Records. It’s most famous release was King Harvest’s “Dancing In The Music”. Years of searching finally completed.


    • Keener 14 was WKNR 1400 Stereo 103 was WKFR 103,3 in Battle Creek in ’76/’77 when I was there. It was owned by Engineering Investment Corp,and ran Drake-Chenault tapes on both stations.Look up Drake Chenault HIT PARADE on U Tube for my history at the stations


  18. I found this site because I was wondering if Keener 14 was still a thing. I remember listening to it all day in the summer and right after school. Nothing to watch back then but Merv Griffin. Many good memories connected to what was playing on the radio. I used to listen to the adventures of “CHICKEN MAN” (he’s everywhere,he’s everywhere) lol . Thanks for the memories


    • Dick Orkin, the guy behind Chickenman, managed to get that series played all over the country. Then, he had it in syndication even into the early 80s! Chickenman was originally produced for and at WCFL Chicago. Okay, I might not be 100 percent correct on the ‘for’ part. Dick Orkin was on the air at WCFL when he produced Chickenman. At any rate, you’re going way back to the early and mid 1970s. I’m in my 50s but I remember Merv Griffin on days when I didn’t go to school mom watched him religiously… till she decided to get a job. After school cartoons like Fred Flinstone and the Jetsons… those I remembered fondly as well! For radio we didn’t have much where I grew up during the day… was just WBZ Boston or WAAF (FM) Worcester for us kids who were rockers. Till night time, then it was all WKBW Buffalo or WABC or WLS. Those sure were the days!


  19. I worked the 6pm to sign off shift at Keener 14 in 1971 (Bob Roberts). The radio staff was great! Barry Phillips in the AM, Rick D’Amico, mid morning and program director, Dick DeYoung early afternoon and Dave Hoppe afternoon drive. Oh Yeah, Gary “Mushmouth” Malerne on the weekends and Bob Doner, News Director. Mr. Kanega was a very good man. The station was like working in a major market in the day. Great memories.

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