After 65 years on air, still ag-focused

KRVN staff on Monday hosted an open house to celebrate the station's 65th anniversary. Staff also reminisced on air and replayed the first sign-on: "Ladies and gentlemen, it's a wonderful morning in Nebraska."

LEXINGTON, Neb. — "Ladies and gentlemen, it's a wonderful morning in Nebraska."

With those words, Max Brown welcomed listeners to KRVN on Feb. 1, 1951. On Monday, 65 years later, the current staff at KRVN in Lexington celebrated the anniversary by reminiscing on the air and hosting an open house.

KRVN is the flagship station of the Nebraska Rural Radio Association, which has grown to include nine stations in communities across Nebraska. The NRRA is unique among radio groups in that it is owned by a cooperative of farmers and ranchers and overseen by a nine-person board of directors made up of association members.

Craig Larson has been the general manager of the Rural Radio Network since 2012 and has been with the company since 1995. He works out of Scottsbluff but spent six or seven years in Lexington before becoming general manager.

Larson was among those welcoming guests to the station Monday. He said KRVN in particular has been successful because its staff has never forgotten the station's primary mission: to serve agriculture.

One of the motivating factors in the founding of KRVN was harsh winter weather in the late 1940s, which caused deaths in addition to extensive crop and livestock damage. The storms made clear the need for up-to-the-minute radio coverage in rural Nebraska.

"Our board of directors has a fiduciary responsibility of course, and revenue is important, but it's not the driving factor," Larson said. "If our board of directors thinks that sending our farm director to a meeting in Washington, D.C., is the best way to fulfill our mission of serving agriculture in Nebraska, then we will make that happen."

"We don't bring in voice-tracked cuts from 300 miles away," Larson said. "We have full service stations throughout the network, with news directors, sports directors and farm directors."

Tim Marshall, KRVN's station manager since December 2013, echoed that KRVN's unique ownership is a big part of what makes it successful, because it keeps the emphasis on the mission. "This morning, we played the first sign-on for the anniversary. The things they said then are the same things we say today, every day," Marshall said.

KRVN's coverage area includes all of Nebraska and parts of Kansas, South Dakota, Wyoming and Colorado.

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