Community stalwart KURM Radio in Rogers ceasing operations after 45 years

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 3,615 views 

KURM Radio owner Kermit Womack says the Rogers radio station will cease operations on July 1.

KURM Radio (790-AM, 100.3 FM), a long-standing radio station headquartered in Rogers, will cease operations on July 1, marking the end of nearly 45 years of broadcasting. According to a news release on Monday (June 17), the decision comes in the wake of health issues faced by the station’s owner, Kermit Womack.

Established on Nov. 9, 1979, KURM has been a regional staple known for covering local events across a three-state area.

Womack, 89, expressed his regret over the closure, noting the challenges of maintaining the station’s unique radio style amid personal health struggles.

“It’s with a great deal of regret that I announce today the end of an era in local broadcasting,” Womack said in the release. “KURM has been a mainstay in this region for nearly 45 years, dedicated to the coverage of local events across a three-state region. Our style of radio is hard to do. That, coupled with some unfortunate health circumstances, have led to this decision.”

Womack, a broadcaster with more than 70 years of experience, is known by station listeners as “The Colonel.” Last year the Rogers Rotary Club presented him with the Dick Daniel Distinguished Citizen Award. It recognizes and honors individuals “who strive toward the highest level of community involvement, influence, and dedication of time and energies toward making our community a better place to live.”

According to the release, Womack’s career began after graduating from Arkansas Tech University in 1956. It included stints at stations in Russellville, Lexington, Mo., and Moberly, Mo., before founding KURM in Rogers.

U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, who represents Arkansas’ Third District and is Kermit’s son, played a crucial role in launching KURM and managed the station for 11 years before leaving the business to join the Army ROTC program at the University of Arkansas and later becoming mayor of Rogers.

“It’s a sad day, to be sure,” Rep. Womack said. “But over time, not only has this business changed dramatically, but the listening habits of people have changed. There are simply too many outlets competing for consumers.

“My father is an institution. He’s among the last of a vanishing breed. He is KURM, and if he is unable to continue, it is fitting that the station retires with him.”

KURM has been deeply integrated into the local media scene, prioritizing community involvement with a strong focus on local news, weather, sports and agriculture. The station’s popular programs, such as “Dial-a-Trade” and “Party Line,” and its commitment to local church broadcasts and the coverage of Rogers Mounties sports, have been central to its identity. Additionally, KURM has hosted the Dream Team Banquet for high school athletes since its inception and has been a fixture at regional events.

The station’s license is for sale, with Womack seeking time from the Federal Communications Commission to facilitate a sale. Regardless, KURM will go silent after its final broadcast on July 1. The day will feature regular morning programming and a special reception from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. for listeners and community leaders to honor Womack’s contributions.

According to the release, the closure will culminate with Kermit and Steve Womack turning off the transmitter together, echoing the station’s initial sign-on in 1979.