The new Wichita Union Stockyards isn’t all that ranchers Mike and Tina Andra have planned.
In addition to the event center the two are building on 40 acres at 6425 W. MacArthur in Sedgwick County, they’re also getting into the radio business in a bigger way.
Just over a year ago, they became minority owners in Larry Steckline’s KWLS, 107.9-FM, a station that plays classic country and has ag, market and weather reports.
Now, they’re finalizing a deal to buy the station from Steckline, which means he will be stationless for the first time since before buying his first radio station in Hays in 1974.
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“By golly, a person gets old,” says Steckline, 75. “If I was the same age I was in ’74, I wouldn’t even begin to think about getting out.”
He says he spends a lot of time in Florida now for the warmer weather.
“It’s hard to run any business, let alone a radio station, from Florida.”
He will, though, continue to do ag reports on the station and be a consultant, which pleases the Andras.
“Because, man, he’s been the voice of Kansas agriculture for probably the better part of 40 years,” Mike Andra says.
“He’s the kind of guy that can pick up the phone and call … the U.S. secretary of agriculture or U.S. senators, and they’ll take the call. He’s got that much clout.”
Mike Andra says he listens to KWLS almost exclusively.
“It’s basically about the only … FM station that carries ag markets and commentary,” he says. “If we lost that station to absentee ownership, chances are that might have disappeared from the area.”
Steckline says he’s “just tickled to death to keep it a home-grown radio station.”
“I was very hesitant in selling the station to one of the conglomerates.”
Mike Andra says he wants KWLS to be a station driven by listeners, and he wants them to be able to visit KWLS in its office at 6800 W. Kellogg and reach him if they want to.
“That’s just something you don’t get nowadays,” he says. “You have no idea who to talk to.”
Andra says he and his wife think the station will be a good fit with their Stockyards center.
The station has concerts throughout the year, and the Andras want to have some of them at the Stockyards and possibly simulcast some.
Steckline expects the sale, which will be for $2,550,000, to close in June. Look for more information then.