Eagle Communication Receives Small Business Award
Tuesday, October 29, 2019
In May of 1935, Hutchinson’s first radio station, KWBG went on the air in downtown Hutchinson, the 9th in Kansas according to the Kansas Association of Broadcasters. In 1940, it became KWBW radio. Originally a 100-Watt station, power was raised to 1,000 watts as it is still today. Twenty years later KWBW moved to 17th & Harding, where it broadcast for over a half of century. In 1972, Owner Fred Conger, purchased a new frequency, KHUT-FM, 102.9 and its country format. In 1989 ownership of KHUT and KWBW changed hands and eventually Bob Schmidt became sole owner of the two frequencies and renamed the company Eagle Communications. In 1998, Schmidt began transferring ownership of the company to 116 of his faithful employees through an Employee Stock Ownership Program. Another station KHMY-FM, 93.1 was purchased in 2002 and in April of 2007, all stations were combined into one at its present location at 825 North Main in Hutchinson. In 2012, Employee Owners started a new venture by adding its digital newspaper, Hutch Post then a year later added KWBW-FM, 98.5.
Eagle Communications provides services for three select groups of people. First, to listeners of their radio stations offering entertainment, news, weather coverage, music, talk radio, sports and information. With 325 combined years of ‘on-air’ broadcast experience from 10 talented individuals, Eagle is truly unique in offering a well-seasoned, mature, and professional on-air presence to its listeners. Second, to readers of Hutch Post they offer local and statewide news and sports, ‘live’ local weather stats and radar and other various information through their digital platform. And third, to their advertisers. Without them, their stations and Hutch Post wouldn’t exist. With the help of over 190 combined years in broadcast sales from 9 gifted individuals who work at Eagle, their marketing experience lends itself to be unmatched in the area for helping businesses grow.
With the advancements of technology, specifically on-air computers, it has resulted in the slowing process of finding young broadcasters who are entering the industry. In other words, computers are replacing people. That has given limited opportunities for people to train on-the-air since computers can be programmed to fill specific slots. Nonetheless, Eagle Communication still believes that people are the real assets, so they strive to overcome that challenge by constantly being on the look-out via high school and college graduates or those already in the work force who want to change careers. Eagle will always find a place for talented people!
At Eagle Communications, they believe they are there to work together to help each other so that they can better serve the three groups of people they are responsible for. They offer their employees the tools needed to get the work done, specifically training. In sales, they train daily as a group or through individual one-on-one meetings. They also offer many benefits to their employees including health insurance, life insurance, a 401K matching plan and the 100% employee owned Employee Stock Ownership Program. This program is truly rare, if not unique, in that it provides a solid long-term plan that allows the employee to earn shares within the company without paying for or buying them.
Community involvement is important at Eagle Communications. They host a variety of Chamber events at the Eagle Media Center and coordinate the annual 4th of July Parade in Downtown Hutchinson. They also participate in many community initiatives including Adopt A Child during the Christmas season to help the Department of Children and Families, Project Concern during the Thanksgiving season in partnership with the Salvation Army, the Reno County Veteran’s Memorial, Boo at the Zoo, the Reno County Food Bank, the Hutch Postal Food Drive, and the Reno County 4-H Fair.
Thank you for all you do for our community!