St. Louis' Vintage Rock Station Was A "Lady" First
In early April 1998, a man who could be called the father of FM rock radio in St. Louis passed away in Jacksonville, Florida.
Ed Ceries and his wife created a classical radio station in the basement of their home in Crestwood on Feb. 11, 1961. They called their station “the lady of FM” and they gave it the call letters KSHE.
An article by James Kearns, Jr., in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch back then described the infant station at 1035 Westglen Drive as being spread out through the home’s rathskeller and basement, with the Associated Press teletype next to the clothes washer. Ceries had been an engineer for 20 years at KSD radio and television, then owned by the Post. At the age of 40, he decided to build his radio station.
KSHE broadcast fine arts, classical music and drama seven days a week from 7:45 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. The couple had one full-time and two part-time announcers to help them. Their life savings went into building the station, and Ceries is quoted in the article as saying, “The advertisers are staying away in droves. They find it hard to believe that FM is here to stay”.
This lack of advertising support forced the couple to slightly modify KSHE’s format in July of 1962, lightening the music but maintaining 10 percent of its music list in classical selections.
Drama was also a factor on the station. Sundays meant listeners could hear history’s great dramas, including many works by Shakespeare. Lectures from the Washington University Graham Chapel series were also broadcast. The Ceries admitted their operation was run on a shoestring. The news desk at KSHE consisted of several trays atop the chest-type freezer, into which wire copy was sorted. The trays had originally served as Mrs. Ceries’ baking pans.
(Reprinted with permission of the St. Louis Journalism Review. Originally published 5/98)