More off-day theatre. This was the second profile in the Royal Radio Affiliate Series, an occasional feature here on Royals Review that looks to highlight the regional character of the Royal fanbase. The mysteries of Conway likely remain hidden from us a year later.
Conway, Arkansas- Population: 45,000
Distance from Kansas City: 394 Miles
Last month Royals Review profiled Royal Radio Network member KAWL AM in York, Nebraska, a quaint little berg of 8,000 in the east central corridor of the Cornhusker State. Today, we turn our attention to Conway, Arkansas, the southernmost affiliate in the Royals network. While the Royals have all but abandoned Oklahoma to the Rangers and the outreaches of the Cardinal Nation, the KC'ers still have some presence in Arkansas. Doubtlessly, there's the Glass factor at play regarding the Bentonville affiliate, but the Royals also maintain affiliates throughout the north-west portion of the state: Fort Smith, Russellville and Harrison.
Which brings us to Conway. As Conway Online states:
This central location makes Conway a major distribution and service center for the Central Arkansas population. Within a 500 mile radius there are 17 states and 24 metropolitan areas which include over a third of the nation's population.
Conway is also a frequent stop over for travelers on their way to Branson. Conway is only 130 miles from Branson.
Conway's population was 43,167 according to the 2000 Census. This shows a growth rate of about 5% each year. Estimates also show that by the year 2008 the population should be around 60,000. Conway is also home to approximately 11,000 college students who live in the city during the academic year. Conway is located in Faulkner county.
You can find Conway right there in the middle, just north of Little Rock.
As the snippet above notes, Conway is something of a college town. Conway is home to Hendrix College, which was founded in 1876, is affiliated with the United Methodist Church and boasts 1,042 undergraduate students. Weirdly enough, they also boast "7 graduate students". Seven? Thats just strange, although I assume there's probably a small Methodist seminary somewhere on campus accounting for those lonely few. 58% of Hendrix students are native Arkansans, and 80% live on campus. I'm pretty sure I received some Hendrix mail during my JR/SR year of high school as well. Beyond Hendrix, Conway is home to The University of Central Arkansas, itself founded in 1907 and home to 11,375 students, including 1,406 grad students. Some of my favorite on-campus organizations at UCA are this, this and, of course, this.
The ladies of Sigma Kappa (UCA Chapter) listen to the Royals constantly on KASR-FM.
The more I read about Conway, the more interesting it sounds. Conway is the 8th largest city in the state, although according to the US Census Bureau, its also more generally a part of the Little Rock Metro Area, considering its proximity to the Capital. Nevertheless, Conway's population has grown by 10% in recent years, making it one of the fastest growing cities in Arkansas. More Conway facts: 84% White, 16.3% Below Poverty and an average travel time to work of 19.9 minutes. I'm not sure if that means some people work in Little Rock (30 miles away) or not.
As for KASR-FM itself, the station a) has a website (the one in York didn't) but b) it hasn't been updated since around June, depending on where you go. Sadly, it looks like they also broadcast the Cardinals, as well as minor league, college and high school sports. Even Yankee Games are listed on the schedule from last month thats still around. Sheesh. Even more sadly, the Cardinals also list Conway's KASR-FM as an affiliate, so its questionable to consider Conway anything resembling a Royals' Town. If anyone lives around the area, I'd love to know more about what games they carry most...
Jeff McKnight, an infielder with the Mets and Orioles from 1989-1994 was born in Conway, the only Major Leaguer I could find born in the town. McKnight (who I admit I've never heard of) never hit higher than .256, and posted a career line of .233/.284/.304 in 404 at bats. Nearly half of McKnight's career work came in the 1993 season, with a dismal Mets team that went 59-103. McKnight played in 31 games in 1994, and never appeared again in a Major League game. How the Herk-era Royals avoided signing him in the late 1990s, I do not know.
Amazingly, there's a web feature I've found devoted to Jeff's Mets career. Actually, there are (at least) two such sites. Incredible.
Conway also boasts a sadder alumnus, as it was where Marv Blaylock died in October of 1993. Blaylock, like McKnight, was a bit of a limited hitter, holding a career line of .235/.314/.363 in 746 at bats. Marv played in one game with the 1950 New York Giants, only to spend the next four years out of the Big Leagues. Blaylock resurfaced with the 1955 Phillies at the age of 25, and was the regular first baseman for a 77-77 Phillies team. The next season, also with Blaylock getting the bulk of time at first base, the '56 Phillies went 71-83, and despite his 8 triples, Blaylock slugged only .385. Blaylock played in 37 more games -- often as a defensive replacement -- in 1957, then vanished from the registers of the National or American leagues. According to the Baseball Almanac, Marv was part of a fairly large number of unrelated baseball Blaylocks playing during the middle part of the last century. Here is their summation of Marv's life:
The first and most successful was Marv, a left-handed first baseman and outfielder. His twelve-year career included two stints in the majors - a pinch-hitting appearance with Giants in 1950 and a stint of two-seasons-plus-change with the Phillies in the mid-1950's. Altogether, his major league record shows a .237 batting average, fifteen home runs, and 78 RBI. A high rate of strikeouts and the presence of the more promising prospects made Marv a temporary answer to a permanent question, and most of his career was spent in the minors. A native of Fort Smith, Arkansas, Marv attended Fort Smith Junior College briefly before turning pro in at seventeen. A quick climb up the Giants' organization resulted in his one-game appearance in 1950, and in 1953 he was traded to the Phillies for shortstop Claude Corbitt. A successful season with Syracuse in 1954 (.303, 22-76), gave him his longer shot at major league status.Moment of silence for Marv.
When that ended early in the 1957 season he was sent to the Phillies' International League affiliate in Miami. A .300-season at Nashville in 1959 ended Marv's career. Following his baseball days, Marv was a salesman in the music business in the Little Rock area, and he died in Conway, AR, in 1993.
The primary Newspaper in Conway seems to be the Log Cabin Democrat, but considering the purpose of the Log Cabin Republicans, I couldn't help but wonder if I was somehow mislead. Either way, the Sports Page of the online edition includes no mention of the Royals. Tragic.
You can fish or (in theory) swim in this spooky looking lake near Conway.
Unlike our last spotlighted city of York, NE. I'm not sure I've ever been to Conway. I've driven through Arkansas four or five times, and have even left the I-30 corridor from Texarkana to Memphis a few times. Before Christmas 2004, I was caught in an Arkansas snowstorm as I crawled my way through the state, eventually abandoning I-30 for a more southerly route (thinking south=warm). I never made it home that day, in fact, I never made it out of the state, spending Christmas Eve Eve in Magnolia Arkansas before heading to Austin the next day. Obviously, this heartwarming memory has nothing to do with anything...
According to Radio Locator, the range of KASR is 2.1 miles in Conway, but 21.1 miles in nearby Vilonia. Either way, most of the time, most of Little Rock should be able to hear KASR.
Whether its a Royals, Cardinals or random high school game, well, I don't have that information.