Royals Radio Affiliate Spotlight: [KAYL-AM] Storm Lake, Iowa

As part of an ongoing series celebrating the Royals Radio network, we highlight WAYL-AM 990 in Storm Lake, our first Iowa affiliate to be spotlighted. The Royals Radio Network spans across eight states and from time to time Royals Review celebrates the romantic regionalism of the boys in blue. Maybe it is false nostalgia, but is there anything better than picking up a distant radio signal on a summer night? Of course, in these days of syndication too much local flavor has been replaced... The Royals Network, well, its not local and its not national. We explore that space between in these features.

Previous Affiliate Profiles:

York, Nebraska
Conway, Arkansas
Waynesville, Missouri
Topeka, Kansas

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[WAYL-AM 990] Storm Lake Iowa- Population: 10,000

The Royals are a stealth prescence in Iowa, a state that seems to be solid Cubs category. Thanks to geography, lots of Chicagoland students at the U of I, and, of course, the Iowa Cubs, the state bleeds blue and white. The Cardinals also claim territory, particularly in the Southeastern portion of the state. Still, the Royals have five Iowa Radio Affiliates: Des Moines, Mt. Pleasant, Shenandoah, Sioux Center and Storm Lake.

Located 306 miles from Kansas City lies lovely Storm Lake, Iowa, the largest city in Buena Vista County. According to the US Census, the current population of Storm Lake is 9,963 down from 10,002 in 2001. Storm Lake is the 36th largest city in Iowa, just behind those bastards in Carroll, who sit at 10, 047. Buena Vista county boasts 20,151 proud residents and is (this will stun you) the 36th most populous county in the state. OK, no one move or die for the next twenty years. Lets keep this perfect symmetry in place.

In fact, one of the fascinating things about Iowa is the remarkable regularity of its population distribution: beyond a general tilt towards a more populous eastern part of the state the 99 Iowa counties are highly similar, a town of 7-15,000 at the center of each county and smaller communities every 7 miles (the farthest comfortable distance one can walk back and forth) in each direction.

No overweight men were harmed in the taking of this photo from Storm Lake.

Returning to lovely Storm Lake, the Chamber of Commerce boasts:

Iowa's hidden treasure! This vibrant community, nestled in the heart of northwest Iowa, provides a welcome relief from hectic city life. The beauty of Storm Lake will astound you. The sun sparkling off of this 3,200-acre playground beckons to those yearning for respite, but also to those seeking excitement. Exceptional cuisine, delightful shopping, and a fun, relaxing atmosphere await in the city of Storm Lake.
This brings us to Storm Lake itself, a 3,000 acre natural lake located just south of town, which is currently being restored through a massive dredging effort aimed at reversing the deleterious effects of years of erosion, improper drainage and siltation. Basically, Storm Lake is getting muddy, shallow and lifeless. Not good. According to State surveys, the average depth of the lake is only 2.8 meters, although this is up from an average of 2.4 meters in 2000. Luckily, Iowa Senator Tom Harkin supports the dredging project, and was on hand this August in Storm Lake to meet with officials. He also, apparently, just loves Blizzards.

You must admit, it's a unique geographical situation out at Storm Lake, there simply aren't many real, non-tourist towns built right on a medium sized natural lake. Especially on the Royals Radio Network! Unfortunately, something called Project Awaysis is in the works on the lakeshore opposite the town. Ugg. I hope I get to visit Storm Lake before this blight gets built.

Save the Lake!!

Storm Lake is also home to Buena Vista University an independent university originally founded by Presbyterians in 1891. The Storm Lake campus is now the flagship for a state-wide network of campuses, with 1,214 undergraduate students at the Storm Lake campus and 1,378 scattered across the various regional campuses. There are also 69 graduate students at BVU, nearly all in the school's "School Guidance and Counseling" program. The school's mascot is, get this, the Beavers, (get it?) and the campus boasts a wealth of organizations, teams, clubs and all the rest. The yearbook is called "The Log" and the Fellowship of Christian Beavers is extremely active, as are the "Beavers in God". At this time Royals Review cannot comment on the relationships between the two groups, however.

Beyond Buena Vista, Storm Lake boasts one high school, one middle school and four elementary schools. I'm sure they are all incredible.

The Students in the Honors Residence Hall at BVU listen to the Royals constantly on KAYL-AM.

For Storm Lake news, check The Storm Lake Times, perhaps before enjoying a relaxing meal at The Boathouse, which looks like a great place to eat. Storm Lake claims at least one native son in the annals of big league history, as right-handed pitcher Joe Decker was born in Storm Lake in 1947. Decker played for the Cubs, Twins and Mariners, from 1969-79. So yes, he played for the infamous '69 Cubs, pitching in four games and making a solo start on September 18th, when the Cubs were already 5 games behind the Mets. The Cubs lost that day 5-3, before 5,796 at Wrigley Field. Think about that the next time someone tells you baseball is dying. When Decker left the game he owned a 3-2 lead, so this loss can't be pinned on him. Decker's career line? 105 starts, with 47 games in relief for a total of 710 innings and a 4.17 lifetime ERA. Decker died on March 2, 2003 in Fraser Michigan.

(Moment of silence for Joe Decker...)

(Thank You.)

KAYL 990 AM is the sister station of 101.7 FM, which plays Adult Contemporary. According to Radio-Locator dot com, KAYL is a "strong" signal, so we can rest assured that generations of Royals fans exist in northwestern Iowa. Hundreds of Storm Lake children our idolizing Angel Berroa as we speak. "Daddy, could I manage a sub-.300 OBP too?" Storm Lake is 107 miles from the home of the Omaha Royals and 109 miles from the Iowa Cubs in Des Moines. The nearest Major League team is actually the Twins, with the Twin Cities only 187 miles away.

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