The Royals Radio Network is comprised of 86 affiliates and stretches across eight states. In this recurring series (previous features listed below at the bottom of the page) Royals Review attempts to give each affiliate its proper airing, celebrating the regional reach and heritage of Royals baseball. In a sporting era corrupted by the endless quest for the big money, baseball on the radio is a decidedly low-stakes, low-tech venture. Let it always lay hidden like a strength in the backyards of the mind.
Miles from K.C.: 314
Home to 46,000 souls, Enid is one of three Royal strongholds in Oklahoma, and the eighth largest city in the Sooner State. If you remove technical cities which are more suburbs of Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Enid is about the fifth largest town/city/place in Oklahoma, and the biggest population center in the northern part of the state. The Royals are likely the third most popular team in Oklahoma, far behind the Rangers and somewhat surprisingly, the Cardinals, who remain strong in pockets there, especially east of OKC. The radio home for the Royals in Enid is 1640 KFXY-AM, The Score! a member of the Sporting News Radio Network, and owned by the Chisholm Trail Broadcasting company. Thanks to the team’s presence in Enid, according to this coverage map, on certain nights, Royals baseball on the radio can be heard on the northern side of Oklahoma City (maybe even the whole metro), and, perhaps, in Stillwater. A divided city, Enid also is claimed by the Cardinals, who are broadcast on 1390 KCRC-AM, one of their six affiliates in Oklahoma. Interestingly, despite their strong fanbase in Oklahoma, the Rangers do not have a radio affiliate there, instead relying on the franchise’s historic minor league connections to Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the proximity to the DFW metroplex, and the Rangers-tilt to Fox Sports Southwest. For whatever reason, I’ve always sensed that Oklahomans, despite the Texas/Oklahoma rivalry, have always looked south for their pro sports teams, especially the Cowboys, rather than north or northeast towards Kansas City, especially in Oklahoma City. With affiliates in Tulsa and Vinita, the Royals have staked out some northern turf, but it remains contested.
According to the 2000 Census, 2.1% of Enid’s population identified themselves as "American Indian and Alaska Native", which is neither here nor there. What jumps out however, is the raw total: 999. Coolness. I’m all for growth in the Native population, but holding at 999 is kinda neat. Getting exactly to 1,000 wouldn’t be half bad either. Enid is also the seat of Garfield County, population 57,657, and the 12th most populous county in the state. For the curious, 19% of the state lives in Oklahoma County, site of Oklahoma City, which of course is in Oklahoma. They must have run out of other words, back in the 1880s. Eh, Oklahoma’s good. Let’s just call everything that.
Enid, the sole civilized place, nay, only geographic entity, between Dallas and the Dakotas.
What stands out about Enid is her relatively unique size. At this stage in American civilization, it doesn’t seem like there’s a real place for large towns/small cities like Enid, at least in how we imagine ourselves or the places we live. What, anyway, would you call Enid? Is it a "city"? It’s large enough to have a true downtown, its fair share of chain restaurants and stores, actual community assets and a few activities, but maybe not enough to make it fully urban. Moreover, Enid stands alone in northern Oklahoma, which may make it seem somewhat larger than it really is, but also exists for no obvious reason (at least to an outsider) as its not the state capital, or a college town, or anything like that.
I grew up in a town of about 9,000, and at that size definitely felt as if I knew everyone and that everyone knew me, and my parents. (Of course, this is often how kids can feel, no matter where they live.) Living in Iowa City however, I’ve never really felt that way, even though it’s not a very big place, with a population around 60,000. Ditto for South Bend (pop. 107,000). To me, Iowa City and South Bend, I felt just like I did living in Austin (pop. 700,000) only there was less stuff to do. So is a city of 50,000 less weird than one of 100,000? I don’t know. Then again, this could all be very idiosyncratic, and it wouldn’t shock me if people in Enid feel like "everybody knows everybody" or whatever. Or, put another way, when someone from Enid shows up at OU their freshman year, do the associate themselves with the city kids from Tulsa and OKC, or with the small-town kids from Payne or Wayne or whatever. Or, do they link up with those from similar middle towns, like, say, Muskogee? If you’re from Enid and your roomie is from Tulsa, do you make a few jokes about the bumpkins to establish a rapport? Do you play up your own ruralness? I wish I knew.
According to the Chamber of Commerce however, at least one of the awards they trumpet, Enid is rural. The Chamber homepage proudly quotes the wisdom of Progressive Farmer Magazine, which names Garfield County as 8th best "place to live in rural America".
Despite the skyline minimizing effects of this angle, you can see Enid’s got some tall buildings going on. (photo via Enid Buzz)
The tallest building in Enid is the Broadway Tower, which by my count appears to be about fifteen stories tall, and is rivaled only by grain elevators. In the mid-1990s, the Broadway Tower gained some notoriety for all the wrong reasons:
Enid boasts a number of museums, my favorite being The Midgley Musuem, humbly (perhaps unintentionally so) described by the Chamber in this way,
And they do come, those gem and mineral buffs. They do.
But about the name: Enid. To this jaundiced ear Enid sounds like a hideous male first name, likely given to someone living somewhere in the old Confederacy and to someone who is likely to know a lot about cars. In my mind’s ear, I can hear an awful female voice calling out, "Enid, your durn dog done ran off again and bit Bubba." A version of pastoral, I suppose. Or, Enid could also be one of those really ugly Irish names, which somehow people think is beautiful, because, well, white people love Ireland. Surprisingly, there might be some merit to this second hunch, as one story is that Enid’s name was inspired by a character in Tennyson’s Idylls of the King by the same name. Enid was the wife of Geraint, one of Arthur’s knights, but one of the least credited medieval hotties, which inspired a railroad man to name the bustling town after her. However, there are exists a counter-tradition that claims that the town became Enid after a sign that read "DINE" fell over and was read upside down. To be honest, both stories seem unlikely.
According to Enid History.com, while Enid was founded in 1893, the real golden age of Enid didn’t begin until 1917, when oil was found in Garfield County. Since then, Enid’s rode the oil industry through it’s cyclical ups and downs, but also been stabilized by the nearby presence of Vance Air Force Base, which lies four miles outside of town. In this regard, Enid has followed a similar pattern, on a larger scale, of fellow Royals Radio Affiliate Winfield, Kansas.
For local news, the people of Enid turn to The Enid News and Eagle. The Royals haven’t cracked the sports section much recently, but the broadcast times for Royals baseball on the radio have reliably shown up in the Radio-TV listings, this season, which gives us hope that Enid isn’t one of those rascally affiliates that actually doesn’t broadcast the Royals all that much. The website Enid Buzz is also quite helpful, and features a blog which keeps everyone updated with the goings on around town. (Enid Buzz was also invaluable to me in researching Enid.)
Home to the Enid Symphony Orchestra, Enid is an outpost for classical fans in Northern Oklahoma. On April 26th, while we cheer on the Royals during RR fest, the E.S.O. will treat the citizens of Enid to a performance of Pops at the Ballpark. The ballpark? The David Allen Ballpark, the city’s home for high school baseball since 1999. For my money, I’d rather take in a concert at the Symphony Hall, which dates back to the 1920s, and still features one of those bizarre rooms, like this Egypt themed one (pictured), which you simply don’t see anymore. In an oil town that used to sit on Cherokee land, somehow there’s a story that the place is named after a fictitious medieval woman and an old Masonic lodge done up like some imagined version of an Egyptian palace. America, land of the strange.
Do you remember beloved white eighties basketball player Mark Price? The people of Enid do, honoring their hometown boy by naming their downtown arena after him in 1993, when Price was still an active player and sorta good. I guess. Mark Price Arena (career stats) seats 2,500 people and was originally known as the Convention Hall. Once the home to the Oklahoma Storm, a USBL team that appears to have folded (or the league has) Mark Price Arena, like the Symphony Hall, has been around for awhile, and wouldn’t be a bad place to catch a game, which luckily is possible since it still hosts high school basketball contests.
One of the odder highlights of Enid is the strangely named Leonardo’s Discovery Warehouse & Adventure Quest (link), a kind of children’s museum and playground. The latter, the Adventure Quest, is billed as one of the largest playgrounds in the world. Leonardo’s also offers a Carpentry Shop, a Music Lab, a costume area, and a gift shop focusing on educational toys. There is also a miniature zoo, or somesuch, along with a dinosaur area. Why is it called Leonardo’s? I don’t know.
Sneak a radio into one of those towers and set it to Royals baseball. I’ll give you a dollar.
Large enough to support numerous private high schools of the Catholic, Lutheran and "Bible"/Christian variety, Enid also features a 2-12 (age, not grade) montessori alternative, The Cimarron Montessori School. Doubtlessly never chastised as a bunch of "[derogatory term for homosexuals]" or hippies, the school has been serving Enid since 1975. Enid is also home to the Enid campus of Northwestern Oklahoma State University. N.O.S.U.-Enid offers seventeen (by my count) B.A. degrees, including Business Administration, Criminal Justice, History, Nursing and E-Commerce. (No English. Ouch! You have to go to the main campus in Alva for that.) Northern Oklahoma College also has a branch campus in Enid and the existence of the two schools has created the Bridge Program, which aims to unite these two rivals and draw upon collective resources. As Philip Larkin said, "always, it is by bridges that we live."
This cooperation extends to the world of pageants, and in 2008, Courtney Brice, one of Enid’s daughters did her hometown proud, finishing as the first runner-up at the Miss Northwestern Pageant. Brice, a pageant veteran, was unable to repeat the success she had at the 2006 Miss NOC-End, which she won. The valedictorian of Enid High School, Brice did two years at NOC before transferring to NWOSU. The winner of Miss Northwestern was Ashlynn Frey, who titled her platform "Hang Up and Save Lives – Promoting Highway Safety". (link) According to this pre-show press release, Brice’s platform was "Save a Life – Donate Blood" and her talent was playing the piano. Her hobbies include "painting, shopping and being outdoors". Longtime readers of Royals Review will certainly give her credit for not listing swimming or dancing as a favorite.
Courtney, in the blue, is the REAL Miss Northwest, according to those in Enid. All three however, listen to the Royals constantly on 1640 KFXY-AM.
Enid can claim at least one Major League player as her own, eighties era left-handed pitcher Ray Hayward (stats). Hayward, like many from Enid, attended the University of Oklahoma, before being drafted by the Pirates in the twelfth round of the 1982 draft. Hayward elected not to sign, which turned out to be brilliant, as the Padres took him in the first round of the 1983 draft, number 10th overall. Twenty five years later, the first round of the ’83 draft looks fairly weak, Roger Clemens (#19) notwithstanding, with the Royals’ pick of Gary Thurman (#21) actually one of the more successful picks. Three years later, Hayward debuted with the Padres as a September callup, struggling in three starts (10 innings pitched total, 9.00 ERA).
In 1987, over a two week span in June, Hayward appeared in four games as a reliever, and was again ineffective, posting a 16.50 ERA in six innings. Hayward was traded to the Cubs in February, then on to Texas in March. With the ’88 Rangers, Hayward had his best season making twelve starts en route to a 4-6 record and a 5.46 ERA. On May 18, 1988, in Toronto, Hayward made the best start of his life, throwing a complete game shutout in a 4-0 Rangers win. Hayward’s final big league appearance was a July 5th start against the Yankees, an outing which would not be one’s ideal career-ender. The Yankees started the game thus: single, (balk), single, walk, walk, walk. Hayward did not record an out, and raised his season ERA 4.74 to 5.46, and his career mark from 6.18 to 6.75. Hayward remained in the minor leagues until 1991, and since his playing career ended, Hayward has remained in the game in a variety of rules, including serving as a scout for multiple teams, and as the pitching coach for the Sooners.
Previous Affiliate Profiles:
Storm Lake, Iowa
Garden City, Kansas
Belle Fourche, South Dakota
Nebraska City, Nebraska
Mount Pleasant, Iowa