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Royals Radio Affiliate Spotlight: [KRLL-AM 1420] California, Missouri

As part of an ongoing series celebrating the Royals Radio network, we highlight KRLL 1420 AM in California Missouri. 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
Storm Lake, Iowa
Vinita, Oklahoma

KRLL AM 1420
California Missouri
Population: 4,137

Located 136 miles to the east of Kansas City lies little California, Missouri, the county seat of Montieau County in central Missouri. According to the US Census 9.6% of the families and 12.6% of the population of California lives below the poverty line. California is 93.5% white. California is the 163rd largest city in Missouri, just behind Union's 4,190, while Moniteau's 15,084 comes in at number 69 among the state's 115 counties.

According to the California Chamber of Commerce website,

California was originally founded as the township of Boonesborough in 1834 and later as the city of California in 1848. The story is told that the city was named after an early settler named California Wilson. According to the legend, California Wilson told two men during a "house raising" he would buy local residents two gallons of whiskey if they would name the town after him. We don't know if Mr. Wilson made good on his promise, but it makes a good story!
Always mythically linked with the other California, as Joe Garofoli wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle "settlers heading west with the mantra "California or bust" busted here". The Chamber goes on to boast, "despite its small size, California has some of the most unique and prosperous industries in mid-Missouri".

This prosperity includes Burger's Smokehouse a seller of meats dating back to 1952 (officially) but also with ties to an older establishment known as "Burger's Ozark Country Cured Hams" dating from the 1920s. Burger's sells a wide variety of meat, from buffalo to game to (of course) burgers. To give you an idea of the sort of place we're talking about, regarding ham, Burger's offers five varieties: "Attic Aged", "City", "German/Italian", "Ozark" and "Southern Smokehouse". Burger's also offers two varieties of bacon as well as a bacon alternative called "Jowl" (pictured left). The game variety offered by Burger's Smokehouse is particularly impressive: multiple varieties of duck, quail, pheasant and something called "capon" which is an Iowa variety of chicken.

Somewhat less romantic but still vital, is the HoneySuckle White/Cargill turkey processing plant outside of town. Honeysuckle White is "the-more-white-meat turkey" and dates to 1965.

For all this, California considers itself "The Country Ham Capital of the World". Tours of the Smokehouse are available, complete with large "dioramas that depict the seasons of the year" and various displays on the "art of meat curing". Every September since 1991, California hosts "The Ham and Turkey Festival" downtown, featuring the various contests, things to buy and fun and games you might expect. This includes a parade, car show and go-kart races. A 65-foot sub sandwich was also built, and eaten. The parade was themed the "Anything-Goes Parade" and the cavalcade of floats were broadcast live on KRLL AM. Just two weeks ago, the Chamber of Commerce began planning the Christmas Parade, although the report somewhat laconically ended with a note of lazy inattention,

since the meeting was held a few days prior to the Ozark Ham and Turkey Festival, reports were given about the progress of that event. All was going well.

Well there you have it.

The source for all California news is The California Democrat, the oldest business in the county, founded in 1858.

California features at least four parks, including Proctor Park, which features a hiking trail, as well as camping and fishing opportunities around the small lake inside the park.

Additionally, California is home to the somewhat oddly named Wood Place Public Library home to an impressive 14,000 books. The library opened in 1995 thanks to the efforts of Elia Wood Paegelow a truly unique woman who worked as an attorney and teacher and lived in numerous countries before returning home to California in the 1950s. The library was run by a local church from 1955-1998, when it finally closed. The library was restored and reopened in 1998 as a public one and now continues to thrive. On Friday afternoons news from the library is broadcast on KRLL-AM. This fall, the library will be offering multiple computer classes.

KRLL 1420 AM has no website, and according to is a "Classic Country" station. Amen to that. Although my definition of "classic" would include the 1980s material of the Highwaymen (as a group, and as individuals) so I don't know where that leaves me.

A hotbed of Royal Fandom, pictured as a radio-coverage map.

Fifty miles northeast of California, in Fulton, lies William Woods University, an "independent institution chartered by the State of Missouri" (I have no idea what this means, but WWU is also affiliated with the Disciples of Christ). Go Owls! There are a few schools closer to California, but almost all of them are within Jefferson City or Columbia's sphere-of-influence, cities who will probably be featured in their own profile someday. So... William Woods U. is a good choice.

Founded in 1870 as the aptly named "Female Orphan School", the school became William Woods University in 1993, the same year that the school began admitting men. (For more on William Woods, the man, click here.) William Woods University now offers a wide variety of majors and includes graduate programs in Education and Business Administration. Weirdly enough, the campus is also home to the "Rosa Parks Center" which is a home to female juvenile offenders. In 2004 (the most current year listed online) WWU had a full-time undergraduate enrollment of 72 students. WWU prides itself on small classes, a personal approach to education and innovative teaching. Everything else being equal, it may be the first school I've ever come across that offers an "Equestrian Studies" degree Every fall the school hosts the "WWU Jumper Derby" an event described with shocking modesty by the official website.

(The Derby) has grown a little each year, with many "outside" horses joining the WWU students and horses for a friendly competition. There is often a nice audience composed of not only friends and families of competitors, but also members of the Fulton community who just come out to enjoy an afternoon of show jumping

I love everything about that passage!

The 2005 WWU Volleyball team listened to the Royals intermittently on those nights when they could pick up KRLL-AM. They finished 5th in conference that year.

To my knowledge no Major-League players have ever been born or have died in California. While Jefferson City has produced its share of big leaguers, in honor of WWU we should note that Fulton's own Bake McBride played for the Cardinals, Phillies and Indians from 1973-1983. An outfielder, "Shake and Bake" -- who was legally named "Arnold Ray McBride" -- was a lifetime .299/.345/.420 hitter who belted 63 career homers and stole 183 bases. Although his career year was either 1975 or 1977, he somehow finished 21st in the 1974 NL MVP voting while winning the Rookie of the Year award. Not many people were hitting .300 in the 1970s, and his .308 as a rookie was 8th best in the league. In 1980 he finished fourth in the NL with a .309 average. 1980 also saw Bake finish 10th in the NL MVP voting.

Unquestionably the best player yet connected to a Royals Radio affiliate locale, Bake torched the Royals in the 1980 World Series, hitting .304/.360/.478 with a homer, five RsBI and three runs scored. His three-run, two-out homer in the third inning of Game One can be seen, in retrospect, as one of the key moments in the series, leading to a 7-6 Philadelphia win, as the Phils turned an early 4-0 deficit into a 5-4 lead. I believe Bake lives in St. Louis currently, but I'm not sure.

Fulton's Bake McBride tormented the Royals in 1980