Imagine the scene of a family sitting around in a living room after they’ve finished dinner. The parents are on the couch, maybe a sister sitting in a chair and a brother sprawled out on the floor. They are gathered closer than just sitting in the room; their attention fixed on what appears to be a wooden box. If this were a painting one might title it “The Golden Era of Radio.” Radio was the first broadcast medium and families gathered most evenings to tune in to their favorite radio mysteries, plays, talent shows, variety hours, current news, cooking shows and more. This era lasted well into the fifties before television surpassed radio as the most popular broadcast medium.
Radio kept its place in the broadcasting world, but shifted to different formats of news, talk, sports and music. Broadcasters began to curate and provide their own distinctive formats and programs and their personalities came to life over the radio waves. Media theory philosopher Marshall McLuhan quoted, “Radio affects most intimately, person-to-person, offering a world of unspoken communication between writer-speaker and the listener.”
Cue “the Voice of Mitchell County,” KVMC signing on in 1950, in Colorado City, Texas. However, it was not until the 1980’s that a single name would be associated with that tagline. Jim Baum graduated high school in 1954 and spent a couple of years in the National Guard serving his country. He then went on to play minor league baseball for the Pittsburg Pirate’s farm league for two years. After his baseball career came to an end, he found his true passion of radio. He worked at radio stations in Abilene, Big Spring and Midland before he purchased his own station, KVMC.
Owning a station was a personal goal and passion of Baum’s and he had finally achieved it. Along with his wife and several like-minded individuals, Jim Baum ran KVMC and truly became the voice of Mitchell County. Not only was he the station owner, but he was also the Mayor of Colorado City three times, holding the position for more than 20 years. He was known for taking in rescue dogs, collecting baseball cards and his love of local sports teams. Jim’s personality and love for his community shone through his long-standing segment called “Community Close-up”, where he would ask members of the community to come in for an interview. This was known to be a special opportunity, should you be lucky enough to be asked. It was said he served up a mix of local news, wry observations, history, music, and mirth. He would often stay on the air well into the night to keep the community informed of area wildfires, thunderstorms and even a tornado in 2004.
Jim devoted nearly 40 years of his career to KVMC and Mitchell County before his passing in 2018. One of Jim’s wishes was to leave several items in the care of the Heart of West Texas Museum in Colorado City. Today, you can visit the Jim Baum Exhibit at the museum to see some of the radio equipment and even read the logs of his “Community Close-up” segments. On March 30, 2022, the Jim Baum Memorial Highway sign was officially unveiled on a stretch of Business Interstate Highway 20-J in his honor. Today, KVMC/KAUM continues to boast 70 years of broadcasting and supports the community of Colorado City as Wolf Country 107.1 FM.