In 1960, Tom and Janice Chrissman made it easier for those in the then active oil patch to communicate by opening Mobile Radio Service.
At the time, their focus was the repair of Motorola two-way radios sold by company sales reps. Times have changed.
The businesses, located south of Great Bend on U.S. 281, held an open house Friday to celebrate its 50th anniversary amid an exciting time in the radio field. “I want to thank all of you,” Bob Jarmer, one of the store owners, said to those gathered.
“Fifty years is phenomenal,” said Frank Monteleone, Motorola regional sales manager. He commended them on their years of service and the family environment.
“It originally started with the oil business,” said Donna Petz, daughter of the founders. Petz, along with fellow employees Jarmer and John Harding purchased Mobile Radio from the Chrissmans in 1998.
They opened a second location in Wichita last November. With a staff of 14 between the two locations, Mobile Radio serves 44 counties south of Interstate 70 and west of Butler County.
Today, the business not only repairs radios, but (since 1886) also sells them. Customers include public safety and state agencies, farmers, the oil industry, manufacturing, hotels, 911 dispatchers and schools. They also install devices in public-service vehicles and 911 consoles.
In a world seemingly dominated by cellular telephones, Petz said there is still room for the two-way radio. “Two-way is one person to many. You can talk to everybody at once without having to dial cell phone numbers.”
Petz said they use mobile phones as well, but “they both have their place.”
“We’re going to continue to grow, that the ultimate goal,” Jarmer said. To make this happen, they are looking to the future and are hiring more technicians.
“Everything is going digital, including radio,” he said. Mobile Radio is in the process of developing its own digital two-way network in southwest Kansas.
They have the equipment and tower sites, but still have some licensing issues to complete. Plans are to begin testing in three or four months with the network up and going within a year.
Jarmer said they would start small with only a portion of their territory. Eventually, they hope to cover about a third of the state.