Wednesday, April 16, 2014

KFUL, Galveston, The Community Station - 1924-1933 - Part 1


The Radio Service Bulletin published by the Commerce Department on January 2, 1925, listed KFUL, Galveston, as a new station approved in the previous month.  Licensed to Thomas Goggan and Brothers Music Co., KFUL was authorized on 288 meters, 1160 kilocycles, with 10 watts.  Goggans had a big store in the 2100 block of Market Street which housed the station, apparently on the third floor next to a workshop.  The firm had been founded in Galveston in the late 1800s and had branches all over the state at one time including a store in downtown Houston.  It was considered the largest and oldest musical firm in Texas, supplying sheet music and instruments of all kinds. For more on Goggans, go here.


The first mention of the station in the Galveston Daily News appeared on the 18th of December, 1924, and the program featuring the Oriental Orchestra the previous evening may have been the inaugural broadcast.


The first Goggan’s ad mentioning the station appeared in the News on the 8th of January, 1925.


In its first few months of operation, the station featured many local performers and civic clubs including the Chop Suey Entertainers, The Tokio Royal Orchestra, George McQueen, Miss Bobby Rowling, a cabaret singer formerly of New Orleans, the Lions Club, the Schubert Glee Club of San Jacinto School, the Knights of Columbus, the Sons of Hermann Orchestra, and the 9th Infantry Band from Fort Crockett, plus several visiting artists, including a talk delivered by a visiting skating champ.  Reports in the paper following broadcasts always boasted about the number of calls received, especially if they were out of town.  The badly over-inked picture of the Tokio Royal Orchestra in the studio was published in the News on April 25, 1925.

In April a new head of the radio department at Goggan’s was named who would also be in charge of the station.  According to the original announcement his name was Ray Clough but he was subsequently referred to as George Roy Clough, none other than the owner of KFLX, Galveston’s other licensed radio station at that time. 

In June a deal was announced with the Galveston Playhouse Corporation to move the station to the Garden of Tokio which was apparently on the beach and operate there for the summer, as well as boost power to 100 watts.  It was asserted the increased power would provide coverage for a range of 500 miles in the summertime and all of the US in winter.  This would help to publicize Galveston as the ‘Port and Playground of the Southwest.’  J. E. Stratford of the Playhouse asserted ‘practically every well known beach in the country is now advertising itself by means of the radio.’  The Radio Service Bulletin published August 1 did report that KFUL had been authorized to boost power to 50 watts.

The issue of the station’s ability to serve as a promotional vehicle for the island came to the fore again in February, 1926, when a proposal was floated before the Galveston Ad Club to undertake a public subscription drive to raise $8,500 to enable Goggan’s to enlarge and improve the facilities and boost power to 500 watts.  The Ad Club declared itself in favor of the idea, which was to be presented next to the Chamber of Commerce.   Five hundred dollars was raised in a very short time and it was said the entire amount was expected to be raised in 50 to 60 days.  Mentions of the station’s broadcasts in the paper regularly included mentions of the fund drive with exhortations to those who had made pledges to send in their money.  By the end of the month it was stated that an outside announcer would be hired to be the principle announcer on the station, someone not connected to Goggan’s, and a central committee would be appointed to be in charge of station activities while George Roy Clough would remain in charge of the ‘operating room.’  Pledges of support for the drive were said to have been received from Colorado, Nebraska, Indiana, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. 

The fund drive took longer than anticipated and fell short of the goal but improvements were undertaken anyway.  By August, 1926, it was announced $4000 had already been spent and another $2000 was needed within a month.  Then in early December it was announced the ‘new’ station would open on Friday, December 17, tests of the new equipment having proved satisfactory. 

On the seventeenth a feature story proclaimed the inaugural broadcast of ‘The Community Broadcasting Station of the Gateway to the Southwest’ with an inaugural celebratory broadcast lasting all night long.  The new facilities had been built at a minimum of expense.  George Roy Clough had built the equipment which, it was claimed, would have cost $25,000 otherwise.  The fund drive had raised $3615; Goggan’s had spent $2000 on parts and labor and another $1599 to furnish a new studio and reception room.  Test broadcasts had drawn letters from all over the continent and a cablegram from Midway Island in the Pacific, estimated to be 8000 miles away.  The story said more funds were still needed and emphasized nearly every civic organization on the island had endorsed the drive.

A follow-up story a couple of weeks later reported that letters had been received from every state and almost all the Canadian provinces as well as Mexico.  ‘Well over’ 3000 cards, letters and telegrams were being answered by the Chamber of Commerce which was sending out advertising materials, indexing the addresses and creating a big wall map.  The story also emphasized the station was still in need of funds to bring the power up the the contemplated wattage.  Frank B Herrle or Herrie was appointed musical director of the station and a big open house was planned for the end of January during which visitors would be able to observe programs being broadcast.

Records of government actions in that era are available only through the Radio Service Bulletins issued monthly which do not show that KFUL received authorization for the contemplated power boost for the ‘new’ station.  It was not until April of 1927 that temporary authority was granted, efffective May 3 of that year, for Goggan’s to boost the station’s output to 750 watts, pending final approval.  Then in July, 1929, permission was granted for the station to operate with 1000 watts daytime on an experimental basis with 500 watts nighttime, but by November of that year the authorizations had been reduced to 500 watts which was apparently the wattage the station operated with until it went off the air in 1933.


To be continued.  

Images above from the archives of the Galveston Daily News on newspapers.com.

Friday, April 11, 2014

A Day in the Life ...

of a Galveston radio listener, October 4, 1930.

The Galveston Daily News had published brief blurbs about KFUL's programs since it went on the air in December, 1924, and carried listings of other stations courtesy of RADEX, but when KFUL boosted power to 500 watts the local programming listings expanded.

Note KPRC was carrying 'chain' programs from both WEAF and WJZ; further down in the listings there are complete schedules for both KPRC and KTRH but there are no mentions of KFLX, Galveston, or KTLC and KXYZ, Houston.  Also note KYW is still a Chicago station at this time.  Listings other than KFUL are from the Associated Press.

KFUL was sharing time on 1280 kilocycles with KTSA, San Antonio, at this time, hence the gaps in the program schedule.



Tuesday, April 8, 2014

KPRC.com's History Page

KPRC has added a history to it's website with information taken from this site and some great historical photos.

Monday, April 7, 2014

KCOH History Feature

Here's an article on Zydeco Online on the end of KCOH on 1430 with a little bit of history and lots of great historical photos of the station and staff.  This was originally posted back in 2012 when the station was sold and moved from 1430 to 1230.


Thursday, March 6, 2014

KWHI/KTTX - AM/FM, Brenham

An application was tendered for filing with the FCC on April 15, 1946, for a new standard broadcast station to operate on 890 kc with 250 watts, daytime, in Brenham, Texas.  The applicant was Tom S. Whitehead, owner and publisher of the Brenham Banner Press

Less than 2 weeks later, the FCC announced it was revamping it’s policies regarding daytime and limited time stations operating on Class 1-A clear channel frequencies and all pending applications were being put on hold.  890 was a Class 1-A frequency and WLS, Chicago, was the protected signal.

On September 30, 1946, Whitehead submitted a modified application, requesting operations on 1280 kc with 1 kilowatt of power and also changing specifications in the proposed antenna and transmitter.  The amended application was approved on November 4, one of 46 new stations granted on that day,  a record for the FCC up until that time.

When the call letters were applied for and approved  has not been discovered nor, for that matter, exactly when the station got on the air.  Broadcasting Yearbook cites the date April 15, 1947, but that source is frequently in error. The calls must’ve been taken from the first three letters of the owner’s last name. 

The Banner Press archives are not available online anywhere but newspapers from several communities in the vicinity are and from the Bryan Eagle it is apparent the station was on the air by May 9, 1947 when the first ad appeared. The Eagle also ran a story on the 31st of May announcing the formal opening and dedication for the station would be held on Saturday, June 6, at the St. Anthony Hotel.  Ernest Jones was named as station manager. 

As the day drew closer there were more details in the Eagle.  There would be an all day celebration and open house of the new studios on the north side of the courthouse square in downtown Brenham, there would be many live bands performing, Attorney General Price Daniel would attend and offer some remarks, Governor Beauford Jester and US Representative Lyndon Johnson would be heard by transcription. 

The station was mentioned often in newspapers; during political season, there were political broadcasts mentioned in candidate’s print ads and coverage of school sports also merited mentions.  Live music was apparently a big part of the programming, too.  Honky-tonks and nightclubs advertising appearances by live bands frequently noted the bands were heard daily on KWHI.  Besides T. C. Bigley, Charlie Helmer and his Boys and Bennie Murski and his Melody Kings were some of the bands promoted as having daily broadcasts in papers including the Hearne Democrat, Weimar Mercury, Colorado Co. Citizen (published at Columbus), Taylor Daily Press and as far away as the Freeport Facts and Galveston Daily News.  The ad above came from the Taylor Daily Press in September, 1947.

My earliest memories of hearing KWHI were almost a decade later when I was DXing from my home in Brazosport and I remember a lot of polka music.  If memory serves correctly, and it may not, there were regular live broadcasts of polka music from a band shell on the courthouse square.  A little bit of polka music went a long way with me and I didn’t listen much to KWHI.

Tom Whitehead applied for an FM station in October, 1963, and a CP was granted in January, 1964.  The proposed facility would operate on 106.3 mc, Channel 202A, with 3 kilowatts from an antenna of 223'.  The estimated cost for construction was $11,375 and the first year operating costs were pegged at $7500.  The calls KWHI-FM were approved just a couple of weeks later.  In April, 1964, modifications to the application were approved to change the transmitter and antenna locations and reduce the tower height to 130'.  Broadcasting Yearbook  gives the date April 15, 1964 for the launch of the station and ads were run in the Houston Chronicle saying the station was on the air 5pm to 11 pm daily.  The first ad mentioning KWHI-FM I have found in newspapers in the Brenham area was not until October, 1968, in the Colorado Citizen.

In July, 1974, KWHI-AM changed calls to KTTX while the FM continued as KWHI-FM.  Eighteen years later, in March, 1992, the stations flipped; the heritage calls went back on the AM and the FM became KTTX-FM, known as K-TEX.  Both stations are still on the air, both owned by Tom S. Whitehead, Inc.  The FM now operates on 106.1 with 50,000 watts, the AM has a nighttime power of 72 watts. 

KWHI Website
KTTX-FM Website

Images above from the archives of the cited papers at newspapers.com