Thursday, July 24, 2014

KUHT History in Pictures

From the University of Houston Digital Library, 346 pictures and videos of the history of Channel 8 over the decades, including people, buildings, equipment, etc.  There are numerous video clips; I saw only 2 pictures of KUHF.  Several entries indicate the archivists have no idea what they're looking at.

Click on the Library Blog link at the bottom of the page for a very brief introduction to the collection.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Jackie McCauley - KLOL PD

I knew Jackie back in the 70s and knew she had been to Rice, but never knew of the historical significance of that as revealed by this post on the Rice History Corner blog.

Besides being PD of KLOL in the 70s (see the KLOL brochure here), then of KSAN-FM, San Francisco, she had an interview program, 'Shootin' the Breeze,' featuring interviews with leading Black music artists, produced and distributed by Westwood. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Bill Young - RIP

As posted on Bill Young Productions -

a dominant force on the Houston radio scene for decades as talent, program director, production specialist and voice, passed early Sunday, June 1. 

No obituary posted yet nor arrangements for a service.

I am in shock.

For those who do not know of Bill, I highly recommend his book.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Remembrance of the Early Days of TV in Houston

Long-time Houston columnist (the Post and the Chronicle) Leon Hale published this account of his early experiences with television several years ago. 

It was like this for many of us who saw television in the early days -- you stared at the test pattern a lot.  I first saw a television set in late 1949 or early 1950, when Channel 2 was still KLEE-TV.  At an uncle's house in the Heights we sat and watched; nothing was scheduled for hours but he kept getting up to adjust the set when the test pattern appeared to flicker or move.  My family didn't have a set for at least a year after that.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Features from the Rice History Corner

From the Rice archives...

a feature on KTRU with some pictures and lots of comments.  Take a look at that archives link.  How many stations do you know that have an archive of broadcasts like that?

A feature on James L. 'Jimmie' Autry, Rice student and early radio enthusiast, who was mentioned in the Pre-Broadcast era post on this blog, including pictures of his equipment.  The archivist asks for some help in understanding the equipment.  Perhaps readers of this blog can help.

And, television at Rice in 1934!.  Houston had 3 AM radio stations, no FM stations, and the first TV station was 15 years in the future, but they were watching TV at Rice!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Rewriting History

As I got into researching the history of KFLX, Galveston, I discovered several stories published in the Galveston Daily News in November and December, 1924, purportedly about KFLX that actually were about the brand new station KFUL.  It took the News several weeks to straighten out the call letters.

This new information has necessitated a rewrite of the first part of the KFUL station history, moving the first air date back by several weeks.

Features on Baytown and Galveston Radio

Here are a couple of radio related features from Galveston-born writer Bill Cherry.

The first is about Baytown's DJ of the 1950s, Bill 'Rascal' McKaskill.  This article answers a question posed in a comment here on this blog several years ago about the use of 'Night Train' as a theme, an answer I should have had since I had corresponded with Rascal.

And a story about how George Roy Clough of KLUF invented call-in radio.  There are some problems with the dates in this story - the Moody's station (he's referring to KFUL) was off the air long before 1938 and Clough had also changed calls long before then.  There may be other issues but that's two I noticed.

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Feature on Early Black DJs in Houston

...and the origin of the term rock and roll, from Wired For Sound, an excellent blog (link on the sidebar) with pictures, names and history.

Would I ever love to hear some air checks.

There are scattered pictures and history of Houston radio of years past throughout the blog.  For instance, way down at the bottom of this post is a picture of Dickie Jones and the Skyliners in the KATL studio in 1947.  As the legend notes, the man at the microphone is Johnny Edwards, morning man on KATL.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

KFUL, Galveston, The Community Station - 1924-1933 - Part 3

For Part 1 of this station history, go here.
For Part 2 of this station history, go here.

The Galveston Daily News began carrying more complete schedules of the programming on KFUL instead of just isolated mentions.  In August a special program was dedicated to the round the world flight of the Graf Zeppelin.  A local concert orchestra led by Felix Stella would play 'appropriate' music and an announcer would give details about each of the countries being traversed by the historic flight.

As 1930 rolled around KFUL broadcast coverage of the Mardi Gras Festival and and started covering baseball games plus live coverage of the opening of Tokio Garden for the season.  In April, the station conducted on-air announcer try-outs.  Aspiring announcers gave a five minute talk on the air and listeners voted, by mail, to determine the winner.  Toward the end of the year, KTSA renewed its request for a full-time assignment on 1290 kilocycles and KFUL also requested a new channel, arguing that if KTSA, which by that time had allied with the Columbia Chain (CBS), received its allocation, KFUL should also get a full time assignment.

Information on the last two and a half years of KFUL is scant, unfortunately.  Issues of the Galveston Daily News are missing (from my source) for all of 1931 and 1932 and up until October, 1933, and the earliest issues of Broadcasting Magazine, which began publication in the second half of 1931, had no mentions of the station. But the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reported on May 1, 1931, that the Radio Commission had once again denied the application by KTSA for a full time allotment, at the same time authorizing a renewal of KFUL’s license as a share-time station.

On June 4, 1931, the Bryan Eagle reported the station had been taken over by the News Publishing Co, the Galveston Daily News and Tribune parent company.  Louis C. Elbert was Vice President and General Manager of the company.  A similar story appeared in the Valley Morning Star of Harlingen and reference was made to the station formerly being ‘operated by the Buccaneer Hotel.’  The September, 1931, issue of Radex listed the change of ownership among it’s ‘Summer Changes’ column and also reported in it’s last issue of the year that the station slogan was ‘The City of Perpetual Sunshine.’

Despite the lack of better identification of the seller, so far as I know the license for the ‘community station’ had always remained in the name of Thomas Goggan and Brothers up until the sale to the News.

Listings continued in Radex for these years, showing Galveston’s radio stations as KFLX, operating on 1370 kilocycles with 100 watts, and KFUL, operating on 1290 with 500 watts.

The last listing for the station in Radex appeared in the May, 1933, issue.  I have no information about the reason for the sale or the end of operations but perhaps the Great Depression was impacting tourism and straining Galveston’s economy.

After KFUL ceased operations, George Roy Clough moved his KFLX into the Buccaneer Hotel studios and changed his calls to KLUF, pronounced to rhyme with his last name.  Some accounts of broadcasting history on the island refer to KLUF as a continuation of KFUL and it’s possible some of the established programs of KFUL were picked up by KLUF, but Clough continued to operate on 1370 kc with 100 watts where he had a full-time allotment and the government would consider KLUF a continuation of KFLX, but the history of that station is for another post.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

KFUL, Galveston, The Community Station - 1924-1933 - Part 2

See Part 1 here.

More reports of distant reception continued to be received.  On February 10, 1927, the paper reported the station had received a letter from Mission House, Nukulonpa, Panga, in the Friendly Islands, estimated to be as much as 15,000 miles away, where a broadcast by KFUL had been received  on January 18th. 

On the 19th of February a big squall blew through wrecking planes at the air field, damaging houses and businesses and knocking down the KFUL antenna.  The squall affected a wide swath of Texas and Louisiana  and reports from as far away as the Valley mentioned the incident.  A temporary aerial was put up the next day. 

Rev. Raimundo De Ovies of Trinity Episcopal, who had delivered a sermon on the very first broadcast of WHAB, Galveston’s first radio station in 1922, became an announcer at KFUL and the youth group at his church organized a regular Sunday evening program featuring youth groups from churches all over the island.  Fred Richardson and his California Syncopators, in town appearing at the Winter Garden, made regular appearances on the station and KFUL station artist ‘Happy’ made an appearance at the opening of a new Star Electric Shop, pawing the ivories and singing ‘the blues’ it was reported.  It isn’t clear if ‘Happy’ was a mascot or an actual person but a couple of months later the paper reported on the opening of the Airdome Dance Pavilion, 25th and Boulevard (what we now know as Seawall Boulevard) where KFUL broadcasting star ‘Happy’ Roy Thomas was to be the manager. 

‘Radio’s Latest Marvel’ - hypnotism by radio - hit the Galveston airwaves in late March, 1927, when Noah the Great came to town to demonstrate his skills.  A booth was set up at Joyland Park where a woman was going to be put under for 48 hours and made to perform several acts before going to sleep.  Men were going to be made to ride bicycles and perform tricks and the public was invited to stop by the park to view the demonstrations. 

A report in the paper in April claimed bathing crowds at the beach had been breaking all records for so early in the season with a large group from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada and others from Oklahoma and Kansas reported.  Efforts of the Beach Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and the power of KFUL were credited.

In May, 1928, new management took over the station.  Will H. Ford became the new station manager, Art Johnson of Chicago became announcer and station director, Jack H. Rogers was named as pianist and Roy Cole from Oklahoma City became engineer, apparently replacing George Roy Clough.  Goggan’s named a new head of it’s radio department, too, Bernard McComb.  An all night program was scheduled for May 29 to launch the ‘new’ station, starting at 8:15 in the evening and running until daylight.  Many Galveston performers took part.

The Colorado Joy Boys, who played Hawaiian music, were in town and had a regular daily slot at 12 Noon.  They had recently been a big hit on WBAP.    

Will Ford was an insurance man and was closely allied with the W.L. Moody, Jr., interests on the island.  On the 27th of February, 1929, The News carried a big story about the new Buccaneer Hotel, a project of Moody, getting the final touches at 23rd and Boulevard and revealed KFUL was to have brand new studios on the second floor, which is where the lobby was located.

This postcard on eBay shows the new hotel which has since been demolished.  The studios were located on the east end of the building (right side).  There were also several meeting rooms on the second floor and my understanding is that there was a picture window into the studio from one of those meeting rooms but not from the lobby itself. 

The station was already collecting equipment for the new facility but before the hotel was completed a big fire broke out at Goggans in the second week of March.  Traffic was backed up all over the island as fire equipment and onlookers converged on the scene.  Damage was said to total $80,000 from the fire which was believed to have started in the Goggan’s workshop on the 3rd floor, next to the radio station.  KFUL was practically a complete loss and the Palace Theatre, on the ground floor, suffered extensive water damage.  Draperies and other soundproofing in the studio were thought to have accelerated the fire.  The transmitter, on the roof, was inaccessible but believed to have been destroyed.  Equipment for the new facility had also been lost.  It was the 2nd fire in a month at Goggan’s.

Will Ford announced within a few days the station would be back on the air in 60 days from the new facilities in the Buccaneer and would be broadcasting with 1000 watts.  It was estimated it would cost $20,000 to get the station back on the air.  In the interim, a few regular KFUL programs were picked up by KFLX.

Ten days after the fire, Ford filed for the office of Commissioner of Finance and Revenue for Galveston and the campaign featured charges by his opponent that he and the Moody interests had ‘appropriated’ Galveston’s community radio station and were trying to 'get a stranglehold' on Galveston.  In response, Ford claimed the the Rotary Club and Chamber of Commerce, which had been managing KFUL at a loss, had come to him and asked him if he would take over.  After consideration he had agreed to take the job and continue to operate the station at a loss.  He said he was paying the full cost of the new studios out of his own pocket. 

In the meantime in early April the Federal Radio Commission released it’s decision on a petition by KTSA, San Antonio, and KFUL to each be assigned their own frequencies.  KTSA had applied to continue on 1280 kilocycles, which the two stations had been sharing since National Radio Allocation Day in November, 1928, and KFUL had applied for 1120 kilocycles (and 1000 watts).  The FRC ruled the two stations were to continue to share time on 1280. 

By the end of June, 1929, KFUL was once again ready to take to the airwaves.  A big gala opening was announced for Monday, June 19, with a 8 hour program that would start at 7:15 pm and the public was invited.  Pat H. Wilson, Jr., was the new station announcer and representatives from KTSA, WRR, KPRC and KWKH would be taking part.  The broadcast would also include a remote from the Shrine Temple.  Six days later another new announcer was introduced.  Pvt. C. J. Simmons, with the Third Artillery Group at Fort Crockett, was added to the staff.  He had only recently been assigned to Fort Crockett from California and he was said to be known to radio listeners in the West for his sports announcing.  He would work evenings at the station using the air name Ace Simmons.

This postcard showing the station orchestra in the studio at the Buccaneer could have been taken anytime after June, 1929.

Continue to Part 3.