Monday, April 20, 2009

The 1940s - Part 9 - KCOH, KFRD

Just two and a half months after the launch of KNUZ, KCOH signed on at 1430 kc. The station ran teaser ads in the papers leading up to the first day of broadcasting which was May 5, 1948. The ads invited listeners to "Take the One Day Listening Test." The station referred to itself as Radio Penthouse and it was intended to be a ‘good music’ station; it’s studios were located in penthouse on top of the M&M building at Number 1 Main Street, now the University of Houston, Downtown. The stories announcing the new station in the Post and Chronicle emphasized there would be no hillbilly music and no noisy commercials.

Manager John Pace said not only would the station steer clear of hoedown-type music, it would lean toward the classics and try some new approaches in Houston radio. The programming would be 80% music, 20% news, sports, and public affairs. The music would range from classics through semi-classics and light concert to popular dance music with no hot jazz or jump tunes. There would be long periods of music uninterrupted by commercials and commercials would be presented softly, with just voice and background music. Starting the day with ‘light’ music, the programming would build to a 40 minute program dedicated to the Houston Symphony at midday.

It seems likely the station took its programming ideas from former Houstonian Lee Segall who may have been the first licensee. Segall had relocated to Dallas the previous year after failing to get an AM/FM license combo in Houston and put KIXL-AM/FM on the air, pioneering the Good Music format. KCOH also had a license for an FM station but the station was never put on the air.

It’s been concluded that KCOH was a classical station for the first few months but that is not apparent from the program listings; it appears to be what would come to be known as an easy listening station and was referred to in news stories subsequently as a ‘good music’ station. Easy listening or good music stations in those days frequently included ‘light classical pieces’ in their library and did so into the early 60s. It’s also true that KCOH, like most stations, was block programmed. Reading the radio guides in the papers in those days, one would frequently find scheduled classical music programs on any of the stations. NBC had it’s own symphony conducted by Arturo Toscanini, perhaps the most famous conductor of the era. On just one day in 1950, the Chronicle’s daily Radio Guide pointed out Houston listeners were to have the choice of a broadcast of a live Houston Symphony concert on KPRC, a transcribed concert of the Oklahoma City Symphony on KCOH, and a live concert by the New York Philharmonic on KTRH-FM.

The call letters KCOH have been said to stand for “City of Houston,” “Call of Houston,’ ‘Classical over Houston,’ and ‘Kilo Cycles over Houston.” Call of Houston, Inc., was the name of the company, headed by William A. Smith, K.C. Hughes and Ed Hoffman. John H. Pace, formerly of Wired Music, Inc., Houston’s first piped-in music service, was general manager and Phil Harlow, formerly of KXYZ, was program director.

was sold to Robert C. Meeker in 1953 and became the first Black owned radio station in Texas and perhaps only the third in the nation. KCOH is the second oldest AM radio station in Houston still using its original call letters. It is now a 24 hour a day operation.

On November 15, 1948, KFRD, Rosenberg, signed on at 980 kc. According to the city history on the Rosenberg website, the principals were Mart Cole, Sr., Wendell Shannon, D.I. Lowem, Walter Shult and Julius Junker. The city website gives the year as 1947. This station has featured country music, polka and Hispanic programming over the years. It currently is KRTX is a Tejano station.


Anonymous said...

I love this information! Is there any where else to get the history of KCOH in Houston?

Bruce said...

Be sure to click on KCOH at the bottom of the post for all I've got on the blog. Also, use KCOH in the search window. There used to be a short blurb on the station website; I don't know if it's still there. It's been hard finding out much about the station, especially in the earlier days.

Anonymous said...

Is there any other written history of 1430 KCOH. I love what you have already exposed us to!

Bruce said...

See the new post today.