Dr. Ben Oldag, a long time, very familiar voice on Houston radio, has passed. He will be most familiar from his long-time work on KTRH on garden and farm programs but he started his career on KFRD in Rosenberg and worked also on Armed Forces Radio.
Here's a bio I found at the site of his last employer and a notice about the memorial service.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Dr. Ben Oldag, a long time, very familiar voice on Houston radio, has passed. He will be most familiar from his long-time work on KTRH on garden and farm programs but he started his career on KFRD in Rosenberg and worked also on Armed Forces Radio.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Broadcasting Yearbook gives January 1, 1964, for the launch of KBNO-FM at 93.7 mc but the station got on the air a couple of weeks before that. A story in the Chronicle on December 7th reported that the station expected to get on the air between the 10th and 15th. It was to operate 24 hours a day from studios on the 34th floor of the Gulf Building playing ‘popular music and show tunes,’ according to General Manager Dick Kenyon. The owners were Independent Music Broadcasters of Ohio which also held the license for WDBN-FM, Cleveland/ Akron. The Chronicle was publishing radio listings only sporadically; there were none published from the 10th of December through the 20th but on the 21st , KBNO-FM appeared in the paper’s listings for FM stations. According to a feature article in the Post in 1981 on the meanings of Houston call letters, at one time a listener contest on KBNO came up with the phrase Keep Beatle Noise Off as a slogan for the station but by the fall of 1971, KBNO-FM became KRLY-FM, a Top 40 station. The station was very successful for most of the decade but started slipping in the early 80s and by mid 1981 was identifying as Love 94 FM. Then as of March 20, 1984, it became KLTR-FM, K-Lite, a lite rock station, and flipped again as of December 20, 1993, to become KKRW, the Arrow, a Classic Rock station. As of January 15, 2014, the calls were changed to KQBT. (For more on format changes on this station see the comments section below).
The Chronicle reported on Sunday, January 26, 1964, that KAJC-FM had begun broadcasting the previous day at 102.1 mc. It has been claimed that this station was previouly licensed to Alvin Junior College as KAJC-FM and operated at 102.3 mc and was bought by some employees of NASA but the Chronicle article made no mention of the previous operation and referred to it as a new station calling itself ‘The Voice of Spaceland.’ It was to operate 24 hours a day with ‘popular, semi-classical, and semi-jazz music and news.’ Jeff Thompson, fomerly of KXYZ was the Manager. Broadcasting Yearbook gives the launch of the station as February 1, 1964. The City of License was Clear Lake.
The station later changed call letters to KMSC-FM, which stood for ‘Manned Spacecraft Center.’ KMSC-FM later became KLYX-FM, ‘Klicks, The Music Station,’ and moved its studios to a motel on the Southwest Freeway at Buffalo Speedway in Houston. It featured an adult soft rock format and was automated in 1974. KLYX-FM was then briefly a news station. From 1975 to early 1977 it carried an NBC 24 hour news and information service but the network did not last. As of 3pm, Friday, February 25th, 1977, KMJQ-FM, "Majic 102" was born on this frequency and it has retained those calls and been a major factor in the ratings ever since.
According to Broadcasting Yearbook on September 15, 1964, KWHI-FM, Brenham, signed on at 106.3 mc. The station ran small ads in the Chronicle for some time advising it was ‘Now on the Air’ from 5pm to 11pm daily. For more on this station and it's sister AM, go here.
On the 21st of October, 1964, Houston got another Classical music outlet when KLEF-FM took to the airwaves at 94.5 mc. This frequency had been occupied since late 1960 by KARO-FM but it’s not clear if KARO-FM had been on the air continuously since its launch or if it was on the air at the time of the switchover. Houston based Apollo Broadcasting was the owner of the new station; they also owned KRBG-FM, San Francisco and had an application for an FM in St. Louis. The station was to be full-time in stereo (18 hours a day) from a transmitter atop the Tennessee building putting out 45,000 watts. Roland Schmidt was the Manager; he had previously worked for both KODA-FM and KTRH-FM, both of which had regularly scheduled classical music programs. The program director was Ray Landers and the Chief Engineer was Bert Adkins. Broadcasting Yearbook gives the launch of the station as 11/1/64.
KLEF-FM continued as a full time Classical music station until March of 1986 when it flipped to KJYY, ‘Joy FM,’ which lasted until April, 1988. KLDE-FM, an oldies station, was born on that date. The music library of KLEF-FM was donated to the University of Houston station, KUHF-FM. On July 18, 2000, KLDE switched frequencies with co-owned KTBZ-FM, moving to 107.5 while The Buzz took over 94.5.
The same week that KJYY-FM launched, KIKK-AM moved into a new 2 story facility in Pasadena.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
- of a Houston radio listener, Friday, June 30, 1961, and Saturday, July 1, 1961, from the Chronicle and Post. The Chronicle was an afternoon paper at that time, hence the day's listings begin at mid-afternoon.
The same page of the Chronicle carried a brief announcement that the next day, Saturday. July 1, KHGM-FM, 99.1, would switch call letters to KODA-FM. President Paul Taft explained it was just the first step in an expansion that would bring a new AM station to Houston in a few weeks, KODA-AM, at 1010 kc.
By this time the Post was running only abbreviated radio listings. As the decade wore on and TV continued its ascendancy as the primary home entertainment medium, the Chronicle would follow suit. Both papers eventually would offer only very brief mentions of developments in radio, sometimes not for days or weeks after the fact.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Mark Stevens, half of the radio team of Stevens and Pruett on KILT and later KLOL-FM in Houston has died. He also worked extensively in DFW radio and more recently as co-host of a foodie show, Stevens and Cleverly.
I first heard Mark on KFJZ, 1270, Fort Worth in the 70s during a very brief stint I did in Fort Worth radio. I thought he was great, a hard-working, very entertaining jock. I thought he was the best jock in Fort Worth at the time and the first Top 40 jock I had heard outside of Houston and my favorites on KLBS and KILT that I was really impressed by.
I never met the guy. By the time the two of us got to Houston we worked in very different formats and I always found it too much of a culture shock to listen much.
Here's an ongoing thread on the Houston-Galveston board of Radio-Info; and, one on the DFW board where the news first broke.
Here's the story on chron.com.
Saturday, October 2, 2010
Broadcasting Yearbook gives March 10, 1962, for the launch of KHCB-FM, at 105.7 mc. A religious station since its inception, the calls stood for ‘Keeping Him Close By.’ There was no story in the Chronicle, not even in the Church Chronicle, a weekly special section. Listings first appeared in the paper on March 16. The station operated originally only from 4pm to Midnight daily.
The Post published a feature article on the station in August of 1963. At that time the station was operating from studios at 126 Almeda-Genoa Road and had experienced recurring difficulties meeting its budget each month, but operations had expanded to 24 hours a day. There were only 4 paid employees, only 3 of which were full-time. Between the hours of 7pm and 6am volunteers exclusively manned the station. Funds were being raised to make a down payment on a new 10,000 watt transmitter to replace the 1000 watt unit in use. The article stated the call letters just stood for Houston Christian Broadcasters.
The Yearbook gives August of 1962 for the launch of KLVL-FM , 92.5 mc, in Pasadena, but the station never appeared in either the Chronicle or Post listings any time during the month, nor were there any stories about the station. It first appeared in Chronicle listings on September 7 showing that it was simulcasting the programming of KLVL-AM. By a year later, the programming was listed in the Post as ‘Latin American Popular Music.’
The station was sold in 1969 to Sudbrink and became KFMY-FM with a transmitter atop the Pasadena State Bank and only a few hunded watts of power. Due to complaints by KFMK, the calls were changed to KYED-FM, pronounced 'keyed;' they played oldies and big band music. Then the station was sold again and became KYND, “Kind 92,” boosted power to 100, 000 watts allowing coverage of the entire Houston area and carried the beautiful music syndicated format of Stereo Radio Productions, or SRP, from Jim Schulke and Phil Stout. This format was popularly known as the Schulke format, although Jim Schulke was the sales part of the team and Phil Stout did the programming. KYND became a ratings leader in Houston for a dozen years, forcing KXYZ-AM to drop beautiful music programming, before being defeated in the ratings wars itself by KODA-FM in late 1981. It flipped to 93Q, KKBQ-FM in late 1982 with John Lander and the Q Morning Zoo and played Contemporary Hit Music. It had moved to 92.9 MHz in late 1982, prior to the format flip. Those call letters are still used, although the station flipped to Country music in the fall of 1991.
Broadcasting Yearbook for 1979 showed my home town of Lake Jackson got am FM station in April, 1963 but like many dates in the Yearbook that was false. An application was filed in April, 1962, by a company called Texas Audio Electronics for an FM station in Lake Jackson to operate on 92.3 megacycles with 3.65 kilowatts from a 192' tower. Texas Audio Electronics was composed of Jim Hairgrove and his other investors in the partnership that owned KBRZ, Freeport. There must have been a modified application filed along the way which was missed by Broadcasting or the OCR software because TAE was granted a construction permit for an FM to operate on 107.3 mc, channel 297, with 28 kilowatts from a 180' antenna on January 20, 1964. The estimated cost to build the new station was $21,874, the anticipated operating cost for the first year was $34,000 and revenues of $25,000 were projected. The call letters KLJT-FM were assigned February 10, 1964. When the FM station was sold in February, 1969, Broadcasting magazine stated it had been put on the air in May, 1964. The earliest mention of the station I can find in the available issues of the Brazosport Facts online appeared on Friday, May 29, 1964. In a story about the dedication of a new youth baseball field it was mentioned the facility was located behind the radio station. I have found no more definite date for the actual start of broadcasting and Broadcasting did not report the granting of a license for the station until September 2, 1964. KLJT-FM's original studios were just 3 long blocks from my home, on Willow Drive at the old Angleton-Clute Road, in a building that now houses the Brazosport Board of Realtors. It was a small building with the transmitter and antenna right outside the back door. An SCA permit was granted to Texas Audio Electronics in August, 1965, and a background music service called Musiplex was launched.
Hairgrove died in April, 1967, while serving his first term as a State Representative from Brazosport in Austin. In February of 1969, his widow sold both KLJT-FM, Lake Jackson, and KBRZ, Freeport, to Wayne Marcy and George A. Mayoral, doing business as Summit Broadcasting. Marcy was a sales representative for radio equipment in Houston and Mayoral, of New Orleans, had radio and TV properties in Louisiana and Puerto Rico. The sale took effect on Saturday, July 19, 1969.
In November, 1973, Broadcasting reported the station had applied for a call letter change to KGOL-FM.
On November 7, 1979, Broadcasting reported KGOL-FM was sold for $784,000. The sellers were Coastal Broadcasting, consisting of Jim Payne and Lewis Wilburn. The buyer was John Brown Broadcasting, owned by John Brown University of Siloam Springs, Arkansas. There had apparently been another change of ownership in the 1970s. On the same day the sale was approved, the FCC approved a Construction Permit for a new transmitter location and facility to be two miles northwest of Texas 35, four miles northwest of Danbury, TX, with 100,000 watts ERP horizontally and vertically and a new 940' antenna. The station at that time was operating from a 180' antenna with 28 KW.
Payne, one of the sellers, had applied for a permit for an FM station in Yoakum, TX, on 102.3 mc with 3 KW of power in March of that year.
Station officials for KGOL told the Chronicle the format was Christian Beautiful Music, playing such artists as B.J. Thomas. The frequency subsequently was changed to to 107.5. The station has also been known as KZFX, (1986), Z107, and KRQT. It became KTBZ in early 1995 and then switched frequencies with co-owned 94.5 KLDE and became KLDE-FM, Oldies 107.5. Call were flipped again on December 14, 2006, to KHTC-FM. As of June 1, 2009, the station became known as 107.5 The Eagle with the calls officially KGLK-FM.
EDITED January 25, 2014, to provide additional details about the early years of KLJT-FM, Lake Jackson and a picture.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
A couple of new galleries have been added on the sidebar, one devoted to Memorabilia and another to miscellaneous ads related to radio.
Gallery I is off-line right now, being edited, and will re-appear devoted to miscellaneous pictures of people - broadcasters - I have collected or have been shared by readers of the blog.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
In his Bayou City History blog in the Chronicle, J.R. Gonzales has been doing a series on artist's visits to Houston, including Johnny Cash and June Carter, Rush, Sonny & Cher. and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
It's a little it of history plus some great pictures and comments by readers.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Monday, September 20, 2010
This article was edited 10/1/10 to include some new information about the programming of KXYZ-AM/FM in the 1960s.
The decade of the 1960s would prove to be a very active one on the FM dial in Houston with many new stations signing on, but it was not until the end of the decade that FM began to make an impact in the ratings. A year and a half after KHGM-FM moved off the 102.9 frequency to 99.1, Veterans Broadcasting launched an FM in its place. KQUE-FM signed on at 6am, Tuesday, October 1, 1960, to broadcast 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. Webb Hunt was the first Program Director. Teaser ads in the papers ran heavily; ‘Cue – for the best in FM Radio. K-Que. Coming.’
An early program schedule in the newspaper listings had Webb Hunt, 6a-10a, KQ Music Hall, 10a-12N, Felix Martin, 12-2pm, Bob Brock, 2p-4p, Joe Walker, 4p-6p, Felix Martin, 6p-9p, and Bob Brock, 9p-12M.
The second new FM of the decade came on the air just 2 weeks later. KARO-FM took to the airwaves the weekend of the 15th and 16th of October with 8000 watts on 94.5 Megacycles. The studios were on the 11th floor of the American Investors Building at 600 Fannin and the transmitter was atop the building. Robert L. Weeks was the Station Manager and Bert Wiel Assistant Manager. The schedule printed in the papers showed the station was only on the air from noon to midnight originally but by years’ end the broadcast day had been extended to start at 9am. It’s been alleged the call letters were taken from Karo syrup because the programming was sweet, sappy music. The 1962 Houston telephone directory gave Mr. Weeks’ address as San Diego, CA.
KARO lasted just over 4 years before becoming KLEF-FM, a full-time classical music station. However, it’s not clear that KARO was on the air continuously during the 4 years; there were many times when program listings for the station were missing in the papers.
By mid-1961, Gordon McLendon’s FM took to the air waves. KOST-FM first appeared in the radio listings in the Chronicle the weekend of July 15-16; there was no story. The station operated at 100.3 megacycles and simulcast KILT-AM. Broadcasting Yearbook confirms the year 1961 but whether this station had previously been known as KZAP-FM as early as 1959 is not known. Other call letters that have been used on this frequency include KILT-FM and KXAS-FM, ‘Texas 100.’ It has been a country station since the Spring of 1981. (Spring 81 ARB was KILT-FMs first as country).
The Broadcasting Yearbook for 1979 gives 1960 for the first year of KXYZ-FM but it was not until the last quarter of 1961 that the station returned to the air after a hiatus of eight years. In a story about Gerald Chinski’s resignation as Chief Engineer on October 1, Chronicle Radio-TV Editor Howard Stentz noted Chinski would be leaving after 26 years with the station as soon as the FM station was on the air in a few days. KXYZ-FM first appeared in the Chronicle listings on Wednesday, October 4, simulcasting the AM 24 hours a day.
The stations had just changed hands that summer. The sale of the combo from N.A.F.I. Corporation of Los Angeles to Public Radio Corporation of Houston for $1,000,000 was finalized in early June. Public Radio Corporation was Lester and Max Kamin of Houston and Morris Kamin of Victoria; they also had stations in Tulsa and Kansas City. Lester Kamin had been a DJ in Houston in the 1940s and had owned an advertising and public relations firm locally. Sam Bennett, former GM of KTHT came on board as new GM and Milt Willis, former PD of KTHT became the new programming head.
KXYZ-AM and and FM was locally owned and simulcast a heavily proudced beautiful music format until mid-decade when a heavy personality format was installed. In 1968 the stations were purchased by the American Broadcasting Company which returned a produced, matched-flow beautiful music format on the air under the direction of Paul Mitchell. This did well in the ratings until the first matched-flow beautiful music FM came on the air, KYND, the one-time KLVL-FM on 92.9, began to eat away at the numbers. By the spring of 1970, KXYZ-FM was broadcasting the ABC Love format which consisted of syndicated tapes of album-oriented rock programming. KXYZ-FM flipped call letters to KAUM and went live and local with the album rock format the first week of September, 1970. KAUM dropped the album rock format after just a few years and went through several format changes before changing call letters to KSRR in mid-1980. (KAUM last noted in Apr/May 1980 ARB; KSRR shown in Oct/Nov 1980 ARB). The station changed call letters again in the 80s to KKHT and then to KNRJ. (I first have KNRJ in 1989 RnR Ratings Report, Vol II) and by the Spring of 1991 had adopted KHMX-FM. (Spring 1991 ARB). More will be posted on this site on the history of KAUM.
The image above comes from the Houston Press in 1961.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
They re-aired what was apparently the very first episode of Postcards from Texas on Channel 55 this week including a feature on Don Robey and his Peacock Records. Included are interviews with Texas Radio Hall of Famer Skipper Lee Frazier, John Nova Lomax and Roger Wood of Houston Community College.
You can watch the video here.
The show has changed time slots; it now airs on Sunday afternoons at 3pm on Channel 55.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Barry Sheft, a newsman and part-time DJ at KTRH; courtesy of Texas Radio Hall of Famer Bud Buschardt.
Chad Lassiter, first all-night talk host on KTRH, courtesy of Sam Lester.
The following photos are courtesy of Charlie Pena. Because of the size of the post and because I may add to it over time, I've experimented in this post with including smaller images in the post; it is still possible to see larger images by clicking on them.
A fascinating document, believed to be in Jesse Jones' own hand. It's dated a month before the sale of KUT to Jones was okayed by the FRC and on Texas State Hotel stationery rather than Rice Hotel stationery. Because of the mention of the Columbia Chain this must've been a projected budget for KTRH. And are the figures monthly or yearly? $175 a month for an announcer sounds like a princely sum.
Shots of the KTRH facility on the La Porte Highway, today's 225, probably taken in early 1930 after the move had been approved by the Federal Radio Commission but before operations began in Houston. I have always assumed the building faced the present day highway as later buildings on the site have done (KXYZ occupies the site today), but is the roadway pictured in front of the building the highway or just a driveway? Just a few years earlier, in the mid-1920s, there was no paved highway to Austin and no bridges over some streams that had to be crossed but this would have been a heavily traveled route on weekends as Houstonians made their way down to La Porte to Sylvan Beach Park and Bayshore Park. Perhaps the buildings faced in an easterly or westerly direction.
In the twenties and thirties and beyond, communities and broadcasters were proud of their broadcasting facilities and picture postcards were produced showing off buildings, often with the antenna in the background. I've searched for such postcards for the Houston stations and this is the closest I've seen. It at least identifies the Rice as the home of KTRH.
An unknown technician and what appears to be an electrical transcription machine and a portable one at that. Before the advent or wire recorders and, thankfully, tape recorders, this is how recordings were made by radio stations for rebroadcast or time-delayed broadcast. A large, long playing disc was produced which could be played back immediately.
KTRH owner Jesse Jones.
The group includes station owner Jesse Jones and comedian Jack Benny. I'm guessing the man on the left is a station announcer and the woman is a listener. It was a lot easier for network radio programs to go on the road than it is for TV shows and many shows, if not most, traveled, especially quiz shows and comedy shows. Benny may have been in town originating his show from KTRH or may have been in town for some other occasion. The show probably would have been performed live on the stage of the Music Hall or one of the big downtown movie houses rather than the KTRH studios so a large live audience could be accommodated.
A country music band, probably referred to as a hillbilly band at the time. Correspondent Andrew Brown has identified the fiddler as Dickie Jones and the group as Dickie Jones and his Rhythm Riders. Jones had several bands and performed in the Houston area a lot; this group was active ca. 1948-1950. The female may be Helen Smith. In the 1940s and early 1950s all the stations in town except KCOH aired at least some hillbilly music.
Unknown group although the person second from the right appears to be W. Albert Lee, owner of KLEE and KLEE-TV. He was associated with the Houston Fat Stock Show and Rodeo for years and because of the cowboy hats this may have something to do with that event. It's been suggested that's film star Tom Mix beside the microphone but it doesn't look like him to me and that's not his trademark style of hat, plus IMDB says Mix was 6 feet tall which would make 3 other men in that photo around 6'4". The gentleman on the right looks familiar and may have been a Harris County Sheriff.
Pictures like this make it evident how 'mic flags' got their name.
An unknown keyboard performer, possibly a station employee or a visiting artist.
This appears to be a man-in-the-street program, possibly on the sidewalk along Texas Avenue outside the Rice Hotel. Judging by the vehicles visible in the background and in the reflection and by the military uniforms, I'm guessing this was in the 1940s and after the end of World War II. This was long after Vox Pop had gone to the network but there would have been may occasions for a man-in-the-street program.
Dr. Ben Oldag, on the left, and Bill Zak (corrected). This is the most recent photo in the collection and probably dates from the 1970s.
Thanks again to Charlie Pena for sharing these photos and if anyone can help with identifying any of the individuals pictured, please contact me by email or post a comment.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
I have been sitting on this clipping for several years hoping to come across a better picture of the transmitter itself, but to no avail. So I decided to go ahead and post it. The description of how the transmission process works is priceless so I've posted the article in its entirety instead of trying to summarize it.
This is the 1000 watt KUT transmitter that Jesse Jones purchased and had moved down from Austin, according to legend in the back of a pick-up truck (must've been piled pretty high).
The explanation under the photo reads: "...part of the KTRH apparatus housed in the modern hollow tile and concrete building at Deepwater, .... From right to left the control panels govern first, amplification, and application of speech to transmitter; crystal control for keeping frequency at 1120 kilocycles and the large water-cooled tube for building power up to 1000 watts. From the power tube the program is sent to the tuning house, antenna and ground whence it takes the air route to your receiver.
One side of the building houses the radio equipment, while the other is ideally arranged for the home of T.F. Smith and his family."
I'm not an expert on 1930s era broadcast equipment but I wonder if the article got it's directions reversed and it should read left to right? Perhaps some blog reader can comment.
This was one of many congratulatory ads published in the special section of the Chronicle when KTRH launched. It was just a bit too large for the scanner bed; all that is missing was the address and phone number of the advertiser, 1010-12 Main St., Fairfax 1361.
Monday, August 9, 2010
Charlie Pena has managed to reduce the size of the KTRH brochure excerpted here and has forwarded it to me in a form which fits on my scanner. Here is the cover and two pages devoted to Jesse Jones, KTRH founder.
Other sources have identified Tilford Jones of KXYZ as Jesse Jones' nephew, not cousin.
In a history published in 1990 for the 60th Anniversary of KTRH John T. Jones explained the origin of the name of the Rusk Corporation. He said they were casting about for a name that wasn't used and decided to name it after a Houston street. They began at Buffalo Bayou and started ticking off the street names until they got to Rusk, which happened to be the street their offices were located on.
This portion of the brochure was followed by four pages of text and photos on KTRH as already published on the blog plus two more pages of photos.
This was followed by a section on sister FM KLOL-FM.
Friday, July 2, 2010
This is a brochure produced by KTRH promoting their News-talk format and it's another item shared by Charlie Pena. The brochure was apparently produced ca, 1973 - it makes reference in the text to having been doing the format for 11 years and from another source I know KTRH launched news-talk in 1962. The station flipped to an all news format in July, 1974.
The copy is too large to scan as a whole so I have broken it down into sections which are arranged below in the order they appeared; the brochure was 3 columns wide with text at the top and photos below; it probably had at least some color but the copy is only black and white. Only a couple of comments are necessary for explanation below.
This photo is not tagged but I believe it is another photo of Jack Ford who also appears in another photo below. Corrections are welcome.
One photo from the brochure was clipped and showed only half the face of weekend news editor Carl Cramer so I have not used it.
Another thanks to Charlie Pena for sharing this material.
See the rest of this brochure published here and here.