Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tim and Bob

I have nominated Tim Nolan and Bob Byron, KPRC's Tim and Bob morning team for 15 years, for the Texas Radio Hall of Fame this year. The Hall is relatively young and there are perhaps thousands of broadcasters who deserve to be included yet to be nominated. So far those inducted have tended to be the still-living and there's a notable shortage of founders, pioneers and stars of earlier decades. I'm hoping readers of this blog and others who are voting members of the Hall will use at least one of their votes each year to recognize those who've gone before us in this industry.

I had to provide a brief bio of both guys for the Hall so I'm expanding upon that here and providing some retrospectives of their careers. My thanks to the children of both Tim and Bob for helping me gather this information. I will be posting a gallery of pictures in the near future. It will include at least 20 pictures, which will present a problem for some users, so I will post it in the archive and include a link here. There will be photos of their St. Patrick's Day Parades and other promotions and antics.

Tim Nolan

Robert T. Nolan was born in East Liverpool, OH, in 1921. According to his daughter Pat his mother urged him to leave town so he wouldn't end up working in the steel mills so he headed west to Hollywood and went to radio school, then took a job at KXLA, Pasadena, CA.

In 1947 he joined the staff of KREL, Baytown (1360 AM) when it first signed on and eventually rose to be the General Manager. By the mid 50s he was doing mornings on KXYZ, 1320; there's a picture of him in the KXYZ brochure in the KXYZ Gallery.

In March, 1957, Jack Harris hired him away from KXYZ to join KPRC where he was eventually paired with Bob Byron, who had previously worked at KLBS and was already on the air at KPRC, to do mornings. It's been said that Harris hired him initially with the intention of creating a team but it wasn't until 1958, apparently, that the team started working together. Initially they had separate shifts then Harris had them doing an hour of their shows overlapping. The team was to be together on the air until 1973.

According to son Tommy, Tim was a Little League coach, Usher at St. Thomas More Catholic Church and an all-round great guy. He had many serious health problems in later years but always bounced back and was back on the air in just a couple of weeks. He had offers to go elsewhere but his wife always convinced him that the Hobby's, owners of KPRC, had treated him so good that he should stay put and he listened to her.

Bob Byron

Bob Byron was born Bobby Eugene Allee in Martinsville, IN, in 1926. He is believed to have gotten his start in radio in the Chicago area. According to his daughter Judy Bonham he hated his name and had it legally changed to Robert Byron Allee, taking the name of a favorite uncle. In February, 1951, he accepted a job working for Roy Eisner at KECK, Odessa, TX, and spent a year or so there. In 1952 he took a job at KLBS (610) which had been taken over from the estate of W. Albert Lee by Gordon McLendon's Trinity Broadcasting in February. He stayed with KLBS after McLendon sold the station but left sometime before McLendon re-purchased it in 1957 to flip it to KILT.

In the late 1950s while teaming up with Tim Nolan on the morning show he also hosted a Teen Time Dance Party on Saturday afternoon on KPRC-TV. I had first heard Byron on KLBS and he was one of my favorite jocks on that station and part of my inspiration for eventually getting into radio. I liked Byron's dance show better than Larry Kane's much more popular show on Channel 13 but where I lived I couldn't hear KNUZ so I had no idea who Kane was.

According to Billboard Magazine in 1962 Byron spearheaded a drive to collect gifts for US Servicemen on duty in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. This was just weeks after the final resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis; the US quarantine of Cuba had been lifted on November 20, 1962, and the US troops there had undoubtedly been much on the minds of people.

After the Tim and Bob show was taken off the air in May, 1973, Bob continued to work for KPRC on the TV side. Billboard, in noting the end of the Tim and Bob era, said he would be doing the announcing weekend evenings on TV. Judy Bonham says he was happiest entertaining people on the radio and awkward on TV; he also intensely disliked one of his bosses on the TV side and in 1978 contacted his old friend in Odessa and returned to West Texas to finish his career at KECK.

In 1964 the Houston Sales Association named Tim and Bob the Top Radio Salesmen for the year; that same year, a Billboard survey named them the top influence on album sales, according to record promoters, distributors and store owners. In 1966 a feature section on the Houston radio market in Billboard said comedy was the backbone of KPRC's programming and it hinged mainly on the success of Tim and Bob and their antics. The station and the team were again named overwhelmingly the top influence on album sales in the city. Program Director Tom Reiff said the station had gone to pains to encourage it's jocks to the extent that many advertisers refused to supply copy for schedules run on the station, instead preferring that the djs adlib and have fun.

Tim Nolan died in 1985; Bob Byron died in 1997 in Louisville, KY.

For additional information, here's an article on Tim and Bob by J.R. Gonzales of the Bayou City History Blog in the Chronicle.

And here's a thread about Tim and Bob in the Historic Houston forum on HAIF.

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