Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A KTRH Gallery

Updated 6/6/11

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.


Dan Rather during his stint at KTRH.


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

The KTRH Transmitter in 1930

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

KLOL - 1974

The KTRH brochure published here and here included these pages on sister station KLOL-FM. The brochure makes reference to KLOL approaching its fourth year; the station launched in August, 1970.



Jesse Jones - Houston Radio Pioneer

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.