The Chronicle's Craig Hlavaty doing a little reminiscing, including an audio clip of a discussion with Outlaw Dave and pictures.
Friday, November 14, 2014
Monday, November 3, 2014
J. Kent Hackleman was an early talk show host on KTRH. His granddaughter has this site devoted to him, trying to raise money to digitize 300 audio tapes of his shows. There are some pictures and a little bit of history.
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
A couple of weeks ago, JR Gonzales published this article on his Bayou City History blog about the crash of the KODABIRD. There's only one picture but there are excerpts from the newspaper coverage of the day and more background on the individuals involved.
Wednesday, September 3, 2014
Here's an article from Houston History Magazine. The Jive Hive was before my time but anyone who was around in the 60s through the 90s will remember The Record Rack on Shepherd at Alabama.
The article includes lots of quotes from Paul Berlin, who had a record store of his own, on the relation between record shops and radio.
For those interested in more recent history, here's an article from the Press in 2002 about the end of the Record Rack.
Friday, August 1, 2014
I just stumbled on this source by accident. Story Sloane writes a feature article for the emag Houston Lifestyles and Homes using photos from his great collection and a year ago published this one about early radio performers.
There was a Guy Savage who worked at KXYZ in the 1950s and later was sports director of Channel 13 in the 60s. I have wondered before what the connection was to the earlier Guy Savage on KTRH; I don't see a physical resemblance.
The KTLC studios were in the old Houston Post building at Texas and Travis, catty-corner from the Chronicle.
There was a time in radio when not only were the announcers always live but all music had to be performed live also.
FOLLOWUP: In addition to providing the ID in the comments, Dave Westheimer sent along this picture of Guy Savage (left) and Gus Mancuso (right), broadcast team of the Houston Buffs in the 1950s. Dave says the square-cut, dimpled chin is the give-away. Okay, so I never was very good at faces. This is the same man who was the first morning man on KTRH and I can confirm that's the man I remember doing sports on KTRK-TV in the 60s.
Thursday, July 24, 2014
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
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
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.
UPDATE, ONE YEAR LATER: BILL'S SON, SCOTT, HAS POSTED A TRIBUTE VIDEO ON YOUTUBE. WELL WORTH WATCHING.
Also, see Scott's comment (# 14) here about his mom.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
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
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
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.
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
...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
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
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.
Wednesday, April 16, 2014
This article has been edited 5/3/2014 to reflect new information about the earliest broadcasts of KFUL which were wrongly attributed by the Galveston Daily News to KFLX.
The Radio Service Bulletin published by the Commerce Department on January 2, 1925, listed KFUL, Galveston, as a new station. Licensed to Thomas Goggan and Brothers Music Co., KFUL was authorized on 288 meters, 1160 kilocycles, with 10 watts. Goggans had a big store in the 2100 block of Market Street which housed the station, apparently on the third floor next to a workshop. The firm had been founded in Galveston in the late 1800s and had branches all over the state at one time including a store in downtown Houston. It was considered the largest and oldest musical firm in Texas, supplying sheet music and instruments of all kinds. For more on Goggans, go here.
The earliest mentions of the station's broadcasts in the Galveston Daily News erroneously attributed the broadcasts to George Roy Clough's KFLX but all of the stories mentioned Goggan's and station manager J.R. Davis. The error is emphasized even more by the fact that though KFLX had been licensed a year earlier it had never been mentioned in the paper up until that time and wouldn't be mentioned again by name until 1929.
The first mention on Sunday, November 23, 1924, reported on a concert by St. Mary's Cathedral Choir which was scheduled to start at 9 pm instead of 8 pm which would, it was asserted, eliminate much of the static problems experience on a previous broadcast. And the article reveals that even from its inception the station was seen as a promotional vehicle for the island. The story began ''The air will again be the medium of advertising the 'Treasure Island' Wednesday night..." The paper reported 'many notices of congratulations' were received on the new station from as far east as Cleveland, OH, and stated that concerts would continue on a weekly basis until demand built up. Another story on the 26th reminded readers that another concert was scheduled that evening, mentioned an earlier broadcast on November 19 and reported that more than 300 phones calls had now been received about the previous broadcasts.
One more article with the erroneous calls was published on the 2nd of December and cited letters received from Eugene, OR, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and Banes, Oriente, Cuba. The last letter reported receiving a broadcast on November 11, with loudspeakers set up so many could listen so the first broadcast of the station was at least that early.
The first mention of the station by its correct calls in the Galveston Daily News appeared on the 18th of December, 1924.
The first Goggan’s ad mentioning the station appeared in the News on the 8th of January, 1925.
In its first few months of operation, the station featured many local performers and civic clubs including the Chop Suey Entertainers, The Tokio Royal Orchestra, George McQueen, Miss Bobby Rowling, a cabaret singer formerly of New Orleans, the Lions Club, the Schubert Glee Club of San Jacinto School, the Knights of Columbus, the Sons of Hermann Orchestra, and the 9th Infantry Band from Fort Crockett, plus several visiting artists, including a talk delivered by a visiting skating champ. Reports in the paper following broadcasts always boasted about the number of calls received, especially if they were out of town. The badly over-inked picture of the Tokio Royal Orchestra in the studio was published in the News on April 25, 1925.
In April a new head of the radio department at Goggan’s was named who would also be in charge of the station. According to the original announcement his name was Ray Clough but he was subsequently referred to as George Roy Clough, none other than the owner of KFLX, Galveston’s other licensed radio station at that time.
In June a deal was announced with the Galveston Playhouse Corporation to move the station to the Garden of Tokio which was apparently on the beach and operate there for the summer, as well as boost power to 100 watts. It was asserted the increased power would provide coverage for a range of 500 miles in the summertime and all of the US in winter. This would help to publicize Galveston as the ‘Port and Playground of the Southwest.’ J. E. Stratford of the Playhouse asserted ‘practically every well known beach in the country is now advertising itself by means of the radio.’ The Radio Service Bulletin published August 1 did report that KFUL had been authorized to boost power to 50 watts.
The issue of the station’s ability to serve as a promotional vehicle for the island came to the fore again in February, 1926, when a proposal was floated before the Galveston Ad Club to undertake a public subscription drive to raise $8,500 to enable Goggan’s to enlarge and improve the facilities and boost power to 500 watts. The Ad Club declared itself in favor of the idea, which was to be presented next to the Chamber of Commerce. Five hundred dollars was raised in a very short time and it was said the entire amount was expected to be raised in 50 to 60 days. Mentions of the station’s broadcasts in the paper regularly included mentions of the fund drive with exhortations to those who had made pledges to send in their money. By the end of the month it was stated that an outside announcer would be hired to be the principle announcer on the station, someone not connected to Goggan’s, and a central committee would be appointed to be in charge of station activities while George Roy Clough would remain in charge of the ‘operating room.’ Pledges of support for the drive were said to have been received from Colorado, Nebraska, Indiana, Florida, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia.
The fund drive took longer than anticipated and fell short of the goal but improvements were undertaken anyway. By August, 1926, it was announced $4000 had already been spent and another $2000 was needed within a month. Then in early December it was announced the ‘new’ station would open on Friday, December 17, tests of the new equipment having proved satisfactory.
On the seventeenth a feature story proclaimed the inaugural broadcast of ‘The Community Broadcasting Station of the Gateway to the Southwest’ with an inaugural celebratory broadcast lasting all night long. The new facilities had been built at a minimum of expense. George Roy Clough had built the equipment which, it was claimed, would have cost $25,000 otherwise. The fund drive had raised $3615; Goggan’s had spent $2000 on parts and labor and another $1599 to furnish a new studio and reception room. Test broadcasts had drawn letters from all over the continent and a cablegram from Midway Island in the Pacific, estimated to be 8000 miles away. The story said more funds were still needed and emphasized nearly every civic organization on the island had endorsed the drive.
A follow-up story a couple of weeks later reported that letters had been received from every state and almost all the Canadian provinces as well as Mexico. ‘Well over’ 3000 cards, letters and telegrams were being answered by the Chamber of Commerce which was sending out advertising materials, indexing the addresses and creating a big wall map. The story also emphasized the station was still in need of funds to bring the power up the the contemplated wattage. Frank B Herrle or Herrie was appointed musical director of the station and a big open house was planned for the end of January during which visitors would be able to observe programs being broadcast.
Records of government actions in that era are available only through the Radio Service Bulletins issued monthly which do not show that KFUL received authorization for the contemplated power boost for the ‘new’ station. It was not until April of 1927 that temporary authority was granted, efffective May 3 of that year, for Goggan’s to boost the station’s output to 750 watts, pending final approval. Then in July, 1929, permission was granted for the station to operate with 1000 watts daytime on an experimental basis with 500 watts nighttime, but by November of that year the authorizations had been reduced to 500 watts which was apparently the wattage the station operated with until it went off the air in 1933.
Continue to Part 2.
Images above from the archives of the Galveston Daily News on newspapers.com.
Friday, April 11, 2014
of a Galveston radio listener, October 4, 1930.
The Galveston Daily News had published brief blurbs about KFUL's programs since it went on the air in December, 1924, and carried listings of other stations courtesy of RADEX, but when KFUL boosted power to 500 watts the local programming listings expanded.
Note KPRC was carrying 'chain' programs from both WEAF and WJZ; further down in the listings there are complete schedules for both KPRC and KTRH but there are no mentions of KFLX, Galveston, or KTLC and KXYZ, Houston. Also note KYW is still a Chicago station at this time. Listings other than KFUL are from the Associated Press.
KFUL was sharing time on 1280 kilocycles with KTSA, San Antonio, at this time, hence the gaps in the program schedule.
Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Monday, April 7, 2014
Here's an article on Zydeco Online on the end of KCOH on 1430 with a little bit of history and lots of great historical photos of the station and staff. This was originally posted back in 2012 when the station was sold and moved from 1430 to 1230.
Thursday, March 6, 2014
An application was tendered for filing with the FCC on April 15, 1946, for a new standard broadcast station to operate on 890 kc with 250 watts, daytime, in Brenham, Texas. The applicant was Tom S. Whitehead, owner and publisher of the Brenham Banner Press.
Less than 2 weeks later, the FCC announced it was revamping it’s policies regarding daytime and limited time stations operating on Class 1-A clear channel frequencies and all pending applications were being put on hold. 890 was a Class 1-A frequency and WLS, Chicago, was the protected signal.
On September 30, 1946, Whitehead submitted a modified application, requesting operations on 1280 kc with 1 kilowatt of power and also changing specifications in the proposed antenna and transmitter. The amended application was approved on November 4, one of 46 new stations granted on that day, a record for the FCC up until that time.
When the call letters were applied for and approved has not been discovered nor, for that matter, exactly when the station got on the air. Broadcasting Yearbook cites the date April 15, 1947, but that source is frequently in error. The calls must’ve been taken from the first three letters of the owner’s last name.
As the day drew closer there were more details in the Eagle. There would be an all day celebration and open house of the new studios on the north side of the courthouse square in downtown Brenham, there would be many live bands performing, Attorney General Price Daniel would attend and offer some remarks, Governor Beauford Jester and US Representative Lyndon Johnson would be heard by transcription.
My earliest memories of hearing KWHI were almost a decade later when I was DXing from my home in Brazosport and I remember a lot of polka music. If memory serves correctly, and it may not, there were regular live broadcasts of polka music from a band shell on the courthouse square. A little bit of polka music went a long way with me and I didn’t listen much to KWHI.
Tom Whitehead applied for an FM station in October, 1963, and a CP was granted in January, 1964. The proposed facility would operate on 106.3 mc, Channel 202A, with 3 kilowatts from an antenna of 223'. The estimated cost for construction was $11,375 and the first year operating costs were pegged at $7500. The calls KWHI-FM were approved just a couple of weeks later. In April, 1964, modifications to the application were approved to change the transmitter and antenna locations and reduce the tower height to 130'. Broadcasting Yearbook gives the date April 15, 1964 for the launch of the station and ads were run in the Houston Chronicle saying the station was on the air 5pm to 11 pm daily. The first ad mentioning KWHI-FM I have found in newspapers in the Brenham area was not until October, 1968, in the Colorado Citizen.
In July, 1974, KWHI-AM changed calls to KTTX while the FM continued as KWHI-FM. Eighteen years later, in March, 1992, the stations flipped; the heritage calls went back on the AM and the FM became KTTX-FM, known as K-TEX. Both stations are still on the air, both owned by Tom S. Whitehead, Inc. The FM now operates on 106.1 with 50,000 watts, the AM has a nighttime power of 72 watts.
Images above from the archives of the cited papers at newspapers.com
Saturday, March 1, 2014
See the First Part here.
Broadcasting Magazine took note of a promotion on KIOX in the fall of 1949. 'Cowgirl Sweethearts on Parade' was based on the popularity of disc jockey Charlie Walker, the Singing Cowboy, and his Half Circle W Roundup program on KIOX, All the Long stations were participating and there were said to be 300 entrants. Culmination of the promotion would be at the Bay City Rice Festival that year and a short film would be produced. Billboard Magazine also noted the contest in it’s January 14, 1950, issue, the earliest mention of KIOX in that trade publication. Walker was said to be touring 56 of the Long theatres in Texas with the 15 minute film which also featured some of his show. Other mentions of Walker and KIOX in Billboard included his Texas Ranger Club, in conjunction with a beverage sponsor, which offered premiums to members based on the number of bottle caps collected, and when he sent out an invitation for country artists to stop by his show. In March, 1951, Walker departed KIOX for a gig at KMAC, San Antonio, and mentions of KIOX in the pages of Billboard became much rarer.
Charlie Walker was born in Copeville, Texas, and while with the 8th Army Signal Corps in the Tokyo Occupation forces was credited with being the first dj to play country music for the troops in the Orient. After the war, he and his band, the Texas Ramblers, performed in and around Corpus Christi before he got into radio again. He became a hugely popular country disc jockey in San Antonio, scored a recording contract and a number of hits, moved to Nashville where he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry and eventually was inducted into the Country Radio DJ Hall of Fame. According to the Encyclopedia of Country Music, he opened his show with ‘This is ol’ poke-salad, cotton-picking, boll-pulling, corn shucking, snuff-dipping Charlie Walker.’ Neither his Wikipedia entry nor his entry in the Encyclopedia of Country Music mentions his stint at KIOX, however.
Another famous alumnus of KIOX was Texas and Georgia Radio Hall of Famer Kent Burkhart, who, in the book Turn It Up! American Radio Tales 1946-1996, relates walking into Johnny Long’s office at KIOX when he was not yet 14 and asking him for a 15 minute show to play records for kids.
Though the Bay City Tribune is not available, more insight into the early programming of KIOX comes from the pages of the Freeport Facts (later Freeport Facts and Daily Review when it became a daily). The Brazosport area is only about 35 miles from Bay City and possibly even at that time had a greater population than all Matagorda Co. and was undoubtedly the largest populated area within the range of the KIOX signal that didn’t have its own radio station. KIOX tried to function to some extent as a local station for the Brazosport area, taking advantage of Johnny Long’s Showboat Theater on 2nd Street in downtown Freeport as a stage for many broadcasts.
The earliest mention of KIOX in the Facts occurred on July 24, 1947,when it was reported two representatives of the station (not air personalities) had visited a meeting of the Freeport Kiwanis Club. The station’s coverage of that fall’s Freeport Lions Carnival had to be postponed in August because of a storm and a live broadcast in conjunction with the carnival from the stage of the Showboat failed to make it on the air because of technical difficulties but even by that time the First Baptist Church of Freeport had a program and the station had covered a meeting of the Brazosport Chamber of Commerce.
One of the most ambitious offerings by the station was a quiz show ‘Ladies be Good,’ beamed from the Showboat on Thursday afternoons, offering prizes not only for those who were contestants on the show but also for members of the theater audience. There was also a baking contest, a live concert of the Freeport High School Band (staged before the beginning of the evening’s features and included in the price of admission) and a staging of Handel’s Messiah by a choir and orchestra composed of members from all over the area plus many other broadcasts. There was also regular coverage of the Brazoria County Fair in the autumn. The fair billed itself as the largest county fair in Texas and KTHT, KLUF and KLEE also covered some events. There were also sponsor remotes from clothing stores, furniture stores and appliance stores. Incidentally, none of the mentions in the Facts ever listed the frequency as 1110 kc.
To Be Continued.
Images above from the archives of The Facts on newspapers.com
Friday, February 28, 2014
On March 8, 1946, the FCC granted a Construction Permit for a new standard broadcast station in Bay City, Texas, to operate on 1110 kilocycles with 1000 watts, daytime only. The original application apparently had been filed in February, 1945. Principals of Bay City Broadcasting included John George Long, T. C Dodd, a cattleman, and J.A. Clements, apparently of Angleton, who had formerly been with KPAC, Port Arthur, and at the time was with the Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation in Houston. The estimated cost of construction for the new station was $30, 597.
Long, also known as John G. Long and Johnny Long, was the most important party. Apparently a native and resident of Bay City, he would, through his Long Broadcasting Enterprises, own or operate KVIC, Victoria, KSAM, Huntsville, KNET, Palestine and KTLW, Texas City, in addition to KIOX. Bay City Broadcasting also applied for a 50 kw station in McAllen to operate on 1560 kc. Long was also an owner and operator of as many as 70 theaters across Texas, including the Showboat theater in Texas City, where KTLW would be located.
Information about the early years of KIOX is difficult to find for a number of reasons: the station has been deleted and it’s FCC records are not accessible online, copies of the Bay City Tribune for that era apparentlly are non-existent, and online scans of the fine print notations in Broadcasting Magazine are often illegible. As a result, I do not know when the call letters were applied for and approved, what they stood for, if anything, and when the station actually got on the air, but by July 29, 1946, the station was listed along with 6 others joining the Mutual Broadcasting System as of August 1 so presumably it was on the air by that time. In the meantime, on May 20, 1946, the FCC had accepted for filing an application for modifications to the original CP to change the frequency from 1110 to 1270 kc, change the power from 1000w, daytime, to 1000w, unlimited, and install a new transmitter and antenna. These modifications were not approved by the FCC until January 27, 1947, along with extensions for the dates of commencement and completion of the changes.
Long’s purchase of KSAM, Huntsville was approved in October, 1946, and his purchase of KVIC, Victoria, from Morris Roberts, was approved in December, 1946. In February, 1947, Clements' interest in Bay City Broadcasting was transferred to Harry Reading, Jr., for $8000. Reading had been an IRS Collector and was then employed as accountant by Long. Clements was partner in other broadcast enterprises, either applied for or operating, in Del Rio, San Angelo, and Houston.
Long’s application for KTLW was approved in June, 1947, and then in early October, the move of KIOX to 1270 kc was authorized. In it’s November 17, 1947, issue, Broadcasting ran a story about the formal opening of the new station on November 10. Cost of the facility was estimated at $200,000. There was a list of important officers and staff of Long Broadcasting Enterprises including some of the air talent. As the operator of a small group of stations, Long had been able to attract staffers from far and wide including such major markets as Detroit, Windsor, Ontario, San Antonio and Houston.
A year later, in November, 1948, tendered for filing with the FCC was an assignment of the license of KIOX eliminating Dodd and Reading from the ownership. The consideration was something in the vicinity of $12-13,000 for their two 12.5% shares as best I can make it out. It was mentioned that the station was losing money. Thus did John G. Long become sole owner of KIOX.
Saturday, February 22, 2014
Thursday, February 20, 2014
A special Doug Miller Channel 11, KHOU Up Close report on Houston Radio from 2001, posted on YouTube, with some well-known Houston personalities - most of whom are still around. The story is old news to readers of this blog but it's a fascinating snapshot of history.
Monday, February 17, 2014
For Part 1, go here.
On April 23, 1959, the Brazosport Facts carried a story announcing the FCC had approved the sale of KBRZ. The buyer was Jim Hairgrove doing business as Radio Brazosport, Inc., in partnership with Garfield Kiel and Stanley McKenzie plus Hairgrove’s wife, Sue. The price was $80,000 and the request seeking transfer of ownership had been filed March 30. Various stories over the years indicated Hairgrove had either been manager, owner or ‘had an interest in’ KFRD, Rosenberg. William Schueler, the seller, was moving to Fort Worth where he had an interest in KJIM and he also had an interest in KTOW, Oklahoma City. Ken Ferguson, who had been with KBRZ since 1952, was buying KMOP, Tucson, in a partnership with L.B. Clayton of Oklahoma City.
During the years that Hairgrove was owner the station was more involved in the community and received more mentions in the paper than it had under Scheuler with Hairgrove frequently serving as the identifiable station personality. He became active in several civic and business organizations and there were fewer mentions in the paper of other personalities at the station.
On August 15, 1960, the FCC granted a pemit to KBRZ to install a new transmitter, change the studio location and permit remote operation of the transmitter. Brazosport Savings and Loan was building a new center where North 11th and Avenue F intersect Texas 288 (Brazosport Boulevard) and it was announced KBRZ would be the first tenant.
Meanwhile, in October, 1960, KBRZ had filed another application with the FCC requesting permission to up power to 1000 watts. The story in the Facts also noted Hairgrove had just been elected President of the Texas Association of Broadcasters after having served as Vice President. He was also to serve 9 years as a Director of the TAB. The application for 1000 watts was dismissed in November, 1961, at the request of the station.
In 1962, a new company, Texas Audio Electronics, was formed by the same group of investors to seek a license for an FM staton. More information about the launch and early years of KLJT-FM can be found in this updated FM Chronology post.
The 59th Session of the Texas Legislature created a new legislative district, 20-F, serving Brazoria and Ft. Bend counties and Jim Hairgrove announced his candidacy for the seat in January, 1966, citing as one of his main goals the reuniting of Brazoria Co. in one district. He won handily over his only opponent in the May Democratic Primary, in those days tantamount to the general election, and took his seat in early January, 1967. His legislative career was short-lived, however. On April 12, he was found dead in his hotel room in Austin of an apparent heart attack. His passing was banner headline news in the Facts and his funeral service also received extensive front page coverage. After his passing, several civic organizations and governmental bodies in Brazosport issued proclamations praising his service to the community. His widow took over running the radio stations (she had always been involved in daily activities) but by the end of the month, announced she would run to succeed her husband in a special election called for May and turned operations of the properties over to James V. Fridle as General Manager and Randy Griffin as Commercial Manager. Fridle had come to KBRZ in 1963 from WRAC, Racine Wisconsin, to be News Director and been named Operations Manager in June, 1965. Griffin had been with KBRZ since 1961.
Sue Hairgrove won out over a field of five in the special election and served the rest of what would have been her husband’s term but declined to run for re-election, saying she felt she had fulfilled his mission. In October, 1968, Fridle resigned to take a job with the Curtis Broadcast group in the southeastern US and Sue Hairgrove resumed managing the properties, retaining Griffin as assistant. Then in February, 1969, the sale of the two radio stations and background music service was announced to Wayne Marcy and George Mayoral, operating as Summit Broadcasting. Marcy was a sales rep for radio equipment and Mayoral had radio and television interests in New Orleans and Puerto Rico. The FCC approved the sale in July and transfer of ownership took effect on Saturday, July 19. Sue Hairgrove announced her intention to remain in the Brazosport area but so far as I know was never involved in broadcasting again.
To be continued.
A link to the KBRZ Classic website, a tribute and streaming website.
Ad images above from the archives of The Facts on newspapers.com.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Radio Discussions, which abruptly ceased operations a couple of months ago, has come back to life. It appears all the old links will still work.
This is very good news because of the huge archive of useful information included in past posts over the years which will now be available again.
Here's the home page of the new site, in case you had deleted all your previous bookmarks.
Monday, January 27, 2014
On April 4, 1952, the Freeport Daily Facts and Review reported that the Federal Communications Commission had approved the call letters for KBRZ, a new AM radio station for the Brazosport area, the first radio station licensed in Brazoria Co. The call letters had been used previously by a station in Bryan operating on 1440 kc that had gone silent in 1949. Kelly Bell of Nacogdoches, President of Brazosport Broadcasting which was putting the new station on the air, told the Facts the call letters stood for Brazosport and Brazoria Co.
The original application had been filed in November, 1950, for a 250 watt station operating unlimited hours on 1490 kc but that had been amended in May, 1951, to 500 watts, daytime only, on 1460 kc. The Construction Permit was granted on March 26, 1952. On May 21, the FCC approved the site for the new station, located on the old Angleton-Velasco road (FM 523) just outside the small settlement of Oyster Creek. The new Texas 332 and the original span over the Intracoastal Waterway to Surfside would not be completed for a couple of years but the location was just north of the intersection of the Angleton-Velasco road and the new highway. Harry Twombley, a construction company man in Brazosport had joined the ownership group. Bell, originally from Midland, was an attorney in Nacogdoches and owner of KOSF there. Another owner was J.C. Stallings of Nacogdoches who was to be General Manager, a post he held at KOSF.
Prior to the launch of KBRZ, KIOX, Bay City, 1270 kc, had served as something of a local station for Brazosport, broadcasting advertiser remotes, a weekly 'This is Freeport' program from the Showboat Theater in Freeport, and covering the opening of the Brazoria Co. Fair in Angleton.
Construction of the facility got underway on June 10 and two days later O. A. Wood told the paper in an interview they hoped to be on the air by August 15 and the station was looking for local personnel to staff the station. Wood, who had worked as Commercial Manager for KOSF, had been named GM of the station and had set up temporary offices on Broad St. in downtown Freeport. Apparently, Stallings was going to stay in Nacogdoches.
As the date approached the sign-on got pushed back a couple of times. On the 15 of August, Wood said they hoped to be on by the 23rd but that date passed. On the 27th, a Wednesday, Wood said the station would begin operations the following Monday but the story also said the station would sign on at Noon that Sunday (possibly this was just for a dedicatory ceremony). Then on Friday August 29 the Daily Facts and Review reported final FCC approval had been received and the station would sign on the next morning and hold an open house at the new station on Sunday, August 31. A special dedication ceremony would be held at the station on Saturday evening involving the local Chamber of Commerce which had petitioned the FCC on behalf of the owners.
KBRZ operated on 1460 kc with 500 watts of power, daytimes only (local sunrise to local sunset). Studios and offices were housed in a building that resembled a big ranch house while the transmitter was located in the rear and the 210' antenna in the salt grass prairie that stretched back to the Intracoastal Waterway.
ETA: A 1964 Historic Aerial image clearly shows the original studio and transmitter site. A direct link to the image is not allowed; go to Historic Aerials and use the search parameters 'FM 523 and FM 332 Velasco Texas.' You can turn on the 'All Roads' overlay to orient yourself. The station is the first structure north of the intersection on the east side of 523 with a driveway to the transmitter out back.
On Monday, September 1st, two small ads appeared in the Daily Facts and Review. One advertised a late fishing report on daily at 5:30 pm with the tag line ‘No, This Didn’t Get Away.’ The other urged listeners to ‘Develop the KBRZ Listening Habit’ by dialing 1460 daily from 7:30 to 7:45 (am) for ‘a program of comfort.’
Several stories over the first several months identified more of the station personnel. In addition to Wood these included Betty Klein, Program Director, Dick Smith, News Director, Jack Howard, Commercial Manager, and Bill Reading on the commercial and announcing staff. Smith had an impressive resume, citing stints as News Director or Editor at WOAI, KTSA, WFAA and the Liberty Broadcasting System. Klein had worked at KTRM, Beaumont, KTXJ, Jasper and the Pams Agency in Dallas. Howard had worked for the Liberty Broadcasting System and also Mutual and the Cactus Network in west Texas while Reading had worked at KNUZ, KULP, the Liberty Broadcasting System and KUHF-FM. In separate stories Danny Kirk was identified as chief announcer and Kenneth Ferguson as Chief Engineer. Kirk had come to KBRZ from WACO.
A story in July, 1953 named Raymond Carlton, aged 17, as working afternoons at KBRZ after summer school and said he planned to make a career in radio. The station started broadcasting football games of the two high schools in the coverage area that autumn, carrying them on tape on Saturdays since the station was off the air Friday evenings. The station at times also carried the games of Lamar Tech in Beaumont. A story in September, 1954 identified Bob Dunnavant as the play-by-play announcer for Brazosport Exporter games with Jim Grant doing the color commentary. Charles Dunaway, Sports Editor of KBRZ, handled play-by-play for the Angleton Wildcats games with Chuck Lay doing commentary. Two months later the paper reported popular DJ Charlie Dunaway was leaving KBRZ for a job as staff announcer at KPRC, Houston, noting Dunaway had been with the station 2 years and married a local girl. Houston native and Texas Radio Hall of Famer Chuck Dunaway chronicled his career in his 2004 book The Way I Remember It, including a chapter devoted to KBRZ. This used to be online but has been taken down and the book is currently out of print. The same month Dunaway departed Jim Grant left for KGBC, Galveston. In April, 1956, Clifford L. Holloway was identified as Commercial Manager for KBRZ when he filed for office as a candidate for Lake Jackson City Council. In June, 1956, a story mentioned ‘former PD’ Bob Dickson was taking a job at KRIS-TV, Corpus Christi, covering sports. Dickson had come to KBRZ in November, 1955, to serve as PD, bring his popular 'Breakfast with Bob' show from KIOX, Bay City.
Within months of signing on, the station conducted the first of what would come to be a long running annual event, a Kiwanis Radio Auction. Kiwanis Club members from both Freeport and Lake Jackson, the two largest towns in Brazosport, collected goods from merchants throughout the area for the auction which was held over the air on a Sunday afternoon in mid-December. A big ad in the paper before the auction listed all the items for sale and for the first year these included a refrigerator, a dishwashing machine, a radio, fishing tackle, a watch and much more. Money raised was to go to underprivileged children and the KRA, as it came to be known, was an annual event on KBRZ for over 20 years.
Another annual event was a Teens Against Polio Radiothon, held as early as 1955 and continuing annually until at least 1969. Several Brazoria Co. residents had been afflicted with polio during the nationwide epidemics of 1952 and 1954 and polio was on everybody’s mind as a terrible disease. Teen groups known as Teens Against Polio were formed all over the country and held fund raising activities, typically in January, including talent shows, dances, and midnight movies. The radiothons on KBRZ involved all the area junior high schools; on a designated Sunday, requests would be taken on the air for dedications in return for a 25 cent donation, which was picked up by one of the volunteers stationed at the various junior highs. I had my first on-air experience as a guest DJ on the radiothon in January, 1960, along with Howard Dupree who was a student like myself but also worked part time at KBRZ. That year we also passed out car litter bags in return for a donation.
One of the most memorable personalities on KBRZ in the early years was the guy who delivered the weather forecast every morning from Coast Guard Station Freeport. It had been a huge boost to civic pride when the Coast Guard opted to station the 165' cutter Dionne at Freeport instead of Galveston in 1952 but even before the cutter arrived the Coast Guard station, on Freeport Harbor, the old Brazos River, just inland of the Intracoastal Waterway and below Dow Chemical Plant A, had been well known. It was a frequent destination for school field trips and you passed right by it on the old road to the swing bridge leading to Surfside. The weather report was probably the most complete weather feature you could ever want to hear on the radio delivered live by a specialist at the station and focused on conditions in southern Brazoria Co. but what made it so memorable was the accent of the Coast Guardsman who delivered it. In his pronunciation the word hour became almost a 3 syllable word - ouwuh, as in 8 miles puh ouwuh - and it produced chuckles and comments among people throughout the area.
In December, 1955, Brazosport Broadcasting and KBRZ changed hands. The buyer was William D. Schueler of Baltimore, MD, who had been in broadcasting since 1940. Schueler planned to move to Brazosport with his family and told the local paper he contemplated no personnel or programming changes. At the time, Kenneth W. Ferguson was identified as General Manager, having moved up from Chief Engineer.
In January, 1958, Ferguson announced the launch of ‘146 Full Dimensional Fidelity,’ a technological innovation which promised to bring ‘full hi-fi tones’ to the radio listening experience. FDF as it was referred to for short was said to be the equivalent of hi-fi in recording.
Images taken from newspapers.com.
For Part 2, go here.