Monday, February 17, 2014

KBRZ, Freeport, 1460 - Part 2

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.

On the 26th, Radio Brazosport took out an ad in the Facts introducing itself to the community and on the 29th a story reported that Hairgrove, identified as owner/manager of KBRZ, was going to be one of the judges at that year’s Sun Fest Time at Surfside Beach.  Incidentally this ad is interesting to me; the Hairgrove family went to the same church as my family and I knew him, though not well.  I remember being told at some point that he did not like his radio station referred to as Kay-Breeze.

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.

Broadcasting Magazine reported on February 13, 1961, that the station had occupied its new facilites, installing a new Gates transmitter and Ampex PR 10 recording equipment.   The building originally was a light, bluish-gray color with royal blue trim.  Very large KBRZ letters, in royal blue, adorned  the second floor face of the building and couldn’t be missed coming into Freeport on 288.  A Pickwick Cafeteria occupied the ground floor of the two story section of the center while the station’s studios and offices were on the second floor.  The transmitter remained at the original site on FM 523.  Today the center is mostly vacant.

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.

I found this ad in the Sunday, January 6, 1963, edition of the Facts but there was no story offering an explanation.  There were also ads appearing from time to time over the years for Secret Shopper contests, a Strike it Rich contest and others, but it was necessary to listen to get the details.  In November, 1963, the station published a 'survey' form in the paper, asking listeners to clip it, fill it in and return it.  The questions asked listener preferences about a number of programming categories and was perhaps a sort of market research to be used in programming the forthcoming FM station.

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

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