Thursday, March 6, 2014

KWHI/KTTX - AM/FM, Brenham

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. 

The Banner Press archives are not available online anywhere but newspapers from several communities in the vicinity are and from the Bryan Eagle it is apparent the station was on the air by May 9, 1947 when the first ad appeared. The Eagle also ran a story on the 31st of May announcing the formal opening and dedication for the station would be held on Saturday, June 6, at the St. Anthony Hotel.  Ernest Jones was named as station manager. 

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. 

The station was mentioned often in newspapers; during political season, there were political broadcasts mentioned in candidate’s print ads and coverage of school sports also merited mentions.  Live music was apparently a big part of the programming, too.  Honky-tonks and nightclubs advertising appearances by live bands frequently noted the bands were heard daily on KWHI.  Besides T. C. Bigley, Charlie Helmer and his Boys and Bennie Murski and his Melody Kings were some of the bands promoted as having daily broadcasts in papers including the Hearne Democrat, Weimar Mercury, Colorado Co. Citizen (published at Columbus), Taylor Daily Press and as far away as the Freeport Facts and Galveston Daily News.  The ad above came from the Taylor Daily Press in September, 1947.

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. 

KWHI Website
KTTX-FM Website

Images above from the archives of the cited papers at

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