Saturday, May 12, 2007

Another Anniversary - 60 Years on 1590 - KATL, KYOK, KMIC

KATL became Houston’s 7th radio station on Monday, May 12, 1947, operating on 1590 kilocycles with 1000 watts, and the station operating on that frequency now is the sixth oldest surviving radio station licensed to Houston. The launch had been postponed several times by engineering problems and the station took to the air at 6pm without much fanfare, operating on special authority since the official license had not been issued. The first night’s programming included a broadcast of the Houston Buffs game with Fort Worth,
a shutout pitched by Al Papai. The Buffs had not been heard on Houston radio since 1938. The station became an affiliate of Gordon McLendon’s Liberty Broadcasting System.

The original studios of KATL were on the mezzanine level of the State National Bank building at 412 Main and the transmitter was on Post Oak Road near the Hempstead Highway. It operated 24 hours a day and was only the 2nd station in Houston to be on around the clock.

Two of the big concerns of post-war America were housing and jobs for veterans and Program Director William S. Newkirk, himself a veteran of 3 years in the Army, had hired a staff composed entirely of veterans, among them Houston native Larry Blieden (pronounced bleedin’) who had been in the Marines. Blieden had aspirations of being an actor an eventually built a career on Broadway and TV under the name Larry Blyden. Another original staff member was Johnny Edwards who had been a navigator on a B-17. He became host of the station’s popular morning show Chuck Wagon Call and was to have a long career in Houston radio including working at KTHT, KXYZ and KPRC.

The trio of original owners included two investors from New Orleans associated with WDSU. When KATL was sold in 1954 it was bought by two Louisiana businessmen, Jules Paglin and Stanley Ray, for their OK group of stations targeted at Black listeners and the call letters changed to KYOK. The station now on 1590 is KMIC.

There will be more on KATL and KYOK in the section of the AM Chronology on the 40s and 50s and in the station profiles section.


Anonymous said...

Wikipedia has incorrect information on KYOK. In 1991 to 1992 KYOK was Yo 1590 Raps followed by a simulacast of KHYS Y 98.5 in fact I have an aircheck of 1590 when they simulcasted Y985.
In 1994 they broke the simulcast and 1590 Solid Gold Soul was born it lasted til 1997 when the station flipped from Soul Oldies to Gospel 1590 AM (I remember seeing the red and white bumper stickers). Then in 1999 1590AM was sold to Disney ABC networks and Radio Disney KMIC was born, and the frequency was moved to 1190

Bruce said...

Thanks for the info Will. I knew KYOK had gone thru some changes before becoming KMIC but hadn't documented them.

There is lots of misinformation about Houston radio and television in Wikipedia.

Anonymous said...

I loved KYOK. I lived in Houston from 1971-78, and even though I was a little blondie from the burbs -- that is where my radio dial stayed tuned! And with all the driving you have to do in Houston, I spent a lot of time with KYOK and it was a great time period for music. I was trying to recall the name of a female radio host who had an evening jazz show that I liked too. Was it 'Dorothy Shelly'? I am grateful to her for being the first to introduce me to music I still appreciate today. CD in NYC

Bruce said...

CD in NYC - I have added the label KYOK to the article - sorry I had left that off. Click on that for all the posts on the blog about KYOK. I don't seem to have anything about Dorothy Shelly although the name is familiar. I'll be looking through my notes.

Anonymous said...

I used to listen to KYOK on my homemade radio. Especially liked a DJ by the name of Daddy Deep Throat. When he intro'd himself, he prolonged the 'Deep' then would go way down in a bass voice to emphasize the 'Throat'.