Thursday, May 3, 2007

Happy Birthday, KLVL

KLVL-AM, 1480, was launched on May 5, Cinco de Mayo, 1950, and turns 57 this year. It is Houston's 11th oldest surviving radio station and 3rd oldest to still have its original call letters.

The station was the result of years of effort by Felix Hessbrook Morales. Morales had had a Spanish language program on San Antonio radio before moving to Houston. He bought time on KXYZ in the 40s for a Spanish language program that started out just one night a week but became a nightly event. He first applied for a license in 1942 but the FCC's wartime refusal to consider any applications unless the applicant could prove it had the necessary equipment to actually build a station meant that application went nowhere. The application was re-filed in 1946 but it took 4 more years for the station to get on the air.

KLVL stood for La Voz Latina and the station was known for its community involvement. Like most stations in the early 50s, KLVL was actually block-programmed. Country DJ Smokey Stover, who is in the Country Radio Broadcasters Hall of Fame, worked there in the early 1950s before going to work for KRCT.

In the summer of 1953 the station became possibly the first in Houston to air a foreign language program other than Spanish when it launched an Italian Hour once a week. The first guest was popular north-side restauranteur Joe Matranga.

In the summer of 1962 Morales launched KLVL-FM, Houston's first Spanish language FM. That station was sold in 1969 and became KYND-FM and is now KKBQ-FM.

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