Sunday, May 13, 2007

This Day in History - 1957 - BCMF revealed...

In the first couple of weeks of May, 1957, station KLBS, 610, ran a mail-in contest inviting listeners to guess what the letters BCMF stood for. KLBS had never contested much and there was only a small cash prize.

McLendon Investments had purchased KLBS from Howard Broadcasting earlier in the year for $535,000, the largest cash transaction in Houston radio history up to that point, and final approval was pending. Gordon McLendon was known for making wholesale changes when he took over a station and a new GM, Bill Weaver, was brought in from McLendon’s highly successful KTSA in San Antonio. Arriving on the 5th, Weaver told the Chronicle that changes were coming but there would be no announcement for a week but by Saturday the 11th it was made official: new call letters and a new staff were to be in place by Tuesday May 14th. BCMF meant ‘Big Change May Fourteenth.’

The call letters were flipped to KILT and a new staff installed, although the listings in the paper indicated the new announcers weren’t all in town for the first day. There were only 2 holdovers from the old staff, one a part-timer and swing man.

A full page ad in the papers on the 14th was designed to look like a wanted poster and gave only serial numbers with the pictures of the air staff. It warned Houstonians to be on the lookout for “‘...these men. They are about to steal the Houston radio audience. These men have begun operations on Color Channel 61 today. These colorful characters are highly entertaining. Their deep resonant voices will ‘con’ you into listening to KILT, Houston’s new radio voice, around the clock every day.

REWARD: Twenty four full hours of daily listening pleasure.

To someone who had been listening to KLBS for a couple of years (we couldn’t get KNUZ where I lived) and who would have the privilege of working at KILT during his career, this was a momentous day in Houston radio history.

There will be more on KLBS and KILT in the AM Chronology of the 1950s, in the Station Profiles section and also in a Thanks for the Memories section, which will contain reminiscences from listeners as well as employees of Houston stations.

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