Tuesday, July 31, 2007

KTHT Station Profile

Original Call Letters: KTHT

Original owners: Texas Star Broadcasting (Roy Hofheinz)

Original air date: 8:30pm, June 13, 1944

Original frequency: 1230 Kilocycles (250 watts)

Original call letter meanings: Keep Talking Houston Texas and Kome to Houston Texas

Moved to 790 Kilocycles on February 17, 1948, boosted power to 5000 watts.

Additional call letters on 790: KULF (ca. 1970), KKBQ (8/13/82), KBME (4/24/98)

Current owners: Clear Channel Communications

Current format: Sports talk

Website: The Sports Animal

A link to all articles published on the blog Labeled KTHT (in reverse order as published). Includes a Gallery.

A link to all articles published on the blog Labeled Hofheinz.

A link to the 79KULF Facebook page

Additional mentions of the station may be located using the search feature.

KLVL Station Profile

Original air date: May 5, 1950, Cinco de Mayo and also the birthday of the owner's wife.

Original owner: Felix Hessbrook Morales, funeral home owner. The Morales Funeral Home is still in service at 2901 Canal.  The original studios, which sat right on Canal just to the east of the funeral home, have been demolished to provide more parking for the funeral home.  New studios for the radio station were built in 1970 situated behind the original structure.  This building still stands toward the rear of the funeral home parking lot and is called Radio Hall.  It has been restored, although not the studios themselves.  It is used for community events and its walls are lined with photographs of personalities who visited or worked at the station over the years.

Original Call Letter meaning: La Voz Latina

Current Owners: Radio Triunfo

Current website: The International Sound of Houston.

This archived site includes a page devoted to the history of KLVL.

KLVL was Houston's first Spanish language radio station and is the third oldest radio station in Houston still using it's original call.

All posts on this site labeled KLVL, in reverse order as published.

Additional mentions of KLVL may be found by using the search box at the top.

KPRC Station Profile

KPRC, 950 AM

Original air date: May 9, 1925

Original owners: The Houston Post-Dispatch newspaper

Original call letter meaning: Kotton Port, Rail Center

Current owners: Clear Channel Communications

Website: The 950 - Radio Mojo

Additional call letters used: none

KPRC is usually credited as the oldest station in Houston and that is true with the qualification that it was licensed to Sugar Land, Texas, for a while in the late 1920s-early 1930s. It is sometimes claimed that it was the first Houston station but that is false; it was the 11th station licensed to Houston in the early 1920s.

A KPRC/KPRC-FM Gallery on this blog.

A special Gallery of KPRC personalities Tim and Bob.

Photos at the Center for American History, the University of Texas at Austin, relating to KPRC. This grouping will include at least one photo relating to KPRC-TV.

An additional photo
listed at CAM under K.P.R.C.

All posts on this blog labeled KPRC (in reverse order as posted).

For additional mentions of the call letters, use the search feature.

KXYZ Station Profile

KXYZ, 1320 AM

Originally licensed as KTUE, August, 1926

Became KXYZ, August, 1930

Original owner: The Uhalt Electric Co.

Current Owner: Multicultural Broadcasting

Website: The current format is Vietnamese.

A KXYZ Gallery on this blog.

Photos in the Bob Bailey Collection, The Center for American History, the University of Texas at Austin, relating to KXYZ.

Photos in the Bob Bailey Collection, The Center for American History, the University of Texas at Austin, listed under K.X.Y.Z

There are many more photos in the collection which apparently are not online yet.

All posts on this blog labeled KXYZ. (In reverse order as posted).

For additional mentions of KXYZ, use the search feature.

KNUZ Station Profile

Original Call Letters: KNUZ

Original air date: February 18, 1948

Occupied 1230 KiloHertz, replacing KTHT which moved to 790.

Current Call letters: KQUE

Current Format: Spanish

The original call letters referred to the fact two of the original partners had been newsmen; the company was named Veterans Broadcasting because all four partners were WWII veterans.

Pictures in the Bob Bailey Collection at the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin labeled KNUZ.

Pictures in the Bob Bailey Collection at the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin labeled Paul Berlin, one of the station’s most famous personalities.

There are additional pictures in the Bailey collection of personality Arch Yancey and of a big promotion at Sharpstown Center involving the station which do not appear to be online yet.

All Posts
on this blog labeled KNUZ (in reverse order as published).

A Facebook page for former employees of KNUZ and KQUE-FM.

To find additional mentions of the call letters, use the Blog Search feature.

Monthly Anniversaries

This is a collection of monthly anniversary posts giving launch dates and other important milestones in Houston broadcast history.













Monday, July 16, 2007


KILT, 610 AM

Original air date: January 31, 1948

Original owner: W. Albert Lee

Original Call letters: KLEE

Additional call letters used: KLBS (1952-1957), KILT (3/14/57)

Current owners: CBS

Website: SportsRadio 610

Photos at the Center for American History, the University of Texas at Austin, relating to KLEE
. Note: the three images supposedly of the KLEE transmitter site on the Dallas Highway are actually of the KLEE-TV site on South Post Rd. The main north/south road is South Post Oak, the main east/west road is what is now called Westpark. In the view looking east, you can see the downtown Houston skyline in the upper left corner; the diagonal street on the right side of that picture is Bissonnet. There is a problem, however, with the date; the photos are dated December 1947 but the FCC didn't even approve the KLEE-TV application until January 30, 1948.

There are photos in the Bob Bailey Collection at the Center for American History, the University of Texas at Austin, relating to KLBS, but they have not been put online yet, apparently.

All posts on this blog labeled KILT (in reverse order as posted).

For additional mentions of these call letters on the blog, use the search feature.

Terms and Conditions

Copyright 2007 - 2014 by Bruce Williamson, aka hrhwebmaster.

Under the copyright laws of the United States this website and its contents are copyright protected as soon as they are published on-line. The website is operated as a not-for-profit site to be enjoyed for entertainment and informational purposes only, no revenues are derived from the operation of this site. Information and images have been collected from newspapers, magazines, broadcasting yearbooks, personal collections and recollections of the blogger and others, e-mails, etc. If you feel your copyrights have been infringed upon by material published on this blog please contact the blogger at the link provided under the Profile and it will be removed or credited promptly.

Copying of any information or images from this site for use on other websites, in print, or for other uses, without permission is prohibited.

Links are provided as a convenience and I  bear no responsibility for the contents, accuracy or relevance of other sites that may be linked to from this site.

Your usage of this site and any and all of its pages or images constitutes your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

The World's First Educational TV Station

KUHT-TV has an excellent station history on its website to which I can add nothing.

New Blog feature

I have received more requests for information about television than anything else so I have added a television section on the side-bar. The first post is a Houston TV timeline such as I have it now, just from dates and information picked up in the course of researching radio in the 40s and 50s.

There will soon be posts on KLEE-TV, KPRC-TV, KGUL-TV and KNUZ-TV and perhaps later more.

The 1930s - Part V - KXYZ Goes Blue and 24/7

Just as a new show was being developed out of Vox Pop, KXYZ had it’s own big changes on tap. On the first of July, 1937, Tilford Jones, President of Harris County Broadcasters, announced that KXYZ would be affiliating with the NBC Blue Network on August 1st. Ten stations joined the network on that date; the Southern Blue Network was comprised of 22 stations in all but I have not been able to determine if there was special programming or why the group was considered ‘Southern.’ NBC had offered the Blue Network since the late 1920s and also had other special networks such as the Orange and White. It's been suggested one reason for the delay in signing up may have been the high cost of leasing AT&T lines and the network's reason for existence may have been appeal to advertisers of a regional group. The switch was thrown at 7am on August 1 and the first Blue program heard on KXYZ was ‘Coast to Coast on a Bus’ with Milton Cross.

The other stations joining NBC Blue on that day were WAGA, Atlanta, WSON, Birmingham, WNBR, Memphis, WROL, Knoxville, WJOB, Baton Rouge, WDSU, NOLA, KFDM, Beaumont, KRIS, Corpus Christi and KRGV, Weslaco, TX.

NBC commissioned a special Blue Network Gown to be given away, a ‘lovely dance frock.’ To win it, women had to submit a 50 word essay explaining what they would say if they won. The winner was to be announced during a special broadcast of the Sakowitz Hour of Fashion from the Rice Hotel Roof Garden.

A nationwide broadcast welcoming the new stations to the network would originate from New York, Chicago and San Francisco and feature several dozen performers. Among the programs KXYZ would be carrying as a result of the affiliation were the Radio Guild, National Farm Hour and The Breakfast Club from Chicago with Don McNeill. There would also be live sporting events and symphony orchestras.

There was more big news from KXYZ on December 30, 1937. A story in the Chronicle announced that when the station signed on at 6:30am on the 31st it would become a 24 hour a day operation, only the second in the country it was claimed. Tilford Jones and T. Frank Smith, managers of KXYZ, stated they had realized for some time the need for such a service. The only other US station said to be operating 24 hours a day was on the West Coast (the call letters were not mentioned in the story) and other than that workers on the third shift had to listen to Mexican radio stations in the middle of the night. There were said to be 546,000 people in the KXYZ listening area and an estimated 50 to 75 thousand of them were third shift workers at gas stations, refineries, etc. Many trucking companies were said to have installed radios in their trucks to help keep their drivers awake. Test broadcasts of the service had already drawn mail from South America and overseas and it was anticipated there would be a possible audience of several hundred thousand throughout the South and elsewhere.

The Houston Post radio guide for New Year’s Day included a schedule for KXYZ’s overnight programming but there no accompanying story. The schedule for January 1, 1938 included America Dances from NBC from Midnight to 4am. Also on the schedule was Mac Clark and his Orchestra from the Aragon Ballroom from 4 to 4:30, Dance Music from 4:30 to 5, the KXYZ Fishing News from 5 to 5:15, The Texas Drifter from 5:15 to 5:30, Popular Melodies from 5:30 to 6, and The Eye Opener Program at 6 am. The Fishing News had previously been on the air at 9pm in the evening and would be updated for the 5am broadcast.

The networks were not regularly on 24 hours a day. For New Year’s, they usually started coverage at Midnight, Eastern Time, and stayed with it until the New Year arrived on the West Coast. For 1938, for the first time, NBC planned to stay on until 4am Eastern.

The claim that KXYZ was only the second station in the nation to go 24 hours a day has not been verified and likely isn’t true according to this article which identifies the West Coast station referred to in the Chronicle story as KGFJ, Los Angeles, which had inaugurated 24 hour a day service in November, 1927, 10 years earlier. Additionally, Arthur Godfrey supposedly was the first all-night DJ on a station in Washington, DC, in January, 1934, four years before KXYZ and not on the West Coast, but whether ‘all-night’ meant that literally is not clear. It is believed some stations may have operated 24 hours a day on occasion, such as during weather emergencies, but most stations still signed off if only for an hour or so to check their equipment before beginning a new broadcast day.

Still, KXYZ was the first station in Houston to do it and may well have been the first in Texas or the South.

Just how long the expanded schedule lasted is not known but KXYZ has not been on the air 24 hours a day since New Year’s Day, 1938. The linked article indicates 24 hour a day broadcasting became popular during World War II for all night factory workers, etc. but the opposite seems to have happened here in Houston. In the early 1940s, radio listings in the Houston papers indicated the 24 hour a day schedule was still in effect on KXYZ but sometime during the war it was dropped and it was not until August, 1946, when KTHT began 24 hour a day operations that Houston had a 24 hour station again.

In the midst of these other big developments the Chronicle carried a notice in August that former Houstonian Jerry Belcher, who had been program director of Greater KTUE in 1929 and one of the original KTRH ‘Inquiring Reporters’ in 1932 and had gone to the network with Vox Pop and been replaced, would be heard on Sunday nights on NBC on a new program, ‘Interesting Neighbors.’ The first broadcast would visit a school for mature people in Elgin, Illinois, where every student was at least 70 years of age.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The 1930s - Part 4 - A Mysterious Doctor on Vox Pop

The year 1937 was an eventful one on the Houston radio scene. Two big developments concerning KXYZ will be reported on in the next post in the chronology but this post deals with a big development in KTRH's locally produced Vox Pop program.

During July a new feature began on the program on Monday evening on KTRH. The listings for the program each week had been getting very brief and on Sunday, July 11th, a Chronicle story headlined ‘Vox Pop Moves to Met Stage’ announced half of the program scheduled the next evening would move off the streets and onto the stage of the Metropolitan Theater on Main Street with the ‘mysterious Dr. I.Q. shooting questions at the audience.’ There would be three announcers roaming the audience with portable microphones. A $5 prize was to be given for correct answers but anyone who participated in the program would get a consolation prize. Lee Segall was to handle the street portion of the program, the ‘mysterious Dr. I.Q.’ segment would begin at 8:15, half way thru the program.

The listing for Monday, July 12, just called the program Vox Pop but thereafter the program was listed as ‘Vox Pop with Dr. I.Q.’ The following week, the Chronicle reported that the segment had been judged a tremendous success and for the show on the 19th the Dr. I.Q. segment would take up 2/3rds of the show. The word ‘mysterious’ was not used again in newspaper accounts. Listeners and participants had liked the new format because more people could take part and, of course, because they could win cash. The story also said that in one week, KTRH had developed a new radio personality in the person of Ted Nabors, who was the original Dr. I.Q. Nabors was to have a long career in Houston radio, later serving as Program Director of both KTRH and KTHT. In the 1950s, before I became aware of top-40 djs, I probably recognized only 2 names of Houston radio personalities, Fred Nahas, Mr. First-Nighter as he was called, and Ted Nabors.

Dr. I.Q. was sold to Mars Candy Co. in 1939 and put on the air as a summer replacement for Jack Benny and was an even bigger hit than Vox Pop had been and was to run on NBC until 1949, then ABC for one year. There was also a short-lived Dr. I.Q. Jr. series and two times in the 50s, ABC-TV aired a TV version of the show.

The show is remembered for the jingling of silver dollars falling into the hands of the winners, the announcer’s graphic descriptions of the delights of Mars candies and the phrase ‘I have a lady in the balcony, Dr.’ and its many variations.

The show was one of many network shows that traveled to different cities, as did Vox Pop. In March, 1942, it returned to Houston for a six week run in its regular Monday evening time slot on NBC, once again originating from the Metropolitan Theater where it had been born, with KPRC announcers working the microphones. The Chronicle interviewed Lee Segall who at that time was President of Segall Weedin Advertising in Houston and controlled the rights to Dr. IQ throughout his life. He said he still submitted 100 to 200 questions per week to the show of which many were used.

Segall was to sell two other shows to the networks as well as apply for broadcast licenses here and receive an FM permit but by the late 1940s he had relocated to Dallas and put KIXL-AM/FM on the air (see the section on the 1940s) and by the time of his death in 1984 his connection to early Houston radio and the fact the Dr. I.Q. show originated here had been forgotten.

During the TV Quiz Show scandals of the late 50s, Howard Stentz, Radio/TV Editor of the Chronicle, who always did a great job of covering radio during his tenure, remembered Segall and interviewed him about the scandals. Not surprisingly Segall predicted game shows would continue to be around but the feature story mostly concerned Segall’s recollections about Vox Pop and Dr. I.Q. Segall recalled he had been working for the Vox Pop sponsor, Metzger’s Dairy, and they had asked him to come up with a replacement they could sponsor so he came up with two changes - moving the show indoors and adding cash prizes. He recalled that the most anyone could win at any time was originally $20 because they wanted to have lots of small winners instead of one big one, and initially, all the questions were very easy ones. He also stated that when he had taken over producing Vox Pop, he had changed the questions from interview and opinion type queries to questions of simple fact and trivia.

For the initial broadcasts from the Metropolitan, Harry Grier, Tom Jacobs and Ben Weedin, all of KTRH, handled the microphones in the audience. Segall was later to form an advertising agency in partnership with Weedin and the latter was the producer of the Dr. I.Q. show in its last run on TV.

The images above are from the archives of the Houston Chronicle at the Houston Public Library.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The 1930s - Part 3 - A Shared Antenna

In March of 1935 KXYZ signed up as an affiliate of the World Broadcasting System. Not much is known about this short lived ‘network’ but apparently the programming supplied was on electrical transcriptions (disks like long playing albums) and there was no interconnection. The station also upped power to 500 watts and moved into new facilities in the Gulf Building from the Texas State Hotel; they were to occupy those studios for 3 decades. Newspaper listings indicated there were many interludes of ‘Popular Music’ filling gaps in the program schedule.

Sometime in 1935 Gerald Chinski, who had been the chief operator of WEAY in the 20s, became the Chief Engineer of KYYZ, a post he was to hold until 1961.

Late that year KTRH and KPRC spent $250,000 on a new transmitting plant to be shared by the both of them at Deepwater on the La Porte Highway where KTRH had been located since going on the air; KPRC was to move from its Sugar Land location. The expenses included nearly $100,000 for 2 brand new 5000 watt RCA transmitters as well as a new type of antenna. There was also 16,000 feet of lead wire and 13 and a half miles of copper wire. None of the old equipment at either site would be used.

The antenna was a 375' tower mounted on a triangular base. Called the tallest in the southwest, it was almost as tall as the Gulf Building, Houston’s tallest skyscraper. It would replace the old style flat top antenna system and both stations would operate from the same antenna, something that had only been done by two other stations up until then, in Massachusetts.

The old flat top antennas, with the actual antenna slung between two towers something like a curtain rod, had produced an oblong pattern of coverage; it was estimated the new antenna would improve the coverage area of both stations by 75-125%. The new transmitters were to be ‘automatic’ also, not requiring constant attention by engineers to keep them operating and they would re-start themselves if knocked off the air. The grounding system - the extensive wire grid laid in the ground - was supposed to eliminate fading, a frequent problem with radio broadcasts.

Test broadcasts started on the 4th of January, 1936. A big open house was planned on Sunday the 12th; KPRC switched over to the new transmitter sometime on Thursday afternoon and by the 12th the papers reported the station had received hundreds of calls complimenting the stronger signal. Just when KTRH switched over was never mentioned. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, attended the open house, which was to be in effect ‘whenever the stations are on the air.’ The door to the transmitter building was not to be locked; passersby could just ‘walk right in.’

Deepwater was a small town that has since been absorbed by Pasadena. The present KXYZ transmitter on Texas 225, just west of Beltway 8, is on the original KTRH site and that location was also used by KRCT/KIKK 650am.

Though he was not involved in ownership after his problems with XED, Will Horwitz continued his involvement in broadcasting. He sponsored the Will Horwitz Amateur Hour on KXYZ, broadcast live from his Texan Theater. Once he staged a ‘Juneteenth Jubilee’ featuring all Black performers and installed a special bank of 30 phones to take calls from listeners to determine a winner.

Frank Tilton, the blind pianist, had a daily 15 minute program on KTRH, sponsored, ironically, by an optical company. Mrs. John Wesley Graham also had a regular program on KTRH and KXYZ.

In January of 1936 Horwitz installed an electric organ in his Uptown Avenue amusement center connected to his Uptown Theater. With typical flair he had dubbed it the ‘Radio Mystery Organ.’ Sounds were generated by radio tubes rather than pipes and the organist gave daily concerts.

Though no new stations made it on the air during the decade there were at least two applications. In February of 1936, Bayou Broadcasting applied to the FCC for a station. The principals were James W. Rockwell, a lumberman, Charles Reinhard, an attorney, and R.A. Talbot of Bankers Mortgage Co. In January, 1937, there were news reports on a hearing being held by the FCC on an application by Reverend Williams States Jacobs for a Houston station. Jacobs had apparently operated an unlicensed station from his ranch at Webster and that was complicating matters. Other than the fact neither of these stations ever made it on the air, it is not known what happened to the applications.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


This is an update to remarks included in previous posts concerning the history of KTRH, Houston.

The fact is known that KUT, Austin, became KTRH, Houston in 1929/30 but the information available from government sources has left it open to question whether KUT was a continuation of WCM or a new station, i.e., whether KTRH can trace it’s history to WCM licensed March 22, 1922, and therefore qualify as the 35th oldest radio station in the country, or only from KUT, which was first licensed under those calls as a new station, operating on a different frequency and with different power authorization than WCM, in October, 1925.

I have corresponded both with Barry Mishkind and Thomas White on this question. While both see the possibility of interpreting the records either way White points out that in the Active Stations file at the FCC, the WCM, KUT and KTRH licenses are all kept in the same folder; in other words, the government considers them the same station even if some of their records indicate otherwise.

Over the years, WCM had funding problems which led to some lapses in the license (it was an era of 3 month licenses and lapses were commonplace, especially among university owned stations that might not have any staff at all in the summer). S. E. Frost’s Education’s Own Stations indicates a lack of funding was the reason the license lapsed in 1924 and the Markets and Warehouses Department made arrangements to refurbish and use the equipment to continue broadcasting market reports while the university was allowed to use the facilities, also. A lack of funding also led to the cessation of operations and lapse of the license in 1925 for several months before KUT was authorized.

Still, the government considers the 3 stations to be continuous.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The 1930s - Part 2 - The Man Passing By: KTRH Interviews

One of the most well-known developments in Houston radio in the 1930s was the launch of the Vox Pop program on KTRH in November, 1932, a man-in-the-street interview program done live, which was to go national in 1935 and have a long run on national radio.

The Chronicle reported on its radio page on Friday, November 4th that WABC, New York, the CBS station (there was no ABC at the time) had aired a man-in-the-street program in which 49 New Yorkers were polled on how they were going to vote in the coming election. Ted Husing, one of the most famous early radio announcers, had conducted the program. The story said that WABC was ‘pretty well satisfied’ with the results of the first broadcast and planned ‘to go further into this activity.’

The idea was picked up by KTRH very quickly. On Sunday the 6th, the Chronicle reported that Harry Grier, Program Director of KTRH, had said that plans were complete for the ‘Vox Populi’ program to air at 9:15pm Monday evening, the day before the election. The ‘forgotten man,’ the ordinary American, was going to be given a chance to speak his mind. The microphone would be set up at Main at Texas, just outside the KTRH studios in the Rice Hotel.

There was another story in the Chronicle the next day, saying that politicians and radio men were eagerly awaiting the results of the first broadcast from the sidewalks of Houston. The listing for the program at 9:15pm was for ‘The Man Passing By: KTRH Interviews.’

There was no review in the paper the next day but the following Monday, the Chronicle’s radio page took note of the second broadcast, set for that evening at 9:15pm at the same location, when the topic of Prohibition would be broached and ordinary Houstonians offered the chance to state their views. Jerry Belcher and Harry Grier would man the microphones.

The review the next day ran as long as the radio listings themselves and made it clear KTRH had a hit on its hands and Houstonians had a lot to say about Prohibition.

The following week the station declared that the success of the program had prompted its continuation as a weekly feature. The program was moved up to 6:45pm and the topic was to be the question of who should be the next mayor of Houston. The location was not to be given out until just before show time to be sure of catching casual passersby. The listing on the daily radio schedule in the paper was for ‘Inquiring Reporter: Broadcast from Houston Streets’ from 6:45 to 7:15pm. According to the followup report on the 22nd, the location was actually not revealed until the end of the show to prevent ‘stuffing the mike’ and Houstonians had wanted to talk about a lot more than just who the next mayor should be; Prohibition came up again as did taxation.

On the 28th the ‘Inquiring Reporter’ had many questions on his mind: repaying the war debt, what do you want for Christmas, the Southern custom of shooting fireworks on Christmas, and others. One man interviewed said there out to be a law against radio crooners; another said ties should not be given as Christmas presents - the man should be allowed to pick his own. Several young ladies interviewed expressed the hope of receiving a fur jacket for Christmas plus a Rolls Royce; one admitted she’d be happy with a Cadillac. Returning to the issue of Prohibition, several said they’d like to see the return of beer gardens on Main Street.

Sometimes a person was asked only one question but Jerry Belcher, who was to stay with the program when it went national, sometimes engaged participants in longer exchanges. One time he recognized a local politician on his way home, called him over to the mike and asked him about several topics ranging from his favorite fishing holes to highway construction.

According to the Encyclopedia of American Radio by Lackmann, the show was picked up by NBC in 1935 for 4 years, then ran on CBS for several years before spending its last year on network radio on ABC in 1947-48. Although the term Vox Pop had been used in the very first Chronicle story about the program, the term was not adopted as the name of the program until some time later. According to Swartz and Reinehr in the Handbook of Old-Time Radio the program was originally called Sidewalk Interviews on NBC; the name of the network show was changed to Vox Pop in 1938.

Parks Johnson and Jerry Belcher were associated with the program when it went to the network; Belcher was apparently replaced shortly thereafter. Johnson, an advertising man, has been credited with the creation of the program but his name does not appear in any of the earliest stories in the Chronicle that I have seen. But Johnson stayed with the show throughout its life and kept an impressive record of the show and donated his materials to the University of Maryland. You can explore much more about Vox Pop here. As mentioned in the Statement of Purpose on this blog, this is an ongoing research project and there are many gaps in what I know but at this time, it seems the national version of Vox Pop may never have aired in Houston. KTRH continued to produce its own local version of the show which continued to air on Tuesdays; the national version of the show moved around several times. Contrary to what is stated on the linked site there was no indication in the early Chronicle stories on the program that the questions were trivia questions or that there were cash prizes nor any mention of that in Lackmann or Swartz & Reinehr.

In a 1959 interview with Chronicle Radio/TV Editor Howard Stentz, Lee Segall, then a respected Dallas broadcaster, claimed it had been under his tutelage that the program changed from asking questions of opinion to matters of common sense and trivia. Segall also claimed it had been Johnson and himself who sold the show to the network but Segall’s name did not appear in the earliest stories. Segall was a Houston advertising executive and broadcaster in the 1930s and 40s who represented Metzger's Dairies, a long time sponsor of the local production. The program appeared in the listings in later years as Metzger's Vox Pop and Segall served as producer and sometime host. Segall is credited with the creation of a replacement show in 1937 that was also to go on to the networks and arguably be an even bigger hit than Vox Pop, spawning a spin-off and a short-lived TV version in the 1950s although its origins on Houston radio seem to have been completely lost to history. There will be more on that in another section of this chronology of the 1930s.

By June 30, 1934, according to the official list of the FCC, the Houston radio dial included only KPRC, licensed to the Houston Printing Co. with transmitter in Sugar Land operating at 920 with 2500 watts, KTRH, 1120, operating with 500 watts with 500 watts additional experimental, and KXYZ, at 1440 with 250 watts. There was only one station still on the air in Galveston, George Roy Clough had changed the call letters of his station to KLUF and it operated with 100 watts at 1370. Up in Austin, KUT, operated by the KUT Broadcasting Co., had changed its call letters to KNOW and operated at 1500 kc with 100 watts.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


KTRH, 740 kHz

Originally licensed as WCM to the University of Texas, Austin, March 22, 1922
Licensed as KUT, Austin, October, 1925
Moved to Houston, March, 1930, as KTRH
The FCC considers WCM, KUT and KTRH to be the same station, making KTRH the 2nd oldest station in Texas and 35th oldest in the US.

Original owner (Houston): The Rice Hotel

Original call letter meaning: K-The Rice Hotel

Currrent owners: Clear Channel Communications


A KTRH Gallery on this blog, updated 6/6/11.

Photos at the Center for American History, the University of Texas at Austin, of KTRH

All articles posted on this blog labeled KTRH (in reverse order as posted).

For additional station mentions, use the search feature.

Monday, July 2, 2007

FM Chronology - Part 4 - KTRH-FM

Note: This article was originally published as an Anniversary titled 60 Years on 101.1.

A Construction Permit was issued by the FCC on August 2, 1946, for KTRH-FM to operate on 99.3 megacycles with 290 kilowatts from an antenna on the Gulf Building, Houston's tallest building, at the corner of Main and Rusk. Construction was due to start in 90 days and B.F. Orr, General Manager of KTRH, said it should be completed in 6 months and be the first FM in Houston.

It was either the 3rd or 4th CP issued for a Houston FM and it would take 11 months to get on the air. In the interim there were some changes in the original assignment, apparently. It would be Houston's third FM station.

‘Static Free’ KTRH-FM took to the airwaves on Monday, June 30, 1947. ‘What DDT does to pests, FM does to static’ proclaimed the first line of the Chronicle’s front page story on Sunday, June 29, going on to explain ‘when static comes squeaking into the path of FM, it just naturally curls up and dies.’ Freedom from static was one of the big selling points of FM, before high fidelity and stereo.

The station was on the air from 2pm to 10pm daily; that was longer than either KPRC-FM or KOPY which were both on the air 6 hours a day at that time. It operated on 101.1 megacycles, FM channel 266, with 3000 watts, and was the most powerful FM in Houston at that point. London T. England was supervisor of the FM operation which was located on the 34th floor of the Gulf Building with the antenna on top of the building, a square loop, 5 bay antenna, 480 feet high. There were estimated to be only about 3500 FM receivers within the 50 mile radius to be served by the station.

FM Listings were included for the first time in the Chronicle on the 30th for KTRH-FM, KPRC-FM, and KOPY. Some programs were duplicates of KTRH-AM, including some CBS network programs, while others were FM only, including an FM Concert Hall, Dance Parade and Music for Dreaming.

KTRH-FM became KLOL-FM in August of 1970 and still uses those call letters as Mega; it is the next best candidate after KODA-FM for oldest surviving Houston FM.

The images are from archives of the Houston Chronicle at the Houston Public Library. The top image is from Sunday, June 29, 1947, the second image from the next day. I apologize again for the poor quality of these images taken from microfilms.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

July Anniversaries

On July 1, 1952, Houston television viewers got to see live network television for the first time with the completion of the first coaxial cable link. The networks had put a lot of pressure on AT&T to get the whole country connected in time for that summer’s political conventions and several cities came on-line on that day, including Dallas-Fort Worth and San Antonio. The Today Show with Dave Garroway on NBC was the first program aired, starting at 7am. Up until that time, network programming had aired in Houston as much as 6 weeks after being originated.

On Monday, July 3, 1950, KLEE-TV, Channel 2, became KPRC-TV. The station had been on the air since January 1, 1949, and was the second TV station on the air in Texas and, according to my calculation from this list, about the 52nd nationwide.

On the evening of July 13, 1944, Texas Star Broadcasting’s KTHT began ‘test’ broadcasts from studios in the Southern Standard building at 711 Main from 8:30pm to midnight, then continued with ‘test’ broadcasts from 6am to midnight for several days until final approval from the FCC. It operated on 1230 kilocycles with 250 watts, then moved to 790 kc and boosted power to 5000 watts 4 years later and KNUZ took its place on 1230. The head of Texas Star was Harris County Judge Roy Hofheinz. There will be more on KTHT's launch later this month.

On the 31st of July, 1961, Taft Broadcasting launched KODA-AM, 1010, from new studios at 4810 San Felipe, a daytime only station affiliated with ABC. The station is now KLAT, La Tremenda.

Broadcasting Yearbook gives July, 1961, for the start of KILT-FM on 100.3 megacycles but I have not been able to find anything about it that early in the papers.