Monday, December 8, 2008

The 1940s - Part 6 - More Suburban Stations

The 1979 Broadcasting Yearbook gave August 1, 1947, for the launch of KIOX, Bay City, but that appears to be far off.  A CP was granted in March, 1946, and the station was apparently on the air by the end of July of that year as a 1000 watt daytimer on 1110 kilocycles.  It then moved to 1270 kc and became a full time station in November, 1947.  The station is no longer in existence.  For more on the launch and history of this station, go here.

KTLW, Texas City, was first licensed on November 1, 1947.  A construction permit had been issued just weeks after the Texas City explosion.  The original owner was John Long, doing business as Texas City Broadcasting Service.  Long also had an interest in KIOX, Bay City.  KTLW operated on 920 kc with 1000 watts, daytime only.  The transmitter and studios were located north of 146 and west of Logan Ave. originally but FCC records show the address changed several times in the early years.  After the Showboat Theater was rebuilt in 1949 (it had been destroyed in the explosion in April, 1947), KTLW established studios there.  The theater was also owned by Long. In 1949, the station filed for a permit to increase hours of operation to unlimited and reduce power to 250w but withdrew the application days later before the FCC could act.  Long sold the station to Roy Henderson of Henderson Broadcasting as of June 24, 1980.  Robert Miller, VP and GM of the station announced a change of call letters to KYST and a change of format to adult contemporary and oldies with the intention of offering a service to the metropolitan Houston area while continuing to serve the bay area.  Henderson requested and received permission from the Zoning Commission to build a new facility in the 5700-5800 blocks of FM 1764.  In April, 1981, Henderson was granted a permit by the FCC to increase hours of operation to unlimited, using 5000 watts daytime and 1000 watts nighttime.  The station subsequently was sold to Hispanic Broadcasting Corp. and still operates as KYST. Information about KTLW has been very difficult to discover; it received only scattered mentions in the Galveston Daily News over the years, mostly program notes about individual programs.

Tri-Cities Broadcasting announced on October 31, 1947, that it planned to put the Tri-Cities area’s second station on the air by the 10th of November but it was just over a month before it hit the airwaves. The original calls were KREL and it was licensed to Pelly as a full-time station on 1360 kilocycles with 1000 watts. The owners had explained the call letters referred to Robert E. Lee High School. Virgil G. Evans was the GM, having worked before at WMTC, Ocala, Florida. Harold Rench was to be the Chief Engineer; he was from Battle Creek, MI, and had worked at WSAM, Saginaw. Other staff members included Byard Sooy of Troy, AL (WTBF) who would cover sports, a strong point for the station; Bob Postner of Chicago (WBAU); Robert T. Nolan of E. Liverpool, OH, who had worked at KXLA, Pasadena, CA, and who would become station manager in a couple of years; George Vance of Detroit who had worked at KPRC; Bill Bates of Oklahoma City who had worked at WBBZ, Ponca City; and Harold Orton, a Lee College Student who wanted to get in to radio. The station would operate from 6a to 11pm from new studios on Decker Drive ‘at the InterUrban Crossing,’ near the Humble Refinery.

According to a post on, KREL played Rhythm and Blues but like most stations in that era that were not network affiliated, it was block programmed. Houston radio legend Dickie Rosenfeld got his first job in radio at KREL, doing sales and disc jockeying a country music show as Cowboy Dickie, before moving on to work at KPRC and then KILT. Another well known personality was Marvin Daugharty of Highlands, the morning show host, known as ‘The Deacon.’ He had studied at the National Radio Institute at Rice and also at the University of Kentucky, was also on the engineering staff at KREL and helped to put KLEE-TV on the air plus stints at KTHT and KRCT.

The station had a Fire Fighters Club for kids and also reminded teens not to forget the Three Rs: Rhythm, Records and Requests, daily at 6pm.

The station signed on with a special 2 hour program at 7pm on December 2nd. Regular broadcasting started on the 3rd. When Pelly and Goose Creek were consolidated in the newly incorporated Baytown in 1948, the city of license changed to Baytown. The station at 1360 has seen a number of call letter changes over the years including KWBA and KBUK; currently it is KWWJ, a Black gospel station.

The Houston papers did not include listings for suburban stations until the 50s.

ETA:  Google Street View image of the KWWJ facilities, still operating out of the original KREL building.  The garage structure, which possibly houses a remote unit, has been added.  Decker Drive/Loop 330 has been widened considerably; it is now a multi-lane, elevated expressway with frontage roads so the building sits much closer to the road than it used to. 

NOTE: The Robert T. Nolan of E. Liverpool, OH, one of the original staffers at KREL, Baytown, became much better known in Houston radio circles and to listeners as Tim Nolan, one half of the long-running Tim and Bob morning show on KPRC.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

My father Byard E Sooy, Jr worked at KREL in the late 40's. He was a sports announcer. Died at age 55 in 1976.