Friday, August 28, 2009

The 1950s Part II - KILT, KILE, Galveston, KRCT,Pasadena

Updated 6/18/11 to add information about the change of ownership of KRCT.

Around the end of February, 1957, the McLendon Investment Corp. completed purchase of KLBS from the Howard Broadcasting Corporation for $535,000, thus repurchasing the station Trinity Investments had owned from 1952-1954. It was said to be the largest cash transaction in Houston radio history. Glenn Douglass, General Manager of KLBS, told the Chronicle there was much speculation on the part of the staff about what was to happen as McLendon was known for making wholesale personnel changes when he took over a station. The line-up included Bob Yongue doing mornings, Bob Gwyn, Dave Chase, Mark Noble and Mike McKay. The station was airing a number of paid religious programs daily including Rev. Lester Roloff at 7am, an Assembly of God program at 9am, Unity Viewpoint at 9:15 and a Dr. Weber from 9:30 to 10am.

On the fifth of May, Jack Harris, GM of KPRC-AM/FM/TV announced the radio stations would begin Houston’s first regular stereo broadcasts that week, from 9:05 to 10pm, five nights a week. Listeners were to tune one station to the AM, another to the FM to get the stereo effect. KPRC-FM PD Ronald Schmitt had secured more than 80 hours of programming that would include music outside the regular Classical fare of the FM station.

The same day, Bill Weaver, a new GM at KLBS, told the Chronicle changes at that station would be coming in a couple of weeks. Weaver had been brought in from KTSA, San Antonio. The big changes were announced just a week later on May 11 and occurred on May 14, a Tuesday, although the new calls, KILT, appeared in the Chronicle the previous afternoon.

The new line-up included Eliot Field from Boston doing mornings, Bob Stephens of Miami on 9a-12N, Art Nelson from Dallas on early afternoons. Don Keyes of San Antonio was the Program Director and did afternoon drive. The newspaper schedules showed Buddy McGregor, 6-9pm, and Bob Adams, 9pm-12M. Other deejays announced included Tom Fallon of Kansas City, Mike Whalen and Bob Horn of Philadelphia and Joe Long of Knoxville as News Director. Mike McKay and Mark Noble were the only holdovers from the old staff; McKay did overnights while Noble was not listed in any slot for several weeks. All the religious programming was dropped.

A full page ad in the Post was designed to look like a Wanted Poster with six pictures bearing only serial numbers and 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

After Field left for a gig in Los Angeles, Keyes took over as morning man.

The same week of the big flip, Tim Nolan moved from the job as morning host on KXYZ to the same post at KPRC where he soon was to be teamed upwith Bob Byron, a KLBS-ex, to form Houston’s first duo team in morning drive, Tim and Bob; they were to be together for more than a decade.

For more on my memories as a kid of listening to KLBS and KILT, see my ‘Thanks for the Memories’ segment here:

KNUZ, expecting tough competition from the new station, had just purchased a helicopter and ran ads promoting itself as Houston’s only radio station with wings and touting its top ranking. The helicopter had just been put in use when some heavy flooding hit the area and was used in exclusive reports.

Toward the end of the summer a group of Galveston businessmen completed the acquisition of KLUF from it’s founder and owner George Roy Clough and his sons. Clough, whose name was pronounced cluff, hence the call letters, was, even by his own admission, a contentious man who made many enemies and brought a lot of attention to Galveston, not all of it favorable. The son of a telegraph operator and former race car driver, Clough’s knowledge of radio had led him into the field but by this time he was serving as Mayor of Galveston, said to have run initially because he was angered over a city water bill and vowed retribution. He served two terms as Mayor but lost a re-election bid for a third term and a subsequent try for city council. For years he operated a radio and television shop next to his home at 34th and Ave P. He died in November, 1966.

The new call letters for the station were KILE and it debuted on September 2, 1957, at 6am. According to GM Robert. L. McClellan there was all new equipment and programming. Tim Lewis was News Editor and the staff also included Bill Bance, Tom Beck and Warren Anderson. The morning show was called Hit the Deck while an afternoon program was called Teen Tempos. Most old-timers in the Houston/Galveston area will remember KILE as a Top 40 station and it has had many alumni working in Houston radio.

The call letters of this station are now KHCB and it has recently been relicensed to League City.

The first week of October, 1957, KRCT began broadcasting from new studios at 227 East Sterling in Pasadena. The station always ran lots of ads in the Chronicle with the first concerning the changeover appearing on October 2 proclaiming a Grand Opening going on the 3rd thru the 6th with everyone invited to stop by to visit the new facilities. $1000 worth of door prizes were to be given away. The on-air schedule included Hal Harris from 6a-10a, Gabe Tucker, formerly of KATL and KLEE from 10a-1p and Sleepy Bob (Bob Everson) from 1-5pm. Leroy Gloger liked to claim that 650 was Houston’s only ‘clear channel’ station but the clear was assigned to WSM, Nashville, the Houston station was always limited to daytimes only. Over the years the station was also promoted as the ‘Voice of Labor.’ The format was always country.

An application for approval of the sale of the station was announced November 18, from W. D. Christmas to John H. Touchstone and Leroy J. Gloger for $175,000. Touchstone had been a 7 % owner; he and Gloger were to be equal partners under the new ownership. The transfer was approved a month later. In March of 1959 they sought approval of a transfer of the license and CP from Bay Broadcasting to Industrial Broadcasting noting this was a corporate change only, not a change of control. This was granted in mid-May. Touchstone was President, Gloger was Vice President and General Manager.

KRCT was to become KIKK in 1961.

The image above is from the Galveston Daily News

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