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Celebrating 40 Years In Broadcasting: Part 2

By Ken Foote, CBSDFW.COM
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Last week, I blogged about my entry into over the air broadcasting in Waco as a student at Baylor. As you may recall, this month is my 40th year in this extraordinary business and as such it brings back a lot of memories.

In January 1973, I transferred to SMU. I was registered through Dallas College which was their night school but could still take daytime classes. I lived in Morrison Hall and had another irascible roommate, who was spent most of his time at his fraternity house partying and getting drunk (back then the legal drinking was 18). Like the Baylor roommate, this guy indicated that he had no interest in getting to know me, and that if I touched his Phi Delta Theta pledge manual, he would slug me in the face. I thought to myself, “Oh joy, another one!”. This time I paid no attention. Screw him! Because of how I enrolled, I missed rush that semester and no fraternity had any interest in me at that time. I put all of this aside and sought out the campus station, KSMU. This station was only available via closed circuit in the dorms and then you couldn’t hear it too well thanks to an annoying cacophony of sound interfering with its signal. I was brought on as DJ and later became its Director Of Sales. Imagine, asking advertisers to buy time on a station no one could hear!

While at the station, I met Mark Wilkoff, an upperclassman who was the student station manager. Mark had been working part time at KIXL in Dallas on Sunday mornings but was getting ready to leave to go home for the summer. I asked if he could recommend me and he did. I got the job! The station was being sold so the full time employees were leaving anyway but they still needed people to run things until the sale was closed. My program director was Phil Davis. He pretty let me do whatever I wanted as long as I didn’t get them in trouble with the FCC. KIXL was a 1,000 watt AM daytime station but had pretty good coverage. In addition to working Sunday morning running the church services, I later worked afternoons from 3pm-sign off. When I signed off and shut the transmitter down, I could hear WHO from Des Moines loud and clear. You can still hear that station today on 1040AM as it is designated as a 50,000 watt “clear channel” with no other station authorized on that frequency within a 750 mile radius from its tower. I also worked at their FM station, KEZT. This was a beautiful music station, the kind of stuff you used to hear in doctor’s offices! As with KWBU, I had to sound like I was in a tuxedo.

One of things that l learned later on was that I was working with some legendary DFW air personalities. One of them was a man named Troy Hoskins who did a lot of voice work and commercials. The other one was a lady named Meg Healy who did lifestyle stories. Nicest people you would ever meet. I also didn’t know that a man named Hyman Childs, who owned KKDA 730AM, was about to make DFW radio history by buying KEZT, changed the call letters, and branded it as K104 with Tom Joyner in the morning. KKDA-FM became one of the most successful urban stations in the United States.

I left KIXL in the fall of 1973 and then in January 1974 landed a job at KOAX, another beautiful music station in town. I was only there about 2 months because they put me on the 12mn-6am shift on the weekends and it was killing me. My program director, Bob Burns, and their consultant in Philadelphia, Jim Schulke, thought I had no business being there. I knew they felt that way so decided to cut my losses and move on after only 2 months. I was glad to get away from them. They thought I had a horrible radio voice and would not make it in the business. The general manager at that time was a lady named Irene Runnels. Irene paved the way for women in our business at a time when most women in radio/tv had clerical jobs. The local chapter of the Alliance Of Women In Media has an award named in Irene’s memory. Her Director Of Sales was Barbara Crooks, another who helped the careers of women in broadcasting. Today, KOAX is 105.3 The Fan, KRLD-FM, owned by our sister company CBS Radio. KIXL is now KGGR, “great gospel radio.”

I moved over to the student newspaper, The Daily Campus, and was their Advertising Manager for about 18 months. I also was on the board of the SMU Student Publishing Company and later became its Chairman. The newspaper job helped pay for a lot of my tuition at SMU. SMU Student Media was definitely good to me! Definitely fun times back then!

See you next time.

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