Beautiful Music Radio

By Ken Foote, Director of Programming for CBS 11
(Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)

(Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images)

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My good friend Magic Matt Alan on Sirius XM 70’s on 7 does a bit on his daily show where he changes his voice to sound like he is an announcer on a “beautiful music” station, hence the idea for this week’s blog.

Beautiful music stations were a staple of radio programming for many years until other formats took hold such as Top 40 and all-news. Artists included Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Rosemary Clooney, Johnny Mathis, Nat King Cole, Doris Day, Ferrante & Teicher, and Andy Williams. The DJ’s all sounded like they were in tuxedos!  In the Dallas/Fort Worth market, there were several stations that had this format. KVIL-AM 1150 was one of them because I remember my mother had it on in the car during the early 60’s. Back then most cars only had AM radio and if you wanted FM it was extra!  The station, located right across from Dallas Country Club on Mockingbird Lane along with KVIL-FM,  was a daytime only station then with 1,000 watts of power and six towers. Later it was authorized to operate at night with very limited wattage. Today that frequency is no longer allocated to the market.

KIXL-AM/FM was a powerhouse beautiful music station in the 60’s: 1040AM and then 104.5 on the FM dial. The AM station had to sign off at dusk under its license in order to protect WHO-AM in Des Moines IA which was broadcasting with 50,000 watts day and night with a single tower….a station that radio mogul Randy Michaels would call “a blowtorch station” because of its huge nighttime coverage. Today, 1040AM is KGGR and it still signs off at dusk and then you can hear WHO-AM locally, Mother Nature and the laws of physics permitting!  I was lucky to work at KIXL-AM/FM  in 1973 as a 19 year old DJ on the AM side…the only AM job I have ever had in my life. By then it was an oldies station. The FM station became KEZT-FM, still playing beautiful music, and I made occasion appearances there. One of their announcers, the late Troy Hoskins, was also a voice over and commercial talent guy who starred in a series of Dairy Queen TV commercials in the 70’s. By the end of 1973, KIXL-AM was sold to Crawford Broadcasting, switched to a religious format, while KEZT-FM was sold to radio broadcaster Hyman Childs who made it into KKDA-FM, “K104”, the home of legendary DJ Tom Joyner, and a nationally known and successful urban station.

KOAX-FM was probably the most successful beautiful music station in the country during the 1970’s, both in terms of audience reach and revenue generated. It was a 100,000 watts FM with an antenna at 1500 feet plus above the ground so it coverage a lot of ground. The station was run by Irene Runnels, one of the first female general managers in the country. Barbara Crooks was the Director of Sales while Bob Burns was the Programming Director. The station was a forerunner in automation as nothing was live, even the times when the announcers spoke. Their job was more to make things ran right operationally. Their morning man was Bryce Armstrong who had a golden voice and did a lot of local/national voiceover work. I was hired for weekends but after a couple of months of working the overnight shift and being told by their programming consultant Jim Shulke “you don’t sound like you belong here”, I left and concentrated on graduating from SMU. Today this station is 105-3 The Fan with the call letters KRLD-FM, owned by CBS Radio, with an all sports/talk format. CBS Local Media, who copyrights this article each week, is a division of CBS Radio.

If you have an HD radio, tune to KJKK-FM HD2 and you will hear “The Sound Of The Strip” and it will replicate pretty closely what a beautiful music station sounded like back in the day.

See you next time.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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