A resource for music researchers -
Houston Radio History
by Alex Cosper
also American Radio
One of the most distinguishing factors about the
Houston-Galveston radio market has been the number of high-powered FMs. Most of
the FM signals operate above 90,000 watts. These stations were exempt from the
early sixties FCC power restrictions on FM since the stations were in place
broadcasting above 50kw prior to the ruling.
The earliest AM radio
licensees in Houston in the early twenties included The Houston
Chronicle's WFAL, Alfred Daniel's WCAK, Will Horwitz Jr.'s WEAY, Hurlburt
Still Electrical Company's WEV and QRV Radio's WGAB. The dial had completely
changed by the early forties in which some of the key stations were KTRH (740),
KPRC (950) and KXYZ (1470).
One of the most legendary stations in
Houston radio history has been KPFT, a public station of the Pacifica Radio
Network. It went on the air in 1970. It became the first public station to
include over ten foreign language specialty shows in its programming.
Houston radio listeners have moved significantly away from what the
market sounded like in the eighties. Toward the end of the decade the leading
stations in the market were Keymarket's urban contemporary KMJQ (102.1),
Legacy's country KILT (100.3), Viacom's country competitor KIKK (95.7), Rusk's
rocker KLOL (101.1), Gannett's hit radio combo KKBQ (790 AM and 92.2 FM) and
Group W's beautiful KODA (99.1). Susquehanna's KRBE (104.1) was a significant
contemporary hits competitor, whereas Emmis' KNRJ (96.5) trailed the big
In the nineties Houston ratings were dominated by stations
playing contemporary hits. Clear Channel's KBXX (97.9) and Susquehanna's KRBE
were frequently top stations. KODA remained successful after it changed hands to
SFX and became an adult contemporary station, rising to the top of the market in
1997. KMJQ, which adopted a more adult urban sound under Clear Channel, also
appeared regularly near the top of the ratings. Two country outlets also did
well during the period. They were CBS Radio's KILT (100.3) and Chancellor
Media's combo KKBQ (790 AM and 92.9 FM).
Although rocker KLOL (101.1)
had been a huge top three station in the eighties, Houston's love for the album
rock format began to fizzle in the nineties, although KTBZ (The Buzz, 107.5)
proved to be a more accepted brand of rock with its alternative format. The Buzz
was owned by Nationwide and later Clear Channel. The only other station in the
market playing rock music in the late nineties was KLOL (101.1), owned by
Chancellor Media, which also ended up in the hands of Clear Channel, changing to
In 2005 Houston's top station was adult urban KMJQ, belonging
by Radio One, who also owns rhythmic top 40 leader KBXX. Susquehanna's KRBE is a
strong competitor playing mainstream top 40. Clear Channel owns seven stations
in the market which include adult contemporary KODA, Spanish KLOL, news KTRH-AM,
news/talk KPRC-AM, alternative KBTZ, hot ac KHMX and classic rock KKRW. Other
big radio groups in the market include Univision, Infinity and Cox.
© Playlist Research. All rights reserved.