Wednesday, January 2, 2008


The time finally came to close the door on KNUS FM in 1972. I got a call from Tony Raven a.k.a. Jim Pruett of later noteriety in Houston Radio, who was the program director of KLOL/101.1 FM. Rick Rawlinson was the general manager of KLOL at the time. There was a decision that "Mother's Family" radio needed to start a full fleged news department and I was the candidate for the job.

We closed the deal. I gave notice to the KNUS management, and left to become KLOL's first news director. I fit all of my worldly possessions into the smallest U Haul Trailer, and took the 250 mile trip down I45 to Houston, Texas. I was the roommate of Robert A. Knowlton, who was late of the KLIF news department, and was now a KULF newsman. He was a former room mate in Dallas. We used to trade vehicles in Dallas sometimes on Saturdays for a change of pace. He got to take my 1967 Corvette for the day, and I took his Triumph Bonneville 650 cc motorcycle for a day long spin.

KLOL was the sister station of news/talk KTRH AM, the real money maker of The Rusk Corporation. Walter Cronkite worked one of his first early radio jobs there as did Dan Rather. There were still acetate pressings of KTRH News in the hotel basement storage area with Walter Cronkite doing the news.

On my first day at KLOL, I did my new employee paperwork which was handed to me by Tom Jacobs. Tom had worked at KTRH since the 1930's and was the control room board operator during Orson Wells' Mercury Theater War of the Worlds broadcast. The station was owned by John T. Jones, who was the nephew of Jesse Jones, the Secretary of Commerce during the Roosevelt administration.

Thanks to Jesse Jones business acumen before becoming Commerce Secretary, no Houston bank ever went under during the great Depression. This place had some history. The Jones family were also extremely loyal to its employees. I had never seen employers like this. I could have stayed there as long as the Jones family owned the stations. That was job security to the extreme, a real rarity even then.

KLOL was on the fifth floor of the venerable Rice Hotel, a Houston landmark. KTRH was on the fourth floor. But now, this area of downtown Houston was in some blight and you were approached by all kinds of street people as you walked from a distant parking lot to the station.

News was still a big requirement by the FCC in 1972, and I was responsible for all newscasts and the coordination of public service programming. KTRH and KLOL were both CBS News Affilliates. I was given a copy of the CBS News Standards and Prectices manual. It was the bible of what a CBS affiliate newsperson should and shouldn't do. Things such as checking every story you dig up by verifying its truth and accuracy from at least one other confirming source (two was even better), and not editorializing your own opinion in news writing and reporting. These quaint qualities have been somehow disregarded in news reporting today. I get nostalgic for true news reporting every time I pull out that dogeared pamphlet that I still have even today.

One really fun story that I had as a news man was when I called the survivor of a lightning strike and talked to him about his experience for a news cast. He wasn't injured, but had to make me hold for a few minutes while he got still molten pocket change from out of his pants pockets. I believe I actually talked to him before the medical personnel got there.

I was the News department until the mid day DJ slot opened at KLOL when I went back to DJ work.


mhudson said...

My name is Molly Hudson. I am the granddaughter of Frank Stewart, who was a former GM of the RUSK Corp. I believe it was in the 1960/early70's. He worked along side Jesse and John T Jones. I am attempting to contact someone who may have known him. My daughter wants to write a essay on her great grandfather and his roll in bringing Rock and Roll to Houston. My grandmother still has wonderful stories, though at 95 her health is failing. If you may have known him or someone I maybe able to contact please let me know. I enjoyed your blog. By the way, do you know what the call letters KTRH stand for?
Molly Hudson

Anonymous said...

answer to molly's question - Talk Radio Houston

Trooper Keeton said...

Trooper Keeton here, the first KLOL salesman hired by Rick. I knew your grandfather, wonderful and inspiring person. Am putting together a web site which will have 101 stuff. I am just starting to develop about Trooper. In that predeveloped section is a picture of me and Bo, salesmen and Mike Hart "Flame", the worlds greatest FM jock. Will feature first bumper stickers and matches. Contact me. Tk