(special thanks to Andrew Brown for his contributions to this page)
The Larry Kane TV Show
13th Floor Elevators appearing on the Larry Kane Show
Houston's local alternative to national teen music programs like "American Bandstand" and the "Lloyd Thaxton Show", Lary Kane ran Saturday afternoons for several years beginning in the late 50s into the early 70s. Kane's show followed the formula of "Bandstand" with bands lip-synching their current hits.
Featured performers included touring acts like The Electric Prunes and Jefferson Airplane. Local Texas stars like The Sweetarts, Fever Tree, The Clique, and 13th Floor Elevators were also frequent guests. Because of the popularity of "The Larry Kane Show" in Houston, "American Bandstand" was not shown locally for many years. Kane passed away in the late 1990s.
KFMK was the 'first' radio station in Houston (and all of
Texas?) to play rock music on the FM dial, in a non-Top 40 format,
starting in mid-67.
It was the epitome of underground radio in the early days. It was
an FM station that was so low powered that they had to run promos on
how to construct home antenae that were the right length to receive
the signal!! This was done with cool moog synthesizer music in the
background. Legend has it that "I've Gotta Way With Girls" by
the Lavender Hour was one of the first things they played.
It was the foreruner of KLOL (101.1 FM). KFMK referred to itself
as "Mother Radio". The earliest bumper stickers for KLOL
had "Mother's Family" on them and a fun runaway radio figure. So they were related in some way.
The station was not bombed off of the air (like KPFT Pacifica radio), but it was shut down
at least partly due to pressure from the Houston police. There is a newspaper article about the demise of KFMK that talked about the
police being especially upset when the station broadcast to stay away
from a hippie gathering spot in real time as the bust was in
KFMK was in operation from about 1967-1969. KLOL signed on in 1970 and KRBE switched to the
underground format in 1970 as well.
Bumper Sticker design for FM radio station KFMK. Graphic copyright Joel R. Cheves 1965-2008. Image from OmegaGraphix.
From The Rag Blog "Ivan Koop Kuper: KFMK-FM Was Houston's 'Mother Radio'"
The forerunner of all rock-formatted radio stations to follow in the Texas marketplace, independently owned KFMK-FM promoted itself as "Mother Radio," and targeted Houston's burgeoning baby boomer counterculture in the late-1960s.
"We were starving for music and information back then," said Bill Bentley, director of A & R for Vanguard Records in Los Angeles and former Houstonian. "When the station went on the air, it was a real godsend. I bought an FM radio for that very reason. Houston was no longer a desert wasteland because up until that time we only listened to AM radio on our transistors."
Broadcasting at 97.8 on the FM dial, Mother Radio was one of many radio stations that sprang up across America during the summer of 1967, just as the colorful new underground papers were popping up all over the country. These stations were all inspired by San Francisco's underground flagship alternative, KMPX-FM, whose format was the creation of California radio visionary, Tom "Big Daddy" Donahue.
By 1970, a new era of rock radio activity swept over Houston's media landscape. Privately-held and substantially funded KLOL-FM competed with ABC Radio owned, KAUM-FM, for positioning and a slice of the new demographic pie with their versions of free-form formats. KILT-FM ("Radio Montrose") as well as KRBE-FM also experimented briefly with progressive rock programming before transitioning into safer and more pop-oriented amalgamations.
1970 was also the year that Houston's new listener sponsored, community radio station, KPFT-FM, signed on the air. The Pacifica radio affiliate came the closest to duplicating Mother Radio's original concept, but only late at night, after prime time when its news and public affairs programming ended.
KPFT radio staff '70
Photo courtesy Bill Narum collection.
Watch the KPFT 9 minute film documentary about the 1970 bombing. Rare movie concerning the dynamiting of the KPFT transmitter in 1970. Unseen in over 30 years!
The movie runs just under 9 minutes long.
The download is about 5.3 MB. It's an .mp4 file.
Download a free Quicktime player here.
Thanks to the Houston Radio Report
KPFT 90.1 FM in Houston - The Sound of Texas - went on the air in March 1970 as the fourth station in the Pacifica radio family.
Two months later, however, the KPFT transmitter station was bombed and was off the air until repairs were made. A few months after returning to the air - on October 6, 1970 - the transmitter was bombed again. And two weeks later, KPFT was back on the air - again! After months of inactivity by federal and local authorities, Pacifica began a media campaign that resulted in the arrest of a Ku Klux Klansman in connection with the bombing. He was convicted and imprisoned in 1971. In 1981, the Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan admitted that his greatest feat "was engineering the bombing of a left-wing radio station." By this time, the statute of limitations had expired and the original bomber had already served his time in prison. By this time, the statute of limitations had expired....": This was also a time where you would want to be a good apartment finder and try to relocate to a different area.
Here is the 10/6/70 press release from KPFT concerning the second bombing attack:
October 6, 1970
Some time before sunrise this morning someone dynamited the transmitter of
KPFT, Pacifica Radio in Houston. This is the second time in less than six
months that criminals have tried to silence the station by bombing our
transmitter, a transmitter which can be built and operated only with the
permission of the Federal Government. The act itself is criminal. It is a
modern method of cutting out a man's tongue.
KPFT is a grass roots enterprise, community supported and paid for by its
listeners. It is educational non-commercial and its microphones are open
to all points of view.
People in Houston should know of the 20 year history of the Pacifica
foundation, whose successful stations in New York, California - and
affiliates on college campuses - have won plaudits from professional
journalists, its listeners, and such national organizations as the
Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Pacifica Foundation is a nonprofit
corporation chartered in 1946. It is a fully tax-exempt public charity.
As a noncommercial broadcaster, it limits its work to the ownership and
operation of radio stations and to related projects. Pacifica is
non-political and has no social program or goals. It never editorializes
about political questions or other matters. The Foundation's four stations
exchange programs, but are independently programmed. Like all stations,
they are prohibited from programming anything that could be characterized
as obscene, libelous, or seditious.
KPFT will be back on the air broadcasting with your help - broadcasting
complete wire copy, broadcasting music and voices which are so hard to
hear in Houston. All of us who are working to put the station back on the
air - the Advisory Board of Directors, the paid staff and, most of all, the
unpaid volunteers, listeners, and supporters of the station - are more
determined than ever that Houston have an open microphone. It looks
like it needs it.
We feel our loss is Houston's loss and solicit the aid of all concerned
citizens. We will be back on the air, but only with your help. This
bombing can be fatal to Pacifica in Houston. We earnestly appeal for
your financial contributions.
For more info visit the KPFT website.
KLOL radio staff '69 "Mother's Family"
Mother's Midnight Media Mix
Houston's forerunner to Saturday Night Live which ran a simulcast on KLOL fm stereo and UHF in the late 60's. Dr. John and Bruiser Barton were on the first show which ran for 6 episodes. It was an off-shoot of KLOL Mother's Family and sponsored by Budget Tapes Records.
KLOL original logo designed by Bill Narum
Photos courtesy Bill Narum collection.
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