KFYO History Part 1

KFYO History Part 1


In 2002 we celebrated KFYO's 75th Anniversary and KFYO's 80th Anniversary in 2007 (although history would later prove these dates wrong, twice). On this page & the next, we'll go through some significant dates in KFYO's history.
KFYO has had a rich history of broadcasting and in over 85 years of broadcasting, only 8 General Managers, 7 owners, and one set of call letters. The KFYO call letters are one of the oldest sets of call letters in the United States.
When the legendary Jack Dale was Sales Manager for KFYO in the 1960's, some of the sales materials had the KFYO call letters standing for:


Folklore also had the KFYO call letter standing for this:


Back in the early days of radio sometimes the first letter in a set of call letters was dropped when referring about a station.

**UPDATE June 11, 2007**
After finding an authentic 1932 KFYO QSL Card for sale on E-Bay, it is now known that KFYO stands for:


The word 'Come' is intentionally misspelled as 'Kum' on the 1932 KFYO QSL Card.

Ed. Note: Most of the information noted here comes from the KFYO archives. The listings for 1923-1927 were changed in July of 2012.

1923- The precursor to KFYO is established by T.E. Kirksey in Bentonville, Arkansas. According to a 1957 KFYO News Release, the station was authorized for 15 watts. It is not known how often the station broadcast, its call letters or its original frequency. The station may have been experimental

1925- June. The first known listing for a radio station licensed to Bentonville, Arkansas, KFVX. It broadcast on 1270 AM with 10 watts. (source: Jeff Miller 'A Chronology of AM Radio Broadcasting 1900-1960' website [1] ). However, the ownership is listed as The Radio Shop, R. H. Porter; with no known connection to T.E. Kirksey. (source: National Radio Club [2])

1925- At some point between October to December, KFVX is discontinued/disbanded in Bentonville (Source: January 1926 edition of Stevenson's Bulletin of Radio Broadcasting Stations). Meanwhile, the precursor to KFYO is sold from Kirksey to the Buchanan-Vaughn Company (source: KFYO News Release April 23, 1957). It is assumed that KFVX could be an ancestor to KFYO, but more information is needed to prove the connection.

1926- January. KFYO is licensed to Texarkana, TX with the ownership of the Buchanan-Vaughan Company (source: Jeff Miller 'A Chronology of AM Radio Broadcasting 1900-1960' website [3] ). KFYO broadcast on either 1440 AM or 1430 AM with 10 watts of power. (Source for 1440 AM listing: The 1926 Fall Issue of White's Air Line Mileage Book and Triple-List of Radio Broadcasting Stations with Map) (Source for 1430 AM listing: May 1926 edition of Stevenson's Bulletin of Radio Broadcasting Stations)

1927- On September 6, T.E. Kirksey re-acquires and moves KFYO to Breckenridge, Texas. Kirksey's ownership is also listed as "Kirksey Brothers Battery & Electric Company". KFYO changes frequency to 1420 AM and increased power to 15 watts, which is then quickly increased again to 100 watts of power. (Editor's Note: this item was originally dated September 11, 1927 and listed Kirksey as acquiring KFYO. However, the September 6, 1972 evening edition of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal reports the date as September 6, 1927, and a 1957 KFYO News Release states Kirksey re-acquired KFYO.)

1928- On September 29, KFYO moved to Abilene, Texas on 1310 AM with power at 250 watts day & 100 watts night. T.E. Kirksey is still KFYO's owner. KFYO during a portion of its time in Abilene broadcast from the historic Grace Hotel.

1932- On April 23, KFYO moved to Lubbock. It kept its frequency, power, and ownership from when it was in Abilene

1932- On May 20 KFYO began broadcasting in Lubbock. The transmitting site was at 2312 5th St., 3 blocks East of Texas Tech University

1934- KFYO moves into its new downtown studios and office building at 914 Avenue J.

1934- On an unknown date, KFYO broadcasts the first ever radio broadcast of a Texas Tech football game. KFYO erects a 50 foot tower across the street from Jones Stadium to be able to watch the action.

1935- KFYO begins airing Downtown (Lubbock) Bible Class Sunday morning services. KFYO airs the weekly service for 11 years until 1946 (moved to KSEL-AM 1946-Nov. 1987) and then resumes airing the weekly Sunday service in December 1987.

1935- September. KFYO begins first regularly scheduled broadcasts of Texas Tech football

1936- On April 8, KFYO is purchased by the Avalanche Journal, Amarillo Globe News (also owners of KGNC-AM in Amarillo), & Plains Radio Broadcasting Company. DeWitt "Judge" Landis becomes the General Manager and KFYO becomes affiliated with NBC

1937- KFYO affiliated with the Mutual Radio Network

1941- KFYO changes its frequency to 1340 AM (sister station KKAM now occupies 1340) and power becomes a constant 250 watts

1944- KFYO affiliated with the NBC Blue Network, which becomes the ABC Radio Network

1948- The FCC issues a Construction Permit (CP) for a new AM radio station in Lubbock. The call letters of the station is KVLU, frequency 790, power 5,000 watts Day and 1,000 watts Night (the current-day KFYO). The CP is owned by Wendell Mayes, C.C. Woodson and G.H. Nelson of Lubbock County Broadcasting in Brownwood, Texas. Mayes is also the owner of 1380 KBWD-AM, in Brownwood, Texas. The CP for KVLU is not built and expires in 1949. KFYO then makes the move to 790 AM in 1953. (source: 1948, 1948 & 1950 editions of Broadcasting Yearbook)

1948- On April 15 KFYO-FM went on the air. According to Jack Dale, it signed off a few years later (in 1950) after limited use. From the 1950 edition of Broadcasting Yearbook KFYO-FM broadcast on 99.5 FM (now the present-day KQBR-FM, 99.5 Blake FM) at 13,000 watts of power. A new license for FM 99.5 was reissued in the late 1960's or early 1970's.

1949- On May 15, Gordon Thompson becomes KFYO's new General Manager

1949- In September, Legendary Broadcaster, Paul Harvey visits Lubbock

1950- On June 12, KFYO Farm Director Jack Creel, along with the rest of the Radio Farm Directors (of America) meet with President Harry S. Truman at the White House. Farm Directors from other notable stations that made the trip include, WGN-Chicago, KOA-Denver, KSL-Salt Lake City, WBAP-Fort Worth-Dallas & WNBC-New York City. (source: Harry S. Truman Presidential Library)

1952- Sportscaster Jack Dale, "The Voice of the (Texas Tech) Red Raiders", comes to Lubbock and begins his longtime relationship with KFYO and Texas Tech University

1952- KFYO begins its longtime association with the First United Methodist Church of Lubbock by airing their Sunday morning service

1953- On January 18, KFYO makes its big move. The station changes from 1340 AM to its current 790 AM and increases power to 5,000 watts day and 1,000 watts night. The transmitter and 3 tower transmitting array were located at the Northeast corner of 82nd & Quaker. Shortly after KFYO vacated 1340, KDUB-AM became the station on 1340, which was owned by the same owner that started KDUB-TV (now KLBK 13) Lubbock's first TV station

1953- The FCC grants KFYO a TV License on Channel 5. Channel 5 is now occupied by Texas Tech's KTXT-TV/DT

1954- June 1, KFYO begins its 49 year affiliation with CBS News

1955- KFYO receives an Honorable Mention for a Peabody Award: In Footnotes on the Fine Arts with Jack Sheridan, KFYO (CBS) carries to West Texas unique coverage of fine arts activities. Not only does Mr. Sheridan share his own rich knowledge of all the arts, but through skillful interviews with national leaders has stimulated wide public interest in museums, symphony orchestras, books, and the theatre, thereby greatly enriching the cultural life of the great south plains. In recognition of this local public service, a Peabody Citation is hereby presented.

1967 or 1970- KFYO honored as a 5- year radio network affiliate of Houston Astros Baseball (editors note: no date was given on the photo and the Astros began play in 1962 as the Colt .45's and then became the Astros in 1965. Assumption is made that KFYO started broadcasting Astros Baseball in one of those two pivotal years in the Astros' History)

1970- May 11- The most important day in KFYO's History. KFYO is the only broadcast outlet in Lubbock that broadcasts continually before, during and after the Lubbock Tornado. Bud Andrews, Max Mott, Bob Nash and the rest of the KFYO staff coordinate and broadcast critical information to Lubbock during and after the tornado. KFYO also provides Lubbock's only link to the outside world during the tornado by broadcasting over phone to 1080 KRLD in Dallas (Texas State Networks flagship). Because KFYO was the FEMA/Civil Defense radio station in Lubbock, the station was equipped with two diesel back-up generators which provided power for KFYO's studios at 914 Ave. J and transmitter site at 82nd & Quaker Ave. KFYO becomes the vital link for information for Lubbock and the region in the hours and days after the tornado. This was because of the immense damage and lack of electricity in Lubbock for days following the tornado.

KFYO is honored with numerous local, state and federal awards for its coverage, which included multiple days of 24 hour commercial-free broadcast. The citations included recognition from President Richard M. Nixon. The City of Lubbock along with FEMA commissioned a reenactment film to be produced about the night of the Lubbock Tornado. KFYO is mentioned prominently in the film, along with staff members Bob Nash and Bud Andrews. The City of Lubbock will occasionally rerun the film on its public access channel during tornado season.

The transmitter site of one of KFYO's competitors, 1460 KLLL-AM was seriously damaged during the tornado and its transmitter knocked off the air. KLLL used their time off the air, approximately one week, to petition the FCC for a move of the KLLL call letters to its co-owned 96.3 FM (KBFM-FM). After receiving FCC approval for the call letter change, KLLL relaunched on 96.3 FM where it has remained ever since. When KLLL moved to FM they aired a country music format that was based in new music from Nashville with the Top-40 format sound. At the time of the Lubbock Tornado, KBFM-FM was airing a beautiful music/nostalgia format.

Another KFYO competitor, 950 KSEL-AM (present-day KJTV) lost both of their towers at their transmitter site in Mackenzie Park during the tornado.  In 1970, KSEL-AM was co-owned with Channel 28 KSEL-TV and 93.7 KSEL-FM.  According to Paul R. Beane, KSEL-AM was off the air for about six months before the damage at the KSEL-AM transmitter site could be repaired and new towers built. In 1970, Beane was the News Director for KSEL's three stations. As the tornado hit Downtown Lubbock, Beane was also live on the air from a mobile news unit, anchoring severe weather coverage for all three KSEL stations as the storm took his stations off the air.