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Friday, November 18, 2011

KTRK 13's Ed Brandon on 24 hour news radio in Houston

Former KTRK 13 weathercaster Ed Brandon (now fill-in weatherman) wrote a nice historical piece on Houston's news radio landscape through the years. Brandon arrived to work at channel 13 in 1972 and has seen the news radio stations come and go. Nice to have Ed back as a guest blogger once again.

Here is more from Ed Brandon:

"The Bayou City will join the nation’s other major cities where you can hear a local, live all-news-radio station. It’s KROI, 92.1FM. News 92 FM.

New York has had 1010 WINS, and others, for years. There’s KCBS in San Francisco, WBBM in Chicago and Los Angeles’ KNX. In all of the nation’s other major cities, there has always been the opportunity to listen on the road or at home to a local radio station which provides constant news, weather and sports, some of it from networks but most of it live and local.

Houston has been without such a station since the very early 1980s. In 1975, KLYX-FM (formerly K”MSC” for Manned Spacecraft Center) was the local affiliate for an NBC radio experiment called the News and Information Service. Among its voices was Don Armstrong, later on KPRC radio and television. The NBC effort lasted until early 1977. (The KLYX frequency, 102.1 FM, became, and remains, home to the phenomenally successful music station KMJQ. That’s Majic 102 to the average listener).

For a brief period, KEYH provided news during daylight hours at 850AM. That frequency is now home to a Spanish language music station.

KTRH 740 AM and KPRC 950 AM came closest to the all news model over the years. When they were separately owned by local companies, each programmed lengthy drive-time news blocks. Since each station broadcast talk programs during non drive-time hours, however, neither was an ALL news radio station. Each has been absorbed by the Clear Channel conglomerate and has gradually shed most of its news broadcasts. KPRC even proudly promoted itself as a station where you WOULD NOT hear news or traffic reports. (Traffic reports are now appearing occasionally at 950 AM.)

That all changes... The new station promises continuous news broadcasts. Equally encouraging is the station’s hiring of some of Houston’s most prominent broadcast journalists, many of them shoved out of the Clear Channel [and other Houston] stations. The premiere attraction is the morning news block to be presented by J.P Pritchard and Lana Hughes. The team is a long-time fixture of Houston morning radio. J.P. and Lana have both been inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.

For most broadcast journalists in the city and for news junkies, too, News 92 FM should fill a big hole in the radio dial. The owner, Radio One, is a newcomer to the all-news format, but with that staff and their experience, it’s hard to see how they could screw it up. The website went up on Wednesday. NEWS92FM.COM. The site will provide a live stream of the station."

-  Ed Brandon

This is Mike McGuff again.  As I mentioned Thursday, News 92 KROI debuts Monday 11/21/2011 at 5am.

I would like to add my two cents as well. Over the years of my talking to Houston radio professionals, I've learned it has been thought by radio companies that an all news format would not work here. The companies believed this town was too blue collar and not receptive to 24 hour news radio. They said it might work in New York, Chicago and other major cities where there was more of a white collar audience. Frankly, I don't buy into that belief. I think there is a hunger here for news. The only issue now is that the public is shifting away from broadcasting and using the Internet/mobile apps for news more and more. What a great experiment News 92 will be.

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