“This is Howard Mays reporting for KRRV, Denison, Texas.”
If you remember that tag to remote radio broadcasts, then you remember Texoma radio in the 1950s. Howard Mays was the station’s roving reporter and later a disk jockey who went by the sobriquet “Happy Howard.”
KRRV (K-Red River Valley) — with a studio in between the twin cities just off Texoma Parkway near their tower and another across from Forest Park in Denison — was the big noise in local radio from its inception on Oct. 15, 1936 when it first went on the air until its call letters changed to KIKM in 1975. Starting with 100 watts at 1310 on the AM dial it soon grew to 250 watts, and in June 1940 moved to 880 at 1,000 watts of power. The station finally settled in to 910 AM in 1949.
During the 1950s, KRRV aired county and western during the day and “Top 40” at night, with the highlight being a dedication show.
“This next song is dedicated to RW from TJ in Denison,” the deejay would intone, and all over Texoma kids would try to figure out who was who.
The 1960s brought a shift to all “Top 40.” This lasted until October of 1974 when the station wetn country again. In 1975, the call letters changed to KIKM and the format changed to “adult Top 40.”
From 1988-1990, the station was known as KBLN, and from 1990 to 2007 as KXEB. Today, the descendant of the original KRRV is KATH 910 AM, a Catholic-oriented broadcast service operating out of Frisco. The original call letters of KRRV are now assigned to a station in Alexandria, Louisiana.
If all of this seems complicated, it is. Radio stations are bought and sold and when this happens, call letters often change, licenses are transferred, and signals are redirected — all under the auspices of the Federal Communication Commission. Tracing the lineage of a station is like researching a family tree.
The area’s second station was KDSX, which first broadcast at 1220 AM from a studio in the Hotel Denison and moved to 950 AM on the dial in 1951. The descendant of KDSX is now KKLF 1700 AM licensed to Richardson.
Sherman and Denison’s only locally owned and operated radio station still on the air is KJIM at 1500 AM. The station, originally owned by Joe Carroll and Elmer Scarborough, went on the air on Dec. 19, 1947 playing classical music as KTAN. Bill Jaco was the first program director and he hosted “Concerts in Miniature.” Over the years, the station changed ownership multiple times.
In 1958 the call letters changed to KTXO, and it became one of the first stations in Texas to adopt a full-time country and western format and then moved to rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly. To set up the change, the station’s deejays two versions on one song, “Early in the Morning,” covered by Bobby Darrin and Buddy Holly, for 24-hours straight.
KTXO became KJIM on July 31, 1991, taking the call letters of a station previously licensed to Fort Worth at 870 AM. The station’s current owner, Bob Allen took over in 1995. He upgraded the broadcasting equipment and kept ownership local with the KJIM The Memory Maker call letters.
AM 1500 is a clear-channel frequency with protection from nighttime interference afforded to two other stations on that band: WFED in Washington, D.C. and KSTP in St. Paul, Minnesota. For that reason, Sherman’s station was and still is restricted to broadcasting only from dawn to dusk each day.
In 2016, Allen obtained a license for an FM translator at 101.3 FM, which makes KJIM’s signal available 24 hours a day.
Texoma’s newest radio station is KQDR FM 107.3, tagged “Hot 107.3.” The station is licensed to Savoy with a studio in Sherman. It went on the air in 2007. W
“Originally, we were DOC FM which was more of a mixed format,” morning show host Tiffany Reynolds said. “We played a little bit of everything. We switched formats in 2012 to Hot AC/CHR.”
Translation: adult contemporary/contemporary hit radio, or for non radio folks “Top 40.”
Reynolds, who is from Sherman, is a college theater major who got into radio 20 years ago by accident and liked it. She worked as a deejay on several larger stations in North Texas and the Metroplex before coming back home.
“I’ve been in Texas all my career,” she said. “I kind of started backwards. Where most deejays start in smaller markets and go to bigger markets, I started big and decided to move to a smaller market. The smaller market is more intimate; you can be more connected to the community.”
While her deejay duties no longer include cuing up stacks of .45 records (It’s all on a computer now), she is still behind the mic most mornings.
“We do everything locally,” she said. “My morning show’s live. This is still a local station.”
That local connection is important to Hot 107.3 and to Reynolds.
“I talk about a lot of stuff that’s going on in the community,” she said. “I love to support non-profit groups and organizations. Right now, we are getting ready to do something with the Women’s Crisis Center for Christmas. We’ve worked with the Greater Texoma Health Clinic and the Denison Animal Welfare group with their ‘Pet of the Week.’”
And that’s not all. In a throw back to radio’s earliest days, Hot 107.3 reaches out for local talent.
“We just started a local show that focuses on live music locally,” Reynolds said. “We try to get extra air play for local talent that aren’t big stars at the moment. We bring them in on Saturdays and interview them; we play their music on air, let them play live in the studio. We have a Sunday morning Christian show called ‘Faith in Tunes.’ We really try to tie in to the community.”
Reynolds’ experiences are an example of small town radio coming around full circle to closer serve their listening audience. So, want to know what’s going on in Texoma. Turn your radio on, and listen to the music in the air.
Edward Southerland is a feature writer for Best of Texoma. For more information, visit BestofTexoma.com or www.facebook.com/BestOfTexoma.