Thursday, March 03, 2011

Jazz-Rock KFMK

As long as I can remember, 97.9 KBXX has been a CHR/Rhythmic station.But like any station more than a few years old, it's had some former incarnations. 'The Box' debuted it's current format back in 1991. But back in the 60s it was a free form FM station, wild and crazy living a woolly rock n' roll playlist. KFMK debuted on the FM dial in Houston back in 1958. In those years they only broadcast from 8:00 AM to Midnight.They ran block programming and from the get-go carried even some jazz programming such as Dan Shannon's "Jazz in America." By 1960 they were already calling themselves 98FM. It was the first radio station in Houston to play rock music on the FM dial. There may have been others that snuck in a single or two but this was not a Top-40 station it was all rock n' roll.
In October of 1967 they dropped that free form mess and flipped to what they called "Rock-Jazz." Billboard,dumbfounded, ran a very short article the change. Billboard's description of it as Rock-Jazz seems comical now of course but maybe not at the time. Some of that later hot jazz was just as rambunctious as rock n' roll. This website explained it thusly:
"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."
But later references to the station indicate they were still playing progressive rock in 1968. Rock-Jazz, whatever it was, died in 1968. Under Crawford broadcasting it became a Southern Gospel station and then a Contemporary Christian station. They sold it in 1979 to First Media who flipped it to an oldies/ Soft AC mix. That odd mix hung on through most of the 80s even being decribed by Billboard in 1989 as an "oldies Top 40 blend."The KFMK calls currently reside just outside Austin now on 105.9.  More here.