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98.7 KNUS / Dallas

Jim White / Tommy Kramer on KNUS 99 Dallas | 1972

KNUS 99 – 98.7 to be exact, was McLendon’s FM powerhouse. Originally slated to be an all-news station, and almost never to be because Gordon McLendon almost sold it in the 60s, KNUS turned out to be the SECOND successful Top 40 station, right behind (and later surpassing) sister KLIF 1190.

Here’s two great jocks doing Top 40 in a style imitated by much of the RKO chain (NOT the other way around) throughout the 70s. It’s GREAT radio – no reverb, plenty of personality and some big contests for the time period.

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37 Comments


  1. Kevin Stone. Early summer, 1972. Good memory.

    Thanks Steve

    Reply

    • Kevin Stone “the Stoneman” said the coolest thing I ever heard on the radio. After he had played a real good song by a major artist (don’t remember who), he said “…aaaaah that’s stronger than a ten day old T-shirt”.

      I used to have smelly gym clothes in jr. high because I was too lazy to carry them home to get them washed, so I related to his comment. Of course, I thought it was cool, too, the way he said it. What a great voice.

      I also loved the early KNUS, before they went Top 40, but it was still pretty good as Tommy Kramer’s audio clip demonstrates.

      Thanks for the memories. I live in Austin now, and I am certain we will never see the likes of KNUS or the Zoo again.

      Reply

    • McClendon’s KNUS was the template for the RKO sound? RKO stations imitated KNUS? My take on radio history says the format was first implemented at KYNO in Fresno-Drake-Chenault’s seminal radio station.

      Reply

  2. My goodness, I didn’t even know this existed. Audio of early KNUS is rare, since none of us ever taped anything. To Steve Green, thank you for your kind words.

    Although I can see how we might sound now like we were trying a little too hard to be sort of “mysterious” and clever and hip, it’s difficult for people not of that time period to grasp how different we sounded from the typical pukey, glib, veneer of the Top 40 jocks of that era.

    The things I think do still stand out are the economy of words, and how we just seamlessly slipped into the spaces the music provided us. That’s what gave the station its relentless, chugging, forward momentum. I won’t bore you with all the accomplishments of the KNUS staff, but suffice it to say that I was honored to work with all those guys. Over 30 years later, we’re all still good friends, and that’s pretty rare in itself.

    Before KVIL, there was KNUS, the first station in this part of the country to prove that FM was here, wasn’t just a bunch of stoners playing 18-minute bongo solos anymore, and that AM music radio was a dinosaur. We eventually had huge ratings, and we all went on to fairly significant careers. (Besides owner Gordon MacLendon, 5 jocks from that airstaff–Ken Dowe, Michael Spears, Beau Weaver, Kevin McCarthy, and I–have been elected to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame).

    The rules are still the same, guys. Say the name of the station, then say something interesting, then shut up. It’s just that simple, and I still teach it every day as a Talent Coach.

    Thanks for a great (if somewhat humbling) trip down memory lane.

    Tommy Kramer
    Dallas, Texas
    8/22/06

    Reply

  3. I am looking for some early pictures of KNUS or KLIX studios.

    My wife and I acquired the orignal KNUS radio board along with some theatre equipment from Gordon Maclendon’s son years ago. Still have it! Fun stuff!

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  4. Do you know where I can find any of those Blue KNUS stickers???..Thanks, Kev

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  5. I was working small market radio near Dallas and listening to KNUS. I talked with Michael Spears, aka: Hal Martin a couple of times, and was told that even veteran major market dj’s didn’t really get the new format. He was right, it took me several years to figure out the differences that made KNUS stand out. That being said, I learned a whole lot just listening to Tommy Kramer, Jim White, Beau Weaver and others. What I learned helped me to have my own nice career, and some of it even applies today with my mobile dj business. Thanks to all the KNUS guys for helping to show me the right way to dj, even if you didn’t know you were doing it. One last thought…I love the jingles KNUS used back then…what package was it, and who produced it?

    Reply

    • same people that did the WLS chicago jingles I beleive.

      Reply

  6. IF 98.7KLUVS JIM ZIPPO HAS AN EMAIL ADDRESS
    WHAT IS IT ROBERT IN FORT WORTH

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  7. THATS ALL I WANT TO KNOW WHAT IS 98.7 KLUVS
    JIM ZIPPOS EMAIL SEND IT TO ME ROBERT GOMEZ
    IN FORT WORTH

    Reply

  8. Zippo In The Morning was heard regularly here in my backyard, N’Awlins, on KHOM-FM Oldies 104.1, every Monday-Friday from 5 to 9. I was still in high school! 😉

    I’m proud to have preserved a handful of your hilarious shows from KHOM on cassette, Jim; you were great! 🙂

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  9. Well, I’m one of those late 60s *heads* that fell in love with the FM underground format of the original KNUS 98.7 Dallas… when KNUS was a *Heavy Sister*. Indeed she was.

    I was in my early teens, but my radio stayed on at all times from late 1968 to 1970… no one in the house ever turned it off.

    If anyone has anything from that tiny window of opportunity that was the early KNUS, airchecks (probably don’t exist?) stickers, photos, ANYthing… it would mean so much to me to see or hear them again…

    Love.

    Çχ♡

    Reply

  10. pre top 40 knus was the greatest station i had ever listened to and nothing has come close since. the new knus was pretty much the old klif which was horrible compared to the old knus. very few commercials very little talk.

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  11. Wow! Awesome! Brought back memories…does anyone remember the plane traffic from Love Field bleeding over into the frequency on occasion?

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  12. Does anyone remember the original market testing for underground music by Scott McClendon during either the late fall of 1966 or early part of 1967?

    For 3 hours (7-10 pm) on one or several week nights a week for 6-8 weeks a very limited playlist of G-Dead (Morning Dew), J-Airplane, West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and some album of celestial acid tracks for each sign of the zodiac.

    Reply

  13. Sounds like Top-40 AM on … FM.

    Phony, forced voices is just as bad as puking.

    The woman reading the stock indexes sounds as if she is in high school.

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  14. My good friend Randy Robins worked there as well.

    Karl

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  15. Tommy Kramer thinks he reinvented the wheel. All this talk about pukers, what about worthless no-content screamers which were more typical in the 70’s. You’re work on this check isn’t that good frankly, & the typical Bartell Rip-off style production is a knock off, not original. Kramer, you couldn’t work at a KLIF in their heyday, and you know it.

    Reply

  16. Well it’s always nice to be slammed by someone you don’t know based on a few seconds of audio from decades ago. : > For what it’s worth, I had nothing to do with reinventing the wheel. Although I was the Music Director at this incarnation of KNUS. Michael Spears (rest his soul) was the Program Director. Michael HAD worked at KLIF in its heyday, and then Bill Drake’s KGB in San Diego before going back to Dallas to do KNUS. The “Bartell Rip-off style production” came from Michael’s hearing KCBQ in San Diego, and the great Jack McCoy’s “Last Contest” stuff. No doubt, I sound pretty “egg not quite yet hatched” on this aircheck, but my career was still in its infancy, having just come from KEEL in Shreveport, my home town. I was probably the worst jock on the KNUSt staff at the time, although the 20 share I had in the ratings (#1) wasn’t too bad, but that probably didn’t have much to do with me, and was more about the excitement and energy of the station. As far as whether I could have worked at KLIF in their heyday, you’re probably right. It doesn’t really matter, because AM was a Dead Man Walking once KNUS signed on. I just felt lucky to be a part of it, and later worked for several other wonderful stations, including being half of Hudson & Harrigan (with Fred Kennedy) for Bill Young at KILT in Houston and many other stops.
    Old airchecks are always embarrassing, because (hopefully) we all got better. Apparently, I had nowhere to go but up. Thanks for the lesson in humility.

    Reply

    • Hello Tommy. That one comment slipped through. Sorry about that. But, that said, frankly, that aircheck sounded great to me. Its one of my favorites. Even thought I wasn’t there to hear it live and don’t know a thing about the radio business in Dallas back then. To my trained years all this time later, it sounds like great radio, far better than what’s out there today.

      Don’t let the comment of one single person bother you. I apologize that the comment got by me, hope you’ll accept that and know that I’m a fan and appreciate your work.

      Reply

    • In fairness, KLIF did beat KNUS in one ratings period long after KNUS was launched.

      I believe Barry Kaye and Tom Kent were working at KLIF during that time. Both worked at KLIF. Whether they were there at KLIF’s “last stand”, I don’t know.

      KNUS was a great station, not a Drake station. Puking … well, forced, unnatural sounding voices as heard on KNUS were just as annoying.

      Tony

      Reply

      • Well yes, Tony. Puking was always annoying no matter where it was. But I never heard it on the few recordings I have of KNUS 99. And you’re entirely correct, KNUS was definitely NOT a Drake-Consulted station. But at least half the RKO General chain of stations seemed to use the KNUS on air approach during the mid-70s. That really says something about the caliber of talent and promotions heard on KNUS! Those guys were the BEST, before most of the radio stars of the 70s and 80s understood what it took (most, not all…)

        Reply

        • Steve,

          Pardon me if I was unclear.

          I never intended to infer or state that KNUS jocks were “pukers”.

          What I intended to say was some of the on-air people on KNUS had affected, forced voices — unnatural voices, which were not uncommon in the 1970’s. The newsmen were worse with overly dramatic deliveries. If you tuned into the middle of a newscast on KNUS, CKLW (the worst offender, “the blood-and-guts station”), KHJ, KLIF, etc., you might think the end of the world was at hand. Some jocks also had that phony, forced, unnatural delivery. Hearing it is as apparent as seeing the nose on someone’s face. I would not put Jim White in that category. I simply stated that sort of voice is as annoying as “puking”.

          “KNUS was a great station, not a Drake station.” I meant little by that other than it rhymed. Most people knew a McLendon station sounded nothing like a Drake-consulted station. In the 1960’s, KLIF and KHJ were as different as summer and winter.

          Opinion: The McLendon chain of stations were superior to Drake’s in personality and entertainment value, but comparing them is like comparing pie to cake. KNUS certainly was far more interesting than Drake’s K-100 in Los Angeles. KVIL in Dallas was a great and widely imitated station under Ron Chapman, but I liked KNUS better. I like pie better than cake.

          RKO copied KNUS? KHJ and KHJ-FM certainly did not copy KNUS, nor did KFRC in San Francisco. CKLW … nope … nothing like KNUS either. Can you imagine the Real Don Steele on … KNUS?

          Another poster characterized KNUS as “underground”. That was the format prior to the one heard on this aircheck. It was going nowhere, and the new KNUS was launched.

          KNUS was top-40 without the bubblegum rock with album cuts, great promotions and some fine disc jockeys. KNUS came along at the right time, and Dallas is a great city for FM with its flat terrain, and KNUS had a great signal. To me, KNUS was a hybrid or the middle ground between top-40 and underground rock — hip, but not stoned.

          Well, what do I know? I thought the Beatles were a fad.

          Thanks for all the great airchecks, Steve.

          The end.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ySwY7Yi1GTQ

          Tony

          Reply

          • Steve, Tony–very lively conversation about KNUS. Gratifying to hear after so long. It was a unique environment. We really cared and believed in what we were doing: respecting the music, creating something fun, and trying to live up to Gordon McLendon’s vision of “theater of the mind”.


        • just curious if you remember Don Cook on knus99 or the knus kissathon contest? good memories. we did the big knus concert thing live on air supposed to sound like woodstock.

          Reply

  17. No problem, Steve. We all have to take our lumps. The guy had some valid points, but you kind of had to be there to understand what set KNUS apart from others. It was the first FM station to be number one in a major market, and I always coach that “nobody falls UP.”

    I enjoy hearing Jim White again on this. He’s still an amazing talent.

    Reply

    • Likewise great to hear you from back in the day, Tommy. The KNUS experience was the most magical time in my broadcast memory-thanks to the talent and generosity of my brothers in arms who took our fun on the air seriously, but not ourselves. Yes, those 42 year old air checks are humbling-or as we used to say, “How does he make his voice do that?” It’s great that K-News 99 is so fondly remembered by so many people. What an honor to have been a part.

      Reply

  18. Where is Fred Olson Kennedy, “The Great Great Guru, Mahereshee Mahesh Feeleme Boney Belly” ? I miss him! (Thats the best I can do on the Guru’s name spelling!)

    Reply

    • Where are you FRED???

      Reply

      • Fred Olsen was “Irving Harrigan” to Tommy Kramer’s “Mac Hudson”-on KILT 610 AM/Houston-from November, 1979 to November, 1980. From November 1980 until May, 1981, Beau Weaver and Randy Hames were “Hudson & Harrigan.” After KILT-AM changed from a “Top 40/CHR” format to “Country and Western” on Monday, June 1’st, 1981, Fred Olson succeeded Beau Weaver in the role of
        “Mac Hudson.” Randy Hames continued as “Irving Harrigan”. Fred & Randy played H &H from Monday, June 1’st, 1981 until Wednesday, March 23’rd, 2010; on that day, they were fired by CBS, which had recently purchased KILT 100.3 FM.

        I lived in Houston from November, 1978 until October, 1980; and AGAIN from June, 1982 until March, 1989.

        I audio cassette-recorded some of Fred & Randy’s “H &H” shows, from December, 1981 until March, 1989, when I left Houston to go live in the
        San Francisco Bay Area.

        In MY humble opinion-there was much more in the way of on-air “chemistry”
        between Fred Olsen and Randy Hames than there had been between Tommy Kramer & Fred Olson and between Beau Weaver & Randy Hames.

        If I understood what my “Facebook” friend Randy Hames said to me online-Fred Olson recently RETIRED from disc jockey and voice-over work, at the age of 63.

        Fred was a truly good-humored, multi-talented, multi-faceted on-air personality. He did most of the “colorful character” voices on the show, including-but not limited to-“Jim-Bob Jumpback”; “Seymour Broomwad”; “Fred Silverfish”; “Herman Wurlitzer”; “Sam Jacinto”; “Betsy Bigg”; “Polly Darton”; “Julia Wild”; “Kenny Stapler”; “Mister Dodgers”; and “Little Rufus Rosenfelt-The Story Guy”.

        I am happy and proud that I had the foresight to audio cassette record some of Fred & Randy’s “H &H” programs-from December, 1981 until May, 1985 on KILT 610-AM; and from May, 1985 until March, 1989, on KILT 100.3 FM.

        Thank you, Fred and Randy! 🙂

        From Jim Hanold-an enthusiastic & grateful morning radio program listener, now happily residing in the booming metropolis of Newton, Iowa.

        Reply

  19. Among my father-in-law’s things we found an aluminum token reading; KNUS 99 second line 0163. Has an eyelet so it can be placed on a key ring. What was this for?

    Reply

    • Hi, I worked for KNUS in the 70’s as Don Cook but mostly fill in and weekends. I did the KNUS kissathon broadcasts one year. what else do you have from KNUS? lost all my memories long ago.

      Reply

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