The station format was local news, national programming and community programs. I think it was with the Mutual Radio Network.
The studio moved to the transmitter site on West Edison in 1957. The format changed around that time to religious programs in the morning with the remainder of the day country music. Billy Parker, Jay Jones and Will Jones, three KFMJ disc jockeys from the late 50s to the late 60s, became Tulsa radio legends. In the 70s and 80s, they made KVOO one of the top country music stations in the nation. Another popular announcer was David Ingles, who now owns KYND and KDIM radio in Tulsa.
The station was sold in 1960 to Ralph Lynch, a radio station owner in Oklahoma City. Lynch sold the station in 1963 to Oral Roberts. Roberts kept the station preaching/teaching in the morning and country the remainder of the day. Roberts also at one time also owned another radio station in Tulsa, KORU 103.3 FM, which today is KJSR, Star 103.
In April 1966, George Kravis, owner of KRAV-FM, purchased the station and kept the split format until 1969. KFMJ's format switched to all preaching/teaching, which it remained until about 1980, when the call letters were changed to KRAV-AM and the station simulcast the popular adult contemporary format from KRAV-FM 96.5.
By 1987, the station switched formats again to the "Music of Your Life", a format run by satellite. In 1996, Cox Radio purchased KRAV and KGTO from Mr. Kravis. Cox kept the call letters and the "Music of Your Life" format until it was sold in 2002 to Perry Broadcasting.
Perry changed the format to Urban Oldies. It is a satellite-operated format. The old KFMJ studios at the transmitter site were torn down in 2001 by Cox Radio; Perry didn't want it since it was found to be asbestos-contaminated.
Today KGTO is a box on the wall at 70th and Yale.
KFMJ announcers: Jay Jones, Hillis Bell (Willy the Hillbilly). I doubt if anyone knows that sixteen of these men were also students at Tulsa University when they were working at these stations.
My short stay at KFMJ provided me with $325 a month for which I worked a split shift, signing on as well as signing off.
The stations could be mean-spirited about money for announcers. I knew that talent fees were sent for me to do network commercial cutaways for the Southwest branch of CBS, but management kept the money. The general manager of KFMJ demanded a 15% cut of any extra voice work done by announcers---that is, if he could find out about it.
I am surprised that I haven't mentioned one of my favorite characters from KOTV memory. Especially since his sons were and are a part of Tulsa radio history. I speak of the one and only "Hillis Bell, Sr.!"
One son was the program director or sales manager of KAKC and the other son I have known for eons is Dan Bell, super salesman for KRMG 740. There may even be a third son.
Anyway, Hillis was a real character. He was an older man when he somehow wangled a job as a "booth announcer" with KOTV. He was not an announcer, but there he was! I do know that at one time he was one of the finest piano accompanists in the business and at one time was the accompanist for an operatic tenor of some repute, named "Gino Bentonelli!" Actually, his real name was George Benton and he was from Oklahoma City. In those days one did better by assuming a foreign name.
It is my understanding that Hillis liked the grape as well as becoming a golf addict! Two combinations that proved his undoing. He told me that his fingers became too fat for him to play the piano well.
I'm sure there are better informed people than I to tell his story. I just remember him as a wild man. Very funny and given to impromptu things like painting his shoes with gold paint! He wore those shoes forever. I think he then went into the "bar business."
Anyway, here's to you Hillis, wherever you are.
Hillis Bell, Jr. is now living in Larned, Kansas, where he owned a radio station for many years. He married Marilyn Caldwell from the Class of '51 at Central. Marilyn performed many times in the Central Opera Club, on "The Experimental Theater of the Air," on "KVOO Day," and in the Daze.
(from Guestbook 44) Mike Miller said:
Nathan Wilcox, my neighborhood friend, would take me to visit his dad, the engineer at KFMJ. We visited with Jay Jones and Ed Dumit who pretended to be Willy the Hillbilly. We decided to build our own radio station, (KLAD Keep Listening All Day,) and wired nearby homes. I guess thats where it all started.
Went on to work for Lawson Taylor at KFMJ, played records and made dedications to virtually everybody in northeast Oklahoma as "Willie the Hillbilly." Eddie Lyons did the news at that time... Eddie was back briefly after a not very successful tour of Hollywood... he made $500 a month, almost unheard of in the late forties, and I made $300. Not too shabby, either. Then, one day Taylor called us in and cut those salaries in half. The next day I was on the road, and never did work in Tulsa again.
KFMJ was the weirdest place I worked, mainly because of the general manager, Lawson Taylor. Except for the Willy the Hillbilly show, he insisted than no loud music be played. Even quiet music with a comparatively short, louder passage was proscribed. He monitored the station continuously. I was told by three employees that he had carried a portable radio on a fishing trip, heard a loud record, reeled in his line, rowed ashore, and called the announcer at the station long distance. He always said that each record should have a good tee-yune, drawing out the vowels.
Taylor was a Christian Scientist, and staffed his station mostly with other adherents. During coffee breaks or company picnics, the conversation was always the same: How I was healed by Jesus. Only the nice, knowledgeable program director, whose last name was Franks, did not participate.
I got married the week I was to start at KFMJ. Taylor insisted that I commence work the next day after the ceremony, i.e., sign on at 6 am the morning after my wedding night. I tried to explain to him the situation, but he was adamant. We finally compromised on starting work the following morning, giving me a one-day honeymoon.
Taylor called me in one day, and told me that he wanted me to change my name to T. Frank Morrow. At first, I thought he was joking, but then I remembered that he had no sense of humor. I asked him why the T? He said that it would sound great as part of an introduction of a newscast which would be, Listen T. Frank Morrow. Now I was biting my tongue to keep from laughing. I told him that I had used Listen to Morrows news tonight at KTUL, but there wasnt the same double meaning or cleverness with T. Frank. I really wanted to say that the idea was stupid. I merely said that I wouldnt do it. I later told Mr. Franks, the program director, who roared with laughter.
Taylor told me one day that he wanted me to start doing two or three news commentaries each morning. I asked him if he were hiring another announcer. He replied that he expected me to do it on top of my other duties. I argued that news commentaries required thought and research, followed by careful writing. I further explained that, with the time spent on spinning records and doing newscasts while running the control board, I didnt have the time. He said, That job isnt a man-killer. After I refused, he hired a rabid right-wing man from who-knows-where to give news commentaries. It only lasted a few weeks. I had heard that there were some complaints. Apparently, with the exposure of Senator Joe McCarthy a couple of years before, this brand of right-wing talk was going out of style with people who had the power to influence Taylor.
But the wildest thing occurred about two weeks before I got there. Taylor had been reading a book on leadership and control of your workforce, emphasizing that the employees worked best with fear as the motivator. Run scared, was the watchword. Taylor lapped it up. He got a blank pistol, and ran up and down the hallways and in and out of rooms shooting the pistol and yelling, Run scared! Run scared! There were three employees including Franks who verified that this happened.
When I went to work for him, he permitted me to sign on and sign off of the daytime-only station, thus allowing me to carry some classes at TU. He made a pledge that, when the semester was over I could have a continuous shift. He reneged on his promise, however, stating that the ratings were lower in the early and late hours, and that I might be able to bring them up. This provided me with a good excuse to leave the station. (Besides, KRMG beckoned.) I was at KFMJ only three or four months, but they were beneficial to my career---if I had been in the field of abnormal psychology.
Before the Reagan deregulation of radio there were some semi-self-imposed limits on the amount of commercials. The semi part came from the pluses which the FCC considered in the amount of non-commercial airtime (sustaining) a station had when license renewal time came. Other favorable factors were public service announcements and news shows.
Prior to deregulation, at least in the 50s when I was in broadcasting, commercials were limited: network station breaks were 30 seconds, newscasts usually only had one main commercial of no more than 60 seconds, even though many newscasts were of a fifteen minute duration; and double-spotting (two commercials in a row) was frowned upon, although it occasionally was done. If double spotting did occur, it was usually done with two 30-second commercials. The commercials between innings of baseball were for 60 seconds. Never was a commercial inserted during play.
The only exception to this I found was at KFMJ where the GM, Lawson Taylor, came up with the idea of handy ads. He called them the equivalent of want ads in the newspaper. They were considerably cheaper than the usual commercials. There would be several short announcements stung togethermaybe as many as ten--of about five to seven seconds in duration each.
Friends at TU who worked part time in the 70's - desperate for a part-time income while students, used to joke it stood for Keep Feeding Me, Jesus...
Guy Atchley started in radio at KFMJ.
Since we're talking TV/radio preachers...remember how Katherine Kuhlman's taped radio show on KFMJ used to start every Sunday morning? With a loud thunderclap!
A TTM correspondent described it thusly: "Sounds like Pat 'Mr. Haney' Buttram talking through a frequency modulator with a mouth full of jello."
I stayed in radio for as long as I could. But the jobs got few and far between. My longest stint was as the music director of KTMS-FM in Santa Barbara, CA. Spent 9 1/2 years programming the "Rock on the Coast." I worked as a radio and TV commercial writer/producer for several years.
Still living in Santa Barbara. Still do voice work. I compose music for short films and documentaries. And I still do a Sunday afternoon radio shift. Could never give up radio completely. I've been working at the local community college for around 13 years.
I love the Tulsa TV Memories site and spend way too much time enjoying the past...."
Wow! Now this site brought back lots of memories. I went to American Christian College in Tulsa in the early 70s and listened to G. Sartain on KAKC every Saturday night and laughed until my side hurt. (Gary Busey was on a lot too as a sidekick.)
I later went on to be Program Director of KFMJ and then a jock for FM 96 KRAV in the late 1970s (see pic at right). Now managing in Louisville and can be reached at jlawathome[at]aol[dot]com. Thanks for the memories...