2 views of the KVOO transmitter site atop Reservoir Hill (Apache & N. Denver) in 1926.
Jim Back discussed KVOO's "clear channel" status and history in Guestbook 20.
In his slim but meaty book, Voices on the Wind: Early Radio in Oklahoma (the Tulsa Library has multiple copies for checkout), author Gene Allen reports that France Laux ("a Tulsa kid") was coaching in Bristow in 1927 when the manager of KVOO (in Tulsa) bought the rights to Western Union-recreate World Series baseball games that October. However, the announcer assigned to do them quit just before the first game. The station manager dispatched an employee to Bristow to find Laux, who asked him,"Can you broadcast a ball game?" Laux reportedly replied, "I don't know, but I'll try anything once!"
Allen writes that Laux got to the station "only a couple of minutes before air time". He could not read the abbreviations the Western Union operator gave him, and he had to follow the score sheet to get the players' names. He did not have time to get nervous and somehow got through the ordeal. He stayed on to become KVOO's sportscaster and in 1938 won the Sporting News' trophy as "radio's outstanding baseball announcer."
"The 50,000-Watt Voice of Oklahoma" could easily be picked up on a homemade or store-bought crystal radio set powered only by the electricity generated from radio waves passing through the wire antenna.
In the 50s and 60s, you could also buy a cheap Rocket Radio, good mainly for picking up KVOO. (In fact, KVOO was so strong, it sometimes bled through the phone cord.)
"The original Crystal Rocket radio first became a craze in the 1950s just as the race for space became an American obsession. Rockets, missiles, and the mystery of radio waves pulsing through the ether...heady stuff for young girls and boys."
Among the magical radio moments of my childhood was seeing, for the first time, the old KVOO xmitter building out in what was then the sticks (the south side of 11th Street between 145th and 161st E Ave) as I rode in the back of my parents' Studebaker.
I remember thinking "So that's where that man lives who sings "Kay-ay-ay Vee-ee-ee Oh-oh-oh Oh-oh-oh" all the time.
Who was that guy anyway? And could they have put a little MORE tape slap on him?
Larry White was chief engineer of KAKC and KVOO, among others. He was chief engineer when KVOO moved from the radio/television facility on Peoria to its present home near Yale and the BA Expressway.
For a long time Larry and wife Velma lived in their home on the KVOO-AM tower property in East Tulsa on 11th Street.
KVOO has an extensive antenna array (three 450-foot towers, located about 250 feet apart in a straight line, as striking as Orion's belt). I haven't been to the old KVOO "farm" in almost 25 years but it was neat and all marble and copper inside. I think they even had an ancient back-up control room there. (More techie info about the station here.)
In '73, I flew a Bonanza from Torrance to Tulsa in one day, meaning I was pretty tired when I got to Harvey Young Airport. It was dark, starting to rain and I am holding a gas can out in front of the engine trying to get it to smell the gas that was not in the wings.
I made a downwind approach to the North on the East side of the airport and I am looking to the left when suddenly the entire cockpit is lit up with a brilliant bright red light...I had just missed the KVOO towers on my right. I went ahead and landed and went in and talked to Harvey...but not before I swept out and deodorized the cockpit.
Another bit of useless information, prompted by Mr. Hillis' mention of KVOO.
In the olden tyme, before tape and reverbs, the staff announcers at the station, on hiring, were instructed in the proper way to identify the station. It was not "K-V-O-Oh," but a distinct elision of the "V" and the first "O." It came out "K-VO-Oh." Dat's what management wanted, and dats what management got.
Before Doc did the late night show on KVOO, Walter Teas was host, and the program was called "The Worry Bird Club," featuring the raucous call of Woody Woodpecker. I'm not sure of the years or how long it ran until Teas got a daytime shift.
Jack Campbell's "Sleepwalker's Serenade" theme was part of a PAMS
jingle package recorded for KVOO circa 1966. The theme was recorded in Dallas
at the PAMS studios. Yes, the theme is very Mancini-ish with rather dark
and dense chords scored in lower brass and french horn, with straight-muted
trumpets, reed and xylophone accents. The rhythm parts are very much in the
background, consistent with recording practice at that time... drums recorded
with a single overhead mic, etc. The session was mono.
The KVOO PAMS package consisted of 28 mono cuts. They ran the gamut from show IDs to generic weather, sports and seasonal bumpers and intros. The only personalized cuts were the Jack Campbell "Sleepwalkers" theme and a intro for the "Coffee with Jay" morning show with Jay Jones. All other cuts were re-sings of standard PAMS arrangements. The PAMS package was purchased as part of the new "Solid Gold" identity for KVOO in the late sixties.
As far as I know, the "Sleepwalkers" theme was not a stock track, and was done as a "custom" for KVOO and Jack Campbell. The PAMS master tapes in the KVOO library consisted of two 10.5 inch reels of 1/4" tape recorded at 15ips, full track mono.
By the way, I have quite a nice recording of the entire KVOO PAMS package.
As a late-teen I visited Jack Campbell during many of his "Sleepwalker's Serenade" and "Music for Pleasant Dreams" shifts at Broadcast Center in Brookside. ( Remember those "bubble-windows" on the second floor? ) The announce booth was then on the west side of master control and sported a home-brew console, two Western Electric 639B mics, RCA turntables with Grey arms and GE VR series cartridges and a couple of Magnecord PT63 tape machines. The booth was later moved to the east side of master control and the equipment was up-graded to a Gates Stereo Yard console (running mono), a Sennheiser 421 mic, the RCA tables and Gates cart machines.
(The "Cobra" pickup arms on the turntables in Master Control were Fairchilds. The large "cobra head" feature accomodated three cartridges: microgroove plus lateral and vertical transcription, and were rotated into place via a knob on the end of the arm shell. Pat Tobin, long-time KVOO engineer, designed a custom arm-rest to replace the somewhat flimsy Fairchild version.)
Before the station went to carts, all spots were cut to 10" discs by Jack Moore on a Westrex lathe located behind the control room of the recording studio.
The MOR and classical music library was astonishing....rows of LPs and early 16" transcriptions...all cared-for by librarian Tubby Young. Tubby swore me into Tulsa Musician's Local 94 in 1964...yes, I'm still a member... He was President of the Local for many years, and we had many conversations about music and his career and experiences at KVOO.
As my visits to the station increased, I became acquinted with many members of the staff who taught me a great deal about electronics, radio, production and music. Chief Engineer Jack Bushnell... engineers Ernie Frisco, Les Nichols, and Mo Billington...announcers Jay Jones, Don Gilbert, Dick Charles, and Bill Ryan...and last but not least, announcer Jack Campbell. Jack has had a profound impact on my appreciation of music and production. We remain friends to this day, and often exchange recordings and chat about our experiences at the station and his days as "The Old Sleepwalker"......sponsored by Gray's Jewelers and the then-new Accutron Watch. Jack used to do a "time check" for Accutron wearers. And, of course, there was the nightly poem riddle.... Jack recently sent me two now out-of-print Anita Kerr Singers recordings which he often aired. Gee, it was great to hear them again after all these years!! Incidently, Jack's son recently gave him an iPod so that he can easily archive his favorite music.
When I was a kid, it seemed like Jack Campbell and Jay Jones were the "Voices of Tulsa". I once got to tour the old Peoria studio as part of Boy Scout Explorers project. If I ever build my own "Mad Scientist Laboratory", I would want it to look like that.
Didn't NBC carry over to TV for a while the three bongs that they used on network radio as the last thing heard before they turned over the air time for the local station break? This sound became instilled in American culture. The these three notes were used occasionally to represent broadcasting itself.
I remember that for many years the chimes were played rather slowly, about three seconds worth---not more than five---starting at five seconds before the local announcer was to begin his call letters. Later, just about the time TV started up, they started speeding up the notes, so that it took about half the time as the original notes.
I also have a vague recollection of KVOO having a set of chimes in the announcers' booth to be used when necessary.
I believe the KVOO NBC chimes are up in the Hale High School Library. They certainly have their own sound, so mellow. Makes me wonder what type of alloy was used to make them.
Lowell later found three pages on the NBC chimes: The NBC Chimes Machine, NBC Chimes, and The NBC Network Chimes...everything you conceivably might want to know...and you can hear them, too.
In 1950 (that's 53 years ago, kids!) I worked for several months in the KVOO newsroom as an intern under the redoubtable Ken Miller ("Pioneer Radio News Editor of the Southwest" in his publicity). At the time he was trying to develop a Paul Harvey-type opening for the 10 p.m. news (before the first commercial) and he pretty well ruined Bill Cardin's style doing it.
The news then was read by Cy Tuma, Roy McKee, Johnny Ryan (nee Trigg), and any other announcer. Carl Boye was the morning news editor.
I doubt if many people know that (future Tulsa TV news anchor) Cy Tuma worked as a staff announcer at KVOO radio under the name "Paul Shepherd." Of course, he also played clarinet with the Eggs at Eight combo, which included Tubby Young on bass.
Correct me if I am wrong but I believe that KVOO was originally located in the Philtower, hence the antenna of old. When you drive by, remember Paul Harvey, Bob Wills, Will Rogers, Gene Autry and a string of other greats walked through those doors to broadcast prior to and during the early days of Tulsa TV.
KVOO's announcers told me---and occasionally said on the air---that they had to include, "Philtower," on their top-of-the-hour station breaks in order "to pay the rent."
In the 50s, the main attempt of radio to meet the TV challenge was to come up with slogans and self-congratulatory promos. For instance, in 1951, KVOO had its receptionist answer the phone with, "Wherever you go, there's radio. KVOO."
(from Guestbooks 2, 5, 24, 89 and 110) Mike Bruchas said:
Coming to Tulsa in Aug. of '69 - I listened to KVOO every morning . It was MOR (middle of the road) and NBC. Vince Paul was the morning man - I believe followed by Jay Jones.
KVOO carried the Cards games and we had so many St. Louis escapees in the dorm at TU - you could hear the Cards games off radios from room-to-room in some hallways. LOYAL fans! (St. Louis was the parent team of the Tulsa Oilers in those years)
Wasn't Jack Cresse the long time KVOO Programming Director?
Does KVOO still broadcast in AM Stereo - they were one of the first, though the AM Stereo thing never caught on.
My home was one block east of the KVOO radio xmitter on 11th st.
Remember when KVOO radio went country/western? (about 1971) The first DJ was Billy Parker. He and a gang of C/W types held court at a cafe on, I think, 11th Street towards downtown. Anyone remember the name?
Every time I browse your site I get overwhelmed with thoughts about people and stations that were really great. There's very little here about KVOO, really the granddaddy of radio systems for the area. I came across a great picture of the news team at KVOO in 1976 and thought I'd share it along with the various people in the picture. If you or someone else can recall some additional information, I'd love to read it.
Next is Jack Campbell who had been with KVOO for years (long before it was Country). Jack hosted a show I used to listen to in the early 60s called "Sleepwalkers' Serenade", I believe. His professional delivery was the real heart of KVOO news.
Third is Ramona Huffman, who anchored at KOTV for several years before overseeing the construction and management of the broadcast facilities at Rogers State College. She has since passed away;
Fourth is Tom Moffit, who had come from KAKC news back in that station's hayday.
Fifth is News Director Alan Lambert who had previously done weather on KVOO-TV. After Ramona's death, Alan left KVOO and took the reins of the broadcast facilities at RSC. He also has hosted the "Big Band Saturday Night" program on KBEZ-FM.
Marti Coffman is next. Marti always gave each news report a smooth and dynamic delivery, the epitome of professionalism.
Seventh is Jack Moore who had been with KVOO since the '50's I believe. Jack was a man of many broadcast credentials. You'll even find him listed as the engineer on a number of music albums produced in Tulsa.
Eighth is Si Hawk. He left KVOO to be the first morning drive host for KBEZ and later went to KJRH for a number of years.
I remember Jack Moore well! I watched him record Charlie Daniels in the old master recording studio at KVOO on the second floor of Channel 2 (We called it KVOO Broadcast Center in those days.) Charlie was doing British rock in those days... before he went country.
Jack later joined us in news... we had quite a crew. We had one of the largest radio news staffs in Oklahoma history.
Jack gave a bunch to not only KVOO but certainly to the Tulsa Press Club and the Gridiron (his whole family has). Goodbye Jack Moore.
I just discovered the great KVOO page on this site. Memories and emotions keep flooding in. I worked in Tulsa during the mid 70s at KTOW, KGOW, KXXO, KMOD (I was on the very first staff hired when SA Broadcasting turned it back on doing album-oriented rock. I worked 12 mid-6 am on weekends. I think Ted Terry did the graveyard during the week. Jim Smyrl was their first PD), and KVOO. Then in the late 70s/early 80s at KTFX before moving to Oklahoma City where I worked at KOMA (1999-2001) with the likes of Danny Williams, Kent Jones, Ronnie Kaye and Fred Hendrickson.
I saw the Big Country news team picture in front of the news vehicles with Alan Lambert and the rest of his news gang. That picture was taken when I was on the air at KVOO. Many of those guys did the news on my show. I worked the 3-7 pm shift. I can't believe I was a part of that great station in its heyday! Looking back now, I can see what an honor that really has come to be.
I was there only for a year or so. But I thought you might want to know. So here is who was on in 1976 when that news team picture was taken as I remember. I am not remembering who was on the am and mid-morning shifts very well though. So, I might have the am shifts off a little since I didn't have to be at the station for my shift until 12 noon and it has been 32 years ago too. But I believe the jock line-up at the time I was there (1975-1976) was:
Jack Fox (am drive), Jay Jones (mid-mornings), Barry Robb (afternoon drive 3-7 pm), Ralph Everly (evenings 7-12 mid), and Billy Parker's All Night Road Show (12 mid-5 am). I think that's right, but I do know the afternoon and night line-up is right.
Favorite Tulsa TV show or personality: Beally Pahkah (as the English DJ on KVOO would pronounce him)
Jack Moore was a class gent, and KVOO was pound-for-pound the best radio newsroom in town in the late '70's, no small praise when you consider the calibre of KRMG in the days of Jim Back, Ed Brocksmith and Don Cummins.
KVOO in the Big Country Days would have put a commercial or promotion of personal appearances in front of the Bagsby Bros. "Talahina Hula"--a nifty piece of steel git work that makes me smile every time I play the (legally downloaded) mp3. Can't wait for the "abum" to be released.
I was listening to a tape of a Cain's Ballroom remote from 1957-58. Bob Wills
had come back to Tulsa and had merged his band with his brother Johnnie Lee.
Johnny Ryan was working the remote and at the and of one the segments,
an announcer back at the studio says -- "This is KVOO Tulsa - Oil Capitol
of The World".
Knowing that most of you think and talk about me a lot, I am prompted by this talk of K-V-O-O to make a confession. I know some have been waiting for it.
For the 1948 Central "KVOO Days," I was assigned noon broadcast of Johnnie Lee Wills from Cain's. It was, of course, live. Some of you know and most have heard, that a live "goof" became history. Done and lost forever. I had several live breaks selling something or other that adorned lots of "simulated diamonds." I, however, pronounced it each time as "stimulated diamonds."
Later I excused my mistake with "simulated": "SIMULATED!? I never heard of the word 'simulated' and I don't know anyone who has!!" It was just my luck to say that to my old friend Jim Ruddle, who, of course, replied, "I have," and then proceeded to give me the proper definition. I haven't spoken to him since.
Radio stations, particularly the big heritage ones like KVOO, built up a lot of connection with their communities over the years; and even with migration of audience to FM, there's a sense of loss when one of these blowtorches has to wither from a business sense from what it was.
The greatest part of the audience mostly doesn't care, but for many listeners dating back even to the days when KVOO was a voice you could ride all the way to the Texas line by day and much farther by night, the sadness is very real indeed.
While it would be probably fiscally impossible to have KVOO soldier on as a music station, serving a shrinking population that isn't likely to grow under the best of circumstances, there's still a little hole in the ether around 1170, amongst the syndicated talk stuff. Sounds odd to say, especially for a town like Tulsa that prides itself on being able to re-invent, tear down, and build up again, but Evolution is sometimes much overrated.
...I miss KVOO-AM, it was my father's favorite station and we used to have "radio wars" in the car when I was teenager. My brother and I would badger him to tune it to KELi or KAKC for a couple minutes and it never failed that my father would flip-flip-flip it back to 1170.
Carl Gregory lamented the lost archives of KVOO-AM Radio; as did I some time back concerning all the Rare and Lost Monday night broadcasts of the Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra. I do know that the President of the local Musicians Union (Tubby Young, at that time) had posssession of them. You wouldn't believe the talent roster over the years. Wouldn't those be a find?
I am really sad to see Big Country 1170 KVOO gone. In my Mom and Dad's old house, they had an intercom with an AM/FM dial indicator radio in it. After 40+ years of being dialed into KVOO, it would not pick up any other stations. I miss this station very much.