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Houston Retro Radio

silhouette of arrow sign with water in background

The anamorphic arrow above is adapted from a slide shot in Galveston in 1980. The arrow, which pointed to the 61st Street fishing pier, is no longer there. Hurricane Alicia may have destroyed it in 1983. This arrow image is the emblem for all of The Vasthead web pages.

Dallas TV reporter in Galveston, 1980

Above:December, 6, 1980. A Dallas TV reporter on the Galveston seawall while covering the 1980 Dickens on The Strand.

Below: The Galveston Seawall at dusk, December, 1980. This time exposure was shot on a tripod set up just across the street from Jo Jo's Restaurant (now a Denny's). The tallest building on a pier is the Flagship Hotel, built in 1965.

Above: Freeway Manor Park, Houston suburbia, June, 1964.

Below: Clear Lake, January, 1984. Click image for a wider view.

Marker 17, Clear Lake, 1984

I took this picture with Kodachrome 25.. To shoot in that light with that film is to put yourself under a handicap.

It was a Saturday in January, 1984, and a typical winter day for the Houston area: Humid and cool, but not really that cold.

I took this shot from a moving paddle wheel boat on Clear Lake. A wedding ceremony just ending, I had the urge to step outside. With my large Sunpak flash still charged, I shot this entirely on impulse as I spotted the "17" marker.

The flash seems to have been just enough to brighten up the number and separate it from its drab surroundings. There is not much other color, but if you look carefully, there is an American flag flying in the distant background.

Grady McAllister

Revised December 14, 2012.


Light tower in Galveston


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Below: JollyChic British Style Pu Montage Hollow Designer Tees


Below: December, 1980. The Buccaneer Hotel, one of the historic landmarks in Galveston. Built in 1929, it was demolished on New Years Day, 1999.

Disco 23

Above: In 1980, the Last Days of Disco had begun


This item appeared in 2010. As of 2017, local radio was back on KGBC.

Galveston's KGBC Leased Out to China-Based Media Conglomerate...

Galveston County Daily News, January 5, 2010:

GALVESTON — Unable to dial in enough financial support from advertisers, owners of KGBC radio have leased all the station’s airtime to one of China’s state-owned media companies, ending a yearlong effort at local programming.

The sudden format switch killed local shows and surprised and disappointed loyal listeners and a few advertisers.

People who tuned into 1540 AM on Jan. 1 expecting classic rock and local talk instead got Asian music and political forums, along with an array of unfamiliar programming.

I used to listen to Paul Harvey on KGBC when it was a true Galveston station. I would usually keep listening through all the local news. As you have probably noticed, Galveston is prominently presented throughout my web site.

This Radio China International programming will be aimed at all of the Houston area, not just Galveston. That is what always happens when an outlying station adopts a highly specialized format.

I can think of two other local Galveston stations that are now long gone, KILE and KUFO. The old KGBC will be remembered as the last Galveston station to program to a diverse local audience.

There are some who will hail any Asian station as a Triumph of Diversity. If Diversity is what you seek, you need look no further than Galveston Island itself. That is the audience which is no longer being served.

Now you will get the kind of China programming that used to require a short wave radio.  It comes at this price: The elimination of local programming in Texas' most famous medium sized city.

It's bad enough to have local programming usurped in favor of syndication, but it is something else entirely to simply sell out to the highest bidder, particularly when that bidder is a foreign government.

Does Galveston have a licensed radio station so that all off metropolitan Houston can be lectured on the need for censorship in China? Responding to the recent dispute with Google, Radio China International stated that censorship is to maintain the "stability" of China and the "mental health of its people." I actually heard that while driving in Houston, listening to the new AM 1540.

Grady McAllister



PLUS suburbia


Houston Retro Radio is hosted as part of VASTHEAD.COM.

The Vasthead also includes The Galveston Arrow, a site featuring news, weather, tourism, and photography for the Galveston area.

Galveston's KILE Radio in the 1960's

Darrell Hendrix was a B.O.I. ("Born on the Island") KILE announcer in the late 60's. Darrell mailed us his own 1969 airchecks already organized into mp3 files. They arrived from Nebraska, a state where hurricanes hardly happen.

By the way, 1969 was also the year when Glen Campbell and songwriter Jimmy Webb looked at Galveston and catapulted its name into a top ten hit.

My guess is that the first aircheck was recorded on June 13, 1969, since it was the only Friday the 13th that year.

KILE, Galveston, 1969, Darrell Hendrix, Part 1

KILE, Galveston, 1969, Darrell Hendrix, Part 2

KILE, Galveston, 1969, Darrell Hendrix, Part 3

Check out Darrell's Galveston Radio Stations page on Facebook.

More KILE air checks

KILE,Galveston, July 5, 1961, Paul Williams

KILE, Galveston, July, 12, 1966, Tom Nathan Tyler

A local station for Clear Lake City: Girl DJ's and all that jazz

KMSC, Clear Lake City - Houston, August 17, 1968

This aircheck features Linda Allen. I never talked to her personally, but she was one of several obscure DJ's I heard during the pre-dawn hours that particular summer.

Who was Linda Allen? I doubt that was the exact form of her name on her birth certificate. Even in 1968, it was unlikely that a woman working the all night show -- probably alone -- at a suburban radio station would have used her real name.

Of all the FM stations, I tended to give extra attention to KMSC. Located in Clear Lake City near NASA, it was in my part of the Houston area. I visited the studio on at least one occasion while still in my teens. I tended to think of it as a local station for southeast Harris County and the bay area.

As this aircheck indicates, KMSC played up its proximity to the space program: "Overlooking NASA's Manned Spacecraft Center from luxurious studios..." That also explained the call letters.

John "Shorty" Powers, the NASA voice for early manned space launches, held an interest in the station at one point. When I was about 16, I called the station, and Powers picked up the phone. That was when I first learned that it is not all that hard to meet a celebrity.

This 1968 recording was made at a time when I only listened occasionally. Jazz is not my strong suit, and I actually listened much more during its early history, 1965 and 1966.

At that time, KMSC sounded more like a cross between KXYZ and KQUE. The staff included KXYZ veteran Jeff Thompson, all night man Hert Porter, Gordon Bassham (who I knew later at the University of Houston), folk music aficionado Jim Bell, and Bob Elton, a DJ who became station manager during its Jazz Age. All the while, much was made of the NASA connection, and KMSC even staged its own "real time" coverage of manned space launches.

KBTL ha a very specialized format

KBTL, Texas City, September 7, 1983-1

KBTL, Texas City, September 7, 1983-2

Roger Reini sent this material from Michigan.

Houston Retro Radio is hosted as part of VASTHEAD.COM.

You can also access these pages by going to

Added April 16, 2010

Remembering Richard Dobbyn

KBRZ, Freeport, 1974, Richard Dobbyn

Ken Tyner sent this material from Freeport, Texas...

Grady, I was in Houston today getting my car serviced, and I left a message on your voice mail.

I went by Bill Young's studio in Sugar Land and they were kind enough to transfer (from cassette) a voice over Richard Dobbyn did for me back in 1974. I got them to make me, Bill and YOU an extra copy. So, write me back and let me know where to send it and I will mail it to you.

The reel-to-reel kept fading in and out and could not be transferred. Anyway, at least I have this for you and will be glad to let you have it.

Regards, Ken Tyner

Thanks to Ken Tyner for sharing this material. This is the first new, previously unpublished, radio station recording I have received in almost two years.

I never met Dobbyn myself, but my memory of him goes back further than most people. I was just twelve years old, and I used to listen to him doing a two man DJ show on KXYZ.

Most people remember him from a later period when he did news on KILT and on KIKK.

On my news and talk radio page, you hear Richard Dobbyn, then news director at KILT, covering the Kennedy assassination as a hard breaking story.

There is also a gory KIKK aircheck in which Dobbyn talks about a rape victim's throat cut "ear to ear."

This site has a recording of Richard Dobbyn late in his career. You hear him doing news on a 1991 KNUZ aircheck with Bob Edwards (Bob Parker).

Below: The Galveston Strand Historical District, March 13, 2010.

The Galveston Strand Historical District, March 13, 2010