KXOK (defunct)

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KXOK (630 AM) was a radio station in St. Louis, Missouri, which helped pioneer the Top 40 radio format in the early-1950s. But long before that, it was the subject of a prolonged legal battle in the mid-1930s, which nearly prevented it from going on the air at all. [1]

In its heyday as a top-40 station, KXOK broadcast on the 630 kHz frequency with 5,000 watts of power and reached a substantial portion of eastern Missouri and southern Illinois during daytime hours. At night, the power was 5,000 watts as well, but with a more directional signal, sending a strong signal into the immediate St. Louis metro area, from KXOK's three tower site just outside Granite City, Illinois.

Early history[edit]

In 1935, Elzey Roberts, publisher of the St. Louis Star-Times, applied for a license to put a new radio station on the air. He already owned station KFRU in Columbia, MO, and wanted a station in the larger St. Louis market. But his license request was challenged by two other stations in the market, KSD and WIL; the legal battle dragged on until late 1937, when the court granted Roberts' request and the FCC assigned the KXOK call letters. WIL decided to appeal, but in late March 1938, they lost. KXOK was given permission to begin building the new station. [2] New General Manager Ray V. Hamilton announced the station would be dedicated in mid-August 1938, but there were further delays in building it. [3] KXOK finally made its debut on September 19, 1938. Allen Franklin was the first Program Director; he came from station WLW in Cincinnati. Among the air staff was Paul Aurandt, who came there from KOMA in Oklahoma City-- he would later become famous as Paul Harvey. [4] KXOK began its life at 1250 kc and was affiliated with the Mutual Network. But on October 26, 1940, it moved to the 630 location on the AM dial, and became affiliated with NBC Blue (later called the Blue Network). [5] Elzey Robert continued to own the station until 1954, when his son Elzey Roberts Jr. and an associate, Chester L. Thomas, took it over.

Change of ownership[edit]

In early November 1960, the station changed hands, when Roberts and Thomas sold the station to Robert and Todd Storz, for the sum of $1.5 million. [6] The station changed format not long after to a new Top 40 sound. Nicknamed "The Sound and the Spirit of St. Louis" and "The Fun Spot," KXOK was one of several stations owned by Todd Storz as part of the Storz family of stations (other stations in the group included WHB across the state in Kansas City, WQAM in Miami, WTIX in New Orleans, KOMA in Oklahoma City, and WDGY in Minneapolis-St. Paul). During the mid-60's KXOK was one of the two dominant radio stations in the St. Louis market, along with KMOX. KXOK was so successful during this period, that its Top 40 competitor, WIL (AM 1430) dropped pop music in 1967, and switched to country music. [1]

Top 40 DJs[edit]

A number of legendary air personalities graced the KXOK airwaves during the station's glory years, including Ed Bonner, Ray Otis, Bill Addison, Mort Crowley, Danny Dark, Ron Elz aka Johnny Rabbitt, Shad O'Shea, William A. Hopkins, Don Pietromonaco aka Johnny Rabbitt, Don Shafer, Delcia Devon, Louise Harrison Caldwell (George Harrison's sister), Lou Cooley, Davey O'Donnell, Peter Martin, Keith Morris, Richard Ward Fatherley and Bob Shannon.

Other outstanding personalities of the 1970s included Jerry Butler, Mason Lee Dixon, Jack Mindy, Craig Roberts and Scott Sherwood. The news staff included veteran reporters Bob Shea, Robert R. Lynn and Steven B. Stevens. It was under the leadership of Station Operations Manager Bud Connell and program directors Ray Otis and Mort Crowley that KXOK became one of the highest-rated stations in the country.

It was quite common for the DJs such as Rabbitt and Otis to travel to various teen venues with their specially selected escort bands to gage their audiences' interest in music and to make personal contact with their fans. The KXOK Sound Waves of Centralia, IL were a fan favorite featuring members Ron Bousman, Mike Atchison, Greg Flanigan, Tommy Lee, and Joey Rhodes. Rhodes went on to become a Nashville recording artist and songwriter.

Many of the station's DJ's over the years went on to successful careers as national talk show hosts, television news anchors, actors and nationally known freelance talent. Danny Dark became the Voice of NBC-TV, a post he held for an entire generation. Craig Roberts is still working as a national television voice actor and announcer and is still heard locally in St Louis as the "voice" of ABC 30.

End of an era[edit]

With the departure of key air talents and the advent of Top 40 music on FM, most notably from KSLQ (now known as KYKY), KXOK went through several format changes starting in circa 1979. The music format ended in April 1983, including talk and oldies. KXOK went to an all-news format in 1989, calling itself "All News 630". As of March 2008, KZQZ in St. Louis is referring to itself as the new KXOK, playing an oldies format.

Other uses[edit]

The call letters are also used for a low-power television station, KXOK-LD in Enid, Oklahoma. The 630 kHz frequency in St. Louis was used by KJSL, a Christian talk radio station since the sale of the station in 1994 until 2013

"Jumpin' Joe" Madigan, an oldies DJ from Cleveland produces a special one-hour edition "Retro Radio" tribute to KXOK and other Top 40 stations from the 1960s on The Oldies Super Highway,an online station. Madigan also hosts a live version of his program on Saturday afternoons on the online stream of the website of WJCU a campus FM station in the Cleveland area.

The frequency today[edit]

The 630 AM frequency in St. Louis today is used by KYFI, a Christian talk station under different ownership from KJSL which had preceded it.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Radio Is Not a Public Utility, U.S. Appellate Court Holds," Broadcasting Magazine, December 15, 1937, p. 27.
  2. ^ Sun-Times Gets Station as Supreme Court Rules," Broadcasting, April 1, 1938, p. 26.
  3. ^ "New St. Louis Station KXOK To Be Dedicated by Stat-Times in August," Broadcasting, June 15, 1938, p. 42.
  4. ^ "KXOK in St. Louis to Debut September 19," Broadcasting, September 15, 1938, p. 26.
  5. ^ Promotion Drive for KXOK Shift," Broadcasting, December 1, 1940, p. 74.
  6. ^ "Changing Hands," Broadcasting, November 14, 1960, p. 62.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]