Community upset with sale and format change of Houston's KCOH radio, the oldest station in Texas

November 14, 2012 6:02:24 PM PST
One of Houston's longest running radio stations is being sold, and it is facing a format change. It's a move that's upsetting workers as well as listeners. KCOH radio has been a part of Houston since 1953, and has been a pillar for the African-American community.

This radio station has been a part of this community for nearly six decades. And listeners we talked say for the city of Houston to lose it now, that's a huge deal.

At KCOH radio, its veteran talk show hosts are trying to give the appearance of business as usual in studio. But in the front office it's a different story.

Word this week about the sale of this historic station in Houston's Third Ward now has phone lines ringing off the hook.

"The phone has been blowing up. Everybody wants to know when did this happen. And they thought that we were going to be around for a while. But I guess not," said secretary Jacqueline Viola.

KCOH hit the airwaves in 1953. It's known as the oldest black radio station in Texas and the southern U.S. Most of its staff's been here for decades.

"We knew something was going to happen. We were hoping that someone in our community would have stepped up and purchased KCOH. Unfortunately, it didn't happen," said Don Samuel with KCOH.

The hosts and DJs say they found out KCOH was purchased by Guadalupe Radio Network. It's a Midland-based company owned and operated by La Promisa Foundation. Its website says it plans to change 1430AM's urban talk, sports and music format to Catholic radio.

"KCOH is like a pillar in the community, and they've always kept it real, told the real stories, kept it true to life and that's what I like," said listener Kay Shaw.

Word about the sale has faithful listeners at neighboring Althea's Soul Food upset. Workers and customers here say they've depended on 1430AM for years.

"What we need, and what we need to hear, is not said on other stations. So that's what we'll be missing," Shaw said.

Back in the radio station, staff says it hopes the community never forgets the memorable moments they tried to bring each day.

"The most important thing was trying to inform people -- educate, entertain, inform -- and we've done that I think," said talk show host Michael Harris.

No one from Guadalupe Radio Network has returned our calls Wednesday. Its website says it plans to begin broadcasting here in February next year. Many members of the small staff at KCOH says they're still trying to work out what they'll do next.


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