KRBE

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KRBE
104.1 KRBE logo.
City of licenseHouston, Texas
Broadcast areaGreater Houston
Branding104.1 KRBE
Slogan"Houston's #1 Hit of Today's Music Station"
Frequency104.1 MHz (also on HD Radio)
104.1 HD-2 The True Oldies Channel
Formally KHJK simulcast
First air dateNovember 8, 1959
FormatTop 40 (CHR)
ERP92,180 watts
HAAT585 meters
ClassC
Facility ID35524
Transmitter coordinates29°34′34″N 95°30′36″W / 29.57611°N 95.51000°W / 29.57611; -95.51000
Callsign meaningKirby (in reference to studios formerly located on Kirby Drive), Keys to Radio Broadcast Excellence (backronym)
OwnerCumulus Media
(Susquehanna Radio Corp.)
WebcastListen Live
WebsiteKRBE-FM
 
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KRBE
104.1 KRBE logo.
City of licenseHouston, Texas
Broadcast areaGreater Houston
Branding104.1 KRBE
Slogan"Houston's #1 Hit of Today's Music Station"
Frequency104.1 MHz (also on HD Radio)
104.1 HD-2 The True Oldies Channel
Formally KHJK simulcast
First air dateNovember 8, 1959
FormatTop 40 (CHR)
ERP92,180 watts
HAAT585 meters
ClassC
Facility ID35524
Transmitter coordinates29°34′34″N 95°30′36″W / 29.57611°N 95.51000°W / 29.57611; -95.51000
Callsign meaningKirby (in reference to studios formerly located on Kirby Drive), Keys to Radio Broadcast Excellence (backronym)
OwnerCumulus Media
(Susquehanna Radio Corp.)
WebcastListen Live
WebsiteKRBE-FM

KRBE (104.1 KRBE), is a Top 40 (CHR) radio station based in Houston, Texas, United States. The studios located in Suite 700 of the Chase building at 9801 Westheimer Road in the Westchase District in western Houston.[1][2] The transmitter facilities located in Missouri City. The call letters are a reference to the station's former studio location on Kirby Drive, but were at one point expanded to mean "the Keys to Radio Broadcast Excellence." KRBE is owned and operated by Cumulus Media.

History[edit source | edit]

Early days[edit source | edit]

At 6pm on November 8, 1959, KRBE signed on at 104.1 FM as a classical station and continued as such into the late 1960s, when it flipped for the first time to top 40. The call letters are from the acronym "Key to Radio Broadcast Excellence."

KRBE beats KILT & flips Houston to FM[edit source | edit]

In the mid-1970s, KRBE took on the moniker of "Bump & Boogie" and developed a danceable "Rock 40" format. The studios were located on Kirby Lane above the ACCA recording studios. At this time, it was owned by General Cinema Corporation (GCC). Bob Fauser (Sales Manager at WNBC) became the General Manager. Clay Gish (Now known as Gishele Gish following SRS) became the program director in 1974 and launched a legendary run that lasted until 1980. Mike Krehel (KSAQ San Antonio & KBEQ Kansas City) became the Chief Engineer during that time and gave KRBE its "Flame Thrower" Signature Sound. 104 KRBE's disc jockeys during the mid to late 1970s included Kenny Miles "Miles in the Morning", Matt "The Man the Mighty" Quinn (KILT & KCBQ during the Last Contest), Roger W.W.W. Garrett, July 12, 1972- early 1980s (currently at KORA in Bryan, Tx), Dwight "Shotgun" Cook (now at Soundworks.com), The Original Rock'n Roll Wizard (Ron Haney, now in El Paso), Tom Rivers (Tom "Rivers" Yarbrough died in the U.S. Virgin Islands September 29, 2011). During this period, 104 KRBE became the first American FM top-40 station in a large market to flip the market from "am" to "fm", beating the legendary KILT 12+ in Arbitron. KRBE was ranked "station of the year" by Bobby Poe magazine, and in 1979 was named Major Market Rock Station of the Year and Clay Gish was chosen Major Market Rock Program Director of the year by Bilboard Magazine. In 1975 KRBE moved from Kirby Lane to showcase state-of-the-art studios in the Caldwell Banker Building overlooking Interstate 610 at Westheimer across from The Galleria. Around this time, KRBE was purchased by Lake Huron Broadcasting.

In the late 1970s, KRBE billed itself under one of two nicknames, "Super Rock 104 KRBE" or "Houston's Super Rock", playing a mixture of top 40 and rock hits. Disc jockeys included Barry Kaye (KILT & KHJ), CC McCartney KILT,KKBQ,KIMN/Denver; moved into the country arena in Nashville @ WSIX where he was nominated 4 times by the CMA as Radio Personality of the Year in 1989, 1996, 1997 and 1998. Inducted into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame in 2008. Now owns CC McCartney Voice Imaging in Nashville., Roger W.W.W. Garrett, Matt "The Man the Mighty" Quinn, The Catfish (XEROK & KILT), Jon Kelly (Jeff Low, currently a paramedic in Katy), Dayna Steele (now a speaker and author at www.daynasteele.com) and Bunny Taylor (KRBE's first female DJ, who is now an artist living in Pasadena, California using her real name, Faith Taylor). In 1981, KRBE flipped to an Adult Contemporary format as "FM 104 KRBE".

Rivalry with KKBQ[edit source | edit]

In late 1982, top 40 KKBQ-AM (which had signed on in July of that year) moved to FM with great success. To counter KKBQ in the Arbitron ratings books, KRBE relaunched as "Hot Hits 104 KRBE" with a contemporary hits radio (CHR) format in the mid-summer of 1985. Not too long after, KRBE dropped the "Hot Hits" slogan to become "Power 104". Both stations remained head to head throughout the remainder of the 1980s. In November 1986, Dallas-based Susquehanna Radio purchased KRBE and KENR 1070 AM, now known as KNTH.

In 1987, KRBE took a lean towards a dance friendly/top 40 format with evening weekend studio mixshows, from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m, known as "The Friday & Saturday Night Power Mix". KKBQ matched it with its own mixshows aptly titled "Club 93Q". By the end of 1987, DJ Scott Sparks had been hired from Y-95 in Dallas to prop up the night show with a Dance/Pop heavy sound. The new dance lean had built so much momentum that KRBE had to top 93Q again and it did on the night of January 9, 1988, when it launched "The Saturday Night Power Mix Live from The Ocean Club", which was billed as Houston's first live four-hour (and later, six-hour) mixshow from a nightclub. On Sunday, May 29, 1988, KKBQ launched its first live nightclub broadcast, "93Q Live On The Cutting Edge" from Club 6400, a club that played a mix of industrial, new wave and goth music; no top 40 was allowed. While KRBE's show was a little more radio friendly, it was first to play some of the music 6400 was spinning, and turned out to be an instant success.

KRBE responded to KKBQ's 6400 Sunday nights with an in-studio mixshow called "Sunday Night Power Tracks" that specialized in "rare and obscure" imported dance music, mixed by the Ocean Club's Tim Flanigan.

"Hits Without the Hype"[edit source | edit]

KRBE and KKBQ continued their top 40 rivalry (including mix-shows from various Houston nightclubs) until 1991, when the top 40 format was showing signs of wear due to the rise of popularity of grunge rock and hip hop. Under Program Director Steve Wyrostok, who was recruited from Susquehanna Radio sister station WAPW in Atlanta, KRBE stripped to a generic "no frills" top 40 format, in which the station dropped "lazer FX" sound effects, and did away with voice announcers. In addition, DJs were asked to stop screaming and rap was pulled from its playlists. Even the "Power" moniker of the 1980s was gone.

KRBE was rebranded as 104 KRBE, "Hits Without the Hype", using liners like "No Rap, No Screaming DJs". KKBQ remained on its same course for a short time after, but eventually flipped to an "easy country" format on September 19, 1991, after a brief period in which it programmed a rock-oriented top 40 mix as a stunt.

"the Beat"[edit source | edit]

Despite its new "no frills" approach, KRBE continued to offer dance music through its live club mixshows with the launch of "the Beat" started by DJ Rich, which aired from 1994–2002 and was mixed by some of the top local DJs in the Houston area, such as DJ Rich (now DJ RIDDLER), and DJ Mark D (Delange). The mixshows were broadcast from premier nightclub venues in Houston such as Shelter from 1994 to 1995, Kaboom from 1995 to 1996, and The Roxy from 1996 until its last broadcast in 2002. "the Beat" enabled KRBE to gain a worldwide audience when the station began streaming the on-air audio through its website in the late 1990s, thus billing itself "The World Famous 104 KRBE". The name "the Beat" was chosen to derail 106.5 KQQK's widely-speculated plans to change format from Regional Mexican to Top 40 as "106.5 the Beat", which would have put them in direct competition with KRBE. (It is also speculated KRBE used the "Wild" and "Channel" monikers on its Friday night mixshows for the same reason.)

"The New Music Zone"[edit source | edit]

From 1992-1994, the station aired "The New Music Zone", an alternative music show that typically aired weeknights from 7 p.m. to midnight. In the mid-1990s, around 1995-1996, the station's playlist as a whole had a pronounced alternative lean, but it eventually drifted back towards mainstream CHR. In 1996, program director Tom Poleman and air talents Paul "Cubby" Bryant and Ryan Chase left KRBE for similar positions with CHR/pop WHTZ/New York City, which had also leaned in an alternative direction for a time. Ryan Chase would eventually return to KRBE ten years later.

"Wire In"[edit source | edit]

In late 1996, KRBE evolved back into a mainstream direction that also featured a significant amount of 1980s pop, presented during the week as "Retro Cuts" and highlighted with "Retro Weekends" roughly once a month. The re-emergence of pop music in the late 1990s, along with the success of Sam Malone's morning show, brought KRBE success in the late 1990s and into the early 2000s.

KRBE today[edit source | edit]

On October 31, 2005, Susquehanna announced it had reached an agreement to sell its radio assets, including KRBE, to a partnership including Cumulus Media (which also owns Houston radio stations KIOL-FM (103.7) and KFNC-FM (97.5)) as well as Bain Capital, Blackstone Group and Thomas H. Lee Partners. The deal was expected to be completed in the first half of 2006. After the purchase, KRBE quietly changed its logo from "104 KRBE" to "104.1 KRBE", a technically more accurate description of the station.

KRBE has evolved to an adult-oriented Top 40 (similar to co-owned station WWWQ in Atlanta) under Cumulus ownership.[citation needed] In late January 2006, KRBE launched its digital HD signal. Its HD2 signal, from late 2007 until June 2012, simulcasted KHJK. After KHJK's sale to EMF Broadcasting in June 2012, KRBE's HD2 signal changed to Oldies music from the True Oldies Channel.[3] The HD3 signal is still undetermined, but it's speculated to be either a Contemporary Christian station or an Urban Contemporary station.

Morning show shake-up[edit source | edit]

In March 2005, long time morning show host Sam Malone announced that he was leaving the station for a position at KTRH. Malone was replaced by afternoon host Atom Smasher. On July 7, 2006, morning radio show personalities Atom Smasher and Maria Todd were let go immediately following the Friday show. Cumulus Media said it was taking the morning show (as well as the station) in a new direction and needed a show that widely appealed to the entire Houston market and a team that knew the city and its people. The same day, longtime DJ Scott Sparks exited KRBE after nearly 20 years to begin mornings at classic hits station KLDE (now KGLK) (107.5 FM), reuniting Sparks with former KRBE program director and morning show DJ Paul Christy. Atom Smasher is now at WSTO in Evansville, Indiana. Maria Todd moved to do the morning show at KMVQ, a rhythmic station in San Francisco, but as of February 22, 2010, Todd moved back to Houston for a morning show on KHMX "Mix 965" with KKHH "Hot 957's" Brad Booker, who had been previously been doing the morning show at KKHH.

On July 13, 2006, it was announced that "The Roula and Ryan Show", which previously aired on hot adult contemporary rival KHMX, would return to Houston airwaves on KRBE. The team, which relaunched their show on July 24, 2006, consists of Roula Christie and Ryan Chase, real name Ryan Berrigan,[4] the latter of whom returned to KRBE after a ten-year absence, along with Eric Rowe, who goes by the name "Producer Eric". Ironically, Roula also returned to KRBE after a six-year absence. She was paired with the aforementioned Atom Smasher from 1998-2000 on the 6-10pm shift.

Competitors[edit source | edit]

KRBE has spawned numerous competitors over the years. Currently, its main competitors are CBS Radio's rhythmic-leaning Top 40 (CHR) KKHH HOT 95-7 and Hot AC KHMX Mix 96.5. KRBE's other competitor are Urban KBXX 97-9 The Box, and Modern Rock KTBZ 94.5 The Buzz to a lesser extent.

Moniker history[edit source | edit]

Former personalities & DJs[edit source | edit]

References[edit source | edit]

Further reading[edit source | edit]

External links[edit source | edit]