The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993 Page: 456
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Southwestern Hzstorzcal Quarterly
limited number of post-World War II studies of Texas. McLendon's story was
similar to that of many Texas wildcatters who rode a boom-and-bust cycle fol-
lowed by forays into the conservative side of Texas politics. The distinguishing
factor in this biography is the focus on McLendon's career and business history
with valuable insights into the rise and fall of his radio empire. Making exten-
sive use of McLendon's papers at the Texas Tech Southwest Collection, Garay's
study is a broader view of corporate wheelings and dealings and their impact
on popular culture in the mass communication era.
McLendon began his radio career recreating baseball and football games and
introduced'himself as the "Old Scotchman," a nickname he held for the rest of
his life (p. 19). The baseball game programming led to the formation of the
Liberty Broadcasting System, which spread to over 458 stations in less than
three years, making it the second-largest radio network in the nation. A pro-
tracted fight with major league baseball clubs resulted in numerous lawsuits
and financial bankruptcy for Liberty in 1953.
Following the loss of the network, McLendon returned to management of"
KLIF in Dallas, where he pioneered the "Top 40" radio, which was copied by
stations throughout the nation (p. 68). KLIF set precedents for news coverage,
translation and rebroadcast of Radio Moscow reports, and McLendon's edito-
rials. Expanding from KLIF, the McLendon broadcast system grew from the
Dallas station to twenty-six radio and television stations by the end of the 196os.
McLendon attempted to follow W. Lee O'Daniel in jumping from radio to
politics. The "Old Scotchman's" first foray was the 1964 Democratic primary,
in which he challenged incumbent U.S. Sen. Ralph Yarborough. McLendon,
despite his public support for civil rights, failed to endorse the 1964 Civil
Rights Act. According to Garay, the only other major issue was an unproved
allegation that Senator Yarborough received a $5o,ooo gift from Billy Sol Estes.
Ironically, Yarborough outfoxed McLendon at his own forte: media and pub-
licity. Garay's somewhat unsatisfactory conclusion that no explanation other
than ego exists for McLendon's entry into politics indicates the need for further
research and study in this area.
Ongoing conflicts with the FCC, changing consumer tastes, and a desire for
other ventures resulted in McLendon's complete departure from the radio
business by 1979. He died of cancer at age sixty-five in 1986. Garay's book
is an important contribution to a neglected field and will be useful to those
interested in business, media, popular culture, and Texas in the post-World
War II era.
University of Texas at Austzn
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 96, July 1992 - April, 1993, periodical, 1993; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101215/m1/514/: accessed May 27, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.