Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 11, Number 1, Spring, 1999 Page: 28
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actually involved three stations, WBAP, WFAA
and KGKO, which was owned jointly by the StarTelegram
and the Morning News. The September
8, 1940, edition of the Morning News announced
the pact: "Newspaper and radio history of the
Southwest will have another and notable chapter
Sunday, when The Dallas Morning News and the
Fort Worth Star-Telegram begin sharing in the
operation of three radio stations on two frequencies.
At 8 A.M. Sunday, the two newspapers start
joint operation of KGKO on 570 kilocycles and
continue sharing the 8oo-kilocycle channel
between WFAA and WBAP."
The News continued: "The addition of 50
percent of KGKO to the radio properties of The
News will mean that the staff of WFAA will
originate or 'feed,' programs 18 hours daily on
two frequencies, 570 and 800 kilocycles, instead
of nine hours on one frequency as before."
KGKO was a 5,ooo watt station in the daytime,
and I,ooo watts at night, later upgraded to 5,ooo
watts full-time.28 While KGKO maintained a
sales staff, and its own transmitter, antenna and
engineers,29 its on-the-air identity was virtually
consumed by WBAP and WFAA, and on April
27, 1947, the FCC officially "deleted" the KGKO
A half-page WFAA ad in the sports section
of The Dallas Morning News trumpeted the
change: "KGKO left the air last night... only the
call letters at 5-7-0 are being altered, there will be
no change in programs formerly heard on KGKO
... WFAA and WBAP: The Nation's Only Stations
That [each] Can Boast of: I Station, 2 Frequencies,
3 Networks (NBC, ABC and the old
Texas Quality Network). "31
Here's how the two stations divided the daytime
hours on each frequency, as outlined in a i947
contract signed by E. M. (Ted) Dealey, G. B.
Dealey's son and by then president of the Belo
Corporation, and Amon G. Carter, president of
5 A.M.-5:30 A.M.: WBAP, 570; WFAA, 820
5:30 A.M.-7 A.M.: WBAP, 820; WFAA, 570
7 A.M.-8:30 A.M.: WBAP, 570; WFAA, 820
8:30 A.M.-IO:30 A.M.: WBAP, 820; WFAA,
10:30 A.M.-I2:30 P.M.: WBAP, 570; WFAA,
I2:30 P.M.-3 P.M.: WBAP, 820; WFAA, 570
3 P.M.-5:30 P.M.: WBAP, 570; WFAA, 820
The stations made two more switches during
the evening hours, making a total of nine per day
at that time. On Sunday, the stations switched
frequencies four times.
Don Easterwood, an engineer at WFAA,
says the channel changes were not hard to do. "It
was fairly easy," he recalled. "The studio announcer
for WFAA would hit a gong and the guy at
WBAP would ring a cowbell. And the guy at the
transmitter would flip a switch. The same thing
had to happen simultaneously on both stations.
Occasionally, the announcer would forget and
give the wrong frequency."33 Clarence Bruyere,
another long-time WFAA engineer, says sometimes
the WFAA announcer would forget to take
his chimes into the studio, and would have no
choice but to warble, "Gong!" when the time
came to make the switch.34
The cowbell station that became so identified
with WBAP (a cowbell still appears on the station's
website history page) was almost certainly
the innovation of the ubiquitous Hough, the station's
most identifiable air personality in the I920S
and I930S. A long 1949 history of the station in the
Star- Telegram referred to Hough as "the cowbelljangling
Hired Hand," and, indeed, while making
numerous allusions to Hough, mentioned no
other WBAP performers. WBAP claimed its
cowbell jangle was U.S. broadcasting's first
"memory signal," with other examples being train
whistles, bird twitterings and sirens.35 Lee Banks,
a disc jockey for WFAA in the mid-Ig60s, recalls,
"I swear I could hear the echo of that (WBAP)
cowbell still ringing as we made the switch."36
When Southwest Conference football games
on the Humble Network were on either station,
the procedure was more complicated. Rather than
invoke the wrath of rabid Texas football fans by
cutting off the legendary Kern Tips or one of the
other play-by-play announcers in the middle of a
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Dallas Historical Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 11, Number 1, Spring, 1999, periodical, 1999; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35102/m1/30/: accessed November 26, 2020), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.