The KAZZ-Sonobeat Connection

How a tiny but groundbreaking Austin, Texas, FM station launched a record label

Fun and games

Claude Hall's article on KAZZ-FM in Billboard (June 21, 1965)
Austin American-Statesman newspaper ad for a KAZZ-FM remote broadcast from the Cinema Theater in Austin featuring hourly prizes (August 1965)

In his June 21, 1965, Radio-TV Programming column in record and radio trade journal Billboard, Claude Hall profiled KAZZ-FM's block programming. Although Sam Hallman was KAZZ's program director at the time, Claude Hall interviewed afternoon deejay Rim Kelley to prepare the article, since one focus was on KAZZ's broadcast of rock music, suggesting it to be a first for American FM radio at the time. Hall's Billboard story was probably the best national recognition KAZZ-FM ever received and may have influenced Claude Hall to review Sonobeat's first stereo 45 RPM releases in 1967. And KAZZ's live remote broadcasts from local night clubs were mentioned frequently in John Bustin's Austin Statesman newspaper amusements column.

Radio stations notoriously run contests and promotions of all kinds to woo listeners. KAZZ-FM was no exception. Here's an assortment of contests and promotions the station ran:

Kazoom! was a simple call-in competition on the Rim Kelley show for which tickets to The Cinema Theater in Capital Plaza were awarded.

P-Q (Personality Quiz), also on the Rim Kelley show, tested listeners' knowledge of rock artist, movie star, and radio and TV personality trivia.

The Fabulous Great 8 game, featuring as prizes gift certificates from Jim's Frontier (a local restaurant chain), Campus Corner (catering to University of Texas students), Sage (a local big box discount department store, similar to WalMart and Target), The Cinema Theater, J. R. Reed (then Austin's largest music store), and the Big Four Mexican restaurants. The grand prize was a Bulova AM-FM portable radio donated by regular station advertiser Valmon Jewelers. Individual numbers were stamped on the back of several thousand copies of KAZZ's March 13-20, 1965, Fun Fifty Hit List. Numbers were then randomly drawn to award the prizes during the Folkways program on March 18, 1965.

The Abominable Showman Contest, which required entrants to submit a drawing of the loveably gruff character who made regular appearances on the Rim Kelley show, was won by Mike Peal. Nick Kerpchar was runner-up. Unfortunately, we don't know what either won...

The April 17-23 KAZZ Fun Fifty Hit List promoted Shindig, a traveling music review based on the weekly TV variety show of the same name. Quoting from the Hit List: "It's gonna be a reallllly big show: Shindig, headed into Austin April 22 (that's Thursday!) will feature the biggest, best acts you've ever seen! Sue Thomson (Paper Tiger fame!) and the Hondell's (Little Honda!) are featured with the Newbeats (currently: The Birds Are For The Bees) and lots more. John Andrea, Jim Doval and the Gauchos, and special Shindig Guest, Roosevelt Grier! The Shindig dancers, singers, and band back up the all-star cast and entertain you April 22 (that's Thursday!) at 8 PM at the Municipal Auditorium. Get your tickets now and dig Shindig with KAZZ, Austin's #1 top 40 sound." We made it easy on your eyes: this entire promo was printed in ALL CAPS in the Hit List. And never mind all the hyperbole.

The KAZZ Christmas Coloring Book Contest featured 12 black and white pages of "scenes from a day in the life of KAZZ". The coloring book – actually a staple-bound booklet – was available alongside the KAZZ Starline Record Survey at record stores around Austin. Run during the 1965 Christmas season, the contest attracted a significant number of entries. The top prize was a portable transistor FM radio.

A homemade valentine contest ran in February 1966. In an odd act of gender bias, the contest was open to "girls only", who were invited in the February 7-13 Starline Survey to "Send your valentines to your favorite Kay-Zee Dee-Jay."

A tie-in with the Longhorn Jazz Festival, produced by KAZZ's original station manager, Rod Kennedy, ran in March and April 1966.

A Rolling Stones Aftermath album giveaway; the gimmick here was that the album was the British version. The winner had to submit a definition, explanation, or personal feeling about the Stones' music – in 25 words or less.

A giveaway of the weekly pick hit single on Kirk Wilson's Saturday morning rock program.

A random drawing from among Christmas cards KAZZ deejays received in December 1966; the winner was awarded "12 days of Christmas... actually, the winner's choice of any twelve record albums, from KAZZ".

Mike Peal's winning entry in the Abominable Snowman contest
KAZZ's homemade Valentine contest (yes, it was a different day and age in the '60s; no radio station today would get away with limiting a contest of this type to "girls only")
Although touted as "The 1st Annual" KAZZ Christmas coloring book, the first annual edition was also the last