The KAZZ-Sonobeat Connection

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

The KAZZ hit lists

KAZZ's first hit list, the Fun Fifty, issued on October 24, 1964; KAZZ owner Monroe Lopez advertises his Big Four Restaurantes Mexicanos on the back, which covers the cost of printing and distributing the hit list
Inspired by Star Trek's flip-open "communicator", KAZZ's next hit lists are top folds that flip open; showing front and back (left) and interior (the bottom panel is used for different promotional purposes each week)
The third hit list design, also a top-fold
The fourth hit list design, the last in the top fold series

KAZZ-FM began publishing its "hit list" – in direct competition with the weekly top 40 list published by Austin's dominant AM station, KNOW – in October 1964, only three weeks after KAZZ began programming rock music. KAZZ's hit list was initially a survey of the 50 top-selling rock songs, compiled by averaging the Hot 100 Billboard list and the Top Pop Cash Box list with telephone surveys KAZZ conducted with the top four or five record outlets in Austin, including J. R. Reed, The Record Shop, and the Sage record department. Over the hit list's 2-1/2 year run, there were a succession of eleven different designs and formats.

The hit list began as a 3-1/2" x 8-1/2" one-sheet, then morphed into a 3-1/2" x 5-3/4" top fold. Next, the hit list shifted into an 8-1/2" x 10-1/2" three-panel format (when folded, it was 3-1/2" x 8-1/2") that included the Fun Fifty, Jazz highlights, a folk music top 25, a pop top 25, the Showtime schedule, the 25 top country tunes, and special features.

The Starline Surveys

In November 1965, KAZZ began publishing the Starline Record Survey, a four-page 7" x 8-1/2" format that featured the Fun 40 + 10 (a restructuring of the previous Fun Fifty which was designed to compete with the KNOW (AM 1490) top 40 hit list but also feature ten newly released hot singles called the "Kay-Zee Klimbers"), Jazz Spotlights, Top Pop, Folk, Showtime, Country 10, Boss 40 R&B, and Debuts, along with a half-page of promotional material. With the advent of the double-fold, the back third featured photos of the KAZZ deejay's, or "The Bunch", provided courtesy of Austin's Neal Douglass Photography studio. Notably, every KAZZ hit list, except for that of the week of March 13-20, 1965, included an ad for KAZZ's owner's restaurants, known in Austin as the Big Four Restaurantes Mexicanos. Copies of the March 13-20, 1965, hit list featured a blank back page on which a sequential number was individually stamped. The number was used to determine winners in a KAZZ contest.

Rim Kelley, KAZZ's afternoon deejay, designed all the KAZZ survey covers using hand drawings, staff photos, staff sketches, and Letraset-style dry-transfer lettering. Photos of the KAZZ deejays were taken at Neal Douglass Photography in Austin. The cheerleader on the cover of the first Starline Record Survey was one of Rim's former classmates at Travis High School in Austin; she also was featured as a Kay-Zee Cutie in the April 17-23, 1965, issue of the Alive 95 Fun Fifty Hit List. Her photo also was taken by Neal Douglass. Rim went on to design most of the Sonobeat singles sleeves.

During the summer of 1966, the weekly four-page Starline Surveys featured cover caricatures of the principal KAZZ deejays drawn by local artist L. Santoya. Two versions of the "Dial 95" Starline exist: one featuring Stan Parks, Ruff Ruffin, Rim Kelley, Vic Randall, and Kirk Wilson, and a second in which Sam Hallman, returning from a sabbatical, replaced Vic Randall. When the deejay staff changed still again, station manager Bill Josey Sr. decided to go back to photographs of the deejays, which were less expensive than commissioning new caricatures by Santoya. At the same time the summer '66 Starline Survey premiered, Rim Kelley, who designed the survey covers, changed the Fun Forty to "K-Z's Hot 30", which reflected the amount of space available on the Starline Survey pages rather than a narrowing of KAZZ's rock playlist.

The final survey KAZZ issued was a 1966 retrospective, the Super Starline, which hit Austin record stores in mid-January 1967. Topping the 1966 charts were California Dreaming by the Mamas & Papas, the album Whipped Cream and Other Delights by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Hold On! I'm Coming! by Sam & Dave, and Nancy Whiskey by Austin folksingers Allen Damron (who also managed Austin's Chequered Flag folk club) and Carol Hedin.

When KAZZ shifted to its large format Starline Survey, it began a series of cartoons, including a series based on Paul Davis and John Jay's wacky late night on-air alter egos, Adventureman and Wonderboy.

The first of the tri-fold hit list designs; the interior features hit lists for each day part, and musical genre, on block-programmed KAZZ
The second tri-fold design, showing the back cover photos of "The Bunch", the KAZZ weekday deejay staff
The first four-page KAZZ Starline survey; the cover model is a former high school classmade of KAZZ deejay Rim Kelley
The interior spread of a typical Starline survey, with hit lists for the day parts and genres on block-programmed by KAZZ plus promotional material
The second Starline survey design
The third Starline survey design, now featuring deejay sketches by local Austin artist L. Santoya
The fourth Starline survey design, returning to photos of the KAZZ deejay staff (the newest, at the bottom is late night deejay Richard Grammon)
The final Starline survey, issued in January 1967, featured an eight-page recap of 1966's top 100 hits across all the genres featured on KAZZ-FM's various program blocks
Paul Davis and John Jay contribute a weekly comic that plays out some of their madcap late night deejay adventures via the Starline surveys
Still another comic installment of KAZZ's comic nighttime deejay duo