Friday, June 24, 2016

Houston Radio: KCOH Adds HD2 Simulcast

Texas' first Black radio station KCOH has completed a sometimes-bumpy migration over to FM HD radio after over six decades on the other side of the dial. The station has been broadcasting locally since 1953, first on 1430 AM and then on 1230 AM.

KCOH 1230 AM (1 Kw) Red=Local Coverage
According to, the move to FM follows the sale of the station to Ben Hall, the Houston attorney who ran for mayor last year. Hall had been hosting his own show, the Ben Hall Legal Hour, when the station announced it was experiencing financial trouble in late 2014. During the transition to FM, KCOH went online-only for several months; in the shuffle, beloved longtime hosts like Wash Allen, Michael Harris and Don Samuel left KCOH, and the future of the historic station was uncertain.

The move to Cox Media's KKBQ 92.9 FM-HD2, which allows the station a wider broadcasting range and therefore a wider listener base, was not initially met with the enthusiasm the staff had expected. A lot of that had to do, station manager and morning host Jeri Beasley says, with their longtime elderly listeners not quite understanding how to access their favorite programs.

KKBQ 92.9 FM (100 Kw)
“A lot of our older listeners didn’t understand what HD radio was; they wanted to know, ‘Why do we have to change?’” Beasley says. “It took a lot of explaining. We taught them how to access the channel and we showed them how to download the mobile app. We asked them to come down to the station and bring their phones, which caused its own problems, with people bringing up their old Jitterbug phones,” Beasley chuckles.

Beasley says the station bought HD radios for some elderly listeners and taught others how to access the station’s website, which live-streams the DJs as they’re on air. After months of door-knocking and otherwise getting the word out, Beasley says the station is stronger than ever.

“We are the station that gives the community a voice. There aren’t very many stations anymore that let the listeners call in and talk to actual DJs and say what they want to say, to state their case,” Beasley says. “We want people to know they have not lost their voice. As a matter of fact, it’s been enhanced, and they can hear it clearer than ever.”

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