Thursday, April 24, 2014

Music From The Tower Building Part 1

The story of KMMK, Little Rock's first FM station, intersects with the
KAAY story in two different ways. First, KMMK later became KEZQ/KLPQ,
KAAY's FM outlet. Second, the KMMK studio and transmitter site became
KAAY and KLPQ's relay point from the Cottondale Lane studios to both
Wrightsville and Shinall Mountain.

For those of you who are keeping score, here is the progression of
call letters: KMMK, KRAA (by 1969); KEZQ (by 1973, bought by KAAY
9/1/1976); KLPQ (by 1980, bought by KLRA - Signal Media 4/30/1985),
KHLT (by 1986); and now KKPT (by 1995). These approximate dates are
derived from the Broadcasting Yearbooks that are online at

KMMK began broadcasting on October 26, 1961, from The Tower Building
at 4th & Center Streets, which was then the tallest building in
Arkansas. The Tower Building was built by future Governor Winthrop
Rockefeller, who maintained offices on the 18th floor until he was
elected Governor in 1966. KMMK was located on the 17th floor and its
antenna was mounted on a mast on the south side of the building.

KMMK was founded by Oscar Alagood, a former KTHS sales manager who
later became a newscaster for KATV-7. KMMK advertised that it played
uninterrupted 33 1/3 LP albums. KMMK was monaural at first and
converted to stereo a few years later. At the top of the hour, the
station ID was "KMMK FM, Dial 94.1 in Little Rock." The half-hour ID
was "KMMK FM. Music from The Tower Building in Little Rock." KMMK
didn't run many commercials and its primary purpose was to carry Mr.
Alagood's MUZAK franchise on the SCA subchannel.

Before long, The Tower Building was no longer the tallest building in
downtown Little Rock, which severely limited KMMK's coverage in
several directions. In 1969, Mr. Alagood sold KMMK to Mr. J.C.
Stallings, owner of a successful AM-FM combo in Nacodoches, Texas, who
changed the call letters to KRAA (as in KRAAdio). Mr. Alagood soon
moved MUZAK to KARK-FM (later KKYK). In 1973, Bernie Mann, owner of
KALO-1250, bought KRAA, changed the call letters to KEZQ, and
installed a transmitter at Shinall Mountain, while keeping The Tower
Building transmitter as a backup. Both of these facilities were
inherited by KAAY when it bought KEZQ in 1976.

The Worthen Bank Building was a block south of The Tower Building and
a law firm on its upper floors wase directly in the aperture of the
KMMK antenna. When the KMMK site was in use, the law firms
dictaphones wouldn't work. The law firm complained to the FCC and was
told that they didn't have a case because KMMK was there first. 
Because Tom Rusk was available to me on Wednesday afternoons, we often
used the auxiliary transmitter on those afternoons and thereby played
havoc at the law firm. I specifically deny doing this on purpose.

In Part 2, I will tell some of the story about the KAAY/KLPQ relay
from The Tower Building.

Hollis Duncan

1 comment:

  1. Heard about the bad weather you're having down there this evening. Hope everything is fine where you are.

    You're friends in Canada.