KONO-AM 86 TRIBUTE
San Antonio’s One and Oldies Station
© 2009 by JEFF R. LONTO
“A South Texas legend for more than 60 years. Our call letters are KONO, San Antonio’s One and Oldies Station.”
In the summer of 1987 I spent a month in San Antonio, Texas living it up with my bachelor uncle. Being at a crossroads in my life, I strongly considered moving there permanently.
Along with enjoying the hot weather and gorgeous Latinas that populated the city, I found a great radio station, KONO-AM 860 or “Kono-86,” that reminded me a lot of my old much-missed hometown favorite, WWTC-1280 “The Golden Rock of Minneapolis-St. Paul.” ’TC had changed formats several times by 1987 and I was pleased to find a true personality-driven AM oldies station in San Antonio. I found I could even call the “Kono Phono” and talk to the DJ on the air, just as I had with WWTC some five years earlier. I figured if I moved to San Antonio permanently, I’d send aircheck tapes and contact information of some of my old WWTC buddies to KONO and see if they’d hire them. How cool it would be to relocate and bring a favorite DJ or two with me. Ultimately I did not move there, however, and I’m not aware of any former WWTC jocks that went to KONO or vice-versa.
KONO was a heritage radio station that dated back to the 1920s when radio was in its early stages. For a time there was also a KONO-TV in San Antonio, ABC affiliate Channel 12 (later KSAT). In the sixties and seventies KONO Radio was a top-40 powerhouse, battling it out with cross-town rival KTSA at 550 on the dial.
By the eighties, when I visited, they were doing what they used to do, as “San Antonio’s One and Oldies Station,” even using similar call letter jingles to the ones they used in the sixties. In addition to the familiar hit records from the 50s, 60s and 70s, the station played some rather obscure tunes including regional hits from San Antonio groups, just as WWTC played regional hits from Twin Cities groups. One bit of local gold I especially enjoyed hearing on KONO during my visit was “No Time For You” by the Commands, a record dating back to 1966. WWTC should have played that one. The station also featured San Antonio native Augie Meyers (formerly of the Sir Douglas Quintet) introducing his then-current local hit, “Kep Pa So,” as “the KONO national anthem.”
KONO Radio lives on in San Antonio on FM 101.1, with a simulcast on the old AM 860 frequency. The oldies aren't quite as old anymore, sample artists featured on the station's Facebook page include the Bee Gees (disco era), Donna Summer and Michael Jackson. No Commands, Sir Douglas Quintet or even Beatles. The station does pay homage to its AM top-40 past, however, having brought back the KONO Top Dog mascot from the sixties in recent years, and featuring scans of old "Top Dog Surveys" and snapshots of its "Alamobile" remote broadcast facility from the early 1970s. But true oldies and genuine disc jockeys are a lot harder to come by anywhere on corporate radio today.
I did tape KONO during my 1987 visit and present here the airchecks I recorded. The music has been “scoped” (edited) for technical reasons but you get a good idea of the variety that was played. Disc jockeys, call letter jingles and commercials were left in tact. Hear how an oldies station should sound.
“Wild Bill” Reilly KONO July 23, 1987
“Wild Bill” Reilly KONO July 25, 1987
David Roberts KONO July 26, 1987
Article ©2009 STUDIO Z•7 PUBLISHING