KGBC is down the tubes, again.
I was disappointed, but not surprised that Julian Arango and Siga Broadcasting were unable to succeed with the revival of the radio station as a source of local news and entertainment in Galveston.
I was surprised at the lease of the station’s airwaves to the People’s Republic of China, however; and wonder how many United States-operated radio stations are on the air in the Communist nation.
I worked at KGBC for a total of nine years during the 1980s and ‘90s. It was a remarkable experience. Vandy Anderson and I, along with an eclectic staff, had a really good time providing reliable, listenable information to an appreciative audience. I am currently working to process archived recordings of those years for broadcast on GuidryNews.com.
When I arrived in Galveston in 1984, there were two major radio stations, KGBC and KILE. There was also an FM station that had been KGBC-FM until it was sold a few years earlier, but it never amounted to much.
In Between Magazine was also publishing cutting edge news and the local cable television operator provided a daily newscast. In addition, KHOU-TV Channel 11 in Houston, which first broadcast from Galveston, had a fully staffed bureau on the island. Of course, there was also the Galveston County Daily News.
Throughout the years however, first one and then the others, except the GCDN, faded into history.
When I married Lynda in 1996 and we started Guidry News Service, we toyed with the idea of making a bid for the purchase of KGBC. However it was obvious that the advertising base that had supported the radio station during its glory years had withered away. The sale of the station to Siga and the total elimination of the local news operation was the final straw.
The new owners, as they have now done again, first leased air time on the station to others. In the ‘90s it was leased to a Roman Catholic concern, which broadcast in English and Spanish.
In fairness, the owners did sell air time to allow broadcast of some local football games and at least twice offered free use of the station to the City of Galveston during major hurricanes. On both occasions, Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas declined the offer.
The paucity of local news in Galveston provided a fertile market for the establishment of Guidry News Service, which has since expanded to more than four counties on the Texas Gulf Coast, so far.
When Arango contacted Guidry News Service in early 2009, seeking our participation in the programming of a revived KGBC, we were supportive, but not interested. At that time we were preparing for the move of our headquarters to Houston.
Arango was enthusiastic about local programming, but had no apparent plans to generate new advertising revenue; and it was obvious that the effort would fail. He did succeed in reestablishing a listenable radio station, which many people especially enjoyed because there were few commercials.
There was one successful bit of programming which will survive KGBC however: The Electric Theatre Radio Hour by George Douglas Lee and his wife Brenda, which originates as a “podcast” on George’s website, georgedouglaslee.com. George worked for Guidry News Service in the past as managing editor of Gulf Coast E-news, which is where Lynda and I learned of his unique talents as an entertainer.
Details are being worked out, but Guidry News Service plans to co-host The Electric Theatre Radio Hour on GuidryNews.com, The Online News Station.
“It’ll feature comedy, music, interviews, taking calls featuring great moments in Galveston History that nobody’s heard of, much like my old column and comedy/music shows,” Lee said in an announcement on his website. “Brenda will host a portion called Food, Glorious Food! where she will interview Houston-Galveston area restaurateurs and food-related businesses.”
Lynda and I are eager to make The Electric Theatre Radio hour a Webio feature on The Online News Station.
Stay tuned for details.