On Saturday, June 30, a historical marker will be unveiled at the Longhorn Museum, preserving the memory of a local legend— Radio Station KBOP. I had the good fortune to play a part in that story.
I also was lucky enough to spend some time with a creator of this radio station—Dr. Ben Parker. Early in my time in Atascosa County I visited the Longhorn Museum the first time, and Dr. Parker personally told me how the museum came to be. A few years later I learned of his role—along with his wife, Mona—in bringing KBOP to Atascosa County, with Mona as its engineer. Ben and Mona were also the force behind the creation of the museum.
My broadcast “career” has had several high points, and I am glad to include KBOP as one of the best of them. I had worked in radio off and on since high school and on a visit to the KBOP studio, was told about the origins of KBOP by its then-owner, Bubba Reding. Bubba also hired me practically on the spot to be a part time newsman for the station.
Ben and Mona Parker started the radio station in the early 1950s. KBOP’s music was country, and many famous people were associated with the station, including—of course—Willie Nelson. Like most radio stations of the day, KBOP was an AM station, frequency 1380 KHz. Most radio stations were AM, partly because most radios sold were AM-only.
But nationwide the AM band became so cluttered few licenses were available for new stations and the electronics industry began making most radios both AM and FM, so more FM stations went on the air—allowing the radio broadcast industry some muchneeded expansion, along with stereo multiplexing capability.
KBOP eventually added FM, 98.3 MHz, and this became its most popular programming channel. I was with the station from 1989 pretty much until the station—in its last incarnation—was sold. When I started, KBOP broadcast in Spanish on AM and played country music on FM. It eventually became KBUC FM 98.3, later 95.7, until it too was sold, ending that era. I was honored to be there until the end.
I guess that makes me legendary, too.
WARREN DOMKE is a columnist for the Pleasanton Express.