Runaway Radio 101 KLOL documentary VOD video on demand

Great Day Houston features Runaway Radio

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Great Day Houston host Deborah Duncan discusses the new “Runaway Radio” documentary with Rock 101 KLOL founder/first program director Pat Fant and first-time filmmaker Mike McGuff.

You can watch Fant in the “Runaway Radio” documentary, now streaming and available on DVD. In addition to Fant and other radio stars, “Runaway Radio” features ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill, Lyle Lovett, Sammy Hagar, Melissa Etheridge, Doug Pinnick and Carmine Appice.

The nearly 10-minute KHOU 11 interview discusses how Houston’s 101 KLOL, like many radio stations around the country, introduced rock music to the FM dial in 1970.

“Well, what happened is the music changed,” Fant said on Great Day Houston. “In 1969 and 70, Summer of Love just happened. Vietnam War was going on. I mean, things were different and the music went with it. So we went with the music. And the Jones family had the great foresight to say, we want a radio station that does that what you’re doing, doing the Flower Power Hour over on the AM station. Come over to KLOL, sign it on, be the first program director and play this new music. So Led Zeppelin and Janis Joplin and all these bands that were just tearing it up, and people loved hearing it, and it was so different than the top 40 radio.”

The crazy world of 101 KLOL in the Rice Hotel
What music was KLOL playing in 1971?

The conversation touches on the evolution of KLOL and the broader changes in the radio industry. In the mid-90s, music trends and station ownership shifts led to significant transformations, including Fant’s transition to start a new station, 107.5 The Buzz. This period also marked the decline of traditional rock radio due to corporate consolidation and changing listener demographics.

Great Day Houston

McGuff, who directed the documentary, explains how working on the project was therapeutic for him following the deaths of his parents. Delving into old footage and photos helped him reconnect with his past and provided a creative outlet for his grief.

“I kind of see it almost as three stories because it is about KLOL, but it’s also about Houston and how much Houston changed all those decades, how it just grew and grew and changed into the city we know today,” McGuff told Duncan. “And also it kind of shows ZZ Top and KLOL started at the same time. So that’s kind of the b-plot, in a way, is how you see both of them come online in 1970 and change as the 80s came and a new decade, things were going to be different. ZZ Top changed and the way they did music and became kind of an MTV darling band. And KLOL, well, really changed from that kind of hippie progressive station into this, you know, rock and roll bigger-than-life juggernaut it became.”

“These were very imaginative people, very imaginative,” Fant told the Great Day Houston host. “And the collection. I’m proud of the people that we pulled together to put that station on the air. And from 83 to 95, we really owned the town. It was great fun. But things were things were so different. I never thought that when I dropped that needle on the record, 50 years later, people would be in a movie theater watching a film about what we did. It’s flattering to think that people still care about a radio station that has been effectively off the air for 20 years.”

Speaking of the station’s rock format signing off Houston radio in 2004, Duncan equates it to the closing of Astroworld just a year later in 2005.