Grego recalls Outlaw Radio origins
Head Outlaw Grego remembers the beginning of 101 KLOL’s night show Outlaw Radio
Until the 101 KLOL documentary is finished, we are lucky to get the Runaway Radio Rewind video podcast, brought to us by the KLOL staffers that were there.
This week, we’re taking a look at Grego, the first Head Outlaw on the AOR station’s popular 7 to 12am show, Outlaw Radio. His first time at KLOL was from 1989 to 1991 when Outlaw Radio was brand new.
Grego, who for the last eight years has been working as the voice behind CW39 KIAH’s NewsFix, talks to KLOL founding father Pat Fant, about how Outlaw Radio started and what made it so successful.
What follows is a portion of the transcript from Grego’s Runaway Radio Rewind interview taken from the podcast episodes #13 and #18 (both embedded below).
Grego comes to Houston
Grego: Now I was going to be the night guy doing 7:00 to midnight. And the thing about KLOL at that moment in time is even though I was a decent on air personality, you were compelled to step up and step onto the stage and be better than you knew you could be because you were working with people that were super talented big time radio personalities. And I learned from all of them.
Stevens and Pruett, Dayna Steele had her own thing going you know the the the music the First Lady of Rock. You know, Moby had his own niche if you will with the good ole boy public he served that role. Gregarious super successful having come from 97 Rock and his morning show. He was a big get for KLOL to have on afternoon drive even though I remember the days of the the back and forth the egos between Stevens and Pruett and Moby. There was a there was a competition there now. I’d like to say friendly but not always.
And then here I came to do seven to midnight. So I realized that you know you’re going to have to step up and be better than you’ve ever been. The station was on fire. KLOL always knew how to put its face onto the public. It threw big events. It gave away great prizes. It played the best music in town. It was by far the rock n roll leader in H-Town that everybody chased and wanted. You know it was trying to nip at its heels and it led the Houston listenership around from place to place with event to event with give away to give away from concert to concert.
It was just it was fantastic and and you know one of the things about KLOL is that you can’t be successful on your own. You have to have a great team and by that time, to your credit, and the Jones’, you had put together quite a team that KLOL, above all, was a very successful business and it was rockin and it was great to be there.
How Outlaw Radio started
Now as far as my part in that stage, I show up young guy to do nights and I start doing a night show and one day I get pulled into the office, the first of many times being pulled into the office, although this time wasn’t to be suspended or written up for any particular reason about what I had done on air. This was an idea session. And they said, “We have this idea to do a morning show at night.” And I looked at them, probably like a confused animal, head to the side. And they said, “We want to call it ‘Outlaw Radio.'” I said, “OK, what’s Outlaw Radio?”
And Doug Harris was there I remember and he said, “We don’t know what it is.”
They say, “But, you know, we’re thinking theater of the mind. You know a lot of attitude. You know a duster and a hat and boots.”
And I was kind of seeing it, but I didn’t know.
And again this was another point where I realized that if I’m going to do this, I’m going to have to step into a role that I don’t even know what it is, and step up and the way we left off was, “Well think about it. Let us know what you what you think you know if it’s something you might want to be able to do.”
So I took a day or two I think, it might have been on a weekend, and came back on the following Monday and said, “Yeah, I thought about it and I’m not really sure. Well the answer was well we’re doing it.”
Oh OK. Well I’m in.
What made Outlaw Radio so successful
Pat Fant: The images, say the whole KLOL persona on air, the secret was, one of the secrets, is that you play it out in visuals, graphics and images and that’s what the billboards were and all the images that portrayed Outlaw Radio visually gave it that support, and then you came in and paid it off on the air.
Grego: Yeah. Yeah it was yeah the mystique of it.
Pat Fant: That’s right because it was all mystique anyway. So you have to then live out the mystique between the records what you did when you were the first Outlaw.
Grego: Yes I was. And the show’s motto had a couple of mottos it was, “Outlaw Radio After Dark.” So that was the 7 to midnight show and then the other motto was, “Breaking all the rules.”
And I took that quite literally and began to be a rule breaker a lot. And I really enjoyed that part of the role. The impulsivity that was part of that show I would do whatever I wanted to do as the urge hit me. Some things were really great. Other things probably stunk, but we just tried it. We did whatever we wanted to do. But I made sure to include the listener. If you want to know in my mind looking back of what I believe the secret Outlaw Radio really was, is that I gave the audience ownership of the program. This was their show and the way I did that, I did that strategically by referring to me as “Grego The Head Outlaw.” I was the head outlaw.
When the phones would ring, and somebody would call, whatever their name was, it was so-and-so outlaw from the League City chapter of Outlaws. So people felt, I made everybody feel like, we’re all in this together and you’re representing this thing, and KLOL, where you are right now by blasting your stereo when I would launch into Led Zeppelin or whatever the latest hairband you know. So that was the secret of the magic was, we’re a group, we’re all outlaws. Who doesn’t want to be an outlaw?
How Houston radio listeners responded
Pat Fant: So the listeners, when you do events and you would meet the listener’s face to face, and the station did so many really big events and lots of weeklies sort of smaller events. What was that like? What what did the listeners say? How did they approach you and the rest of the air staff?
Grego: Well you know I have to tell you that I had never seen the level of fandom before in radio that I saw when I first came to Houston. And to be a part of KLOL. Of course we’re going back to the days before streaming and YouTube and phones that were smartphones, and you know if you wanted to listen to the radio you had a turn on FM or AM if you were one of the poor folks.
But that was those were your choices. So KLOL was, the people that were on KLOL, were really stars, really truly rock stars. And I’ll go back to the way that KLOL and the support staff promotionally presented those stars to the public.
You and your crew made stars out of people so when we would go out to public, and I recall very vividly one of the first appearances I did was at Cactus music on Shepherd. And I showed up there, and there was a crowd of people, and you had a stage for me to stand on. And I was signing autograph pictures of myself which I had never done before.
So the level of of of just superstardom that KLOL, and again it was KLOL, I just happened to be a part of it. I mean yeah, it was just incredible how people responded to you as a talent at KLOL and they still do today.
I read news now and I have done that for almost eight years. But people want to talk about KLOL. I remember you when you were on 101. 101 is legendary and always will be in Houston.