Runaway Radio 101 KLOL documentary VOD video on demand

KISS Kasket connection to “Runaway Radio” documentary

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Pat Fant, the founding father of 101 KLOL, not only signed on to the legendary Houston rock station but also created the KISS Kasket.

You can see Fant in the “Runaway Radio” documentary, which is now streaming and available on DVD. Also starring top music artists such Dusty Hill (ZZ Top), Lyle Lovett, Sammy Hagar, Melissa Etheridge, Doug Pinnick and Carmine Appice.

Fant appeared on the KISS Podcast “Three Sides of the Coin” with hosts Michael Brandvold, Tommy Sommers, and Mark Cicchini to discuss how he came up with the idea of the KISS Kasket and his dealings with singer and bassist Gene Simmons.

“This is the ultimate KISS collectible,” Simmons was quoted on the KISS Online sales page back then. “I love livin’, but this makes the alternative look pretty damn good.”

A general manager of radio stations in Houston and Dallas, Fant conceived the idea of using vinyl wraps, similar to those used on station vans, to create themed caskets. He envisioned designs for various interests, including military branches and sports.

Launched in April 1998 with partner Dennis Sternitzky, despite challenges, particularly with licensing for college-themed caskets (although they did sell to Texas A&M Aggies), the company was called White Light. The company sold caskets in April of 1999 directly to consumers for $2,900.

Initially, 30 designs were available, including “Fairway to Heaven” for golfers and a NASCAR-themed “The Race is Over.”

Race Is Over casket

“I didn’t intend to be in the casket business,” Fant told the KISS fan podcast. “It was a severe career change at the time. I was a radio station general manager in Houston and Dallas. I had big, big radio stations that I was running that made a lot of money. And the Telecommunications Act of 1996 came in and turned radio on its head. So I wound up being punished, and I had to live in Dallas for six years. And so I was up there running a couple of radio stations, Q102 [KTXQ-FM] and something else. And, uh, anyway, this idea came to me, and in radio, one of the stations that I put on in Houston, The Buzz [KTBZ-FM] we used to have ‘honk if you own us bumper stickers,’ because we had four owners in two years, so it didn’t really matter anymore. It was it was getting crazy. So I thought, well, hell, I’m just going to make a business out of putting art on caskets.”

KISS Kasket

The venture gained significant traction by creating a KISS Kasket targeting fans of the rock band KISS.

Building on his existing relationship with Gene Simmons, Fant and his team crafted a casket adorned with KISS imagery, unveiled at Licensing 2001 International at Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. The marketing strategy was as unique as the product itself. The Kasket could also be used as a cooler for beer at events, a move that resonated with fans and sparked their curiosity.

“If you make a KISS Kasket, KISS fans are going to buy it,” Fant recalled. “So I started conversation with Gene Simmons and we had a relationship with him anyway because he used to come to Houston to our Rock and Roll Auction, but that, KLOL did here for so many years. So we start talking about what could we do with a KISS Kasket? We decided that, number one, you do not have to be dead to buy one of these, because that would that would just be delayed reward. So why not own the Kasket now? He and I met at License 2000, in New York in 2000. And it was an event that unveiled the KISS Kasket and he had the girls all lined up to come in and, and they were serving long necks out of the lid of the Kasket that they put a bus tub in there and fill it with ice, put long necks in it. So people were going crazy for this. We thought, man, this is going to work. And it did. We sold a lot of them.”

“The idea was a little bit morbid,” Simmons told MTV at the trade show in 2001. “Obviously, caskets are all about death, and they’re not reusable. It’s a no-deposit, no-return policy. So I came up with the bright notion that if death was so awful, why not celebrate life? In other words, why not have a daily use for the caskets? Why not watch your favorite ball game on TV, invite your friends over and open the Kasket to get a drink?”

With “KISS Forever” and images of the band imprinted on the Kasket, Simmons and singer/guitarist Paul Stanley would sign a death certificate of authenticity. A signed Kasket cost $4,700.00

The Kasket made international news and was even used to bury Panetera guitarist Dimebag Darrell, in 2004.

Gene Simmons unveils the KISS Kasket, then called the KISS Coffin in 2001