The crazy world of 101 KLOL in the Rice Hotel
The man who signed on KLOL, Pat Fant, talks about the early days of the legendary rock station. This is way before the AOR landed in Montrose where it remained for decades. When the FM rocker signed in 1970, it was located in the Rice Hotel in downtown Houston.
Here is a portion of the transcript of what Fant said in the first edition of Runaway Radio Rewind, a new video podcast put on by the KLOL staff that lived it. (listen for a classic Steven and Pruett Uncle Waldo in the video too):
August 7, 1970 we decided to play the first record at 6 p.m.
And I don’t know why, but you know why not 6 pm? So we played I’m free by The Who at six o’clock. I think I came on, I cracked the mic first and said something, not too inspired but something like, “Man, we’ve waited a long time for this and. We’re finally free at last.”
So it was adorable.
So off we go we were on the fifth floor of the Rice Hotel and many people said why did you originate KLOL from the Rice Hotel? It was because that’s where KTRH was housed. They were on the 6th and KLOL, people don’t know this, was actually, before it was KLOL, it was KTRH-FM. So KTRH they say means “Come to the Rice Hotel” was the callers what they stood for.
So there we were on five. The news room guys were on six. And were we a breath of not so fresh air when we walked in. Because they were used to doing the news. And so this crowd of freaks walks in and 1970, we were all 21-22 years old maybe. And we started playing rock n roll records. And it was something that they never experienced close up firsthand before. Oh it was fun. But you know they got to know us eventually they got comfortable with us. They knew that we had some sense and creativity and style of doing a fresh new approach to what was FM rock radio at the time. And so we got along great and they started coming up and doing newscasts and things for us.
Remember we would still do news on KLOL. When we when we put it on we had a news guy. And his name was Richard Greene. He was a Yale graduate and Richard Green’s goal in life was to never have to really work ever again. So he made sure that his graduate, I think it was in religions of the world was his degree. And he eventually did the smart thing and married a nurse so that he would be forever totally taken care of and not have to really work himself he could just sit at home and write you know more episodes of Magnetic North which was our story that we had going. It was great fun.
So that was the Rice Hotel setting. It was downtown Houston on Prairie at Travis I think. And the Houston Chronicle Building was directly across the street from the KLOL studios in the Rice Hotel. And the rooftop of the Rice Hotel annex was just at the right height. That if we went out stairs got in the stairwell went up to the roof and did whatever it was we did on the roof, the people looked out the window from the Chronicle and they could see everything we were doing. So, then that would appear in the paper from time to time that, You know, those hippies with KLOL were caught again. On the roof with their pipes and all that. So that was another running joke.
But, the Rice Hotel being the kind of setting that it was for this creative endeavor, people just would believe what that was like. I wish I could better communicate it because, for example, the morning show would order room service and the hotel guys would bring up the silver service and the you know the coffee and breakfast for three or however many.
And. And it just made for Such a comfortable environment. It wasn’t. It wasn’t anything like an office or even close. And. The control room for KLOL, the closet is about all it was it wasn’t much bigger, where we went on the air was a closet where they stored the Cokes on in case they stored cases of Cokes and stuff all stacked up water Cokes and think that’s what we found in there when we went into a kind of model and build it all out. And of course we eventually the legendary lock on the control room door that we had installed. The lock was on the inside not on the outside. So. When we’re in there we locked the door and you couldn’t get in. So. This led to more legendary stories of what goes on in there.