KILT-FM (100.3 FM) is a Houston, Texas-based radio station with a country music format. It is owned by CBS Radio, and its studios are in Greenway Plaza. Its transmitter is located in Missouri City, Texas. It is a sister station of KILT, which is located at 610 kHz, also in Houston.

History

Gordon McLendon signed on 100.3 in 1961 as the sister station to KILT 610. The station originally had the call letters KOST and carried an easy listening format. The call letters were changed to KZAP in November 1967, shortly before McLendon sold his Houston properties to LIN Broadcasting (McLendon moved the KOST call letters to his property in Los Angeles.) Upon assuming control of KZAP in 1968, LIN quickly changed the call letters to KILT-FM. In the early 1970s, KILT-FM adopted a free-form progressive rock format (while "The Big 610" KILT continued with its long-running Top 40 format), and went by the slogan "Radio Montrose", named for the neighborhood in which the station's studios were located. By 1974, the station evolved to a more structured album rock format as "FM 100".

KILT-FM changed to country in January 1981.[2] When KILT AM switched to country as well in June 1981, its long-running Hudson and Harrigan morning show remained and began to be simulcast on KILT-FM. From its debut in 1967 through 1995, the Hudson and Harrigan morning show had eleven different sets of personalities occupying the personas of Mac Hudson and Irv Harrigan. Ken Hoffmann of the Houston Chronicle described Hudson and Harrigan as "the longest-running, most successful morning team anywhere in America".[2] However, that run finally ended when KILT announced the show's termination on March 23, 2010. Fred Olson and Randy Hames, who hosted as Hudson and Harrigan for the last 28 years, were released, and the airstaff show assignments readjusted.[3]

After switching to the country music format, KILT competed directly against KIKK, the only other country music station in the Houston Area. According to the Houston Chronicle, "after initial success, KILT struggled through an aborted change of call letters [KXAS-FM in 1984] and the lack of a strong identity with listeners".[4] In the spring of 1989, KILT finally pulled ahead of KIKK in the Arbitron ratings. They maintained their lead position for the next two seasons, and at the end of the year Radio and Records rated KILT as the second most-listened-to country radio station in the United States, with an estimated 542,600 listeners tuned in for at least 15 minutes each week. KIKK was fourth on the nationwide list, with an estimated 508,700 listeners.[4] KILT serves as a co-flagship radio station of the Houston Texans, along with their AM sister station.

On January 10, 2013, at 5 PM, the station relaunched as "The Bull @ 100.3". The station shifted its playlist to include more current and recurrent music. The final song on "100.3 KILT" was "Give It All We Got Tonight" by George Strait, while the first song on "The Bull" was "Drink in My Hand" by Eric Church.[5]

Ownership changes

KILT had been owned by LIN Broadcasting Corporation since 1968.[6] In an effort to divest itself of all of its radio stations, in late 1986, LIN Broadcasting Corporation sold KILT-FM and KILT-AM to Legacy Broadcasting Inc. for $36.75 million.[7] Less than three years later, KILT was sold, along with seven other radio stations, by Metropolitan-Legacy to Westinghouse Broadcasting. At the time, the $360 million deal was considered the largest ever in radio. To meet federal regulations on radio ownership, Westinghouse sold their Houston station KODA-FM.[8]

In 1993, Westinghouse purchased KILT's rival, KIKK. At the time, KILT was first in the Arbitron ratings, with KIKK second in the Houston market. A single general manager was assigned to run both stations. According to Dan Mason, president of Westinghouse Radio Broadcasting, "'As they have been fierce competitors in the past, our two Houston radio properties will now join hands to create one of Houston's most unique country music powerhouses, each with its own programming and sales team.'"[9] On November 4, 2002, KIKK stopped playing country music and switched to a Smooth Jazz format. This left KILT as again one of only two Houston country stations (competing against KKBQ-FM). Some of the KIKK promotions, including the 10 Man Jam concerts, were moved to KILT.[10]

KILT was the last Houston radio station to maintain a full-service news department. The department was disbanded in 2004 when KILT decided to drop its afternoon newscasts in the hopes of improving its ratings in the Houston market.[11]

Award nominations

In 1996, KILT was nominated by the Country Music Association for the award for Major Market Radio Station of the Year. They were beaten out by local rival KKBQ-FM.[12] A similar scenario occurred the following year, when KILT was nominated for Best Station of the Year at the Billboard/Airplay Monitor Radio Awards, but again lost to KKBQ-FM.[13] In 1999, the morning show Hudson and Harrigan was nominated for Country Music Association Major Market Broadcast Personality of the Year.[14]

In 1996, after two prior nominations for the award, KILT's Hudson and Harrigan morning show (featuring Olson and Hames) won the Marconi Award for Major Market Radio Personalities of the Year.

Station rivalry

In recent years, KILT's biggest rival, KKBQ-FM, has shown Arbitron ratings strength comparable with KILT, and the two have often exchanged between first and second place among country stations in some demographics.

Besides involving themselves in a ratings war with KILT, KKBQ-FM has also poked fun at the station for its supposed airing of "the most commercials" in Houston compared with KKBQ-FM, which claims to air the most music of any radio station in Houston. In return, some KILT listeners, and even musicians whose songs are given airplay on KILT, have lauded KILT for not "badmouthing" other stations.