Rock 101 KLOL Comes Barreling Back as an Internet Station
A few weeks back a blog post by Houston media watcher Mike McGuff tipped us off to the sorta-rebirth of Rock 101 KLOL, in Internet-radio form. Immediately the site went viral and was bogged down with fans clamoring to hear and see what the fuss was about and relive a part of Houston radio history.
The man behind the site is Heath Bilbrey, a former club DJ and currently an in-demand IT director. He's building the KLOL site on his own, though he has been in sporadic contact with the on-air talent from the rock station's old days, most of whom are still in broadcasting in the Houston area. Recently the online station began airing old bits from the Stevens & Pruett morning shows, to the delight of old-school fans.
With the format change over on 103.7 FM such a big topic last week, I reached out to Bilbrey to rap with him about starting an online rock station with such a legacy and pedigree that comes with KLOL's infamous bad-boy name.
Rocks Off: What can you say about the state of rock radio in Houston?
Heath Bilbrey: I think terrestrial radio is in its final death throes due to way too much corporate interference. I would bet that most, if not all, of the people making decisions even listen to rock music. They are simply out of touch with the rock community in Houston, or any city for that matter.
I keep hearing people saying it is because the demographics have changed and I just do not believe that. I mean the fact that the Arbitron Ratings are little more than guessing tells me they have no idea what they are talking about. At least with an Internet radio station, you know exactly how many are tuned and where they are geographically.
RO: Tell me more about KLOL as it is now online.
HB: What you are listening to is a test-stream only, and is automated. The music selection is there, but "Mother" our automated DJ, cannot hold a candle to a real DJ who loves music. The creativity of the DJ in regards to comedy bits, and the type of music he plays, is restricted in the corporate-owned radio station.
Once live DJs start playing their own lists, and reporting on music news and making jokes, the product will be much better even though it sounds pretty good right now.
RO: So there will soon be a flesh-and-blood component to KLOL?
HB: In a world where we all have our own music collections, personal players in our cars, on our person, why would anyone want to listen to a terrestrial radio station? The answer is simple: It is the connection people share with the personalities that work for that station.
Of course the kind of music you play is important also, but not as much as the people who are behind the mike, and I feel that is something that has suffered since the turn of the century.