This website is all about my wonderful life
in the radio business and it starts out with
the best of all

Wonderful KBOX in BIG D

Mike Shannon has produced an absolutely amazing history of Dallas / Ft. Worth Radio
and if you got here from there you are very classy. I will try to measure up...
If you get bored here, just click below and we'll hustle you back to Mike.


Okay! It's KBOX StoryTime

In September of 1999,

I "retired" - and went looking for old friends

from the radio business whom I had not contacted since

I got out of radio in 1974. I found some from way back at KBOX.

Since then, I've been pecking away at my top forty RADIO Odyssey which

is a totally unfinished thing. But Mike Shannon thought you might like

to browse through this evolving saga which has a lot to do

with Wonderful KBOX - also called the

Dallas Tiger

NOTE: The are lots of surprises stretching down
this long page BUT the links to sounds and memorabilia stuff
don't work yet ...SO here's a little extra added stuff:

If you'd like you can now take a side trip to NYC
Big Dan Ingram will play you
some great old KBOX sounds
and you can see and hear
us gossip about KBOX
on WOR's

Joey Reynolds Show


Just keep scrolling and we'll send you to
New York later
in the show



My Top Forty

RADIO Odyssey

a slice of bygone top forty radio life from
Bob Whitney

Bob Whitney - 1999

We'd copied the Storz music format and
were simply


In 1947, I got into radio and had a normal life until I met up with top forty radio! In '58, I got a job as Deejay and Program Director of AM radio station KALL in Salt Lake City.
We had a great staff including Roger Barkley, Al "Jazzbeaux" Collins, Don Bruce, Chuck Benson, Don Shafer and, me...



..............WE WENT ...NUMBER ONE!!!






 Shortly, I got a letter from
McClendon's National PeeDee - Don Keyes.

 So...I did what he said
and sent a tape...

Big, famous outfit.

McClendon! Wow!!

Application form.

References checked

Plane Ticket to Houston to meet KILT GM,
Bill Weaver

This was BIG TIME !



Then...I met Stan Kaplan
As long as I knew Stan, I never found out exactly how this
happened. I was to change planes in Dallas, home of
KLIF and Balaban's KBOX. Kaplan worked for
Balaban (which included
WIL St. Louis, WRIT Milwaukee).
He was acting GM of KBOX (I think they had just fired the manager).

Big Stan's day job was National Sales Manager for Balaban out of St. Louis and he was John Box's top secret agent. (If you knew JB, you know there were secret agents all over the place.)

Stan drove out to Dallas Love Field. His mission: Get some programming help for KBOX.

I had no idea who he was; I had never heard of John Box, or KBOX for that matter. These guys have spies big time!

......Stan Kaplan - 1959


"You're Whitney, right?

"Name's Kaplan...Stan Kaplan. Balaban Broadcasting."

"Let me tell ya something, kid. It's really dumb to go to Houston. It's already what its ever gonna be - a hot buggy place. Big muggy pond...little teeny fish. Morning men in Houston are minnows. There are better things in life!"



John Box - 1959

"For example?"

"For example: you can come with me to St. Louis to meet JOHN BOX.

It'll change your life. You want real success? Follow me!
C'mon! I've got a ticket...."

Well, Top Forty was hot stuff in '58 & '59. And if you were a kid
from Salt Lake and your little station quickly topped the Hooper,
this sort of stuff might happen to you.

We stopped at the airport bar. (Clink)

Hey World! (super brag!) Meet a top forty
programming star about to burn big 'n bright?



Balaban's gonna buy a bunch of stations.  

Big markets! Ground floor!

Only a damn fool would refuse to burn bright
on the big ground floor right?

It was exciting and horrendously scary....

"I really gotta go meet Mr. Weaver in Houston, Mr. Kaplan.
But - if you're really serious - I'll fly from there to St. Louis."


 It was muggy and buggy in Houston.

Weaver was a nice man.

He acted like he wanted me to come on down to KILT.

He'd talk to Keyes.


    Stan Kaplan
met me in St. Louis.

Drove me around. Neat Big Town!

Played Jack Carney on WIL.

Put me up at a great hotel: the Coronado.

Glamor things are cookin' all over


  The station was downstairs.
Laughter was happening!
Music all around!
Big fun town!
Money, too!

































<...... John Box was a very BIG guy. Two thousand dollar suits.

<...... When he shoots his cuffs, you duck.

Red phone in his top drawer. His driver waits in the limo.

<...... Two or three built-in bars in his
BIG office.

<...... Talks without opening his mouth very far.

<...... "Harriet, get Mr. Whitney another scotch"

<...... Then...???....I think he says something that sounds like ....

the man to beat KLIF in Dallas!!!"



 ", Sir, Mr. Box......"

"Welcome aboard, Son!"

Hot Damn, Sam! I think I just became the...


Would I be on the air?

"Well, now, that will certainly be up to the....


Payphone - Stan has quarters - we gotta send telegrams:




(Click to read polite follow-up letter these new Texas friends.)...(*Like the other links - above and below - this link NO worky yet)


  For whatever it's worth, you now know how Bob Whitney became America's number 1 underdog PD for a whole career.
I never escaped the underdog-doo.
  Every top forty station after meeting Kaplan and Box had a lousy signal - and poo poo ratings ..........(definition: poo poo = descending or .................................................already descented)

How was Dallas?
   Dallas was hot, muggy and buggy.  

How was KBOX?
  KBOX's little pumphouse studio managed to spit out its 500 nightime watts to its four, tiny, snake-infested towers which aimed the pip-squeak signal straight up. I named the place KBOX RADIO PARK. Short for

The Little Spark at Radio Park

And these Balaban people ?

I liked Stan - (not sure why!)

And - I loved the kookie little studio building.
When I was there it was half the size of the later pictures

It had a good air conditioner and you could turn up the speakers real loud.

So - I cut the KBOX playlist in half, pumped up the reverb, put up the hot clock, screwed a MacKenzie into the rack.

   (PLS Make a note. It took me a year back in Salt
Lake to find out how all the random sounds were made at Disneyland and I finally got the five drawer "repeater" shortly after taking the KBOX job. MacKenzie had apparently never thought of selling the "repeater" to radio stations, believe it or not. WFUN got one at least a year later, but I'm pretty sure KBOX was first with MacKenzie as it was with the resulting "
News You Can Dance To" and most everything else.)

(Frankly, the MacKenzie was a pain in the butt -
BUT, it changed our lives.)

  I trippled play of the shorter Anita Kerr shotgun jingles (some were okay), told the guys to brighten way up but say half as much.

The resonant boomer air staff hated everything I did or said - and they hated me, too. They thought I was a lunatic! (Probable.) I put on a new contest every two days, crossed my fingers and started opening audition tapes shipped down from St. Louis.


We had acted FAST when I arrived. John Box got New Yorker Dan Ingram out of WNHC, New Haven - not only fabulous on the air - but the best production man in the business. Not only did we understand each other instantly, but Dan spliced up intros, bumpers and promos by the dozens. And what a great voice and production sense. The KBOX sound started to get encouraging.



We started booking big name shows - you know, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis. We couldn't get any good stars for one show so we got twenty local bands and had 'em play all at the same time until they dropped. It was a pretty raucus marathon. If you could guess the winning band - you would win a big prize.



Well, that KBOX Battle of the Bands got a little out of hand. The Dallas Morning News gave us a quarter of the front page with a picture of some people hitting each other. Stan, Dan and I were ecstatic, but it didn't please John Box a whole lot. The headline was Rock 'n Roll Riots Hit Dallas.

Damned if KBOX didn't do pretty well in a few weeks - considering its puny technical resources! Also, considering that I put myself on the air 7 to 10 pm. The 'winning sound' wasn't there yet but we started to grow some slim and encouraging Hooper numbers.

Soon, I began to think the damn thing was starting to sound pretty good and even now, after forty years (that's TOP forty years, y'all), KBOX is remembered for its unique, cookin' Big D sound. (C'mon! You know it is!) And the sound didn't stop in Big D. It went about everywhere including (and especially) New York City. (Read On!)

Let's not go overboard here. KBOX had a terrible signal and a toilet dial position (1480) not to mention horrendous competition from 50,000 watt KLIF The Mighty 1190 - with my erstwhile buddy, Mister Keyes over there! (I never met the guy but I was a little nervous. I mean, he must have figured out how I got to Dallas.)

Quickly, I stole and added two guys from the Salt Lake City crew: Chuck Benson and Roger Barkley (the other two best production men in the business.) And we even got Al Lohman on mornings. (Now you know where Lohman and Barkley met their futures.)

I Stuck 'em together, I did!

We had the start of a FABULOUS CREW! My round-the-clock lifestyle was now writing promos on the backs of envelopes, 3-voicing contests into our one production room mike, helping Dan steal stingers from LP's, lying to salesmen, splicing promos, cajoling Dan into doing one more spot, loading MacKenzie loops for The News You Can Dance To -- (that's what the salesmen called it) -- and listening to more audition tapes.

Eventually, I found and hired Johnny Borders, Jerry Clemmons, Pat Hughes, Bill Holley.

Facilities? No cart machines yet, ofcourse! But we did have - get this - a 16 inch transcription recording turntable. And we had four air-studio turntables (to play the 16 inch transcriptions on, ofcourse.)

In mid 1960 after some further slim and tortuous ratings growth in Dallas, John Box asked me to run around and look at the other stations. At least it got me off the air at KBOX. (Sales had a party.)


I wrote JB a few self serving memos and he promoted me to PD of flagship WIL, St. Louis and later I became National PD of the 3 Balaban stations. I talked Dan Ingram into coming to St. Louis, but we kept coming back to Dallas to create promos and such for the other stations. In those days, if you wanted to sound like KBOX, you had to go to KBOX.


There were many surprises ahead - and this saga goes on and on. If you want more of my story you can click below - or return to Mike Shannon's history of Dallas

Enough awready...take me back to Mike...

Okay, I just got a cheap bottle of muskatel and want some more of the Whitney Radio Saga.