A new, locally owned radio station with iconic call letters–KOKE-FM–is set to sign on Sunday, airing primarily Austin- and Texas-centric country music and featuring personalities who are well known to Central Texas listeners, including former Clear Channel KVET-FM morning host Bob Cole and meteorologist Troy Kimmel, reports The American-Statesman. Some of the artists who will probably be featured on the playlist include Asleep at the Wheel, Bob Schneider, Hank Williams, the Josh Abbott Band and the Randy Rogers Band.
Cole has teamed with Austin attorney Jason Nassour and former KVET morning show producer and afternoon host Eric Raines to acquire the 99.3 FM frequency from broadcaster Dick Oppenheimer. Until the sale is completed in the next few months, they will lease the station, Cole said.
The 99.3 frequency was previously a Christian talk format, and that format will move to 1490 AM, a station also owned by Oppenheimer.
A handful of “strategically picked” Central Texans have also contributed funds to help with the purchase of 99.3 FM, Nassour told the paper.
“I’ve represented clients for 15 years, helping them get deals done,” Nassour said, “but it’s not often I get involved in one. This was just a heck of an opportunity. I want what everyone else in Austin wants, and I wanted to make sure we got it.”
The original KOKE, which saw those call letters disappear in 1987, made a splash on the national radio scene in the early 1970s when it helped launch a format known as “progressive country” (some would say Americana) that featured an eclectic mix of country acts as well as other, noncountry performers. The playlist included songs from Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Gary P. Nunn, Kris Kristofferson, the Rolling Stones, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, among others, Cole told the paper.
The new station will feature a similar format.
Although Austin has a handful of locally owned noncomm stations on the FM dial, Cole said KOKE will be the city’s only locally owned commercial station.
“Our story is being all about Austin,” Cole said, “and the best way to be part of Austin is to be owned by people in Austin.”
KOKE will be simulcast on 98.5 FM, through a deal with another broadcast company. Together, the two stations should cover most of the market, Cole said.
In 1974, when it was broadcasting on the 95.5 FM frequency that’s now occupied by Entercom’s KKMJ-FM, KOKE was called the “most innovative station in the country” by Billboard magazine.
RBR-TVBR observation: Emmis also does a good job of highlighting local bands and providing an Austin-centric AAA/Indie sound. That’s “Radio Austin,” KGSR-FM–which used to be on a weaker 107.1 frequency until late 2009.