Both are radio alumni with ties to Houston radio. One began her career in broadcasting from the University of Houston; the other, her mentor; a news director from one of the largest country radio stations in Texas.
T.J. Callahan, former morning show personality at KILT FM, and Chuck Wolf, former KIKK radio news director, are now inductees of a prestigious radio group – the Texas Radio Hall of Fame (TRHOF).
Last weekend, Sugar Land residents Callahan and Wolf joined 16 other broadcasters from across the state at the induction celebration inside the Texas Museum of Broadcasting and Communications in Kilgore. The museum showcases vintage broadcast memorabilia and equipment, along with a library of historical documents and media, including one of Thomas Edison’s recording inventions.
Callahan’s foray into media began when she covered sports for the university’s newspaper, the Daily Cougar. She then landed an internship her senior year with Wolf at radio station KIKK in Houston. She also worked at WTAW/KTAW in College Station, but eventually ended up back in Houston, taking a job as a traffic reporter. KILT radio then came calling with Callahan providing traffic reports, writing and reporting the news.
Most of Callahan’s broadcast career was spent at KILT. In all, she has over 30 years in radio.
At her acceptance speech at TRHOF, she mentioned how lucky she was to be at one station for so many years.
“First I’m interning at KIKK with so many amazing people to work with. Then being hired by KILT and working with news veterans like Robert B. McEntire, and Jim Carolla. As soon as I got into that news environment, I listened and really heard what they were writing. You watch them type the news stories. And you’re in that environment of how they do things and you learn.”
Yet Callahan has never been a coffee drinker. Not even when getting up each morning at 4 a.m. Callahan is now a member of the Houston Film Critics Society, a nonprofit organization of print, broadcast and internet film critics based in the Houston metro area. She’s also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association, producers of the Critics’ Choice Movie Awards, which Callahan attends each year in Los Angeles.
But the induction into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame still reigns supreme for Callahan, her name on a wall surrounded by legends in Texas radio.
“You get into radio because it’s fun. And you get to meet a lot of famous people and there are a lot of perks, but you keep doing it not for the notoriety, but because it’s what’s in you. It doesn’t pay a lot, but you feel lucky you’ve been in this business for a while, able to do something that you enjoy doing.”
Sugar Land native Wolf, with nearly 30 years of broadcast experience, worked as the news director for KIKK AM/FM from 1980 to1993. He also brought in Callahan as the station’s news intern. Wolf believes internships are a part of broadcasting, a way of giving back and helping future journalists into their first job.
“When I started the internship program, we would select four interns each semester. They would work in the newsroom and learn how to write news stores, take down associated press news feeds, edit tape, do everything a reporter or production assistant would do,” Wolf said. “All of us in broadcasting had somebody who gave us a break so I wanted to pay it forward.”
Wolf worked in several markets in addition to Houston: San Antonio, Denver, Kansas City, and Omaha. After covering a particularly severe series of tornadoes in Omaha, Wolf realized for the first time how important it was for a newsroom to be prepared for virtually anything.
“It really became a cause for me, to make sure broadcasters were prepared to serve our listeners during a disaster.”
He brought that cause to Houston when he started working at KIKK. While there, he also chaired the Federal Communication Commission’s Emergency Alert System (EAS) for the Houston/Galveston area for eight years.
His involvement with broadcast media EAS led him to his second career with the start of his company, Media Consultants. Along with his wife Melanie Miller, who worked as the news director at KTRH NewsRadio 740 AM, the couple and their new company focused on crisis communications, training over 6,000 media spokespersons in over 200 government agencies and corporate clients worldwide.
“I decided there was a niche here in Houston with all of the oil companies, who needed help communicating through the media to the public when disasters happen, by taking steps beyond a typical PR firm.”
Wolf, now retired, sold the company earlier this year. He now volunteers at Sight into Sound, formerly known as Taping for the Blind in Houston. The organization provides live and pre-recorded radio broadcasts of local newspapers, magazines and books to listeners who are blind or visually impaired.
When he received word about his induction into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, Wolf said he was honored, and humbled.
“To be selected by these legends in Texas radio broadcasting, and be a part of some of these great names in radio here in Texas, I was just awestruck.”
Josh Holstead, operations manager of the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, was delighted at the turnout at the induction ceremony this year. Holstead is the youngest son of “The Dean of Texas Radio News” Joe Holstead, a charter inductee of the organization.
“Now that we have a permanent home, and a physical display for people to enjoy year-round has really drawn a significant amount of attention to the organization, as well as the Texas Broadcasting Museum in Kilgore. Fort Bend County has many a star on display in a place known as ‘The City of Stars,’” he said. “As for Fort Bend County inductees, I can tell you that this honor is long overdue for KIKK’s Chuck Wolf, who has probably done more behind the scenes to positively impact our communities since he left the radio station that all of the good work he did when he was there. I’ll also say that I had the pleasure of witnessing T.J. Callahan have the time of her life this weekend. Her induction was special to me, for we shared the same frequency for years when we worked together at KILT.”
For more on the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, visit http://trhof.net.