Nominees reflect on their radio careers
By Donna Hill
For the Fort Bend Star
For the past 16 years, the Texas Radio Hall of Fame (TRHoF) takes nominations for one month every summer, recognizing people who have worked in radio broadcasting across the state.
What many may not know is several radio alumni who have been nominated this month to be in the TRHoF also happen to live in Fort Bend County. Some of the broadcast nominees may seem familir to longtime listeners, including Ron Samuels, Kevin Charles Minatrea, T.J. Callahan, John Mitton and Chuck Tiller, to name a few.
They’re veteran broadcasters, yet being nominated isn’t about time spent behind a microphone. According to the TRHoF website, “it takes more than that to earn the recognition and accolades of your peers that leads to induction.” Formally, a long list of nominees is presented to Lifetime Voting Members, who cast votes. Those names are vetted, and then presented to the Inductee Committee, which finalizes the list.
Even with all the nominees, only 15 individuals will be inducted in November. That’s a lot of radio stories in one room.
For many of the nominees, broadcasting continues to be an evolving business. Consolidation, online music stations, and podcasting have changed the landscape. Finding work in other areas of the entertainment arena – in some cases in addition to radio – can be challenging, but not unheard of. It helps to have strong entrepreneurial skills.
Kevin Charles Minatrea, a DJ who started his career in the late 1970s in East Texas and in Houston, sometimes working both places at the same time, eventually landed in the Houston market full time. He reported the news, played the hits and talked sports. His last radio gig was News 92 FM (KROI) in Houston. He currently runs his own voice over and audio production studio in Fort Bend County.
When asked about his nomination, Minatrea said, “I’m honored and thrilled. It’s quite a list to be a part of. People we grew up with, listening to our favorite DJs in big cities. Yet it’s not just big city jocks. What’s great is there’s a focus on all cities, large or small. To me especially – those folks in smaller towns are the real pioneers of radio – and it’s essential for the hall of fame to recognize them, too.”
Four-time nominee Sam Malone, a resident of Fort Bend for many years until recently, joked as he said, “a couple more nominations and I may be called the Susan Lucci of radio.”
Malone worked at radio stations in Sarasota, Buffalo and Houston, including mornings at KRBE. Eventually, Malone found a radio gig with a twist: working every day at two radio stations in two different formats.
“There was KHMX (music) from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m., maybe an hour for a snack, then to KTRH (talk radio) from 10 a.m. to noon. Both stations were in the same hallway.” Today he hosts a national show for Salem Radio Network on AM 1070 The Answer. Moving from audio to video, his local show is televised to Facebook Live. He owns 512 New Media, a marketing and production company in Houston.
Fort Bend resident and longtime KILT-FM radio news veteran Robert B. McEntire, a charter member of the TRHoF, remembers being surprised with the call as a nominee years ago.
“That first year – there were giants of Texas radio going into the Hall of Fame. People I idolized all my life. I couldn’t believe I was going into the Hall of Fame before Dan Rather, who is also from Texas.”
He started doing news in Lufkin at age 16, reading news from The Associated Press, later moving to Beaumont to learn everything about radio news. After one year, he got a call from KILT as their news director.
Now with KUHF-FM, McEntire voices the famous men in Texas history in a radio program called Texas Originals. Proud of the area where he now lives, McEntire said, “There are 17 members of the TRHofF who are in Fort Bend County, so I guess we’re a cradle of folks doing it right.”
Operations Manager for TRHoF Josh Holstead (Rowdy Yates from KILT) is the son of legendary Texas radio newsman Joe Holstead. A 2013 Academy of Country Music Award radio winner and the youngest inductee into the Texas Radio Hall of Fame, Josh Holstead was a long time resident of Sugar Land.
“We loved living there. I really didn’t know how much I’d miss living in Fort Bend. The hardest part of living up here in Oklahoma is, well, I really do miss my town – my county,” he said.
He currently hosts, and owns, a syndicated radio program called Country Gold, which can be heard locally on Country Legends 97.1FM in Houston. He is the morning guy at KVOO FM in Tulsa, Okla.
While many states around the country have similar radio halls of fame, it’s definitely bigger in Texas. For one, there’s a lot of ground to cover, not to mention the behind the scenes radio stories – good and bad. Nominees and inductees alike have heard it all and agree it’s a part of the world of broadcasting.
“This is where I found my profound obligation to this group at TRHoF,” said Holstead. “You have an industry where you are required to be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You work holidays, you don’t get bonus pay, or extra pay. You sacrifice a lot for the love of the job and you may go an entire career and possibly get nothing. Our organization recognizes those people, giving them the only accolade they may ever receive for a job they sacrificed everything for. Fact of the matter is, for some, being recognized by the Texas Radio Hall of Fame may be all they have.”
For a complete list of nominees, visit http://trhof.net.