Free-Form Rock Radio Returning To Houston Airwaves

Houston will be seeing the return of free-form rock radio soon.


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A new low-power FM station that has been testing its signal at 101.7 from Cypress is the return of free-form rock radio in Houston. It also means the return of some long-time Houston radio personalities to the airwaves.

There was a time when disc jockeys picked the music they wanted to play, and not just a rotation of the same 300 songs. Free-form radio in the late 60’s and early 70’s allows DJs to play deep cuts — not just the hits — and they could play music from several genres. Those days are returning in Houston, with the new low-powered Cypress Radio — KCYB-FM — that’s been testing since mid-April. Long-time Houston radio personality Colonel St. James will be doing afternoons on the non-profit station.

“It’s a low-power FM, which means it’s only nine watts, and the coverage area’s gonna be small, but we’re going to do our best. You know, we’re going to try to get internet streaming as quickly as possible so that people in other areas in Houston and around the world can listen to us.”

The morning shift will feature another former KLOL personality — Jim Pruett, who now owns a gun shop in northwest Harris County.

“Our owner Rick Calvert, who is the licesee and responsible for all things that go out over the air — he’s always asking ‘you gotta be careful what you say!’ ’cause I have the Stevens and Pruett Show reputation. You gotta remember, I started on 101 when we were progressive underground, and it basically meant there were a bunch of albums in the studio. You could play whatever you want, and the only caveat was, you know, try to play something that somebody recognizes every now and then.”

Colonel St. James says Cypress Radio will feature rock music from six decades.

“Yeah, Rick basically told Jim and I that we could get on the radio and do whatever we wanted. And it’s been forever since anybody said that.”

Pruett loves that directive.

“We’re going to play rock’n’roll and progressive underground and progressive country — you remember that, right, Ed? — You were in Austin and certainly you know it. And you and I have a history of music in our mind that is, you know, you couldn’t put it in a library because we know all of these songs from 1970 on, for sure. We go back, Ed. And, you know, the basic line, if it’s a good record, play it.”

St. James also relishes the return of free-form radio.

“And songs that people haven’t forgotten, and I certainly haven’t forgotten, but radio has forgotten and swept under the rug. And we’re gonna dig ’em back out from under the rug and put ’em back on the radio.”

Cypress Radio is accepting donations through its Facebook page, and will continue testing for a few more weeks before its official debut at 101.7.

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