Finally, KZEW-FM Founder Ira Lipson Will Take His Place in the Texas Radio Hall of Fame

Categories: Media
IraLipson.jpg
98kzew.com
Ira Lipson
I was talking to George Gimarc last night (more about that later ... ish) when he mentioned that the Texas Radio Hall of Fame has announced its 2011 class of inductees. Among them is a local great who won't be able to attend the October ceremony: the great Cuzzin' Linnie, who died June 30 and was buried over the weekend. Also included: Ira Lipson, the man responsible in 1973 for transforming Belo-owned WFAA-FM (whose failing format at the time was "Beautiful Music") into rock-and-roll-spinning KZEW-FM, with which you may be familiar.

No need to recap the history of the station when it's available here and here. But Lipson, with the blessings of fellow Detroiter John Dew, was responsible for the whole shebang -- everything from the name to the sound to the Zoo Freak logo, which was concocted by artist Dan Phillips, a Lipson pal from way back. Here's how he tells the story:
I was a crazed animal back then, a whirling dervish of energy, and every day I couldn't wait to get to the station. When I was at home I'd write ideas and notes wherever I was in the house, and in the morning I'd make the rounds and collect them all for the day's work. At one point I was writing so many notes while driving that I thought it was a safety hazard, so I got a grease pencil and started writing on the windshield so I could keep my eyes on the road. ...

It was a great time in my life. And I fucking loved my job. I could come up with an idea in the morning and set it into action right away. I didn't have to wait for research to come in or for approval from consultants or the board of directors. I was free to create, and it was thrilling for me.
The Zoo bowed September 18, 1973. Quick -- name the first song played, no fair peeking. Good job. And now, here's Mark Christopher interviewing Frank Zappa after his show at Memorial Auditorium on March 15, 1974. Because.
My Voice Nation Help
12 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Nancy
Nancy

Indeed, he looks and sounds like an irrepressible Whiz Kid!    nancy with the laughing face

Dfwmediagroup
Dfwmediagroup

Ira: Bring back the Zoo!! Dallas needs it and bad.

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

Sadly it would never work now.  Rock music was still pretty young at that time and Big Business hadn't taken hold. A great read about the subject is "The Mansion on the Hill: Dylan, Young, Geffen, Springsteen, and the Head-on Collision of Rock and Commerce" by Fred Goodman.

Laurel Ornish
Laurel Ornish

p.s.  Ira hired me away from WRR-AM, where I had been the market's first female radio newscaster.  Thanks, Ira!  It was great fun!  Maybe some day I'll make the TRHOF, as well.

Laurel Ornish
Laurel Ornish

I was KZEW's first morning-drive news anchor/reporter.  The station signed on on my birthday (well, actually the day before - mine's September 19).  We were the first station in the market to have informal verbal interplay between the newscaster and the jock (Ken Rundel at the time,  Jon Dillon was also there), which was revolutionary back then.  I was also doing "alternative" news, which included news about, and interviews with, local and national musicians.  It was a joint (no pun intended) news department with WFAA-AM, so I had to contribute "straight" reports for them, as well.  We were the bastard children of Belo, and they didn't quite know what to do with us under the same roof as WFAA-AM and Channel 8, but they loved that we were giving McLendon's KNUS-FM a run for their money.

Charlie Kendall
Charlie Kendall

Most people don't know that Ira created the "Morning Zoo" which became a nationwide institution after Scott Shannon came through Dallas to visit me in 1976.  Ira's "Zoo Tube" pre-dated Saturday Night Live too.  I was only there for a year...but what a great year it was!

scottindallas
scottindallas

I guess I was 4, though I started listening by age 9.  Used to listen on the transistor radio with the single ear phone plug walking to school, listening to Rhyner, Labella and Rody.  Sadly, I later gravitated to the Eagle for a couple of years then got to enjoy the awesome 80's when the Zew really grabbed me.

Casey Monahan
Casey Monahan

Three Cheers for Ira! Well deserved!! Of course, like all D.O. commenters, I'm biased, as he gave me my first break in the music business as a Sophomore at Hillcrest High.

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

I was 13 when The Zoo launched.  It's probably impossible to convey to anyone much younger just how much of an impact it had here in radio, heck how much radio itself impacted us at the time. Most radios were still AM only and I remember saving so I could go buy an AM/FM radio at Radio Shack.  Of course their was the amazingly smooth and sexy voice of Beverly Beasely in the evening... yep.

Congratulations to Ira!

Jay
Jay

I agree with everything you said. I was 17. I bought a FM receiver that plugged into my 8-track deck so I could get FM. Imagine, a radio station that played music that wasn't on the Top 20 list.

Cowtown
Cowtown

First song was "At The Zoo", Simon & Garfunkel. And no I did not peek. Golden age of FM radio in Dallas.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

General

Loading...