If you’ve ever tuned in to 97.1 Country Legends, the beloved Houston radio station, you may be wondering what happened to it. This iconic station, known for its classic country music, recently underwent a significant transformation. In this article, we will delve into the story behind the change, as 97.1 Country Legends shifted to a contemporary Christian format under the ownership of Educational Media Foundation.
The Birth of Country Legends in 97.1 FM
On January 2, 2003, at noon, the radio station KTHT underwent a remarkable transition. It rebranded itself as “Country Legends 97.1” and embraced a classic country music format. The inaugural track that graced the airwaves of “Country Legends” was “You Never Even Called Me by My Name” by David Allan Coe. This marked the beginning of an era dedicated to celebrating the work of iconic country artists such as Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Ronnie Milsap.
However, in April 2023, the station’s landscape shifted significantly. Urban One announced its acquisition of the Houston radio cluster of Cox Media Group. This transaction put Urban One over the FCC ownership limits, leading to the divestiture of two stations in the combined cluster. KTHT, alongside KROI, was consequently placed into the temporary Sugarland Station Trust divestiture trust, overseen by Scott Knoblauch.
On October 31, 2023, the KLVH callsign was relocated to 97.1 in Cleveland/Houston, Texas, coinciding with the acquisition of KTHT-FM by Educational Media Foundation. This pivotal change marked a new chapter for the station and the Houston radio scene, with the transition from a celebrated country format to a contemporary Christian format under the ownership of Educational Media Foundation.
What Happened to 97.1 Country Legends?
The iconic radio station 97.1 Country Legends, a long-standing favorite among Houstonians for its country music, has recently undergone a significant transformation. After being acquired by the nonprofit media ministry, Educational Media Foundation, the station has been rebranded as “K-Love,” now airing contemporary Christian music. This shift marks the end of an era for the station, which has a rich history dating back to the 1990s when it initially featured classical music before transitioning through various genres, including R&B as Hot 97.1, and finally settling on country music in 2003.
Houston, known for its love of country music, has been left pondering where to find their beloved genre following the departure of the cherished 97.1 Country Legends. While alternative stations such as 92.9 and 100.3 continue to offer country music, some residents have expressed their intention to resort to streaming applications to satisfy their country music cravings.
The loss of a beloved station has struck a chord with the community, evoking nostalgia for the memories associated with the music and the station itself. Similar sentiments were expressed back in 2004 when Rock 101 KLOL transitioned to a different genre, leaving behind a sense of nostalgia and loss for its loyal listeners. As the final notes of John Berry’s “Standing on the Edge of Goodbye” played on the airwaves of 97.1 Country Legends, it marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new chapter for Houston’s radio listeners.
About 97.1 FM
97.1 FM (KLVH), widely recognized as “K-Love,” is a non-commercial radio station based in Cleveland, Texas, catering to the northern region of Greater Houston. Renowned for its Christian adult contemporary radio format, the station is under the ownership of the Educational Media Foundation, further solidifying its commitment to delivering uplifting and inspirational content to its audience.
Operating with an effective radiated power (ERP) of 100,000 watts, KLVH broadcasts its signal from a transmitter site located off Route 222 at Bob McGowan Road in Shepherd, Texas, situated in proximity to the serene surroundings of the Sam Houston National Forest. This strategic positioning places the station approximately equidistant from the major cities of Houston and Lufkin, Texas, ensuring that its signal can effectively reach and resonate with a broad audience across the region.
The station’s operational hub, including its studios and administrative offices, is situated in the bustling Uptown Houston district, specifically housed within 3 Post Oak Central, reflecting the station’s commitment to delivering meaningful content within the dynamic cultural and commercial landscape of the area. KLVH’s dedication to its Christian adult contemporary radio format, coupled with its extensive coverage area and powerful broadcasting capabilities, cements its position as a prominent and influential voice within the Greater Houston radio community.
History of 97.1 FM
97.1 FM has a rich history of format changes and ownership transitions over the years. It initially began its journey on January 17, 1993, as KRTK, under the ownership of Texas Classical Radio, Inc. Primarily functioning as a simulcast for the classical music programming of KRTS in Seabrook, it later ventured into independent operations following the approval of KRTS’ power increase request by the FCC.
The station underwent several significant shifts, including a brief stint as a simulcast for the Regional Mexican-formatted KEYH as KEYH-FM in September 1995. Subsequently, KEYH-FM evolved into its own entity, adopting the names “Estereo 97” and later “Que Onda 97” in March 1996.
In January 1997, the station was acquired by AMFM, Inc. for $10 million, marking another milestone in its history. The call sign was changed to KKTL, signaling a shift to a news/talk format branded as “Houston’s Talk FM, 97 Talk” in September 1997. The ownership baton was passed to Jacor the following year for a reported sum of $14.7 million.
In a sequence of format alterations, the station transitioned to a simulcast of the alternative rock-formatted KTBZ-FM, known as “107-5 The Buzz,” in March 1999. As KTBZ and KLDE (“Oldies 94.5”) swapped frequencies in July 2000 due to an ownership trade-off in the AMFM/Jacor/Clear Channel merger, 97.1 FM transformed into an oldies outlet.
Cox Media Group took over the reins of the station in August 2000, leading to the dramatic rebranding of the station as KTHT, “Hot 97.1,” on November 4, 2000. This switch to a rhythmic contemporary format marked a significant shift in the station’s identity, with the first song played under the new branding being “Party Up” by DMX.
What Happened to 97.1 Country Legends – FAQs
1. What happened to 97.1 Country Legends?
97.1 Country Legends underwent a significant transformation when it was acquired by the nonprofit media ministry, Educational Media Foundation, and rebranded as “K-Love,” featuring a contemporary Christian music format.
2. When did 97.1 Country Legends change its format?
The transition from 97.1 Country Legends to “K-Love” occurred in April 2023 when Educational Media Foundation acquired the station from Radio One’s Sugarland Station Trust, marking a shift from the beloved country music format to contemporary Christian music.
3. Why did 97.1 Country Legends switch to a Christian music format?
The change in format was a result of the acquisition of the station by Educational Media Foundation, known for its focus on providing uplifting and inspirational content. This shift aligns with the foundation’s mission to deliver positive and faith-based programming to its audience.
4. What were some of the iconic artists featured on 97.1 Country Legends?
97.1 Country Legends showcased an array of renowned country artists, including Garth Brooks, Reba McEntire, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, and Ronnie Milsap, among others, contributing to its significant presence in the country music scene.
5. How did the community respond to the change from 97.1 Country Legends to “K-Love”?
The shift from 97.1 Country Legends to “K-Love” left a profound impact on the community, evoking a mix of nostalgia and a sense of loss among its loyal listeners who had cherished the station’s country music offerings for years. The change prompted discussions about alternative sources for enjoying country music and highlighted the station’s enduring legacy within the Houston radio landscape.