Four generations and counting, Brown County Broadcasting has been family owned and operated since 1941 with the same mission to serve, entertain and inform the communities of Brown County & Central Texas. The flagship station, KOXE FM, first signed on the air in May 17, 1975 but had been conceived long before as reflected in the minutes of the Board of Director’s meeting on February 16, 1944. However, the vision of broadcasting 100,000 watts of stereo power to the people of the entire Central Texas area was not thought to be feasible at the time. Not until June of 1974, when it was discovered that a Class C FM allocation was available for Brownwood were any actions taken. A Class C FM allocation is the most powerful radio facility now allowed by law. Today KOXE still booms its powerful 100,000 watt signal to everyone in Brownwood’s trade area of 13 counties, and over 130,000 people.
KBWD AM went live on August 17, 1941 after a lengthy two year approval process with the FCC that included a hearing before the examiner in Washington D.C. to determine if a station in Brownwood, Texas would “serve public interest, convenience and necessity.” Authority of the FCC directed that depositions be taken from over 30 Brownwood business leaders and citizens that could not make the trip to Washington. Former Brownwood Mayor and President of Brown Co. Broadcasting, Wendell Mayes, appeared in Washington as a witness for the applicants and was ultimately credited with founding KBWD radio. At the time, KBWD was the first regional radio station in Central Texas between Austin and Wichita Falls & between Fort Worth and El Paso.
Only four months after KBWD went live in 1941, Pearl Harbor was bombed killing over 2300 Americans on U.S. soil. Central Texas residents first heard about the attack on KBWD. That historic event ultimately lead to the United States entering into World War II. During that time before television, Central Texans relied upon KBWD as the only real time news source for hundreds of miles. Camp Bowie in Brownwood was one of the state’s largest training facilities with 123,000 acres and over 250,000 men processed there between 1940 and 1946. Camp Bowie even served as a Prisoners of war camp for German POWs in 1943. Central Texas listeners first heard about the beginning of WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam, Panama and Gulf Wars on KBWD.
Brownwood and area listeners also heard many State Championship football games back in the 60’s and 70’s live on KBWD AM. The legendary Gordon Wood and Morris Southall were frequently on the air during football season. KBWD’s talented sports crews called all of the Friday night football game broadcasts. Men like Bill Acorn, Bill Jamar, Ken Schultze, Dallas Houston and Carl Wayne have been broadcasting Brownwood and Central Texas sports for over 75 years. KBWD can still be heard today on the radio dials at 1380 AM with an adult contemporary format playing #1 hits from the 60’s through the 90’s.
The original KBWD broadcasting station was located at 800 Hawkins Street in Brownwood. It housed Brown County Broadcasting for 34 years from 1941 to 1975.