Chris Alan's Chesty Nostalgia for Houston Radio Stations

Chris Alan backstage with Sting and Bob Seger in Houston.
Chris Alan backstage with Sting and Bob Seger in Houston. Chris Alan personal collection
If you went to high school in Houston during the ‘70s and ‘80s, you always knew which lucky (and bleary-eyed) classmates had been to the prior evening’s rock concert at the Summit, Astrodome or Arena Theatre since they were usually sporting the band’s T-shirt and telling tales of past-their-bedtime glory.

click to enlarge
Alan hyping up the crowd at a KLOL event.
Chris Alan personal collection
Likewise, you could tell what musical tribe someone belonged to by their choice of radio station T-shirt on their chest—if you were lucky enough to snag one as a promo from an event or thrown into an audience. These were not accoutrements you could normally purchase.

The Black Sabbath and Judas Priest heads tuned into 97 Rock; Journey and Sammy Hagar lovers showed their KLOL 101 Runaway Radio outfits; and if George Strait or Alabama was more your jam, you were a 95.7 KIKKer.

Those stations—at least as significant media forces—are long gone. But longtime local DJ Chris Alan hopes to bring those glory days back for original listeners and tap into the retro cool movement on his website selling new T-shirts with logos of vintage Houston radio stations at

“Whether it was a T-shirt or a bumper sticker, it showed people who you were listening to. But you had to be a guy who could jump high enough at a show or car lot to get one thrown out to the crowd,” Alan says today. “And when you got one, you hung on it for dear life!”

That said, the decades may not have been kind to those shirts (if you still have them) shoved in the back of a drawer or faded from hundreds of washings. Or cut up and used as dust rags. Not to mention, oh, some of them that may have fit an 18-year-old could be a bit tight on their 48+-year-old current body. Hence, the site also offers up to XXXL sizes.

“You could tell when you pulled into the high school parking lot where the kids’ loyalties lie from what [station’s] shirt they were proudly wearing. I used to cut up the bumper stickers and put them in my back car window,” Alan says.
click to enlarge
Alan's initial offerings include shirts from KLOL 101, 97 Rock, and KIKK stations. screenshot
He mentions that when he attended the recent Red Hot Chili Peppers show at the Toyota Center wearing his 97 Rock T-shirt, he was greeted often with something akin to “Holy Hell, where did you get that?”

“Music is a big part of everybody’s life. You can remember where you were the first time you heard ‘Tom Sawyer’ by Rush. Or if you won tickets from a station. It’s part of your youth. And there’s usually not any bad memories associated with radio stations,” he says.

click to enlarge
Alan at the recent Red Hot Chili Peppers show
Chris Alan personal collection
Alan started out his radio career at the age of 19 on Galveston’s KILE, but always hoped he’d make it to the “big league” in Houston. After a decade on Austin airwaves, he did just that from 1988-1999 on air at (in order) KKHT “Hit 96.5” and KNRJ “Energy 96.5,” KKBO “93Q,” KMBB “The Box,” KMJQ “Majic 102,” and—most notably—KKRW “The Arrow” and KLOL “Rock 101.”

Though don’t hold that spotty work history against him. “I never lost my job for some stupid disciplinary reason. It was all because the stations were sold or changed formats!” Alan laughs.

The idea for this business came sprang from conversations Alan had with a friend and former employee at 97 Rock and they decided to make it happen together. Alan had already had some T-shirt experience in 2015, selling what he said were “tens of thousands” of units of one based on a photograph he took of the local landmark “Be Someone” I-45 overpass graffiti.

“I never thought I’d be a T-shirt guy—but I guess I am!” he laughs. Alan is also the owner of three Christian’s Tailgate restaurant locations, and has other business interests.

He plans on expanding the site to offer shirts with logos of other Houston radio stations, and perhaps even go into other cities. As for the legalities, he says that the logos of the initial three T-shirts are “all in the public domain,” so there’s no licensing required (and a quick internet search shows other vendors are in the nostalgia act as well).

click to enlarge
Alan (left), KLOL's Lanny Griffith (top) and 97 Rock's Moby
Chris Alan personal collection
But there’s a legitimacy to his business, and he believe the quality is superior. Alan says that he’s still in contact both socially and online with a Who’s Who of former Houston on-air personalities including Dayna Steele, John Lander, Moby, Outlaw Dave, Loch Siebenhausen, Lanny Griffith, Eddie “The Boner” Sanchez, Wendy Miller and Bob Ford.

As for himself, Alan waxes nostalgic about listening to perhaps Houston’s most legendary team, the “radio gawds” Mark Stevens and Jim Pruett. First as one of the early “Hudson and Harrigan” teams at KILT and later under their own names at KLOL.

They were two of the original Shock Jocks that shook up the industry in the 1980s with shows more about blue humor and sexual situations (aided and abetted by rabid listeners) than music.

Alan remembers his mother “slapping his hand” when the turned the radio dial to their frequency, admonishing him not to “listen to that dirty show.”

“They were dirty, but they were funny as heck. And if you were a teenage boy, you loved it!” he says. Later, when he worked with the duo at KLOL, he couldn’t believe it. And he decided in the late ‘90s to end his career there, announcing it on air (though he was enticed back by management for another year).

“I didn’t want to be like the guy in the theme song for ‘WKRP in Cincinnati’ bouncing around the country. And I also didn’t want to be ‘the Old Man’ at the radio station,” Alan offers.

click to enlarge
Chris Alan with KLOL's Dayna Steele
Chris Alan personal collection
He also didn’t want to be part of a development in the radio industry that continues to this day where computers and automated programs (what he called at the time “The DJ 2000”) pick and play the music. The importance of the local DJ and creating a unique personality is all but gone.

Also, the days of meeting your favorite DJs at concerts and forging a listener bond with them are greatly diminished. Go to a show or event in Houston today and if you see a radio station tent or booth, it’s likely helmed by faceless interns or advertising reps handing out free koozies and plastic water bottles.

“The radio DJs in Houston were stars back then. If Moby showed up, he’d literally stop traffic somewhere!” Alan notes.

As an experiment,  Alan took a younger employee at one of his restaurants to tables of middle-aged diners. The minute he started rattling off names of some of those DJs, he was met with delighted screams of “Hell, yeah!” and even impressions of the jocks and their taglines.

“It’s been 30 or more years, but they still remembered these people because you either woke up with them or went to bed with them!” he says. “They were with you on dates in your car and part of people’s lives. I still get messages from people who used to say they’d call and bug me on the request line. And I remember them! But that’s all gone now.”

click to enlarge
Alan and KLOL's Outlaw Dave
Chris Alan personal collection
Today, Alan —along with some of those Houston DJ names mentioned (including Moby and Johnny Goyen) are back doing live shows streaming online at with hits from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s.

Alan is planning on filming a series of TikTok videos featuring younger people doing activities in the FavoriteRadio T-shirts. He will also incorporate some social media on the website and a Facebook page where listeners can share favorite memories of stations, events, and Times-of-Your-Life moments among each other and some of his former DJ friends.

He misses the Houston radio of yesteryear but acknowledges that while stations used to have commercials touting how much music they played in an hour outside of commercials, those claims are now superfluous.

“There’s something out there that plays music for 60 minutes an hour. And it doesn’t tell you that between every song. It’s called iTunes and streaming,” he says. “But guess what? That can’t make you laugh your ass off at a stoplight or in the office. What’s missing from radio today is personality and talent. That’s it.”

For information, visit
KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero