From the September 1981 issue of D Magazine:
"Broadcast Battleground" by Steve Kenny
Christopher Haze, a former KFJZ FM disc jockey and program director at KNUS, was recruited from Houston's KILT to revamp KEGL's image (then known as KFJZ). "Before I got here and there was a change in management, there were some pretty significant problems," Haze says. "It was labeled a teenybopper station. Very few people over the age of 18 were listening."
The old call letters were the first to go, for two reasons: They were too closely associated with the teenage audience, and too many people in Dallas knew that KFJZ was a Fort Worth station. (Fort Worth stations rarely do well outside Tarrant County, but most Dallas stations draw well in Fort Worth.)
After considering the paperwork required to change call letters, Haze and station manager Jim Tandy at first decided to keep the letters but ignore them on the air. For six weeks last fall, the station called itself "The Texas Star," but an audience tuned in expecting a country and western station. It was back to the drawing board.
Haze hit rock bottom in December of 1980 during a night of too many drinks at the Chelsea Street Pub in European Crossroads. He had arrived at the station in September just in time for the disastrous fall ratings "book"; KFJZ's share audience had slipped to 3.5 per cent, down from almost 6 per cent 18 months before. Even the teenagers were beginning to desert KFJZ FM for "album rock" stations KZEW and KTXQ. The station's new format and call letters had to be firmly entrenched before the new ratings survey began in mid-March.
"We were trying to come up with a handle for the station," Haze recalls. "We have a brand name-oriented society. We felt we couldn't maintain any sort of momentum without a brand name.
"We were sitting there drinking, when suddenly it occurred to me -The Eagle," he says. "It just popped into my head. I don't exactly know why. But it was exactly right. The Eagle - it was patriotic. It can mean freedom. It can mean flight. It's the symbol of America, and there's nothing negative about that except at income tax time."
But others were skeptical. There were negative aspects, namely the Philadelphia Eagles football team, which had just eliminated the Dallas Cowboys from their Super Bowl chase. The name was tested by professional survey groups over and over again. "None of the focus groups mentioned the Philadelphia Eagles," Haze says. Everyone at the station breathed a sigh of relief. The call letters were a more difficult problem. How would they match the Eagle symbol with new call letters. Haze searched the Federal Communication Commission call-letter booklet. Nothing seemed right. Then word came that a California station was switching from a pop to Spanish language format and giving up the KEGL call letters. Perfect. The day the letters went up for grabs, Haze applied for them. The FCC approved them on February 19. Haze and station executives hurriedly put together a promotional package, including a fluorescent orange Eagle symbol (which was slapped on billboards all over Dallas and Fort Worth) and a simple four-tone call-letter identification accompanied by the synthesized sounds of an eagle in flight. The new package began on March 15; Arbitron began its new ratings sweep four days later.
Haze got word of the FCC's approval during his 10 a.m. to noon radio show - right in the middle of a song performed by the rock group the Eagles. But Haze still had plenty of problems. With 38 stations in the eight-county Dallas/Fort Worth market competing for the estimated 2.6 million regular radio listeners, a virtually all-new radio station was going to be difficult to sell, especially the type of radio station Haze was trying to sell. He didn't want to alienate the teen audience, but he didn't want to cater to them either. He had to market a pop rock 'n' roll station in a market increasingly infatuated with country and western music. Haze's aim was to bring in an enthusiastic young staff who would both keep the teenagers and attract an older, more loyal audience to challenge KVIL.
So far, Haze's attempts to attract an audience like KVIL's have met with modest success. The latest ratings marked a substantial increase in KEGL's audience share. But he's not about to rest on his laurels and wait for his numbers to come in. Haze is experimenting with new promotions, including a character called the "Moose" (actually disc jockey "Humble" Billy Hayes), whom Haze hopes will challenge Ron Chapman in the mornings; and "The Party," a radio dating game hosted by Sharon Wilson (real name: Sharon Golinar), a 1972 graduate of Bryan Adams High School.