How An Austin Radio Station Helped Make Sting and The Police Famous
April 24, 2024 |
By Dani Dudek

In 2016, Sting appeared on The Howard Stern Show to discuss how he got his famous moniker and what inspired The Police’s big hit “Roxanne.” But that’s not all. He also talked about a certain Austin radio station that made the song a hit.

Sting told Stern that he and the band were in Paris staying at a cheap motel in a seedy part of town and he had never been exposed to ladies of the night. “I was kind of fascinated by that,” he said. “I couldn’t afford one, so I kind of conjured one up in my room as Roxanne.”

They released the song in England as a single with A&M Records. And then, he said, KLBJ started playing the tune and it became viral. Not only does Sting remember the station, he even tells Stern that at the time the station was owned by Lady Bird Johnson.

“So we went to America and we drove across America and every time we turned on the radio it was “Sultans of Swing” by Dire Straits and “Roxanne” by The Police.”

Here’s the video of Sting talking about this on the Howard Stern Show.

For those who don’t know, here’s a bit of history on the Johnson’s involvement with KLBJ.

The Johnson family put Austin’s first TV station KTBC on the air in 1952. The co-owned FM station signed on the air in 1960. In 1972, KTBC-FM switched to a Freeform Rock format and changed the call letters to KLBJ-FM. “Roxanne” was released in 1978.

In 1973, the Johnsons sold KTBC-TV to a newspaper broadcasting company called Times Mirror Company that published the Los Angeles Times and the Dallas Times Herald. They kept the KTBC call sign for the TV station but the radio stations became KLBJ AM-FM to reflect the initials of President Johnson (who had died earlier that year).

KLBJ AM and FM were sold two more times over the next 20 years and are currently owned by Sinclair Telecable Inc., operating under the name Waterloo Media. KTBC is more commonly known as FOX 7.

Looking for more Austin entertainment ties? Check out these posts:

Featured photo by Tilly antoine, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

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