The longest-running, independently-owned radio station in Texas will change hands this week, as the sale of KBEC 1390AM/99.1FM has cleared all hurdles and neared the signature finish line.
Jon Garrett, a longtime Waxahachie resident and successful under-40 businessman, is set to finalize paperwork
Thursday and take ownership of the station that first hit the airwaves in 1955. Jon and Alyssa Garrett will obtain all ownership shares from Jim and Ann Phillips.
And before anyone gets up in arms about programming, rest assured — radio hall-of-famer Ken Roberts is still the leader of the dials. Garrett has assured and entrusted Roberts with that responsibility and honor.
“What I appreciate most is the transition of ownership from Jim Phillips to Jon Garrett will ensure a continuation of the commitment to keep KBEC a locally-owned and oriented radio station,” Roberts said. “And that it’ll be a station that will, first and foremost, continue to broadcast in the public interest.”
The Phillips, who split the station shares 51% to 49% between Jim and Ann, respectively, purchased the station in 2011 from a group comprised of Jeanne Tuck Moseley (45%), Sandra Tuck Howell (45%) and Ken Roberts (10%).
The sale also includes the physical building that houses KBEC and its roughly 14 acres of land for the transmitters and towers. The tower site is located along FM 876.
It’s no secret that Faye and Richard Tuck launched KBEC 67 years ago with the hope that the community-based station would thrive long into the future. And the Garretts have no intention of allowing that dream to fail.
In fact, the dream to one day own the station began when Roberts hired Garrett as a 19-year-old dreamer in 2010.
Garrett easily recalls the first day he walked into KBEC. Ken Roberts, the legendary “Voice of the Indians” and radio hall-of-famer, was not in at the time. But Sylvia Smith and Laurie Mosley were, and Garrett offered his services, in any capacity, free of charge.
Roberts called back the next day and informed Garrett, “You can’t work for free, but we’ll pay ya.” That phone call resulted in Garrett’s first radio gig serving as the board op for the Sunday morning Polka and gospel shows, which both still run today.
While with KBEC, Garrett was responsible for bringing the station into the social media era and digital age, to an extent. The Facebook page? Yep, that was Jon.
He also started Live in Texas. “Back then, we actually did the show with live musicians and bands in-studio, which was fun,” recalled Garrett, who still holds an affection for live-Texas music today.
“I cut my teeth by learning from Ken Roberts,” Garrett said. “You really have to spend time learning the station from A-Z to be successful in radio. Ken Roberts was an open book and taught me not only how to lead but how to get the best from the entire team. KBEC had a unique culture during my tenure — much like being part of a family. We just had fun at work every day — a rare thing in the radiosphere these days. I carried those lessons throughout my professional career, and it hasn’t steered me wrong yet.”
Garrett caught the radio bug and began his DJ ascent, eventually moving from KBEC to The Ticket, where he regularly did Ticket Tickers for Rich Phillips at about $8 an hour. He then entered the realm of syndicated radio alongside KBEC alumnus Jeremy Robinson.
Garrett and Robinson hosted a popular country music show, Taste of Country Nights, across over 80 stations through Town Square Media. The media company eventually asked Garrett to move to Nashville, which he declined, opting to remain home in Waxahachie. It was here where Garrett started his first business — Lone Star Events.
He eventually sold the local operation of Lone Star Events in 2020 but kept much of the larger-scale inventory for Apex Site Services, which specializes in large-scale government contracts and base camp logistics.
Garrett and his wife Alyssa (a Maypearl graduate) married in 2013 and have four kids: Avery (2), Finn (6), Landry (8) and Tre (13). They reside on Marvin Ave.
Garrett and his family moved to Waxahachie in 2004, just before his freshman year at Waxahachie High School.
The $1.05M all-cash sale of KBEC cleared its first hurdle this past week when the FCC objection window closed. The total sale price includes the branding, building and tower site. It also includes a promise by Garrett to continue to [K]eep [B]uilding [E]llis [C]ounty through classic Texas country music, timely news updates, more hyperlocal sports updates than you can handle and a community-focused approach to media.
“I’ll just let Kenny do his thing,” assured Garrett in terms of programming. “This is an exciting time for KBEC, and it’s an honor to be able to continue playing a role in the success of this radio station and community. I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for KBEC and our partners!”