When Richard and Faye Tuck founded KBEC AM 1390 in 1955, their sole mission was to provide a radio station with local content to serve the needs of the greater Ellis County residents.
That legacy continued with the Tucks’ daughters, Jeanne Mosley and Sandra Howell, who have continued to build on the vision of their parents during the past decade and in the process, making KBEC the most tenured family-owned radio station in the state of Texas.
On July 15, pending formal approval from the FCC, KBEC will be under new ownership when Waxahachie residents Jim and Ann Phillips take the helm.
“This was something we gave a lot of thought to and it definitely wasn’t a spur of the moment decision,” said Mosley. “My sister and I are both at retirement age and we both feel the radio station could use some new energy.”
Mosley said they have been approached several times during the past few years about selling the station, but never felt it was a good fit — until Jim Phillips made an inquiry.
“First and foremost, I need to stress that absolutely nothing is going to change at KBEC,” Phillips said. “We have great people here and we need all of them to keep doing what they are doing. And I would be absolutely foolish to change the format. KBEC has a format that works for its listeners and we’re not going to touch it.”
With his experience in marketing, Phillips said his role is to help the station in that area.
“I’m not a radio guy and I’m not going to pretend that I am. Ken Roberts is the general manager and has more radio experience in his little finger than I have in my entire body. My job is to let Ken do what he does best and provide him with the tools to make the station more successful,” Phillips added, noting the station has the potential to reach more than a half-million listeners in Ellis, Johnson, Kaufman and Hill counties as well as south Dallas and Tarrant counties.
Phillips said he has no plans to become an “on air” personality, although Roberts told him that he could have “the owner’s hour” show between 2-3 a.m. Thursdays.
“Ken told me I could play anything I wanted as long as I did it during that 2-3 a.m. Thursday slot,” Phillips said with a laugh. “But seriously, don’t expect to hear me on the air. KBEC already has great people doing that job.”
“Never say never,” Mosley added. “I said that too and Ken found a way to get me on the air.”
For the past 17 years Phillips has worked for Burleson Honey. During his tenure in Waxahachie, he has also served multiple terms on the Waxahachie ISD board of trustees.
“I am fortunate to have worked for the Burleson Honey family for the past 17 years here in Waxahachie and growing that business into a national food company has been extremely rewarding,” he said. “I am simply moving my marketing and sales skills from one legendary Ellis County family to another.”
Phillips said he will leave Burleson Honey and take on a full-time role at the radio station.
“I believe that when you take on a commitment to do something you should go all in. I had thought about continuing on with Burleson after the sale goes through, but I don’t think that dividing my time and energy would have been fair to Burleson Honey or KBEC,” he added.
Moving forward, Roberts said he has bittersweet emotions about the sale.
“On one hand, I’ve worked for the Tuck family for my entire career. For the past 31 years I’ve had a relationship with this family — which is part of my family. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit sad about that relationship coming to an end. I will certainly miss that because they have always been very good to me,” said Roberts, who will continue on as general manager and minority owner.
“On the other hand, KBEC will continue to be a locally family-owned radio station,” he added. “Jim and I have talked a lot over the last few days and his focus is very much local-oriented. He shares the same values and vision as the Tuck family and I feel really good about that. He’s made it clear that Mike (Turner) and I will still be broadcasting local sports games, we’re still going to be doing live business remotes and we’re still going to be doing the morning flea market show. What he wants to do is help us grow the business.”
Reflecting back on how his family decided to go into the radio business, Phillips shook his head and grinned.
“I guess you could say it really started in 1998 at the Leadership Waxahachie graduation ceremony when I was talking with a fellow classmate about how we could leave our mark on Waxahachie and what we could do to make our community better,” he said.
Then five years ago he was on the golf course with Mosley’s husband, who had made the comment in jest, “You should own a radio station.”
That simple quip started the ball rolling and after multiple conversations with his wife and family — as well as the station’s owners — financing for the acquisition received final approval last week.
Under the terms of the sale, Troubadour Communications (owned by Jim and Ann Eklund-Phillips) will purchase the FCC broadcasting license for KBEC; the building at 711 Ferris Ave.; and 13.98 acres on Robinette Road, which houses the transmitter and towers.
Closing on the sale is scheduled to take place July 15 following a 30-day public comment period required by the FCC.
While the terms of the sale are available for public viewing at KBEC, the cost of the acquisition was not disclosed.
Contact Neal at email@example.com or 469-517-1457.