Tyler, TX

Tour Tyler Texas reflects back on Radio Station KZEY 690 AM in Tyler and the surrounding area 1958 - 2007

Tour Tyler Texas

Tour Tyler Texas - M1Y - Clarence Edmond Shackelford, community publicist for the Empowerment Community Development Corporation is a 501(C) 3 nonprofit organization with a focus on Education, Arts, Tourism, Veteran Services, Scholarships, Youth Mentorship, History Preservation, Community Development, Housing, and Economic Empowerment.

A brief history of KZEY started on January 4, 1958 (62 years ago). It was Tyler's 4th AM station in existence alongside KGKB (1490), KTBB (600), and KDOK (1330). It started as a 250-watt station at that time and then later increased to 1,000 watts covering the Tyler-Longview area. During the 1970s, KZEY's presence was realized on a television show which is localized as East Texas' version of Soul Train called "Soul Town." Matt Walker spearheaded this Saturday morning dance show and had a lot of East Texans in the African American community (as well as some whites that did watch) get down with the latest music.

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Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas

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Tour Tyler Texas- Photo image submitted to M1Y

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Jerry D. Russell- Photo image submitted to M1Y

News and information play a role at the Mighty 690. KZEY's affiliation for news other than its own locally through Bill Atkins, Effie Bryant, and Darryl Bowdre was the National Black Network (owned by Mutual Radio).

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Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas

By the 1990s it was affiliated with the American Urban Radio Networks (through Sheridan Network). In 1975, KZEY gained an FM sister station KROZ with a country format until 1986. Format changes made the difference for KROZ dropping country in an attempt for album rock very briefly.

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Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas

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Bro. Darryl Bowdre- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas

Then Z92.1 became Tyler's premier urban FM outlet resulting in great results ratings-wise which leaves 690 with a blues/oldies/gospel format that has done equally well. By 1989, new owners took over. KROZ reverts back to the country leaving 690 back to the urban format in its rightful place on its founding AM frequency.

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Matt Walker- Photo image submitted to M1Y

After almost 35 years under Tyler Broadcasting Company, KZEY-AM makes another change of pace. Minority ownership. The station changed hands in 1993 when it was taken over by Community Broadcast Group, Inc. under the leadership of Jerry D. Russell.

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Rev. Thomas Herbert Barefield - Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas

In that same year, CBGI acquired an AM/FM combo from Marshall, Texas KMHT-AM/FM (1450/103.9) all sharing the same format as its Tyler sister. In 2002, KZEY-FM/KMHT-AM was sold to Jerry Hanzen who also owns KGAS-AM/FM out of Carthage. Community Broadcast Group also acquires KWRD-AM Henderson and KYYK-FM/KNET-AM Palestine, TX from Witco Broadcasting.

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Donald Clement (aka Donnie Still)- Photo image submitted to M1Y

By 2009, after 13 years under minority ownership, KZEY-AM signs off for good. In addition to several other radio stations owned by Russell the licenses of other properties in Tyler, Pine Bluff, AR, and Cleveland/Greenville, MS were surrendered due to health reasons.

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Rev. Columbus Warren Jackson- Photo image submitted to M1Y

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Tour Tyler Texas- Photo image submitted to M1Y

Deborah Walker wrote: I worked for KZEY and Z92.1 FM from 1985 to 1994 and was an on-air personality. Gospel Roots, Jazz Variations, and oldies on Sunday with Matt Walker. I also sold advertising.

Also, Vern Carton worked there as a morning show host as well as Debbie Kirkland (news)
  • The notable personalities that brought KZEY to life:
    Al Hall - He did Mid-Days for years with the Gospel Hour
  • Lavoyd Davis (aka LV)
    Phedra Johnson (That Chick)
    John Bass
    Columbus Jackson
    Matt Walker
  • Deborah Walker - Gospel Roots, Jazz Variations, and oldies on Sunday with Matt Walker
  • Vern Carton
    Kenn Williams
    Donald Clement (aka Donnie Still)
    Charles White (aka Charles Love)
    Vanessa Barryer
    Henry Dunn
    Walter Fields
    Jarvis Ferguson (aka Jammin' Jarvis)
    Dewayne Williams (aka DJ Rolex)
    Reginald "BJ" Williams
    Randy Ricci
    Bill Atkins (news)
    Effie Bryant (news)
    Darryl Bowdre (news)
    Chuck Dews (news)
  • Debbie Kirkland (news)
    Hercules Wells
    Michael Earl
  • and John Sims
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Dewayne Williams (aka DJ Rolex) - Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas

KZEY (690 AM) was an American radio station licensed to serve Tyler, Texas, United States. The station, established in 1958, was owned by Community Broadcast Group, Inc.

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Reginald "BJ" Williams- Photo image submitted to M1Y

FaceBook Video - Texas African American Museum August 10, 2020 · Tribute to KZEY 690 AM & Happy Birthday - Reginald "BJ" Williams

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Henry Dunn- Photo image submitted to M1Y

In 2005, the station encountered financial and technical difficulties resulting in the station's license being temporarily pulled and the KZEY call sign deleted from the database maintained by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on October 19, 2005. Four months after the station was deleted from the database, the station was re-licensed and reassigned the KZEY call sign by the FCC on February 2, 2006.

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Jarvis Ferguson (aka Jammin' Jarvis) - Tour Tyler Texas- Photo image submitted to M1Y

In June 2006, the station's owner suffered a stroke, and the station went off the air for good in January 2007. In a February 2011 letter to the FCC, the owner indicated that he was surrendering the station's broadcast license as well as the licenses for ten sister stations in similar dire circumstances.

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John Bass- Photo image submitted to M1Y

On May 2, 2011, the station's license was canceled and the KZEY call sign assignment was deleted permanently from the FCC database.

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John Sims - Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas

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Lavoyd Davis or was fondly called LV- Photo image submitted to M1Y

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Rev. Ike- Photo image submitted to M1Y

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Walter Fields - Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas

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Best of friends Pastor & 1st Lady Cleraster Smith and Pastor & 1st Lady Thomas Herbert Barefield.- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas

We hope your visit to this page brings you plenty of memories of the great moments of what makes this station on the 690 AM brand so special in the East Texas listening area.

Sources: Lavoyd Davis (aka LV), https://www.facebook.com/690AM-KZEY-TributeAlumni-Page-378110776021373, https://www.AllNationsTV.com, https://www.TourTylerTexas.org,
https://www.TexasAfricanAmericanMuseum.org, and https://www.EmpowermentCDC.org

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Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas
  • Tour Tyler Texas, is more than just Tourism. http://TourTylerTexas.org
  • Tour Tyler Texas, under the auspices of the nonprofit, Empowerment Community Development Corporation which is a Community Organization at 309 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd 75702

LeRoy Francis Sr. dba Community Funeral Home Tyler

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Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas

Empowerment Community Development Corporation / http://EmpowermentCDC.org is a 501(c) nonprofit organization with a focus on Education, Arts, Tourism, Veteran Services, Scholarships, Youth Mentorship, History Preservation, Community Development, Housing, and Economic Empowerment.

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Tour Tyler Texas- Photo by M1Y - Clarence Shackelford TEXT 903.253.5099 - for Tour Tyler Texas

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I have been a community publicist in East Texas since 1985 in this role I have covered 10's of thousands of special events. I am also the founder of the founder Tour Tyler Texas and the Texas African American Museum

Tyler, TX
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