As one of the three major pioneering radio stations in the Fort Worth-Dallas Metroplex, KRLD, Dallas, was something of a latecomer. WBAP, Fort Worth, first aired on May 2, 1922; followed by WFAA, Dallas, in June of that year. It was not until more than four years later that KRLD began on-air operations (October 31, 1926), under the ownership of Radio Laboratories of Dallas, whose initials formed the station’s call letters. The firm was originally Dallas Radio Laboratories, but when it was discovered that the call sign KDRL was taken, the owners decided it was easier to change the name of the business.
Originally, KRLD broadcast on 1040 kHz from the second floor of the Adolphus Hotel in downtown Dallas, on the air six hours a day except on Wednesdays, when the equipment was shut down for maintenance. It was one of the sixteen charter stations that joined in 1929 to form the fledgling Columbia Broadcasting System. Adhering to the standard radio format of the time, KRLD aired a bit of everything: Cornbread Matinee, CBS Mystery Theater, Hillbilly Hit Parade, Music Through the Night, and many others of similarly varied stripe. In October 1948 the station took over broadcasts of the Big D Jamboree, previously aired by WFAA. The popular Saturday-night program was broadcast live from the Sportatorium and featured an array of country stars and later rockabilly performers throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s. KRLD was also known for its pioneering broadcasts of wrestling matches featuring announcer Bill Mercer, also from the Sportatorium.
The station had a long involvement in sports coverage, serving as the radio affiliate of the Dallas Cowboys in the 1970s and 1980s and the Texas Rangers until 2011. Among its notable sportscasters was Frank Glieber, the original color commentator for the Cowboys football games and eventual honoree in the Texas Radio Hall of Fame.
By 1979 the station had changed from its music format to news and information and became the first such station in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to do so. Other formats have included News/Sports/Talk and Easy Listening. The station began streaming live on the Internet in 2005. In September 2010 it became an all-news station from 5:00 A.M. to 8:00 P.M., but still programmed talk-radio on nights and weekends. KRLD has the honor of being the only union radio station in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
In the early years the station shared time and frequencies with stations as far away as Hot Springs, Arkansas, but in 1938, it became a clear-channel station with an effective radiated power of 50,000 watts and by 1941 was firmly entrenched at 1080 kHz. Ownership and formats changed often over the years; KRLD passed through no fewer than nine owners between 1926 and 1996, when it was acquired by CBS Radio Texas, Inc.
The station is known for a number of firsts, among them: first station to air live broadcasts of high school and college football games, first to present live music and entertainment, and first to report continuous election returns. Perhaps the most enduring and far-reaching “first” occurred in 1927, when KRLD became the first station in the world to sell commercials.