If you live in Texhoma and love Classic Rock then you know the signature low rumbling bass voice of Keith Vaughn. He is a staple in Wichita Falls, synonymous with my favorite rock n’ roll songs. He’s been spinning music since the 80’s and I’ve been waiting for years to sit and ask him… How’d it all begin?
The first place Keith opened a mic was at KKQV QV103 spinning Rick Dees Weekly Top 40. “I had the crappy, nobody wanted to do it, position”. Keith was doing mechanic work at the time and radio never really crossed his mind. He would on occasion tease the radio guys while listening at work, raging on them to fellow co-workers and sometimes called in to their shows to let them know they could do better. Around 1984, as oil plummeted, so did the need for oil field engine-repair. While looking for a job an ex-coworker jokingly suggested he try radio. Keith thought, “Why the hell not?”.
The 80’s brought a very competitive world of radio to Wichita Falls for Top 40 music. On top of that, MTV had brought popular music to uncharted territory. Playlist with artist like Led Zepplin and Madonna back to back was challenging for Vaughn. “I remember even as a rookie thinking, “What the hell?”.
After a few years, Keith moved on to KTLT K-Lite, another Wichita Falls station that played Oldies mixed with light hits. He calls these “The Lost Radio Years”. He was going to school at Midwestern State University, studying all day and then working radio all night, from 1987 to 1989, with the candle burning at both ends.
Around the end of 1989, he got a call from an old buddy in radio… Big Jim Russell. KLUR was looking to fill a position and he thought Keith would be a perfect fit. Keith loved the listeners more than anything. “They were so freaking loyal. They loved the radio station. They loved the talent that was on the air and they had a connection that I had never seen. It’s at that this time Vaughn realized he wanted to do away with his then radio alias… Keith Travis. He was constantly associated with Randy Travis so he decided if he ever departed from country he would also leave the name.
In 1990 he was the program director for Country Y104, then ran a satellite classic rock radio station ran by ABC Radio in late 1990 from Wichita Falls KQXC Q102. His connections with ABC urged Vaughn to try for a larger market, and within two weeks of scouting, he was picked up by KATT in Oklahoma City for weekend work in 1993. All of a sudden, he was thrust into one of the biggest Rock radio stations in the country. Bigger audience, bigger contest, bigger artists to interview and yes… bigger D.J.’s. The staff was long time. Rick and Brad had been 15 years when I was there. Greg, from mid-days, was also a 10-15 year guy. Everyone had tenure, so I knew I’d never have a day show.
Keith then moved on to Dallas to do Classic Rock satellite radio for ABC. World-wide broadcasting differed from his previous experience with radio. “You are generically broadcasting to stations from Texas to Idaho to New York State to Guam. You can’t talk about weather or anything local.” That’s where Keith became intensely educated about bands and the artist in order to have subject matter. He worked his regular week and then on Sunday nights, would host The Z-Rock Top 40 Countdown.
In 1999 he got an offer from another radio pal, Lindy Parr, to come back to Wichita Falls with the promise of a new Classic Rock station. He had one condition… make him the Program Director. They agreed, but it came with hosting the morning show. Mornings are not for the weak at heart. Brutal. That brought the famous Vaughn and Mac Show. There were moments where they got “rowdy”. “We did a few things that caused us to have conference calls with corporate.” After a while, they noticed a pattern of trouble locally that upset some people. They weren’t afraid to discuss things men liked to talk about. Which, let’s face it, was their job and they did well. They pushed morning radio to the limit with a shock-jock attitude and a local mentality.
Since then Keith has settled on his solo show, afternoons on 104.7 The Bear. He’s been at the helm at the flagship rock station in this part of the country for decades now and he’s one of the most known voices in radio in Texhoma. He has longevity in a business that is not known for it. He’ll tell you it’s about knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time, but it’s been his persona that has always stuck out for me. My classic rock always went down smoother with his complete knowledge of the music and that canon voice booming from the airwaves. Make sure to listen to The Vaughn Show weekdays from 2-7 pm on 104.7 The Bear.