Confessions of a Zoo Freak

If you are of a certain age and grew up in or around the Dallas area, you know exactly what the title of this post is all about. For those who didn’t, it’s not what you think.

In the late 60’s, early 70’s Dallas-Fort Worth radio was dominated by Top 40 AM stations. That all changed in 1972 with the introduction of KNUS 99 an FM rock station and followed soon thereafter by KZEW 98 FM, soon followed by the advent of Q102.

Even though KNUS was the pioneer in Dallas album rock format, they were quickly left in the dust by the KZEW marketing juggernaut. Cool window stickers, live broadcast studio performances , hip DJs all conspired to turn “The Zoo” into the top album rock station in Dallas and virtually the only radio station I listened to.


Zoo Freak sticker circa 1973. Later versions said “ZOO FREAK” above and had the legend “Rot Your Mind” below. Of course this made parents nuts. This circa 1976 version below retained the ZOO FREAK moniker but left off the mind rotting part.


“The Zoo” or “The Rock & Roll Zoo” played long album cuts, broadcast live and taped studio concerts from January Sound Studios in Dallas and was the first to station in Dallas to broadcast in Dolby.

My most outstanding memory of KZEW was of a Peter Frampton performance they taped my senior year in high school. Frampton performed a version of “Do You Feel Like We Do?” on KZEW. The song hadn’t been released on any album yet and became the most requested song at the station according to former Zoo Jock, Ira Lipson:

When I programmed KZEW (The ZOO) in Dallas back in the 70’s, we did a lot of live local studio concerts with national acts, and would frequently feature cuts from our concerts in our regular rotation. One song, Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like We Do” was the most requested song at the station for MONTHS. No other station in town had it, and it sure had to help our ratings. The celebrated concert version of the tune wasn’t released for another 6 months, as I recall.

As I recall, the released live concert version was vastly inferior to the one recorded here locally. I remember recording most of that concert to cassette tape, but of course that one is lost to the ages.

One last thing in closing, looking up sources for this blog I stumbled on a website run by George Gimarc, another KZEW alum. George rescued boxes of tapes from the trash bin and found a treasure trove of recorded concert and club spots, all recorded locally by station staff. You can hear a sample here.

The fun part was going down the list and marking the events I had attended, or think I attended but might not recollect.

Youth is wasted on the young.

Tough out.


53 thoughts on “Confessions of a Zoo Freak

  1. bee April 8, 2007 / 3:44 pm

    I grew up near the D/FW Metroplex and would regularly listen to George Gimarck’s Rock and Roll Alternative on Sunday evenings on the ZEW. I would listen to Q102 over KZEW as a teenager, but I think I’d know better now.

    Miss those days, when radio stations had some local character.

  2. semitough April 8, 2007 / 5:19 pm

    You may have been a bit younger than I, most everyone is. Q102 came on strong in the late 70’s early 80’s and I was already entrenched by that point. Bo Roberts & Jim White from The Q are still at it, doing their morning show on classic rock station 92.5, KZPS. Former Zoo jock Jon Dillon is also still on the air on ZPS. Morning Zoo jocks Labella & Roady were around for awhile. Roady is now a communications consultant for local churches and John Labella died in a freakish car accident on I-30 a few years ago.

  3. Bruce April 23, 2007 / 6:14 am

    Flipped on KZPS this morning to find something called Lone Star 92.5, courtesy of SW Airlines…but no Bo and Jim.

  4. semitough April 23, 2007 / 8:09 am

    I had heard a rumor on the Russ Martin show last week that ZPS was changing formats. But they weren’t sure what the new format would be and that all current DJs would be gone.

    The promo I heard this morning said that Bo & Jim and Jon Dillon would be back, joined by Redbeard another Q102 alum.

    I liked what I heard from a programming perspective, but reserving judgement till they get everything sorted out and get the personalities back on air.

    To be honest, after 20+ years the Bo & Jim schtick is starting to nerve me a bit. What was edgy in 1979 is starting to show some wear.

  5. Kevin June 3, 2007 / 1:08 pm

    I grew up on the zoo. I wish we could bring it back. I am looking for some KZEW stickers to put on my truck. I have one that is stuck on my tool box and its in perfect shape.

  6. El Profe June 14, 2007 / 5:00 am

    KZEW, Labella, and Rody were my gurus during many crazy years, but I’ve lost track of too many friends who were diehard zoo fans. I know you can’t bring back the past but would like to chat with others who remember what ‘underground’ radio was like. What a long strange trip, eh?

  7. zwoof June 19, 2007 / 6:42 pm

    What ever happened to Beverly Beesley? (sp?) Wasn’t she a jock on the ZOO?

  8. Actionator August 30, 2007 / 8:12 am

    Friday mornings at 8:10 Hunt James ruled my life as a high school senior. Those guys were seriously funny. I have a CD that a friend made a few years ago of many of those diatribes, I pull it out and listen from time to time and get a good laugh. It’s great to recall the old haunts around Dallas that were referred to e.g. The Debonaire, Keller’s, etc. too funny.

    • robert October 27, 2010 / 6:26 pm

      man i love the hunt james tapes. i would love to have a copy of any of those you can spare. it was so much fun to hear them on the way to school and lough your ass off!

    • Jud Early October 30, 2011 / 12:31 pm

      I was late to school every Friday so I could record Hunt James. I treasured my Hunt James, “The King of Men” tape, but unfortunately it was stolen along with the vehicle it was in, Waco, TX, 1993. I would love to have those old recordings! If anyone has them, please respond.

  9. lori September 26, 2007 / 4:33 pm

    Does anyone know if the stickers can still be found for sale or anything?
    The one I remember most was silver and blue.


  10. Ray Allen October 6, 2007 / 3:35 pm

    I have KZEW stickers available on eBay. Search for KZEW decals/stickers.


    • John May 30, 2009 / 7:39 pm

      still have stickers on e-bay?

  11. Ryan October 12, 2007 / 4:23 pm

    There are so many Zoo freaks out there, I can’t believe somoene hasn’t duplicated it in some way on a HD2 channel or internet radio. Check out my tribute site to look at some old stickers I’ve come across.

  12. Jay October 21, 2007 / 5:11 pm

    1974 was a pivotal point in my life, first car, first real girlfriend, junior year in high school, first time I “had a clue” AND KZEW. At 50, I still miss the Zoo. I’m glad I’ve learned my way around and can find the music I grew up with. I’m saving one of my last two Zoo stickers for my 69SS Chevelle I’m restoring. Can’t wait! Long live rock.

  13. Kelly November 8, 2007 / 12:47 pm

    Ken Rundel, one of the KZEW originals, can be heard on the classic rock band of So nice to know that people still love the long-gone Zoo — my short time on the air there is one of my favorite career memories. Thanks, all!

  14. Ken Rundel November 26, 2007 / 4:37 pm

    Sure is nice to be missed! I’m in Eureka Springs, Arkansas now. A lovely place to visit if you ever get the chance. I do a show now on Radio Free Phoenix every Saturday at 3 p.m. Phoenix time. It’s free to listen

    Love to all,

  15. Glen December 30, 2007 / 2:33 pm

    I moved to Dallas after college in the boom days of the mid-’70s. I was a zoo freak for my entire time there (through the late ’80s). I recently matted and framed my (I now discover meager) collection of six different KZEW decals and a large format calander/poster from 1979 which had all survived all this time in storage and they now hang in my music studio. I always enjoyed the zoo graphics as well as their great music. I thought I might be alone but a few minutes on the web showed me that there are many out there who continue to enjoy the graphic design contributions that KZEW made to the visual culture of Dallas. (I also found a lot of recollection about Peaches Records and Tapes and their label graphics–remember the store on Knox St?)

  16. Greg Knight January 13, 2008 / 11:31 am

    Nothing trimmed out my customized ’66 Caprice than my Zoo sticker on the back window!
    I remember listening to the Alan Watts series on Sunday mornings (FCC religious programming requirement perhaps?). Philosophy and rock n’ roll…what else could you need at that hour? My parents re-established control over the big console stereo one Sunday when, as part of Mr. Watts lecture, he began reciting a Hare Krishna mantra! Of course there was always the audio sanctuary of my room. Thanks for the memories!

  17. Jean Grice January 25, 2008 / 5:09 pm

    I left the FW area a while back, ’79 loved the Zoo! Did Rhoady and Steele get hitched? when and are they still together? What are they doing now?

  18. david February 6, 2008 / 3:38 pm

    Previous poster “Actionator” states earlier he has a CD with clips from Hunt James. I would love to get access to those clips. Actionator, are you still around? Anyone else know how to get Hunt James clips.

  19. Kaylynn February 14, 2008 / 9:17 pm

    Howdy Folks,
    Like all of you who posted here, I was a certifiable Zoo Freak. So many great memories. There used to be an online Zoo radio station. What happened to it?? I’m glad I sent off for my newfangled Zoo sticker before it disappeared.

  20. racymind February 18, 2008 / 5:26 am

    Crazy memories I love.

    I remember in late 1978 when “Animal House” came out KZEW had a contest for the “John Belushi $5oo Only To Be Squandered Scholarship”. I registered at a couple of area record stores. I said something to a bunch of friends about the contest, and as a joke one of them told me I had won the contest. Only thing was, I called KZEW and I really did win the $500.

    The prize money took a while, and I received a humorous letter and a few albums in the mail, a KZEW rep saying they were going to have a bake sale and get me the money as soon as possible. The money did eventually arrive. I would rather have an original copy of that letter now than the $500… but I never kept up with things too much.

    The 1970’s KZEW was a fun, fun place.

  21. scoop February 22, 2008 / 7:13 pm

    I distinctly remember hearing the clarion call of the KZEW “Elephreak” when I first started listening to the radio as a kid in the early ’80s in a “sleepy little town” south of DFW. That sound told me where the ROCK was to be found.

    Later in high school, I, too, spent many a Sunday night having my mind blown apart by George Gimark’s Rock and Roll Alternative show.

    Many thanks to all involved in KZEW for all those great radio days gone by! Cheers!

  22. businessgolf February 25, 2008 / 1:04 pm


    Looks like the Lone Star ‘No Canned Commercial’ Format over on Lone Star Radio didn’t last a year…too bad. I thought it was too good to be true. Just another Clear Channel antic to trap listeners in so they can run commercial after commercials…I am sure it will turn to Talk Radio before long. Looks like the glimpse of the past of Dallas Radio is now LA Radio.

  23. Mike February 27, 2008 / 10:00 pm

    Wow! glad I found this!
    I listened to “Dallas Radio” since I was a pup… my dad was a DJ in Wichita Falls, Austin, Tyler, Lufkin, galveston… yeah, we moved a lot.!! lol Grew-up in the biz, now work as a engineering consultant in DC area.

    I miss the zoo and those times…
    Scary.. a few years back (10!?!?!) I heard Beverly Bradshaw on a local in DC.. WARO. Called her and freaked her out… lol.

    The ’73 sticker was wallpaper on my phone before I found this place… lol.

    All you freaks take care!!!
    Perryman ;-P

  24. Skillman&Audelia April 20, 2008 / 11:35 am

    Frampton tickets for $5, 3 finger lids at a Foghat concert, Friday nights at White Rock Lake, Whataburgers and roller skating rinks, bowling at 3am near Love Field after work, 74 mg midgets that could do things you would not believe, driving a brand new 455 Trans Am t-top to Town East, getting wasted at lake ray hubbard at the rope swing, hearing fooled around and fell in love for the first time at the upscale pool hall/pinball hangout. Losing it for the first time while listening to I Saw The Light by Todd Rundgren.

    I could go on and on. Happy 4-20! So many wonderful memories from Dallas 72 to Dallas 77.

    And yea, I did win a $100 bill from KNUS for being the 17th caller. I still have it on tape somewhere.

    I seem to remember a new eclectic station in 1975 coming on the scene around 91fm or 92fm. I started listening to them and one night I called the DJ and asked if I could stop by. It was late at night and the place when I arrived reminded me of a creepy haunted house. The station was inside this old victorian type house. Wish I could remember the station.

    LC LHHS 77

  25. Becky April 20, 2008 / 10:54 pm

    Ah, this takes me back. I moved to Dallas in 1978 after college. The first stations I found were the Zoo and Q102. I alternated between the two. LaBella and Rody were my favorite DJ team and I followed them to KZPS. LaBella’s voice was the only one I could stand to hear first thing in the morning; I miss him. One thing I’m trying to find out: the theme tune LaBella and Rody used, or maybe it was just Rody. I seem to remember it was called “Lightning” but I can’t remember who by or anything else about it. Anybody have any information?

    • Mike February 19, 2010 / 8:13 am

      The Song is called “Lightnin’ “.
      The group is Santana, off of the album Havana Moon.
      Great album, it also has Mexico (with Willie Nelson).

  26. DeWayne April 22, 2008 / 10:12 pm

    Nice work. I too remember KZEW with LaBella, Rody, and Rhyner in the mornings. Rhyner is still doing sports on AM 1310. I too would love to hear some Hunt James. Too funny..

    Born and raised in Fort Worth, now in Plano…

  27. semitough April 23, 2008 / 9:05 pm

    If that Foghat concert was at Tarrant County Convention Center and you sat near a group of guys drinking Wild Turkey straight from the bottle….that was me.

  28. semitough April 23, 2008 / 9:07 pm

    DeWayne – I feel much better about living in Plano now that I know there are some fellow Zoo Freaks around. 🙂

  29. Skillman&Audelia April 24, 2008 / 3:46 pm

    The Foghat concert I went to was Feb 6 1976 at Memorial Auditorium with J. Geils and Head East. I missed the November 7 1976 TCCC show.

    I think of all the years if I had to choose just one to be a groundhog day year it would be 1976 Dallas to live over and over again. I really miss those days and feel so lucky to have grown up then. Where else can you buy a fully loaded low mileage black 71 SS454 Monte Carlo for $2,800 cash and put 43 cents a gallon gas in it.

    There are some old Zoo radio commercials floating around the net from 1974 to 1977 or so advertising upcoming DFW concerts. It’s a trip to hear the old elephant roar at the beginning and end.

  30. semitough April 24, 2008 / 5:37 pm

    Former Zoo jock George Gimarc has a shedload of old concert commercials here. You can buy them on CD but there’s a sample you can listen to.

  31. GraceFromSoCal May 4, 2008 / 1:40 am

    You have no idea how happy I am to have found this! The ZOO was an integral part of my younger days, as I lived in Dallas for a long time, although I’m a California native now happily living back in SoCal.

    I had KZEW stickers–each one different–all over my car’s rear window, so many that one morning when I stopped by a live broadcast [from somewhere along LBJ Freeway], the ZOO staffers there asked for my permission to photograph the window. They took a bunch of pictures, and I’ve often wondered whatever happened to those pics! I wish I had copies now.

    I LOVED the stickers that came out for various events (concerts), and proudly applied each new one as they came out until I ran out of space. When I finally sold that car, it was heartbreaking having to say goodbye to my awesome collection of ZOO stickers. 😦

    Anyway, I’m glad to see that there are others who still appreciate the special thing that was KZEW. I miss it.

  32. arai May 31, 2008 / 7:28 am

    My favorite 70’s things,
    The elephant blast
    Standing at the escalator at North Park mall

    ah…the good ol days

  33. mwz June 27, 2008 / 12:46 am

    Just happened on this blog.. Do you remember the “Zoo Van ?” A custom van built for KZEW at our van shop in Dallas “Stadium Vans.” I was one of 3 or 4 who built the inside of that van and I assisted the painter hand paint the elephant on both sides.. The whole crew from KZEW showed up when we finished to pick it up.. I know we had pictures of us all but I don’t have any.. Small world eh ?

    • Lowell Highnote December 8, 2014 / 8:57 am

      I was the painter for the Zoo van. You must be Mike that helped me. Lots of tape work for that job. Good memories!

  34. patrick June 28, 2008 / 3:24 am

    I moved to Denton in ’86 from Az. by way of So.Cal. Rock and Roll Alternative kept me sane and aware while staying at the missile base. I still have the Bangles song on tape, as well as 50% of two shows, one featuring Mojo Nixon improvising “It’s Too Hot To Fornicate In Texas”. One of these days I will figure out how to hook up my old Sony tape deck to this here computer and I will upload wavefiles to the internet…………

  35. Mickey M July 14, 2008 / 11:17 am

    When everyone else was playing the emasculated, 3-minute version, the mighty ZOO played the unabridged version of Jethro Tull’s THICK AS A BRICK without interruption. Man to have media with those kinds of standards nowadays!

  36. Debbie August 13, 2008 / 12:09 pm

    I was just talking about the ZOO with a friend of mine the other night. I owe my excellent musical taste to those wonderful DJs! Long Live the Zoo, at least in our minds and hearts! I want a KZEW sticker if anyone has any to sell…

  37. crackersneck January 26, 2009 / 11:32 am

    I was 17 in 1974 when I moved to Dallas and found the ZOO. i went to the Goodwill Concert in Fair park. Admission was a bag of old clothing. Awesome. I remember the Frampton studio cut. I’ve told people about it and they looked at me like- you did too many drugs back then. Notwithstanding, it was good to hear about it again. I wish it was available somewhere. The live cut he released months later was pitiful compared to the ZOO studio cut. Anyone have this recording?

  38. semitough January 26, 2009 / 1:55 pm

    Thank for sharing Crackersneck. This has been one of my top posts so I know there are lots of other Zoo Freaks out there. I don’t know where you can get the Frampton cut, but I do know where you can hear it, try this link.


  39. R. August 6, 2009 / 8:02 am

    Yeah, baby! Zoo Freak from ’72. I may have one of those “Rot Your Mind” stickers still.

    Looks like the link to that song is gone now. 😦
    I have a copy of that Frampton tape. I recorded it on cassette, lord only knows if it’s still any good. I’ll have to try and find it and digitize it.

  40. JamesA October 10, 2009 / 2:31 pm

    Great to find the post and relive some great memories. I moved to Dallas in ’75 and grew up on the Zoo. One of my fondest memories was Zoo Free Sundays at the Texas Electric Ballroom, Cadiz and Industrial. Held about 500 -1000 people as I recall.

    I seem to remember one show there and the band came out blasting and there was this guitarist dressed up in a school boy uniform. WOW what a show!! I did not know who it was till months later. I miss Bon Scott…

    I still have some stickers, somewhere. I also still have my surplus military shirt they gave out at the Pink Floyd “Animals” release party.

    Thanks to all thos folks that were involved in making the Zoo such a great place and great memories

  41. steve November 21, 2009 / 12:19 pm

    what happened to Bill’s Records and Tapes on on Spring Valley
    near Coit?

  42. Billy jay May 7, 2010 / 7:51 pm

    The salesman were even cool guys at the zoo, they would give us T shirts, belt buckles , pens , stickers, really nice guys , Beverly Beesley had the sexiest voice i had ever heard

  43. Tad Thorton May 20, 2010 / 10:32 pm

    Does anyone have any photographs taken at the Zoo Goodwill Concert in April of 1976? Please let me know as I was there and would love to see them. Thanks!

  44. AL S July 13, 2010 / 2:44 pm

    I also remember seeing ACDC at the old Electric Ballroom for free. Not too many folks there as I remember since it was a Sunday night and back then “ACDC” meant something very different haha! But they really rocked the place and I remember going out the next day and buying my first ACDC album.

  45. thomas tucker September 23, 2010 / 2:44 pm

    Who were the guys who had the morning show in the late 70’s, and it started off in the morning with an alarm clock going off, and then some old-time funny cartoon music?

  46. zzz October 2, 2011 / 8:58 pm

    Labella and Rody?

  47. eric miller November 4, 2011 / 12:36 pm

    Aa a loyal and substaining most high member of The Royal Order of the ZEW KEE NEE mem # 467d of the Loyal Lodge I to this day “retain to reap benifits” my card issued by Labella & Rody

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