Longtime Texas Radio Exec Joe Leonard Jr. Passes
February 19, 2015 at 5:37 AM (PT)
JOE LEONARD JR., the man who founded FIRST W MEDIA Talk/Adult Standards KGAF (1580)/GAINESVILLE, TX, passed away last SUNDAY at 95. LEONARD started the first and, now, the only radio station in GAINESVILLE.
"He had a true interest in making this community a better community and I think that's why he started KGAF radio," said Operations Manager DEE BLANTON.
LEONARD started KGAF in 1947, while his family launched the GAINESVILLE DAILY REGISTER back in the late 19th century, but it was his time in the military that drew him to radio. LEONARD was a captain in the military whose assignment in signal corps got him interested in broadcast communications. After KGAF signed on, LEONARD started the local rockabilly LIN and KLIFF labels (featuring KENNETH COPELAND's million-selling Top 10 hit "Pledge of Love") and brought some well-known artists to town, including ELVIS PRESLEY, who visited the station for an interview, then performed in concert at the OWL PARK in downtown GAINESVILLE.
LEONARD served as the President of the TEXAS ASSOCIATION OF BROADCASTERS and was inducted into the ROCKABILLY HALL OF FAME, as well as the TEXAS RADIO HALL OF FAME.
"We try everyday to instill our work here at the radio station the values that were set forth in his innovating and pioneering days in the early 50's, and if we come even close to that we feel like we've had a success," said station GM STEVE EBERHART.
Funeral services will be held in GAINESVILLE at the ST. PAUL'S EPISCOPAL CHURCH at 11a (CT) on FRIDAY.