SAN ANTONIO RADIO HALL OF FAME
Jack Roth was born in San Antonio in 1926, the son of Eugene and Dorothy Roth. His father, known in the local broadcast industry as “Papa Gene”, was the founder of KONO Radio, the fourth oldest AM frequency in the Alamo City. Gene started the station as KGRC in a room over his mechanics garage and bicycle shop in downtown San Antonio the year after Jack was born. So, you could say, Jack and KONO grew up together.
After serving as an aviation radar technician in the U.S. Navy during World War II, Jack came home and eventually inherited KONO from his dad… bringing a new energy that soon electrified the station. After radio’s golden era, KONO aired country and western music, but in the ’60s and ’70s, Jack would turn it into the city’s number one Top 40 station and earning it a national reputation as one of the nation’s best Top 40 formats.
During this era, the “Radio Wars” between KONO and rival station KTSA were legendary. In one classic promotion, Jack walked around San Antonio in character as the “KONO Millionaire,” a mysterious man who would hand out cash to people. The KONO disc jockeys started airing a "phrase of the day" once per hour, and listeners who spotted the millionaire walking the streets and could tell him that phrase would have money handed to them.
The six-week promotion ended when a woman was injured when a crowd estimated at around 35,000 gathered to see the “KONO Millionaire.” The Hooper ratings company showed the station's total audience share on the final Sunday of the promotion at a staggering 97 percent.
Jack with other family members started the ABC television affiliate, KONO-TV, now KSAT Channel 12, in 1957. Jack was President of Mission Broadcasting Company, a company consisting of six radio stations in four cities including KONO and sister station KITY-FM. After selling his broadcast properties in 1986, he opened an offsite parking facility at the Austin Airport and a travel agency in 1992.
Jack Roth served as President of the Texas Association of Broadcasters and was a member of the Board of Directors for Alamo Area Council of the Boy Scouts of America, Director of the San Antonio Zoological Society, and a Director of the American Red Cross.
Jack Roth passed away in 2009 at the age of 83.