The Story of Gordon McLendon: Broadcaster, Film Producer, and Author

On this day, June 8 in the year 1921, the founder of Liberty Radio Network was born in Texas, USA. His name is Gordon McLendon who nicknamed himself as “The Old Scotsman”. At the time of his death, his estimated net worth was $250 million, equivalent to $6.4 billion in 2020.

Gordon McLendon
Gordon McLendon (Credit: bayarearadio.org)

Gordon was the son of a wealthy lawyer. The young boy grew up in Oklahoma and attended Kemper Military Academy in Missouri. As a student, he won a nationwide essay writing contest. In college, he took up foreign languages at Yale University where he also edited the Yale Literary Magazine and worked at the campus radio station. When World War II broke out, he served as a Japanese-language intelligence officer of the United States navy.

After graduating from Yale, he bought a radio station in Texas with the help of his father. His pioneering broadcast of live baseball and other sports games which he interspersed with news and contests made him very popular with listeners. In 1947, he and his father founded the radio station KLIF (The Mighty 1190) and introduced the top 40 format which became very successful. As he established more radio stations all over the country, he pioneered other radio formats such as all-news, traffic reports, jingles, and editorial.

To augment his radio stations, Gordon also established TV stations. However in 1970’s, he sold all of his broadcasting properties. His family then invested in real estates.

Gordon produced over 100 films, some of which were shot in his own ranch in Texas. As an author, he published several books on precious metals, politics, the history of radio and even spelling. In 1964 and again in 1968, he dabbled in Texan politics but he was unsuccessful.

In 1986, Gordon died of cancer at his ranch in Texas, leaving four children. He married twice and divorced twice. In 1994, he was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

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