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Texas Thunder Radio moves to Shiner

Sonny Long

By Sonny Long
Sept. 6, 2013 at 4:06 a.m.
Updated Sept. 7, 2013 at 4:07 a.m.

Egon Barthels is returning to the air with Texas Thunder Radio in Shiner, which has just relocated from Hallettsville. Barthels was a radio personality with Steve Coffman at Texas Radio in Victoria several years ago.

SHINER - Thunder has rolled into Shiner.

Texas Thunder Radio has relocated its studio from Hallettsville to Shiner, increased its power and brought back Egon Barthels, an on-air personality well-known for his days in Victoria with Steve Coffman playing and promoting Texas music.

Barthels, who has worked at KCTI in Gonzales the last five years as station manager and program director, is excited about being back on airwaves that can be heard in the Victoria area.

"It's like a homecoming," Barthels said. "I am excited to work with this team. I think it's going to be a lot of fun."

That team includes station owners Travis and Laura Kremling, who are thrilled with the changes, especially the increase in power.

"The only way we can grow in our coverage is to change the channel and increase the power," said Laura Kremling.

What was 92.5 KYKM is now on the dial at 94.3 FM. Its power has been increased from 3,000 watts to 6,000 watts. The station, that simulcasts with 99.9 FM, also streams live on TexasThunderRadio.com.

"We're reaching Victoria, Edna, even Lockhart," said Kremling. "We are really excited about Egon being on board with us, and he's excited about what we are doing here."

Barthels and Laura Kremling have a work history together.

They both started working with Coffman in Hallettsville, then helped him launch Texas Mix, KTXN 98.7 FM, in Victoria in 1998.

"We work well together," Kremling said of Barthels.

"We bounce ideas off each other."

Kremling started as a secretary with Coffman, moved to sales and promotion and eventually found herself on the air.

"I was scared to death," she recalled. "My hands would get clammy, and I'd get cotton mouth.

"Egon would stand at the window and say, 'Talk to me.' I eventually got over my fear."

Kremling said she has learned a lot since those early days.

"You realize you are talking to all these people, especially in Hallettsville, Shiner and Yoakum. It's pretty much the only station they can pick up," she said.

"We cater to the community. That's why we do local news, promote charitable events, read obituaries and read school lunch menus."

The Kremlings bought the radio stations in 2008.

She is a Hallettsville High School graduate, while her husband graduated from Shiner High. They have two daughters.

Travis Kremling worked as a sound engineer for the band the Emotions for 10 years.

The couple has a balanced working partnership.

"Music has always been a big part of our relationship. Travis takes care of the music and programming plus the engineering side of the stations, and I take care of the business side," Kremling said.

"We're one of the few stations that have live DJs all day long," she added. "When we do program music, we program it ourselves. There's no satellite programming."

Barthels, a 1996 graduate of Gonzales High School, credits the late Coffman with teaching him a lot about radio.

"I was very fortunate that I got a chance to meet Steve and learn radio the way he taught it," Barthels said.

"It was personality radio - not sitting behind the microphone reading a lineup card. He added personality and local flavor.

Barthels was around 17 when he started working with Coffman.

"Steve taught me how to inform and entertain."

Tom Donnelly, now the Hallettsville city administrator, was the second owner of what is now 94.3 FM, buying the station 25 years ago and owning it for seven years.

"I still listen to Texas Thunder every day and once in a while do a ball game for Laura and Travis," Donnelly said.

"Local radio is a lot of fun. You become very close to your listeners. It was a lot of work with very long hours but rewarding."

Barthels wants to reconnect with his former listeners on Texas Thunder.

"Save us a button on the car radio. We just want one button."



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