ARHOS, BILLY PHILIP "BILL" (1934 ~ 2015). The following is an article written upon the death of Bill Arhos, father of PBS television show Austin City Limits. The article was written by KLRU staff member Maury Sullivan upon Arhos's death.
KLRU-TV, Austin PBS and the family of Bill Arhos are sad to announce the passing of the longtime station executive, who most regard as the father of Austin City Limits. Arhos died Saturday, April 11th, at the age of 80. His life’s work was devoted to KLRU, public media and music. He served in many positions during his nearly 40-year career at KLRU, joining in 1961 to help launch the public television station. Over the years, Arhos served as Producer, Program Director, Vice President of Programming, Executive Producer of Austin City Limits (1975-1999), and President/General Manager from 1986 until his retirement in 1999. He also served on the boards of PBS and the Country Music Association. Arhos was a proud graduate of Rice University, graduating in 1957. Rice honored Arhos in 2007 with the Association of Rice Alumni’s Distinguished Alumni Award.
Arhos will always be remembered best for his vision and passion that drove Austin City Limits to become the longest-running music series in American television history. In 1974, KLRU (then KLRN) hatched the idea to create a music performance show. The pilot was shot on October 14, 1974, starring up and coming singer-songwriter Willie Nelson and the rest is history.
“I’ve never met anyone like Bill Arhos,” says ACL Executive Producer and longtime colleague Terry Lickona. “He was a real character, known and loved not just in Austin but throughout the PBS system. The idea for Austin City Limits was not just his alone, but he brought it to life, and he kept the show going and growing through some difficult times. Whether they know it or not, millions of music fans, artists and PBS viewers owe a debt to him for his enormous contribution to what’s become a cultural institution.”
Called the “spirit” of the show, Arhos was inducted into the Austin City Limits Inaugural Hall of Fame last year, honored for his vision, passion and dedication. In accepting the award Arhos’ trademark wit was evident when he said: “It’s a little intimidating to be in a class of the first inductees, and three of the four have bronze statues around town.”
KLRU’s current general manager Bill Stotesbery says, “Bill Arhos was a legend in public media, respected for his creativity, energy, and persistence. From day one, he dedicated himself to building a station that was a national leader in production, and he set a standard that others seek to achieve. He will be missed greatly.”
Arhos will be buried in a private ceremony at the Texas State Cemetery alongside other Texas legends. Details about his service and a celebration of his life will be forthcoming.
The family requests donations to the Bill Arhos Fund at KLRU in lieu of flowers.