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Bill Arhos: Austin City Limits Collection

A Guide to the Bill Arhos / Austin City Limits Collection, 1974-2014

Bill Arhos was co-creator of Austin City Limits and executive producer of the show until his retirement in 1999.  A Texas native and graduate of Rice University, he received his Master of Educational Administration from Texas A & M.  A semi-pro baseball player and a schoolteacher for part of his career, Arhos began working at KLRN-TV, now KLRU, in 1961.   He was an instructor in Radio/TV/Film at UT from 1965-1970.  He served six years on the PBS Board of Directors and completed two terms on the Country Music Association (CMA) Board of Directors in 1994.  Over four decades in public television, Arhos produced and directed educational and entertainment programs, series and specials, and served as program director, general manager, and president of KLRU. Bill Arhos died on April 11, 2015 at the age of eighty.

Bill Arhos made several archival donations to the Wittliff Collections from 2000-2014. His collection at the Wittliff totals over thirty boxes and includes several unique oversize artifacts.

Listed below are inventories for the Arhos Papers:


Bill Arhos Collection of Austin City Limits



9 boxes plus oversize & artifacts (5 linear feet)

(This is the original Finding Aid for the Initial archival donations received by Arhos, compiled in 2003. Scroll down to see detail about this collection as well as subsequent donations by Arhos in 2013 and 2014.)

Acquisition: Gifts donated by Bill Arhos, 2000 & 2002.

Access: Direct inquiries to Archivist, Wittliff Collections, 601 University Drive, San Marcos, Texas 78666-4604. (512) 245-2313. 

Processed by: Heather Milligan and Ruth Sullivan, 2003.



Austin City Limits, a television program showcasing musicians in concert performances, was founded in 1974 by Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) affiliate station KLRU-TV in Austin, TX. The show’s creators were Bill Arhos, then program director, as well as Paul Bosner and Bruce Scafe, who subsequently produced and directed programs for the series. Their aim was to develop a locally produced program that could attract national attention through distribution to PBS affiliates. Capitalizing on the growing Austin music scene of the 1970s, Arhos received PBS funding for a pilot show featuring Willie Nelson and Family. 

Station executives across the country liked the pilot and funded filming for Austin City Limits first season, thirteen shows that were taped in 1975 and premiered in 1976. Austin City Limits continues to follow that filming schedule with each season taped during one calendar year and aired the next. The one-hour programs usually pair two musicians, each given thirty-minute segments in which to deliver an uninterrupted, concert-style performance to a studio audience. Nationally known artists are often paired with lesser-known regional or local performers, giving those lesser-known artists a chance to be seen by the whole country. Although the mainstream country and progressive country genres have been staples of the program, Austin City Limits has also featured an eclectic mix of American music: jazz, blues, folk, pop and rock. Studio 6-A in the Communications building on The University of Texas (UT) campus is the permanent home for the show. Some members of the production crew have been with the show since the beginning. In November 2003, Austin City Limits became the first television program ever to be awarded the National Medal of Arts by the National Endowment for the Arts. 



The Austin City Limits Collection spans the years from 1974 to 2002. It is a diverse collection that contains documents and artifacts relevant to Austin City Limits and artists connected with the show, Bill Arhos (co-creator, executive producer and program director for Austin City Limits), the Austin Film Festival and PBS-KLRU/KLRN. The collection includes press clippings, publicity materials, photographs, correspondence, galley proofs for the book Austin City Limits by Cliff Endres, and memorabilia such as tee shirts, hats, backstage passes, posters, and tickets. Of particular interest are the press clippings and publicity items. These materials will serve as a valuable supplement for other research resources to reveal a comprehensive portrait of the operations & history of the show.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Series I: Press, 1974-2002

Box     Folder

1          1          1974-1979

1          2          198-1989

1          3          1990

1          4          1991-2002, undated

2          1-11     1975-2002, undated [oversized]

Series II: Publicity and Programming, 1975-1979

            Publicity, 1975-2002, undated

1          5          Austin City Limits, 1975-2002, undated

1          6          Artists

1          7          Austin Film Festival

1          8-9       PBS-KLRU / KLRN, 1975-1979

Map Dr.4        Three Austin City Limits Lone Star Beer publicity posters, 1976

                        Austin City Limits “Where the Music Lives” poster

                        Austin City Limits Budweiser beer publicity poster, “Swingin’ Over the Rainbow”

                        Willie Nelson’s 3rd Annual Fourth of July Picnic poster, 1975

                        3 album cover proofs for The Earl Scruggs Revue: Live! From Austin City Limits

Framed 16       Austin City Limits “A New Decade Poster”


3          1          Programming

Series III: Photographs

3          2          Austin City Limits

3          3          Artists

3          4          Bill Arhos, personal

Artifacts          Mounted black and white 20” x 24” photo of Bill Arhos and others performing

Series IV: Correspondence, 1977-1996, undated

Box     Folder

3          5          Correspondence, 1977-1996, undated

Series V: Austin City Limits by Cliff Endres, 1987

3          6          Uncorrected galley proofs

Series VI: Bill Arhos Papers

3          7          Award certificates and other papers

Series VII: Memorabilia and Artifacts, 1973-2002, undated

3          8-9       Bill Arhos Memorabilia

            Austin City Limits Memorabilia

4          1          ACL scrapbook – scanned images of original book, CD and printout

4          2-8       ACL scrapbook – disassembled scrapbook material. Five oversize photographs were removed and are house in box 5

4          9          Postcards and artwork

5                      Guitar pick, thumb pick, and note

6          1-5       Individual show tickets, 1983-1986, 1988, 1995, 2002

6          6          Backstage passes

            Austin City Limits T-shirts

7          1          Early logo t-shirt

7          2          Logo shirt with collar

7          3          “supported by Fritos” t-shirt

7          4          Tenth anniversary shirt

7          5          Fifteenth anniversary shirt

7          6          Season 22 celebration, February 18, 1997 (2 shirts)

7          7          “PBS Select & KLRU-TV present Marcia Ball & Jack Ingram,” June 22, 1997

7          8          Season 23 t-shirt

7          9          Season 23 celebration, May 14, 1998 shirt

            Artist T-shirts

8          1          Nanci Griffith shirt

8          2          Robbie Robertson “Making Noise” shirt

8          3          Kenny Wayne Shepard “Deja Voodoo Tour” shirt

8          4          The Mavericks “What a Crying Shame” shirt

            Other T-shirts

9          1          New Orleans “We Be Jazzin,” 1993

9          2          “A Day in the Life of Country Music,” May 7, 1993

9          3          “Rock & Roll” Fall 1995 PBS shirt

9          4          “Jazz Voices,” PBS shirt

            Tote Bags

9          5          “Sundance Institute”

9          6          “Austin Film Festival”

            Baseball Caps

10                    Austin City Limits

                        Waylon Jennings

                        American Music Shop

                        Jerry Jeff Walker

                        George Strait

                        TNN [The Nashville Network]

                        The Mavericks

                        Ned Blessing

                        Plum Creek

11                    The Arlo Guthrie Show wooden ammunition box


                             Life size cut-out of Kathy Mattea and Garth Brooks


                            Iron brand of Austin City Limits logo

Additional Archives Received from Bill Arhos

Accession 2013-045

received February 2013:

This donation includes nine boxes of items documenting Bill Arhos’ life and his work as the founder of “Austin City Limits.” This donation includes awards, certificates, photographs, letters, drawings, clippings, and memorabilia.

Box 1691 (1 of 9)
1691/1 Photograph-ACL Bill Arhos with: Mike Archenhold-Camera, Terry Lickona-Producer,
    Susan Caldwell-Assoc. Producer, Jeff Peterson-Assoc. Producer, Gary Menotti-Director
1691/2 Photograph-Bill Arhos c. 1984, photo by Beverly Spicer
1691/3 Photograph-Michael Martin Murphy [L to R: Ryan Murphy (son), Michael Martin Murphy, Bill Arhos]
1691/4 Photograph-Bill Arhos and Darrell Royal
1691/5 Photograph-Bill Arhos with a bass he caught in Bull Creek in Austin
1691/6 Photograph-Bill Arhos playing baseball (Arhos lettered for three years at Rice)
1691/7 Photograph-Photoshop photo of Bill Arhos’ face pasted on a picture “posing” with
    Tammy Faye Baker-this was done in honor of Arhos’ 60th birthday
1691/8 Photograph-Bill Arhos and former Rice baseball player, Lance Berkman
1691/9 Photograph-Baseball, three men in Rice uniforms
1691/10 Photograph-Bill Arhos playing baseball1697
1691/11 Photograph-The Festoons c. 1959 at the last Lion’s Club minstrel
1691/12 Photograph-“The Festoons”
1691/13 Photograph-Bill Arhos and Willie Nelson, c. 1976, prior to second season taping of
    entire “Redheaded Stranger,” Jerry Retzloff in background
1691/14 Photographs of Bill Arhos [3]
1691/15 Photograph-Dog in a tree, “Rio,” this dog belonged to J. T. Van Zandt, son of Townes Van Zandt
1691/16 Photographs of Bill Arhos at Rice receiving the Distinguished Alumnus Award-in the
          photo with him is Robin Shivers, she was a friend and she founded HAAM (Health Alliance for Austin
          Musicians). These photos were taken by Laura Jenkins, Bill Arhos’ daughter
1691/17 Photograph-Picture of Bill Arhos’ Irish Water Spaniel, Mance (named for Mance Lipscomb), “Playdog”
1691/18 Hologram of tennis player
1691/19 Photograph of Arhos’ Irish Water Spaniel, Mance (named for Mance Lipscomb) Mance
    passed away approximately a year ago
1691/20 Signed photo of the Oak Ridge Boys, 1987
1691/21 Invitation to the ACL 10th Anniversary event [2]
1691/22 PBS 1993 Advertising & Promotion Awards
1691/23 Austin City Limits, screener copies on CD-The Earl Scruggs Revue, John Hartford/The
    Dillards, and Mance
1691/24 Photograph-Basketball “Arhos shot tipped by Estes”
1691/25 Photocopy of newspaper clipping “Rice Takes Texas in 10 Innings, 4-2”
1691/26 Close Up February 1992, signed by Suzy Bogguss
1691/27 Letter from Chet Atkins to Bill Arhos, January 30, 1979
1691/28 “Country Music Legends” promotional piece for KLRU
1691/29 Photograph-Terry Lickona, Bill Arhos, Chet Atkins, Martha Coons, and Richard Coons
1691/30 “What Would Ernest Tubb Have Done?” bumper sticker
1691/31 Austin City Limits Pilot, Willie Nelson screener copy on CD, 2008
1691/32 Patches-Bi-Dist. Champs 1952 Basketball, Bi-Dist. Champs 1953 Baseball
1691/33 Certificate-“William Marsh Rice University Gratefully Acknowledges the Generous
    Contribution of Billy P. Arhos, ’57 for the Establishment of the Bill Arhos ’57 Endowed
    Scholarship in Cello” July 2008
1691/34 Newspaper clippings on Bill Arhos, Arhos’ report cards from Junior High School, and
    UIL Thirty-second Annual State Boys Championship Basketball Tournament program.
    All these items were collected by Arhos’ father and stored in a cigar box
1691/35 Cigar box used to hold Bill Arhos clippings located in previous folder
1691/36 Photograph-“The Waltz King” Bowie School April 11, 1946, Mrs. John Dunsmoor, Director
1691/37 Framed Gold Award presented to Southwest Texas Public Broadcasting Council for
    “Down Home Country Music”
1691/38 Awards-1996 and 1997 PBS Development Award, square plastic [2]
1691/39 Newspaper clipping regarding Bill Arhos’ distinguished Alumni award from Rice University,
              May 18, 2007
1691/40 Badges-ACL [5], Corporate Battle of the Bands [2]
1691/41 Plaque-“Engaging Conversations Benefiting Health Alliance for Austin Musicians”
    October 4, 2007; newspaper clipping “Poet laureate a ‘Texan’s Texan’”; two business
    cards: Keb Mo, Mickey Raphael
1691/42 ACL “Opening Night” packet February 24, 2011, plus Lyle Lovett concert ticket
1691/43 ACL T-Shirt “It All Started Here Studio 6A…”

Box 1692 (2 of 9)
Brown cowboy-type hat, from Texas Hatters, Bill Arhos inscribed on the inside
White Hydra Hat
White and gray baseball cap, “Rice 2003 NCAA National Champions”
White and blue baseball cap, “R” [Rice]
Gray and blue baseball cap, “R” [Rice]
Black and red baseball cap, “Baseball the American Epic”
Pink baseball cap, “MC2 Come On Come On”
Blue jean baseball cap, “BB King: King of the Blues Worldwide”
Wool baseball cap, “BB King: King of the Blues Worldwide”
Blue jean hat (similar to those worn by newsboys during the depression), which belonged to Gary P. Nunn, who
        gave it to Arhos

Box 1693 (3 of 9)
Wooden box containing 12 belt buckles-includes an ACL and Bob Wills belt buckle
Small box of sports medals won by Arhos as a young athlete and small charms [16 items]
Silver baptismal cup in a green felt case, engraved: “Billy Arhos Baptized July 28, 1935”
Limestone award “Austin Tourism Award 1997 Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau Bill Arhos” 8” x 3 ½”
Austin City Limits coffee mug
Leather belt with Austin City Limits belt buckle
PBS Encore! Refrigerator magnet and clip
Trophy “1st Place Championship Flight ‘72”
Brownie camera used by Bill Arhos when he was 12 years old
Polished antler piece with a feather and beads

Box 1694 (4 of 9)
Baseball glove Bill Arhos used as a pitcher at Rice, along with 4 special baseballs from key
games, which are signed, plus one signed by Ken Burns
Old rusted license plate, # 143233
Aluminum canteen
A piece of wood that Bill Arhos worked on, which is Texas Madrone and came from “the biggest
    Madrone in Travis County,” near Lake Travis, 21” x 4”

Box 1695 (5 of 9)
Ceramic cowboy animated music box, 13” x 7”

Box 1696 (6 of 9)
1696/1 Austin, Texas music cartoon, Traditional Country Fan vs. Progressive Country Fan,
    appears to be reproduction with possible artist corrections
1696/2 Patti Page album cover, signed and inscribed by Patti Page to Bill Arhos
1696/3 Signed Mance Lipscomb poster
1696/4 Gary P. Nunn album cover
1696/5 Photograph of Willie Nelson at Farm Aid in Ames, Iowa
1696/6 Time Magazine cover and article “And Now, the Chillout,” mentions KLRN-TV studio
1696/7 Poster/Sign “Austin City Limits is brought to you by Bill”
1696/8 Poster/Sign “MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour is sponsored in part by Bill”
1696/9 Photograph of Bill Arhos
1696/10 Drawing of a Native American by Dannelley
1696/11 Award certificate-The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers
    presents the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Braodcast Award to ACLs Bill Arhos
1696/12 Photograph of a child
1696/13 Photograph of Bill Arhos with cut-outs of musicians
1696/14 Calendar of Classic Blues Artwork from the 1920s, plus a blue’s CD
1696/15 ACL Country Music Stars 1993 calendar

Box 1697 (7 of 9)
1697/1 Certificate of Bill Arhos’ commission as Admiral in the Texas Navy, November 2, 1989
1697/2 National Educational Telecommunications Association award, November 1, 1999
1697/3 1982 Calendar, A Century of Baseball Cards
1697/4 Oversize print of a photograph of a child dressed as a pilot [Arhos?]
1697/5 2009, Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel poster
1697/6 Firing Line hand drawing, plus clipping with Bill Arhos holding the drawing

Item #1698 (8 of 9) Artifact Section
CD holder shaped like a guitar, given to Bill Arhos by Texas songwriter Jerry Lynn Williams, 55” x 15”

Item #1699 (9 of 9) Artifact Section
Vintage stick horse collected by Bill Arhos
3 canes used by Bill Arhos’ grandfather, including one from the Texas Sesquicentennial

Framed Art Row #15
Framed plaque/certificate recognizing Bill Arhos as a distinguished alumnus of Rice University, 28” x 20”
Framed ACL poster, “Eight Great Reasons to Watch Austin City Limits,” 34” x 23”

Mapcase Drawer #25
Vote for Kinky Friedman for Governor poster, signed, 20” x 28”
Austin City Limits poster, sponsored by Lone Star Brewing Co., 18” x 28”

Accession # 2014-124

received June 2014

Additional material for the Bill Arhos collection. The majority of material relates to the production of Austin City Limits, this donation includes correspondence, videocassettes, posters, and memorabilia.

BOX 1871 (1 of 5)
1871/1 Correspondence with University of Texas at Austin 1975-1976
1871/2 Memorandums Concerning KLRN-TV, 1972-1978
1871/3 Unsorted KLRN-TV Documents
1871/4 Pioneers of Country Music Cards
1871/5 Austin City Limits All Access Pass
-BOX A: 60 Assorted Buttons
-BOX B: 50 Assorted Buttons
 -Placard of Various Arrowheads
 -The Best of Austin City Limits Posterboard

BOX 1872 (2 of 5)
 “ACL #302 Steve Goodman. ACL #308 John Hartford/The Dillards” VHS
“Austin City Limits #302 Steve Goodman” VHS
“The Best of Austin City Limits” The Singers—The Songs Compilation Reel #2” VHS
“Willie Nelson: Texas Style” VHS
“Programming” VHS
“Nashville Now #932018 Air Date: 1/27/93” VHS
“#2113 Sagebrush Symphony” VHS
“Season 13 Reba McEntire 11/18/87” VHS
“KLRU Producers Circle Gift Copy of “Frontline: Hunting bin Laden” October 15, 2001” VHS
“Chet Atkins and Friends Music From the Heart (HBO/Cinemax Special)” VHS
“Sweet Dreams/A Christmas Story” VHS
“Blues Slide Guitar Workshop, 3-14-93” VHS
“Country Music Legends Various Artists” VHS
“VHS #21 Property KLUP Programming Department” VHS
“Delta Blues Guitar Taught by Rory Block” VHS
“Delta Blues Guitar #2 Taught by Rory Block” VHS
“Austin City Limits #302 Steve Goodman” VHS
“Austin City Limits #306 Doc Watson/Gove” VHS
“Austin City Limits #406 Leon Redbone/Steve Fromholz” VHS
“Wild Bill Arhos ACL Promo” VHS
“Austin City Limits #305 Chet Atkins/Merle Travis” VHS
“Austin City Limits #406 Leon Redbone” VHS
“Great Moments from Austin City Limits” VHS
“Floundering 12-3-92” VHS
“Front Row Center #306 Adam Holzman” VHS
“Solti at 75: A Celebration” VHS
“Austin City Limits #1206 Chet Atkins Primary (VT 1844) Bill and Roy Blount JR”VHS
“The Texas Connection Gatemouth Brown with Little Jake “Louisiana Zydeco”” VHS
“#2001 Vince Gill/Junior Brown” VHS
“#1501 George Jones/Carl Perkins” VHS
“Austin City Limits #108 B.W. Stevenson/Bobby Bridger” VHS
“Willie Nelson Salutes Texas” VHS
“George Jones & Friends: Hall of Fame Special” VHS
“The Texas Connection #918601 Jerry Jeff Walker with Willie Nelson & Kris Kristofferson” VHS

BOX 1873 (3 of 5)
“Austin City Limits #304 The Texas Playboys/Ernest Tubb” VHS
“Austin City Limits #107 Steve Fromholz” VHS
“Austin City Limits #203 Earl Scruggs Revue” VHS
“Austin City Limits #113 The Lost Gonzo Band/Jerry Jeff Walkers” VHS
“The Best of Austin City Limits: The Singers—The Songs Compilation Reel #1” VHS
“A Nitty Gritty Christmas One Hour” VHS
“MTV Networks VH-1 Behind the Music Willie Nelson” VHS
“The Arlo Guthrie Show KLRU-TV” VHS
“The Texas Connection #908601 Robert Earl Keen, Jr./The Artic Lounge Lizards and #908603 Songwriter’s
     Circle” VHS
“Austin City Limits #303 John Prine 1/20/00”
“Programming VHS #16 National Geo #1304” VHS
“The Texas Connection Sarah Hickman” VHS
“Chet Atkins Read My Licks” VHS
“Buddy Holly & The Crickets—A Tribute” VHS
“Austin City Limits #1506 Stevie Ray Vaughan/W. C. Clark Blues Revue” VHS
“Austin City Limits #107 Steve Fromholtz” VHS
“Austin City Limits #2112 Gatemouth Brown Keb’ Mo’” VHS
“Austin City Limits Stanley Jordan” VHS
“Austin City Limits All-Time Legends of Country Music” VHS
“Austin City Limits 13 The O’Kanes, 9/9/87” VHS
“The Women of Country 5/6/93” VHS
Empty DVD Box
Untitled DVD
“Austin City Limits Kinky Freidman, Nov. 11, 1975” U-Matic
“Bob Schenkkan Tribute” CD [2 Copies]
“Every Tub On Its Own Bottom 2011” CD

BOX 1874 (4 of 5) OVERSIZE
1874/1 Austin City Limits Country Music Starts Calendars, 1992 and 1993
1874/2 Nobody But Me and Home With the Armadillo Signed by Gary P. Nunn
1874/3 Salt of the Earth, Signed by Billy Joel Shaver
1874/4 Rusty Weir, Signed by Rusty Weir
-Arhos’s Letterman Jacket
-21.5” x 16.5” Austin City Limits Season 21 Poster
-16” x 22” Painting of KLRN Newsroom Poster
-17.5” x 23.5” The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Poster

BOX 1875 (5 of 5) OVERSIZE
“R” Wool Blanket

SWWC Framed Art Row 1
-42” x 32” Bill Arhos Talking with A Man at KLRN Poster on foam core
-36.5” x 41” Country Singer Playing Guitar Poster on foam core

Accession 2014-143

received November 2014

Additional material for the Bill Arhos archive. This collection contains articles, letters, photographs, and awards relating to Bill Arhos’s life and professional career with KLRU. This donation also contains various articles about Austin City Limits in magazines and newspapers.

Box 1881 (1 of 2)
1881/1 “Directing the Music Program” typed speech from R.D. Squier
1881/2 Photographs-Bill Arhos, ACL performers, one photo of Bill Wittliff, Morgan Fairchild, and Bill Arhos,
            and unidentified photos
1881/3 Photographs-Shakespeare play, 1964
1881/4 Photographs from anniversary dinner celebrating the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967
1881/5 Correspondence, 1980s-2004
1881/6 Austin City Limits-Typed radio/advertisement spot about a Willie Nelson/Tracy Nelson show
1881/7 KLRU notepad
1881/8 Arhos’s resume, clippings about the Rice Distinguished Alumni Award, business cards,
    VIP pass, 25th Annual ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award Winners list
1881/9 Resolution of Appreciation from the Country Music Association
1881/10 Austin Music Business Leadership Award, October 6, 1993
1881/11 Videocassette: Bill Arhos Tribute, February 18, 2000
1881/12 “Rice Owlmanac” includes listing of 2007 Distinguished Alumni Awards recipients
1881/13 Letters congratulating Bill Arhos on his retirement, 2000 [removed from scrapbook]
1881/14 Austin City Limits second season program information packet
1881/15 The Schedule KLRN-TV Channel 9 booklets
1881/16 KLRN 4th Annual Auction Workshop packet
1881/17 Two Austin City Limits Glen Campbell programs
1881/18 Austin City Limits articles in magazines
1881/19 Austin City Limits articles in magazines
1881/20 Newspaper clippings, 1979-1980
1881/21 Newspaper clippings
1881/22 Newspaper clippings
1881/23 The Good Life featuring article “KLRU-TV Public Television Beyond Limits” and two
    copies of the Austin Business Journal featuring photo of Arhos celebrating his Rice
    Distinguished Alumni Award
1881/24 Photocopies of articles about Bill Arhos in the Austin Business Journal and the Austin
1881/25 Letter to Phyllis Maniatis, invitation to a celebration in honor of Bill Arhos, one napkin
    printed with “Bill Arhos ‘he set the standard,’” unidentified photograph, and newspaper clippings
1881/26 Austin City Limits articles

Box 1882 (2 of 2)
1882/1 Austin City Limits articles in Texas Monthly magazines
1882/2 Austin City Limits articles in Texas Monthly magazines
1882/3 Austin City Limits articles in Texas Monthly magazines and Texas Highways
1882/4 Newspaper article about Bill Arhos in the Austin Business Journal, April 1999