ACL Austin City Limits founder Bill Arhos

Austin City Limits founder Bill Arhos

The father of Austin City Limits, Bill Arhos, passed away on April 11 in Austin, Texas. He was 80.

Arhos worked for nearly 40 years as an executive at the Austin PBS station KLRU-­TV, beginning in 1961 with the station's launch and including a run from 1986 until his retirement in 1999 as president and general manager. He was executive producer of Austin City Limits from its start in 1974 up through 1999.

He also served on the boards of PBS and the Country Music Association.

A graduate of Rice University, Arhos was honored by his alma mater in 2007 with the Distinguished Alumni Award.

The pilot for Austin City Limits, featuring Willie Nelson, was shot in October 1974 and distributed to a network of about 50 PBS stations beginning in 1975.

“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,” said ACL executive producer and longtime colleague Terry Lickona. “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.” 

Arhos was inducted into the inaugural Austin City Limits Hall of Fame last year for his vision, passion and dedication to the show. He was honored at the show’s original studio home along with Nelson, Darrell Royal and Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.