Gordon McLendon was born in Paris, Texas, on 8th June, 1921. The family moved to Oklahoma when he was a child. McLendon studied Far Eastern languages at Yale University. While at university he ran the campus radio station and was business manager for the Yale Literary Magazine.
During the Second World War he accepted a commission in the United States Navy and worked as an interpreter, translator and interrogator. Later he joined armed forces radio.
After the war McLendon returned to Texas and joined the KNET radio station. Eventually he established his own radio station, KLIF, in Dallas. His first innovation was to provide live baseball broadcasts.
In 1947 McLendon and his father, Barton McLendon, founded the Liberty Broadcasting System (LBS). By 1952 LBS was the second largest radio network in the United States. The McLendon family eventually owned a large number of radio stations including KNUS-FM (Dallas), KOST (Los Angeles), WYSL-AM (Chicago), KABL-FM (San Francisco), KILT (Houston), KTSA (San Antonio) and KELP (EL Paso).
It has been claimed that McLendon was the first person to introduce the traffic reports, jingles, all-news radio station and "easy-listening" programmes. This included his attacks on federal aid to education, racial desegregation of public schools and equal voting rights for all races.
In 1963 rumours began to circulate that McLendon might have been involved in the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In their book, Deadly Secrets, Warren Hinckle and William Turner claim that Gerry P. Hemming obtained money from McLendon to help fund Interpen.
McLendon was also an associate of Jack Ruby as well as being friendly with several other suspects including Clint Murchison, Bobby Baker and David Atlee Phillips. Peter Dale Scott claims that McLendon made a secret trip to Mexico City just before the assassination.
According to Seth Kantor when Ruby was arrested he "shouted out for Gordon McLendon". The KLIF disc-jockey, Weird Beard, later told Kantor that Ruby "greatly admired McLendon".
McLendon was also a film producer and in 1959 made three movies: The Killer Shrews, The Giant Gila Monster and My Dog Buddy. He was also ran the advertising campaigns for 150 movie and between 1963 and 1966 McLendon worked for United Artists. McLendon was also the author of several books including How to Succeed in Broadcasting (1961), Correct Spelling in Three Hours (1962) and Understanding American Government (1964).
A member of the Democratic Party, McLendon attempted to unseat Ralph Yarborough in 1964. He later left the party saying he could no longer support the policies of Lyndon B. Johnson.
McLendon sold KLIF for $10.5m in 1971. Over the next eight years he sold the rest of his radio stations for approximately $100m. Later it was estimated that McLendon was worth around $200m.
In 1975 McLendon and David Atlee Phillips formed the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO).
By 1985 Forbes Magazine claimed that McLendon was worth around $200m.
Gordon McLendon died of cancer on 14th September, 1986.