Discovering the Advantages of Radioby
was at my second job in radio that I began to discover some of the great perks
of being in that business. There was a country show every Saturday night in Shreveport,
about 45 miles north of our location. It was called The Louisiana Hayride and
produced by radio station KWKH. Many of country music's biggest stars made their
debut on that show. A few come to mind such as Jim Reeves, Johnny Horton, Slim
Whitman, Faron Young, Jim Ed Brown and many more I'll probably think of later.|
future star was Floyd Kramer, famous for his instrumental "Last Date". He had
a small group that was playing for a dance in our town. He stopped by the radio
station to try to get some plugs for the dance in exchange for a free broadcast
on our air waves. The station manager would not hear of it and turned them down
flat. As the dejected group was leaving I followed them to the parking lot to
try to smooth the waters the best I could.
Floyd held no animosity toward
me for he knew I had tried to sell the manager on the idea and failed.
Before he left he told me that the doors were always open to deejays from other
stations at the Louisiana Hayride. It was good public relations for the show because
it encouraged us to play their records and to talk about the Louisiana Hayride
on our stations. As soon as I could make it I showed up at the stage entrance
and timidly told the man at the door who I was and what I wanted. I had no reason
to be afraid because I received a very warm welcome. After that they called me
by name and waved me on through without hesitation.
It wasn't long before
I was on first name basis with all the performers. Country music artists are inherently
friendly and down to earth people. I chatted like old friends with Jim Reeves.
He was one of the many true gentlemen in the business, thus his title of "Gentleman
Jim". After several visits to the show I got the idea of having a benefit for
our local March Of Dimes campaign. I mentioned it to Jim and he took charge of
the whole thing. He beckoned me to follow him as he went to a selected group of
performers and told them to join him on the given day of the benefit. They didn't
dare refuse this noble man. I was humbled by the experience. Then I really became
aware of the advantages of being in the radio business.
The master of
ceremonies was a fellow named Horace Logan. Even until this day I have not seen
a more polished professional than he was. I have been to the Grand Old Opry and
as far as stage production was concerned the Louisiana Hayride was a much smoother
show. I studied everything he did and later when I got my chance to MC productions
the things I learned from him helped me immensely. Horace offered me the honor
of becoming the DJ of the week on one of the future shows. That meant I would
be put up in Shreveport's finest hotel with room service and then introduced on
the stage before a huge house audience plus their tremendous radio network audience.
It was one of the highlights of my career.
As I visited backstage that
night I noticed a young fellow dressed in a sport coat and with slacks and shod
in white buck shoes. All the other performers wore embroidered suits studded with
rhinestones so he stood out like a sore thumb. I inquired about him from one of
the artist's managers. He told me he as a new kid from Memphis that had created
quite a sensation there. In a very commanding voice he called him over. The young
man politely strolled over and introduced himself to me. That was the first time
I heard the name Elvis Presley. He asked me if I had any of his records and I
was sorry to say I didn't. He instructed his guitar player, Scotty Moore to run
down to his car and get me all his records. They were the old 78s. Elvis probably
didn't know how insignificant I was in the overall scheme of the music business
but I doubt if he would have been any less polite had he known.
as Elvis took the stage the place went berserk. I didn't know he had been there
the week before and his newfound fans were ready for him. I stood there in awe
as he captivated the audience completely. I turned to the fellow who had introduced
us and expressed my opinion that this young fellow had a tremendous future in
the business. He replied that it was all done with smoke and mirrors and his records
would never sell because he had no talent, only an unorthodox presentation. When
I saw this artist manager many months later he was having a heaping helping of