Saturday, March 1, 2014

KIOX, Bay City - Part 2

See the First Part here.

Broadcasting Magazine took note of a promotion on KIOX in the fall of 1949.  'Cowgirl Sweethearts on Parade' was based on the popularity of disc jockey Charlie Walker, the Singing Cowboy, and his Half Circle W Roundup program on KIOX,   All the Long stations were participating and there were said to be 300 entrants.  Culmination of the promotion would be at the Bay City Rice Festival that year and a short film would be produced.  Billboard Magazine also noted the contest in it’s January 14, 1950, issue, the earliest mention of KIOX in that trade publication.  Walker was said to be touring 56 of the Long theatres in Texas with the 15 minute film which also featured some of his show.  Other mentions of Walker and KIOX in Billboard included his Texas Ranger Club, in conjunction with a beverage sponsor, which offered premiums to members based on the number of bottle caps collected, and when he sent out an invitation for country artists to stop by his show.  In March, 1951, Walker departed KIOX for a gig at KMAC, San Antonio, and mentions of KIOX in the pages of Billboard became much rarer.

Charlie Walker was born in Copeville, Texas, and while with the 8th Army Signal Corps in the Tokyo Occupation forces was credited with being the first dj to play country music for the troops in the Orient.  After the war, he and his band, the Texas Ramblers, performed in and around Corpus Christi before he got into radio again.  He became a hugely popular country disc jockey in San Antonio, scored a recording contract and a number of hits, moved to Nashville where he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry and eventually was inducted into the Country Radio DJ Hall of Fame.  According to the Encyclopedia of Country Music, he opened his show with ‘This is ol’ poke-salad, cotton-picking, boll-pulling, corn shucking, snuff-dipping Charlie Walker.’  Neither his Wikipedia entry nor his entry in the Encyclopedia of Country Music mentions his stint at KIOX, however.

Another famous alumnus of KIOX was Texas and Georgia Radio Hall of Famer Kent Burkhart, who, in the book Turn It Up!  American Radio Tales 1946-1996, relates walking into Johnny Long’s office at KIOX when he was not yet 14 and asking him for a 15 minute show to play records for kids.

Though the Bay City Tribune is not available, more insight into the early programming of KIOX comes from the pages of the Freeport Facts (later Freeport Facts and Daily Review when it became a daily).  The Brazosport area is only about 35 miles from Bay City and possibly even at that time had a greater population than all Matagorda Co. and was undoubtedly the largest populated area within the range of the KIOX signal that didn’t have its own radio station.  KIOX tried to function to some extent as a local station for the Brazosport area, taking advantage of Johnny Long’s Showboat Theater on 2nd Street in downtown Freeport as a stage for many broadcasts.

The earliest mention of KIOX in the Facts occurred on July 24, 1947,when it was reported two representatives of the station (not air personalities) had visited a meeting of the Freeport Kiwanis Club.  The station’s coverage of that fall’s Freeport Lions Carnival had to be postponed in August because of a storm and a live broadcast in conjunction with the carnival from the stage of the Showboat failed to make it on the air because of technical difficulties but even by that time the First Baptist Church of Freeport had a program and the station had covered a meeting of the Brazosport Chamber of Commerce.  


One of the most ambitious offerings by the station was a quiz show ‘Ladies be Good,’ beamed from the Showboat on Thursday afternoons, offering prizes not only for those who were contestants on the show but also for members of the theater audience.  There was also a baking contest, a live concert of the Freeport High School Band (staged before the beginning of the evening’s features and included in the price of admission) and a staging of Handel’s Messiah by a choir and orchestra composed of members from all over the area plus many other broadcasts.  There was also regular coverage of the Brazoria County Fair in the autumn.  The fair billed itself as the largest county fair in Texas and KTHT, KLUF and KLEE also covered some events.  There were also sponsor remotes from clothing stores, furniture stores and appliance stores.  Incidentally, none of the mentions in the Facts ever listed the frequency as 1110 kc.

If the station was doing this much in a community other than it’s City of License, it’s likely it was doing at least as much in Bay City and possibly in other towns within its coverage area.


To Be Continued.

Images above from the archives of The Facts on newspapers.com

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