Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

Taking a Radio Show on the Road

Magazine article St. Louis Journalism Review

Taking a Radio Show on the Road

Article excerpt

(Editor's note: Information for this article was provided by the St. Louis Media Archives at the St. Louis Public Library.)

In the 1930s and '40s, dueling furniture stores in St. Louis created a unique situation in programming, the true travelling radio show.

Uncle Dick Slack sponsored several shows on KMOX that featured full hillbilly bands, complete with staff comedian. The competition, Carson, Union, May, Stern had to do something on the radio to compete. They created their own hillbilly band, variously known as the Carson Cowboys and Carson's Melody Roundup. But KMOX already had all the hillbilly music it wanted, and Dick Slack wisely maintained that monopoly. Carson's had to find another broadcast outlet for its band. Itchose three different stations.

This was fine With the stations. KSD, WEW and KWK were glad to get the advertising income. WEW even ran the show Monday through. Saturday, but KSD and KWK wanted only Saturday morning broadcasts. This is where the fun began.

Pat Pijut has firsthand memories of the Carson Cowboys, having performed on the show in 1942 and 1943. She was 11-years-old at the time. Her sister, who was also a regular on the program, was 18. "I had been to the radio stations and watched her on the show with my parents when I was younger. I assumed later that Grand-pappy Jones [the bandleader and program emcee] had talked to my mom about me coming on the program," she said.

The performers had to do three different shows on three different stations every Saturday morning. "Those who were on the first half of the show would arrive at the Chase Hotel at about 5:30 in the morning," says Pijut. There was little rehearsal or preparation. "We would find out what song we'd be performing when we got to the KWK studios. My sister and I would go over into a corner or into another studio and go through the song a couple times. …

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