During the1920s Shreveport radio station KWKH was managed by William Kennon Henderson, who frequently broadcast recordings of "hillbilly" music and recruited local talent to perform for the station's listeners. Henderson sold KWKH in 1932, but the station continued to support regional music, and in 1948 the weekly Louisiana Hayride program began its first run on KWKH. Broadcast live from the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium, the Hayride featured not only country and western music but also rockabilly and even early rock. Regular performers included Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, Faron Young, George Jones, Merle Kilgore, Webb Pierce, and the Maddox Brothers & Rose, among others, and from 1954 to 1956, a young Elvis Presley was part of the weekly lineup. After 1960 the program was broadcast only sporadically, but in 1974 the Hayride started a thirteen-year run as a syndicated radio program under Shreveport businessman David Kent.
From the description of Louisiana hayride collection, 1904-2006 (bulk 1922-circa 1989 ). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 754392173
W.K. Henderson and KWKH Radio
The history of KWKH radio begins in 1922, when Shreveport, Louisiana, businessman William Kennon Henderson purchased a share of a small radio station from one of his employees, W.C. Patterson. The station initially was assigned the call numbers WGAQ and operated out of a studio in the Youree Hotel in Shreveport. In 1925 Henderson purchased a majority stake in WGAQ and relocated the station to his summer home, called Kennonwood, outside of Shreveport. Henderson also changed the call numbers to KWKH.
With KWKH up and running in Kennonwood, Henderson was eager to broadcast to a larger listening audience and began lobbying federal authorities for a more favorable wavelength and increased wattage. After these requests were denied in 1925, Henderson took matters into his own hands and increased KWKH's wattage without legal permission. This led to an investigation by Department of Commerce inspectors amid complaints from radio listeners across the country that KWKH was blocking reception of other programming.
During this time, Henderson began to use KWKH as a personal soapbox and gained a reputation for intensity and abrasiveness as he lambasted critics and accused the federal government of discriminating against the South. Behind the scenes, Henderson and his old partner, W.C. Patterson, sent out flurries of correspondence to U.S. senators, judges, the supervisor of radio in New Orleans, and even President Calvin Coolidge, continually requesting fair representation on the airwaves. Their crusade came to a crescendo in 1927 when, amid press coverage and a massive letter campaign, Henderson travelled to Washington to testify before the Federal Radio Commission. By the end of the decade, Henderson had secured his request to increase KWKH's power to 10,000 watts and successfully waged a legal campaign against an Oklahoma radio station, KVOO, that coveted KWKH's wavelength.
When Henderson wasn't waging legal battles, he was playing phonograph recordings and recruiting local talent to perform for his listeners. Eager to put a regional stamp on his broadcasts and support local music trends, he frequently played the "hillbilly" music that was popular in the area at the time. Henderson sold KWKH in 1932, but the seeds had been sown for the station to continue its support for the regional music that would so greatly influence the country and rockabilly genres.
The Louisiana Hayride
The Louisiana Hayride on KWKH radio began its primary run on April 3, 1948. Proclaiming itself the "Cradle of the Stars," the weekly radio program was broadcast live from the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium. The Hayride was one of several country and western style radio broadcasts that were popular at the time. What distinguished the Hayride was its willingness to branch into rockabilly and even early rock while providing a proving ground for young, aspiring, and often unknown artists. Indeed, the Hayride's raucous crowds and upstart musicians stood in stark contrast to the program's counterpart in Nashville, the Grand Ole Opry, which tapped into a more traditional and established line of country music performances.
Regular Hayride performers included country music legends, such as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, Faron Young, George Jones, Merle Kilgore, Webb Pierce, the Maddox Brothers & Rose, David Houston, and the Wilburn Brothers, among others. In 1954 a teenaged Elvis Presley signed on as a regular Hayride cast member. Presley would perform at the Hayride weekly from 1954 until April 1956. By that time, his popularity had exploded far beyond the Hayride audience and he was permitted to buy out the remainder of his contract. However, KWKH and the Hayride, which by then broadcast at 50,000 watts to audiences throughout the country and beyond, played a critical role in launching the early career of the King of Rock and Roll.
Hosted through the years by Horace Logan, Frank Page, and Norm Bale, the Louisiana Hayride was broadcast weekly until 1960. Unfortunately, the once proud "Cradle of the Stars" had eroded as musicians fled to Nashville for more lucrative opportunities and the popularity of rock and roll increased. Programming continued sporadically throughout the sixties until 1974, when the Hayride was reborn for a thirteen-year run as a syndicated radio program under Shreveport businessman David Kent.
From the guide to the Louisiana hayride, collection, 1904-2006, 1922-circa 1989, (Recorded Sound Reference Center, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division Library of Congress)
|creatorOf||Kent, Joey. Louisiana hayride collection, 1904-2006 (bulk 1922-circa 1989 ).||Library of Congress|
|creatorOf||Louisiana hayride, collection, 1904-2006, 1922-circa 1989||Library of Congress. Motion Picture, Broadcasting, and Recorded Sound Division|
|associatedWith||Army Air Forces||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Black, Bill, 1926-1965.||person|
|associatedWith||Film Arbor Studio||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Fontana, D. J.||person|
|associatedWith||Fontana, D. J.||person|
|associatedWith||Henderson, William Kennon, b. 1880.||person|
|associatedWith||Kent, David, 1923-1992.||person|
|associatedWith||KWKH (Radio station : Shreveport, La.)||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||McEachern, Langston, 1918-2004.||person|
|associatedWith||Patterson, A. C.||person|
|associatedWith||Paul Ambrico Photography||corporateBody|
|associatedWith||Presley, Elvis, 1935-1977.||person|
|associatedWith||Williams, Hank, 1923-1953.||person|
|Place Name||Admin Code||Country|
|Country music radio stations|
|Country music radio stations--Louisiana--Shreveport|