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Radio Dot and Smokey
WMMN Sagebrush Roundup
WSM Grand Ole Opry
WCHS Charleston, WV
WHIS Bluefield, WV
WMMN Fairmont, WV
WRAK Williamsport, PA
WSM Nashville, TN
KWKH Shreveport, LA (1943)

About The Artist

Dottie Lou Swan - Two Months Old The husband-wife team of Radio Dot and Smokey, comprised of Dorothy Maxine Henderson and Louis W. Swan, spent eighteen years as a radio team prior to their split in 1956. Swan, who was known to radio listeners as Smokey, was born in East Liverpool, Ohio around midnight on January 6 or 7, 1906.

He spent much of his early adulthood roaming around and indulging in v arious aspects of show business. Swan married a woman named Mabel Cumberledge and had at least one son named Jack. Later the couple divorced.

In January 1938, he appeared at WMMN radio in Fairmont, West Virginia where he met radio veteran Dorothy Henderson known as "Radio Dot."

Dot was nearly a decade younger and had been born in Hundred, West Virginia on August 27, 1916. There were other members of her family who had music careers.

Dot completed high school in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania and briefly attended Eastern Nazarene College, but she was apparently distracted by interest in a radio career and joined forces with Cowboy Loye and his Bluebonnet Troupe by January 1937. She moved with Loye to WMMN Fairmont a few months later, but soon went on her own.

By October, she formed an outfit which she called her Jubilee Boys. The band consisted of Dot on vocals, Big John Stockdale on fiddle, Little John Graham on guitar, and Fred Wells on tenor banjo. Graham left after several months over a salary dispute and went to work with Murrell Poor's Trading Post Gang.

Radio Dot and Smokey - October 1945
Radio Dot and Smokey - June 1945

Soon Dot's band included her brothers Jack and Ted Henderson, and Smokey Swan whom she soon married. Ted and Jack shortly went on their own as the "Sunshine Brothers; later band members came and went.

Radio Dot and Smokey traveled around to other stations including those in Huntington (where they also operated a park), Charleston, Topeka, and Shreveport, and back in Fairmont. Eventually they settled in Nashville where they worked as an opening act for Ernest Tubb. In 1947 they were featured in the Tubb motion picture Hollywood Barn Dance.

Billboard magazine reported that Radio Dot & Smokey appeared as guests on the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday, February 23, 1946.

Promo Ad - Roy Acuff - Radio Dot and Smokey - Monroe LA - 1949
Promo Ad - Ernest Tubb - Radio Dot and Smokey - Boston MA - 1949

Over the years they published several songbooks and Dot wrote a few songs which were recorded by others such as "Don't Judge Your Neighbor" (Roy Acuff) and "Let the Light Shine Down" (Bill Monroe).

Folio Cover - Radio Dot and Smokey - Opening Up The Gates Of Gladness
A song book published by Radio Dot & Smokey included a tribute page to both of their parents. Radio Dot dedicated it to Mrs. Goldie Henderson, whose tender love and care still guides me. Smokey dedicated it to Mrs. Anna Swan, in loving memory of my mother, a noted Evangelist who passed to hear heavenly reward in 1915. The page included a verse from "Opening Up The Gates of Gladness:"

We are opening up the gates of gladness

On the road to sunshine land,

We are opening up the gates of gladness

When she took me by the hand,

Yesterday was the day

that she showed me the way,

And to-day I can understand

We are opening up the gates of gladness

On the road to sunshine land.

Radio Dot and Smokey; WSM Opry House Matinee - Circa 1947

On December 3, 1955, Radio Dot & Smokey were part of a show that "broke the house record" at the Circle Theater Jamboree in Cleveland. The headliner was Hawkshaw Hawkins. Also on the show were Jean Shepard and Del Wood. The group of performers played before 2,600 in two performances, breaking a record previously held by Mac Wiseman and Slim Whitman.

However, the Swans never recorded themselves until 1954 when they did four songs for MGM as Dot and Smokey. Not long afterward in 1956, the couple divorced. In February 1955, Billboard implied that the duo were to record several tunes written by Dot for the MGM label.

Smokey went back to Pennsylvania where he worked in a clothing store and as an auctioneer until he died on January 29, 1980.

Dot continued in music, recorded a few singles, went back to WWVA for a time as Dottie Swan, and then ran a "private club for entertainers" until her death on December 1, 1972.

Her daughter Dottie who was born in Topeka in 1939 subsequently married Jimmie Rodgers Snow and then Glenn Douglas Tubb (nephew of Ernest).

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-Music.com would like to express its thanks to Ivan M. Tribe, author of Mountaineer Jamboree — Country Music in West Virginia and other books that can be found on Amazon.com and numerous articles in other publications for providing us with information about this artist.
  • American Folk Tunes - Cowboy and Hillbilly Tunes and Tunesters; March 16, 1946; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Folk Talent & Tunes; February 12, 1952; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH
  • Folk Talent & Tunes; December 24, 1955; The Billboard; Cincinnati, OH

Appearance History This Month

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  11969 A Contact
  11969 B Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
  12177 A You're No Good
  12177 B Now That You Know

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