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KCUL Cowtown Hoedown
KCUL
Fort Worth, TX
Year Started:  1957
Year Ended:  1961

KCUL Cowtown Hoedown

Our research into this show began when one of its youngest members in the 1950's contacted us. Don Lunn sent us a program from the show and it took off from there.

The earliest mention we have found of the show is from an article in January 1957 that indicated a young singer (13 years old) by the name of Wanda Gann was appearing once a month on the show

KCUL Cowtown Hoe Down Program with Don Lunn

We learned that quite a few folks were associated with the show. It appears to have had its own record label - Cowtown Hoedown - as we found a record released by Dick Hart, "Everybody's Sweetheart, Nobody's Fool" b/w "Time Out for the Blues".

The Texas Louisiana area was rife with many shows - the Big D Jamboree out of Dallas, the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, the Red River Jamboree in Paris, Texas and we learned for the first time of a show called the Reilly Springs Jamboree out of Sulphur Springs, Texas.

Charlie Walker wrote in his "Southwest Reports" in 1957 that some of the acts on the show were Frankie Miller, The Callahan Brothers and "Spoons" Hallam.

In May 1958, Cashbox told readers that Bill Smith and Bill Thompson of LeBill Music along with Jack Henderson with the Cowtown show had formed their own label as well - Majestic Records named after the theater the show was held in. The first release on the label was a tune dubbed "Sittin' Spittin' And A Whittlin'" b/w "Buttermilk Blues" by J. B. Brinkley and written by Hal Smith, said to be a St. Louis Cardinal shortsop with his brother Ron Smith.

Speaking of the Majestic Theatre, there is a site that provides some background / postcard of the theater.
Majestic Theater

Horace Logan was program director for KCUL in mid 1958 and he told Cashbox and Billboard readers that two people that had met on the show had decided to 'sign a lifetime contract' and were to get married on the May 31, 1958 broadcast. They were Joy Edwards, a member of the Melody Five Band and Lonnie Thompson, the vocalist with the Troublesome Three. The show gave the couple a wedding gift of a trip to Las Vegas and staying at the Wilbur Clark's Desert Inn.

The show would attract the name stars as they passed through town and perhaps Horace Logan knew how to get that mentioned in the trade publications. Faron Young was to play the July 5, 1958 show.

The Browns appeared on the show on June 14, 1958; Bobby Helms on June 21. Horace Logan thought the show was going great with its two hour broadcast - they had sold 90 minutes of the show commercially.

In November 1958, Parker Wilson had joined the KCUL team and was sharing Cowtown Hoedown MC duties with Horace Logan and Jack Henderson. Parker was the MC for the Lightcrust Doughboys for many years.

Jim Reeves appeared on the show on November 8 with his band. Horace told readers also on the show were Dee and Patty; Lawton Williams; The Farrel Brothers; Wanda Louise; the McCoys; Carl Logan; Texas Trail Blazers; the Melody Five; Sunset Starlighters, Braga Sisters; Joe Paul Nichols (a 1972 article that included a short bio about Joe Paul indicated he had won a spot on the Cowtown Hoedown in 1956 and stayed with the show for four years before going to the Big D Jamboree) and Joe Poovey.

The roster began to shake up a bit in the spring of 1959. Jack Henderson had turned over the reins to the show to Uncle Hank Craig and Doyle McCoy. Easy Ed Hamilton had joined the staff and was doing DJ work. Around that time Frankie Miller's "Black Land Farmer" was gaining traction.

In August of 1959, Jack Gordon presented Johnny Horton with a platinum record marking 2,000,000 in sales of "Battle of New Orleans".

The show continued to attract the headliners. The July 25, 1959 show say The Browns appear as their "Three Bells" was showing signs of a hit. Margie Singleton and Johnny Sea were also on the show. Justin Tubb did the August 1, 1959 show. June Carter appeared on the August 8, 1959 show.

Bill Anderson was making the rounds and guested on the Jubilee USA show and did a Cowtown Hoedown show with Roger Miller.

In late 1959, program director wrote to Cashbox telling them the show was still getting top talent every Saturday night. Patsy Cline was appearing on October 10. Then Jim Reeves, Jimmy Newman, Carl Smith, the Carlisles "...were tentatively scheduled." It appears that Doug Bragg may have been on the cast at this time. Mr. Hamilton noted that KCUL was the only country station in the Ft. Worth-Dallas area. Their disc jockeys were Ed Hamilton, Lawton Williams, Uncle Mac Mackrell and Pete Talmadge.

By November it looks like things were changing perhaps not for the better. While Lawton Williams, Patsy Cline, Faron Young and Carl Smith had capacity crowds. And he indicated that Don Gibson, Bob Gallion and Jimmy Newman were coming. But by this time only Ed and Lawton were doing DJ duties at the station from six in the morning to eight at night. Ed was doing eight hours a day and Lawton was doing five. But on the other hand the station was going from 10,000 watts to 50,000 watts in early 1960.

By February 1960, Lawton was doing five hours a day on the air and the Saturday night show.

No mentions of the show have been found from that date on. The station did go to 50,000 watts and they made a big deal about the "First Lady" of Fort Worth (wife of the new mayor) admitting she liked country music.

The on air staff in April 1963 consisted of Lawton Williams, Bill Mack, Horace Logan, Bill Reynolds, Morgan Choates and Jerry Parks.

Morgan Choates came to KCUL (now KBUY) around 1954 or so. His original job at the station was transmitter engineer. But his love for country music and sudden vacancies on the announcing staff found him on the air. It was said his style was great for the casual night time listening audience. In fact, he was one of the first to do a midnight to 6:00am shift on the radio. He still kept up his radio engineer skill set. He helped install the 50,000 watt transmitter as well as the 100,000 watt transmitter for the FM station.

Another legendary DJ on the station was Bill Mack. He started off at station KEVA in his hometown of Shamrock, Texas making all of $12.00 a week. His big break came when he went to KWFT in Wichita Falls. He became the emcee on the Hadacol Western Barn Dance on the Western network. He came to KCUL and became their program director and did a three hour morning show. He also did the Cowtown Jamboree, which was a one hour live television show from Panther Hall. He was also the producer and emcee of the Ray-O-Vac All Star Country and Western Roadshow. He was also the emcee and producer of the syndicated Bob Wills Show. If that was not enough, he served on the Country Music Association's Board of Directors.

At the end of 1966, Billboard was informing readers that KCUL had been sold and would have its call letters changed to KUBY and KCUL reassigned to a station in Amarillo pending FCC approvals. The article also mentioned that KCUL had 50,000 watts during the day, but dropped to 1,000 watts at night.

A 1972 article in Country Music Reporter provides a lengthy discussion of the radio station's history and changes. The station was founded in 1945 as KCUL. The present day KBUY was purchased by Kurt Meer ten years later and was the only country and western station in the Ft. Worth - Dallas Metro area. KBUY-FM was the first station to have all Spanish language programming. In 1966, John B. Walton Jr. bought the station. It was known as Constant Country KBUY at 1540 am. As the owner of John Walton Enterprises, he had acquired KDJW AM-FM in Amarillo, KikX in Tuscon, Arizona, KAVE in Carlsbad, New Mexico, KELP-TV and Radio in El Paso, Texas, KIDD in Monterey, California and KFOX in Los Angeles, California pending FCC approval.

The two main management people for KBUY radio were in Fort Worth - Jerry Wright was general manager and Jonathan E. Fricke was the operations manager. Both were long time employees with the Walton company, each gaining experience in other markets.



The Wills Family



Buddy Starcher



Joe Paul Nichols



Wanda Gann



Johnny Sea



Kenneth Short



The McCoy Kids

 

Credits & Sources

  • Hillbilly-music.com wishes to thank Don Lunn for providing us with copies from his own collection and answering our inquiries via email.
  • Waco Tribune Herald; January 7, 1957; Waco, TX
  • Folk and Country Songs; Vol. 2 No. 1; January 1957; Charlton Publishing Corp; Derby, CT
  • Cashbox; June 8, 1957
  • Cashbox; October 19, 1957
  • Cashbox; May 31, 1958
  • Cashbox; June 7, 1958
  • Cashbox; June 23, 1958
  • Billboard; June 23, 1958
  • Cashbox; November 22, 1958
  • Billboard; April 13, 1959
  • Cashbox; August 15, 1959
  • Cashbox; September 12, 1959
  • Cashbox; October 17, 1959
  • Cashbox; November 14, 1959
  • Cashbox; February 6, 1960
  • Billboard; May 29, 1961
  • Billboard; April 13, 1963
  • Billboard; December 24, 1966
  • Country Sounctry Song Roundup; No. 95; August 1966; Charlton Publishing Corp; Derby, CT
  • Country Music Reporter; Vol. 1 No. 3; May 1970; Country Music, Inc.; 2401 East Lancaster; Fort Worth, TX 76103
  • Country Music Reporter; Vol. 3 No. 7; October 1972; Country Music, Inc.; 2401 East Lancaster; Fort Worth, TX 76103


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