A Little Bit of Radio Entertainment History
Like everything else in our lives, radio entertainment has changed tremendously over the years. We have lived through many different styles of music. From swing and jazz to the music our children listen to now. Each generation has had its own music and identifies with the music of their youth.
In my youth we had AM radios only. There were no FM stations. We had record players with the old 78 discs, but no HIFI and stereo equipment.
WWL was the premier radio station then. They operated on 50,000 watts and had a "clear channel" station. That meant they could broadcast with a lot of power and with little "static" or interference. For that reason, most people in the area listened to WWL. All that power brought us a clear sound. Other stations like WSMB and WDSU reached us, but were not too clear. WJBW was the leading station in Baton Rouge, but they operated on less power also.
Everyone remembers Henry Dupre and "Pinky Vidocovich and their "Dawnbusters" show which was broadcast each morning on WWL, but how many of you remember Louis Bono who came on about 5 a.m. before the Dawnbusters? Louis was supposed to be a "Cowboy Singer". In those days it was "Cowboy" or "Hillbilly" music. Today it is called "Country".
Old Louis couldn't carry a tune in a basket. He would sing and play his guitar each morning and talented he was not. Each morning we would listen to him and wait for Dupre and Vidocovich to start cutting up on the Dawnbuster show. There was a lot of talent on that show. Many of the musicians went on to bigger and better shows throughout the country. Warren Galjour became a star opera performer. Godfrey Hirch, Al Hirt and others became stars.
My star was Louis Bono. In 1945, I left Europe on a troopship to come home. We ran into a storm and were running low on fuel so we were ordered to go to the Azore Islands off the coast of Portugal. I had not been home for two years and like everybody else on that ship, I wanted to get home.
We stayed in the Azores for two weeks waiting for a tanker to come and supply the ship with fuel. Finally it came and we headed for the United States. The troopship piped music throughout the ship. On our first morning out of the Azores, I woke up and heard old Louis Bono trying to sing. I couldn't believe my ears. There was Louis, loud and clear, and he still couldn't carry a tune. It mattered not. I was a long way from home, yet, I was home. I hadn't heard anything but the Armed Services Network and the BBC for two years and WWL was coming in, on all that power, loud and clear and bringing me home.
Vidocovich and Dawnbusters played for a "Gym" dance at Lutcher once. They cut up so much they were never invited back. Louis Bono wasn't with them. I guess he was looking for a basket to carry those notes.
by Leonce Haydel from Stories from the River Road
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