Flashback : Dallas

A Miscellany: History, Ads, Pop Culture

Category: WBAP

Pat Boone, Host of Channel 5’s “Teen Times” — 1954

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“Handsome teen-ager” Pat Boone, host of WBAP’s “Teen Times”

by Paula Bosse

In January, 1954, soon-to-be pop-star Pat Boone transferred from a college in Nashville to North Texas State College (now the University of North Texas) in Denton — he was 19 years old and recently married with a baby on the way. An entertainer since childhood, he had recently appeared on (and won) Ted Mack’s nationally televised “Amateur Hour” and had a few minor recordings under his  belt. He entered the Denton college in the middle of the school year, majoring in speech and minoring in music.

In an interview with the college newspaper, The Campus Chat, student reporter Bill Moyers (yes, that Bill Moyers) asked the scrupulously clean-cut Boone what career he saw for himself. His answer: “I want to preach on Sundays at churches that can’t afford pastors, and perhaps I’ll even become a full-time pastor.” He said that even though he had devoted years to being an entertainer and his father-in-law was a bona fide star, he did not envision a career as a professional singer because, for one reason, he did not approve of night clubs, on moral grounds: “I don’t want to sing at night clubs, and that’s where most of the singers do much of their work” (Campus Chat, Feb. 24, 1954).

The reason he was being interviewed in the first place — after only a couple of months in town — was because he had been named as the host of a Dallas-Fort Worth television show called “Teen Times,” sponsored by Foremost Dairies and broadcast on Saturday afternoons on WBAP-Ch. 5; the show premiered in February, 1954. Boone acted as host, dressed as a soda jerk behind a drugstore soda fountain, with teenaged guests who represented one Dallas school and one Fort Worth school (the schools changed each week), competing in a sort of talent show. Boone kept things moving, performed a few songs, and, in between, sang the praises of Foremost milk and ice cream.

Boone hosted the show through the spring of 1955. During the run of this local show, his popularity grew quickly on a national level, the result of several national TV appearances and ever-increasing record sales. After his year-and-a-half time in Denton, he moved to New York in the summer of 1955 and enrolled at Columbia University; before the end of the year, Pat Boone’s fame exploded: he had a huge hit with a cover of Fats Domino’s “Ain’t That a Shame” and was appearing regularly on national TV. By the late ’50s his record sales were reportedly second only to Elvis Presley’s, even though Boone’s squeaky-clean and sincere wholesomeness was the polar opposite of the suggestive, hep-cat abandon of Elvis’ earthier style.

Even though Pat Boone was a North Texas student for only a short time, whenever he has returned to Denton over the years he has always received something of a hero’s welcome. With formative years spent here, and with his star-turn in the 1962 filmed-at-Fair-Park movie State Fair, Pat Boone has every right to be considered an honorary Texan.

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During his time in Denton, Pat Boone hosted two television shows for WBAP-Channel 5: the Foremost Dairies-sponsored “Teen Times” (often referred to as “Teen Time”) on Saturday afternoons, and the Bewley Mills-sponsored “Barn Dance” on Friday nights. (It looks like “Teen Times” was revamped a few years later and returned to Channel 5 in a somewhat similar format as “Teen-Age Downbeat” in January, 1958.)

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1954

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Feb. 7, 1954 (click to read)

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Feb. 13, 1954

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FWST, Feb. 12, 1954

Below, a super-blurry excerpt from Bill Moyers’ article in The Campus Chat (read the full interview here):

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Campus Chat (North Texas State College newspaper), Feb. 24, 1954

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FWST, June 20, 1954

In June, 1955, Les Handy — a voice teacher at Texas Wesleyan College — took over as emcee at “Teen Times.” 

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1955

And in September, 1955, Pat and Shirley and their new baby moved from Denton to New York City.

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Denton Record-Chronicle, Sept. 11, 1955

Pat Boone photos from the 1955 NTSC yearbook, The Yucca:

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Junior class photo, 1955

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Kappa Alpha fraternity photo

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Student Religious Council (detail from group photo)

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Sources & Notes

Top photo of Pat Boone behind a soda fountain holding a microphone appeared in the Feb. 24, 1954 edition of Campus Chat, the college paper of what was then North Texas State College; it is from the UNT Libraries Special Collections, and may be accessed on UNT’s Portal to Texas History, here.

Pat Boone’s wife, Shirley, was the daughter of the legendary Nashville “hillbilly” singer, Red Foley. Here’s a video of a nervous Boone and his father-in-law on Foley’s “Ozark Jubilee” TV show, two weeks after Pat and Shirley had left Denton for New York. They are singing “Tennessee Saturday Night,” Red Foley’s big hit from 1949 (hear his great original hillbilly boogie version here).

Because it involves Pat Boone and UNT, check out the 20-minute informational film all about the college, made for students by students in 1963, available to watch on the Portal to Texas History, here — Pat Boone offers a few enthusiastic bits of narration.

And, why not, here’s a photo of journalist Bill Moyers from the 1953 North Texas yearbook.

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Willie’s Picnic Or Bust

willie-nelson-picnic_1980_austin-american-statesman“All’s we need is a ride, man…”  (photo: Austin American-Statesman)

by Paula Bosse

Today is July 4th, 2018 — the 45th anniversary of the first Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnic. The photo above — taken by Austin photographer Stanley Farrar — ran in The Austin American-Statesman in 1980 and shows hitchhikers (including a bare-chested Jerry Rundell and his go-with-the-flow cat “Precious”) thumbing it on Highway 71, hoping for a ride to that year’s picnic at Willie’s Pedernales Country Club, near Austin.

Take a look at the full illustrated program for the second Picnic, which was held at the Texas World Speedway in College Station, July 4-6, 1974, in a PDF, here. The huge line-up included Dallas natives Michael Murphey, B. W. Stevenson, Ray Wylie Hubbard (all three of whom attended Adamson High School in Oak Cliff), and singer-turned-DJ-turned-singer, Johnny Dallas (aka Groovey Joe Poovey). To make this a somewhat Dallas-y, I’ve pulled out a few of the local ads (click ’em to see larger images).

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willie-nelson-program_1974_kzewKZEW — from the Zoo’s “Progressive Country” years?

willie-nelson-program_1974_wbapWBAP — how much Ray Wylie Hubbard was WBAP playing?

Speaking of Ray Wylie Hubbard:

willie-nelson-program_1974_ray-wylie-hubbard_mother-bluesMother Blues had a one-buck cover charge, and Gertie’s was rocking until 5 a.m.

willie-nelson-program_1974_lyons-pubLyon’s Pub, 5535 Yale Street.

willie-nelson-program_1974_fannie-annsFannie Ann’s, 4714 Greenville Avenue, the lower part of Upper Greenville.

willie-nelson-program_1974_lone-star-opryhouseThe Lone Star Opry House, 1011 S. Industrial, at Cadiz (formerly the Aragon Ballroom). Willie appeared during its first week in business.

willie-nelson-program_iconoclastThe Iconoclast, Dallas’ underground newspaper, which began as Stoney Burns’ Dallas Notes.

willie-nelson-program_1974_ethylsEthyl’s (“Only Bluegrass Club in Dallas”), 3605 McKinney Avenue.

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Sources & Notes

Top photo from The Austin American-Statesman (July 4, 1980); photo taken by photographer Stanley Farrar. See many more photos of Willie Nelson 4th of July Picnics in an American-Statesman slideshow, here.

I wonder if Willie’s picnics have their own Wikipedia page? Of COURSE they do! Have at it.

I’ve written about it before, but, hey, it’s the 4th of July, so here’s Willie’s very … um, unusual ode to Dallas:

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Happy 4th!

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Copyright © 2018 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

“Teen-Age Downbeat”

teen-age-downbeat_broadcasting-mag_051859_detWBAP’s “Teen-Age Downbeat,” 1959 (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

“Teen-Age Downbeat” — Fort Worth’s answer to “American Bandstand” — debuted on WBAP-TV in January, 1958 — in COLOR. It featured teens from the Dallas-Fort Worth area (…or maybe I should say from the Fort Worth-Dallas area…) who would play and dance to their favorite records. The host was WBAP broadcaster Tom Mullarkey (seen above at the left, wearing the red vest). The show was quite popular and lasted as best I can tell, from January, 1958 until July, 1961 (the last mention in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram was July 1, 1961). I’m guessing those kids danced to a lot of Fabian.

teenage-downbeat_fwst_010558FWST, Jan. 5, 1958

teen-age-downbeat_sponsor-mag_080860“Sponsor” trade magazine, Aug. 8, 1960

teen-age-downbeat_unt-lab-bandNorth Texas State College’s Lab Band with director Gene Hall

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FWST, Feb. 26, 1961

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“Broadcasting” trade magazine, May 18, 1959

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Sources & Notes

The color photo (which appeared in a full-page WBAP ad in the trade magazine Broadcasting) shows non-teen Tom Mullarkey watching over the dancers from Arlington Heights High School, as the Polytechnic High School Stage Band plays some happenin’ tunes. (I do see two Dallas high school pennants in the photo: Crozier Tech and Sunset.)

The photo showing director Gene Hall with the North Texas State College (now the University of North Texas) Laboratory Band was found at UNT’s Portal to Texas History site, here. The photo is not dated, but a blurb in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram mentioned that Hall and the band were to appear on “Teen-Age Downbeat” on Feb. 5, 1959.

All pictures and clippings larger when clicked.

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

 

Radio Mobile Units — ca. 1940

kfaa_mobile-unit_wfaa-fam-albumWhat? You’ve never heard of KFAA? (click for larger image)

by Paula Bosse

Check out these pre-war mobile units for radio stations WFAA and WBAP. The unit above actually had its own call letters — KFAA — and was licensed as a separate station. (That logo!) The caption, from a 1941 promotional booklet issued by stations WFAA (Dallas), WBAP (Fort Worth), and KGKO (Wichita Falls):

The WFAA Mobile Unit shown here is a complete short wave broadcasting station on wheels. The unit has its own call letters, KFAA, because it is a self-contained and separately licensed station. The amazing array of facilities contained in this one-and-one-half-ton truck includes a transmitter, generator, receiving equipment, public address system and pre–amplifiers. The transmitter tower on top of the truck can be raised to a height of 35 feet, making it possible to pick up the mobile unit’s signals for re-broadcast from a distance of 50 miles.

Here’s the WBAP/KGKO unit:

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram Mobile Radio Unit – with Chief Engineer R. C. “Super” Stinson, left, and A. M. Woodford, production man, handling a remote or “nemo” pickup from Burnett Park, Fort Worth. The WBAP-KGKO Mobile Unit carries six short wave transmitters and receivers besides a power plant capable of generating electricity for a small town of 500 people. This unit “swam” through a recent flood in Brady, Texas, established communication from the stricken area and received the congratulations of the Texas Highway Patrol. It also played a star role in the Amarillo storm.

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Photos from the booklet WFAA, WBAP, KGKO Combined Family Album (Dallas-Fort Worth, 1941).

Why were arch-rivals WFAA (owned by The Dallas Morning News) and WBAP (owned by The Fort Worth Star-Telegram) co-publishing a promotional booklet? Because they shared the same transmitter and had an extremely odd broadcasting agreement. Read about it in my previous post “WFAA & WBAP’s Unusual Broadcasting Alliance,” here.

Click those photos!

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Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

WFAA & WBAP’s Unusual Broadcasting Alliance

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by Paula Bosse

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I looked at this photograph and thought, “That’s odd. Two competing radio stations from two competing newspapers from two competing cities used the same radio transmitter. How did that happen?” And then I read about the extremely unusual time-sharing arrangement that WFAA (which was owned by The Dallas Morning News) and WBAP (which was owned by The Fort Worth Star-Telegram) maintained for 41 years.

I’ll link to a story that fully explains this extraordinary arrangement, but, briefly, WFAA and WBAP both broadcast on two frequencies, trading off throughout the day. A typical schedule looked like this:

wfaa-wbap_schedule

The two frequencies were 570 and 800 (later 820) kilohertz on the AM band. When WFAA was broadcasting on 570, WBAP was broadcasting on 820. On the agreed-upon time, the stations would switch over to the other frequency. Back and forth. Over and over and over. All day long. They were independent stations with independent programming, network affiliations, on-air talent, and advertising departments. And this went on for FORTY-ONE YEARS! Until 1970! How had I never heard of this?

Apparently it wasn’t all that big a deal to the stations or the listeners. Things were getting a little strained by 1969, though, when WBAP went whole-hog into playing country music (and eventually became one of the most successful country stations in the United States). It was time to go their own ways. The split was amicable, and both stations felt that the unusual partnership had worked well for all concerned.

So why did this happen in the first place? Because of the 820 frequency. 820 was a clear channel frequency, which meant that the station that owned it could broadcast at an incredible 50,000 watts — enough to be heard all over the Western hemisphere; 570 boasted a measly 5,000 watts, and, as someone said, “people might hear you in Sherman … but maybe not.” Neither WFAA or WBAP wanted to give up the clear channel powerhouse, which is why their piggy-backing partnership lasted as long as it did. But, ultimately, WBAP got 820 and was a major broadcasting force to be reckoned with. WFAA radio got the short end of the stick and sputtered along at 570 on the AM dial for a few lackluster years but never recovered from losing its half-share of 820 AM. In the WFAA-WBAP showdown: Fort Worth 1, Dallas 0.

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Sources & Notes

Photo of the transmitter building from WFAA, WBAP, KGKO Combined Family Album (Dallas-Fort Worth, 1941). Yes, there was actually a THIRD station involved in all of this for a while — KGKO out of Wichita Falls! Here’s an ad from the 1941-42 Texas Almanac, via the Portal to Texas History (click to see a larger image):

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Sample schedule is from the definitive article on this bizarre broadcasting alliance: “You Have Half a Station, We Have Half a Station” — How WFAA in Dallas and WBAP in Fort Worth Shared Radio Frequencies for Four Decades by John Mark Dempsey, from the Spring, 1999 issue of Legacies magazine, which can and SHOULD be read, here.

For another photo of this transmitter building, see a previous post here.

Click photo for larger image.

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Copyright © 2014 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.

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