Wednesday, March 25

Part 11 ... I didn't have a lot to do in Hazard when I wasn't working and I spent some of my off time at WKIC. I remember coming down to the studios in the basement of People's Bank one Sunday afternoon when Announcer - Hugh Dunbar was suppose to be working. Hugh had been drinking and his girlfriend was trying to get him in shape to go on the air. I filled in for him the rest of his shift. The next day I was called into Fred Bullard's office and asked why I was on the air instead of Hugh. I know I could have gotten Hugh in a lot of trouble but I told Fred that Hugh didn't feel good. I don't know if he believed me or not. Anyway nothing came of it. I do know I had to fill in for Hugh Dunbar and Jerry Leighton many times. I stayed only two blocks from the station and the engineers had my number and I was called several times and had to rush to the station to cover.

I remember the very first state basketball tournament that was on WKIC in 1948. The games were broadcast from the Louisville Armory with Dick Goodlette, Mark Halleck and Fred Bullard. It was a big deal and I think every one in town listened to it. I also remember broadcasting all the U.K. games in '48. I got to be a real U.K. fan. I still remember the Fabulous Five, Ralph Beard, Cliff Barker, Wa Wa Jones, Alex Groza and Kenny Rollins. Sports was always a big event in Hazard.

In 1948 - WKIC raised money for the Red Cross. Hugh Dunbar claimed he could raise more money than Jerry Leighton. It went back and forth and one of them challenged the other on the air that the loser had to push the winner in a wheel borrow down Main Street in Hazard. Hugh ended up pushing Jerry that day.

WKIC use to do a "live" broadcast from Taulbee Furniture store on High Street, right across from where I lived. It was called Taulbee's Talent Scout and was hosted by Jerry Leighton. Since I often had nothing to do I would sometimes go to the store and do some of the commercials for Jerry during the broadcast. Jerry came to Hazard from New York City. He claimed to have had a small part in the 1947 movie "The Farmer's Daughter" with Loretta Young.

I use to do a show called "Downbeat with Don" that was sponsored by Don's Restaurant. I played the popular music of the day. I liked Jazz and the Blues so I played a lot of that. I really liked Frankie Laine and played a lot of his records. Nat King Cole was also very popular at the time. We had two big turntables in the control room for playing 16 inch transcriptions. They had 2 speeds - 33 rpm and 78 rpm. A transcription held about 30 minutes of recording. The 45s didn't come out until later. The only other recording device we had was a wire recorder that the station used to delay Red's baseball games if we couldn't schedule them "live" for some reason. I well remember "String" (Ernest) Sparkman coming in for the early morning shows on WKIC after he had been out playing the night before. They were good days for me.

We had three engineers, Gene Adams, Jim French and Marvin Young. Cecil Miller came in to cover for the other engineers when they went on vacation. Cecil came from some place not too far from Hazard. Once he came back with a quart jar of moonshine and he introduced it to me at transmitter one night. I see where they get the name White Lightning.

Click here to listen to Max who was known as "Don Smith" on WKIC in 1948.

1 comment:

  1. I really have enjoyed Max's blog, and he looks so much like Buddy Holly in a way, but so much better looking. I think he looks like a model in his "zoot suit". However, I could not see him with Shirley Carson at all. One of my good friends was Jane Ferguson and she lived next to the Carsons and that is how I knew that family name. I have been there for Max's journey and have enjoyed every step of the way with him. He educated me to some extent with facts that I did not know or had buried deep in my mind. His way of writing and putting it out there for us shows me that he might have missed his call, writing. It is not too late for I think he needs to put all this in a book and I know there is much more that he could write about this journey that he just chose not to incorporate in his blog. I follow his writing with ease and can visualize what he writes about. When I choose a book to read I make sure it is one that while reading I can step into its pages and live right along with the characters until the final page is turned. Somehow I think Max could do this.

    I have often wondered where some of the people I saw daily in growing up ended. I thank Elizabeth for the facts about O. G. and Dana. O. G. was much older but I saw them all daily as I walked the path up "Buckeye Holler" to HHS on the Hill. I think Fred, their father, might have been a City Commissioner at one time or so that is my remembrance.

    I have the Farmer's Daughter and I will try to watch it to see if I can spot Jerry Leighton.