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A Look at KXOK in the Late '40s

In 1947, KXOK was owned by the St. Louis Star-Times, and the station was making a strong effort to reach out to the community. Part of that outreach involved the publication of a monthly newsletter for listeners. While the only purpose of the newsletter was the promotion of the station, it provides insight into the way radio operated in St. Louis in the middle of the last century.

Harry Caray with Joe Louis
Harry Caray with Joe Louis

There’s an announcement that KXOK sports announcer Harry Caray has become a father again. This time the son is named Christopher, and he joins a family of two other kids, “Skippy” (also identified as Harry Junior) and Patricia. A publicity photo shows Harry in a boxing stance with the great Joe Louis. Caray is also shown in a photo of a party for a young Cardinals’ catcher by the name of Joe Garagiola, who sports a full head of hair.

The program “Junior Fone Quiz” is described as “the only telephone quiz for young folks…exclusively for boys and girls between 6 and 16 years…offers valuable awards for submission of questions used and correct answers.” Those awards included dolls, bicycles, baseball equipment, games and ice skates.

There’s a large photo of a dozen college students receiving a tour of the station’s transmitter site and another photo of news director Bruce Barrington in front of the “new KXOK Field Car, a station wagon that is being equipped with Radio Telephone, transcription equipment for recording programs and events, and a ‘mobile’ transmitter, making the car a veritable radio station in itself. Its use will facilitate the station’s ‘on-the-spot’ reporting of news and sports events, agricultural features and special events.”

KXOK news car
KXOK news car

Farm director Charley Stookey is shown between two Ferguson tractors parked on Grand Boulevard in front of the Fox Theater. He’s receiving gifts from two local farm girls in honor of the showing of the movie The Farmer’s Daughter. Sports director France Laux is shown interviewing Lloyd Mangrum, the 1946 National Open Golf Champion.

KXOK disc jockey Rush Hughes was asked to be a guest lecturer at the annual Educational Radio Conference at the university in Norman, Okla. Hughes, who is described in the KXOK newsletter as “one of the leading ‘Disc Jockies’ in the country, will give demonstrations and lead the discussion on his type of program.” While he was out of town, his daily programs would still be heard on KXOK, via transcription.

Joe Garagiola birthday celebration
Joe Garagiola birthday celebration

One of the longest newsletter articles begins: “Have you ever thought about becoming a radio announcer? If you have, you are similar to many people who frequently inquire of radio stations whether their voices are well suited to the microphone.”

In this way, the anonymous writer leads readers into an article promoting the KXOK announcers of the day. Fourteen announcers are mentioned. There’s Don Phillips, who hosts the Manhattan Coffee and Dixcel License Quiz shows. Bob Hille is “the dean of the KXOK announcers, with the station since it went on the air in 1938, [he] is recognized by many listeners as the quizmaster on the Forbes Food Store Quiz.” Bruce Barrington and Bertram Hughes are cited for their newscasting efforts, and the station’s only woman with on-air duties is Kay Morton, who is featured on the daily Musical Party Line.

(Reprinted with permission of the St.Louis Journalism Review. Originally published 06/03.)