By Earline Smith Crews
Guest Writer 

Growing up & the importance of the radio


March 21, 2019


Our radio was dialed to any local radio station during the day for news, Farm & Market Reports and Country Music. Saturday nights the dial was set on WSM clear channel 650, for the Grand Old Opry. That was the time for Daddy and Mama to enjoy their evening of music. We listened also. Lordy I loved listening to Earnest Tubb singing, "Walking The Floor Over You".


WLAC 1510 AM GALLATIN, TENNESSEE...circa 1956-,59.

Our old Zenith dialed to Randy's Record Shop at Gallatin, Tennessee. 50,000 watts of clear channel. Monday through Friday, 9:00 p.m. Signal: "Nighttime station for half the nation, twenty eight states and three Canadian Provinces".

Sharing a bed and room with my sister, we listened. School night homework neglected, Mama and Daddy not any wiser. Volumn turned down low, radio under covers sitting between our pillows, extension cord plugged into the only outlet--overhead light. Had to remember to unplug before we gave it up for the night. We listened covertly. Not because of the judgement of the times against listening to a station known as a black music station, but for us it was, "lights out girls, you got school tomorrow". Friday nights were allowed.


I wasn't aware of teenagers all over the South being restricted and judged by listening to Randy's Record Shop program. I cannot remember hearing anyone ever talk about a black music problem. I just knew WLAC with John R at the helm often opening with,

"Lord, have mercy, honey, honey have mercy" was the place to hear the best of the best.

"Way down South in the middle of Dixie".

"Hey John Arrah,

What's you gonna do?

Come on John Arrah,

Play us some rhythm and blues".

We listened and aurgued that John R was a black man.

"Then how come he talks black man stuff"?

"Cause it sells, you think Elvis just happened that way"?

"Yep, Elvis loaded on before that train left the station".

"You ain't nothing but a hound dog"...................

When Pat Boone gave us his version of Fats Domino's, "Ain't That a Shame" we felt twice blessed. Pat's went to #1 on the record charts and Fat's went to #10. We sweated and listened. Elvis caused the preachers' to scold us, we listened anyway. Things were changing in our culture and teenagers were the leaders.

" If a wind shifts, look for the teenagers".

Escambia County Alabama teens followed like millions of others all over the South.

"Oh, turn it up".................

Rhythm and Blues had given way to Rock and Roll, the tide was turning, we rode the crest from the airwaves of WLAC. John R and Hoss kept the records spinning, we kept listening. Guys and girls cruised from one end to the other of Flomaton, Brewton and Atmore adjusting the car radio dials to get the signals back. Drive-in burger joints gave the music to others not so lucky to have a car with a radio. We fell in love listening to the music.

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The backroads of Barnett Crossroads, Wallace and Wildfork picked up the static signals.

The music flowed.


Fall friday night football games segwayed into the frenzy of listening to the most wonderful music ever played for us. We piled into wharever old jalopy was available to cruise up town with the radio blasting our songs while we hollered out at whomever was within earshot. We were in love with love and John R knew just what we needed to live and breathe for that wonderful moment in time.

Summer nights the music mixed with bonfires and fireflies and parties on the sandbars at Grissett Bridge and Wolf Log and Sardine and atop Pineview fire tower and Rock Mountain at Foshee and on the dance slicked floors at Little River State Park Pavillion.

Everyone shared turns on playing their car radios so as to keep the batteries from going dead.

"Louder y'all"..............

Things were right with our world while the music flowed down through the airwaves from Randy's Record Shop in Gallatin, Tennessee.

Thank you Sweet Jesus.

Those were the glory day's of our youth. I cannot believe when the youth of today look back on MTV they will have the same love of their music history as we old fossils do.

A friend from those days shared with me that he would sometimes hold a kiss with his sweetheart throughout an entire song. That tells you how wonderful our music was, thanks to John R and Hoss at Randy's Record Shop for playing the music over the airwaves of station,



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