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Saturday, April 13, 2024

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Under the Chinaberry Tree

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Monday, April 8
Fran Houser Adrian Midway Cafe
Tuesday, April 9
Peter Avila San Benito Conjunto Museum
Wednesday, April 10
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Thursday, April 11
Dorinda Millan Pecos Museum
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Troy Grusendorf Brownwood Harmonica
Complete Schedule for April

In Print: On News Stands Now


by Tumbleweed Smith

A newsman friend of mine who I worked with in the 1960’s, Bill Leslie, got the crazy idea to have a gathering of dj’s and newsmen from that era. I had forgotten most of those folks, or thought I had and really didn’t think much of the idea.

I kept getting emails from Bill promoting the reunion. Soon I noticed that Bill’s messages were being sent to dozens of people who worked in radio in the Permian Basin in the sixties. He kept asking for us to recommend dates for the get-together. Most said Labor Day weekend would be OK.

All during the summer Bill was sending emails about the upcoming event. He asked for everyone’s bio so he could put it in a news release. He contacted the Music City Mall in Odessa and arranged for a live dj show of 50’s and 60’s music. He had giant posters made promoting the event, which he named RADIO REWIND. He designed a t-shirt. Bill is one of those guys you have trouble saying “NO” to. We came to admire all he was doing. Some of us pitched in to help in any way we could. All of us came to appreciate Bill’s dogged determination to get this thing going.

On the Friday night of Labor Day weekend, we all turned up at Steve Drummond’s house. Steve was a dj and newsman in Odessa and Midland and now owns the longest continually operated ad agency in Midland. When I saw the guys it all came back to me. I remembered so many of the names of the people there. Back in the 60’s we were all in our twenties, just getting our start in radio when Rock and Roll revolutionized the medium, which had previously been a soap opera, drama and comedy outlet with occasional classical or dance music and some news. It was a warm reunion. We talked of old radio adventures and got caught up on what everybody is doing. It runs the gamut from elected officials to entertainers, television newscasters and feature filmmakers to oilmen. Only a few are retired.

Saturday at the Mall: There were some equipment problems but were all cleared up by noon, the start of the live dj show. There was a lot of talk (more talk than music) because dj’s of the 50’s and 60’s liked to jabber. Jerry Teaff, who spent part of his career as a news anchor at WFAA-TV in Dallas, served as roving reporter and went through the crowd getting people’s memories of the music and the dj’s. Older folks in the crowd did the twist and other dances of the time. Several young people showed up and requested oldie songs. Some girls wore Poodle skirts.

It was interesting to hear that most of the guys had achieved a good bit of their dreams. As a whole it was a satisfied bunch, happy with their careers after radio but holding dear to those memories when they were dj’s at local stations. Bill Leslie, who drifted into television and film (he worked at KVKM-TV in Monahans which is now Newswest 9 in Midland) and later sat on panels with Walter Cronkite and Peter Jennings, said he just wanted to relive the days of integrity in news and entertainment. The dj’s and newsmen who returned for the reunion got their batteries recharged. Thanks, Bill. You did a good thing.

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