This day in Texas History: Texas Radio Station Sets Country Music Standard
This day in Texas History:
(from the Texas State Historical Association archives)
Texas Radio Station Sets Country Music Standard
January 04, 1923
On this day in 1923, radio station WBAP in Fort Worth established the basic format for country music variety show broadcasting (a format subsequently taken over by Nashville’s “Grand Ole Opry” and Chicago’s “National Barn Dance“) with a program that featured a fiddler, a square-dance caller, and Confederate veteran Capt. M. J. Bonner.
The familiar mélange of wisecracks, music both lugubrious and jolly, and country costumes became immensely popular all across the nation.
WBAP, established by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram under Amon G. Carter in 1922, was looking for its programing forte. Under call letters derived from the words “We Bring A Program,” the station was an innovator in Texas radio. In addition to its “hayride” program, it featured the Light Crust Doughboys, legendary fiddler Eck Robertson, crossover musician Al Stricklin (who began as a jazz pianist and joined the Bob Wills Fiddle Band), and other country stars.
But it also had its own “serious” studio orchestra in which such musicians as Don Gillis played. WBAP and the other leading Texas radio stations broke the ground in the 1920s and 1930s for a flourishing music industry.