(Fred Lynch) [Order this photo]
Here, Anderson talks about the birth of Cousin Carl, the Showdown and his career:
TBY: How long have you had a career in radio? What attracted you to it?
Bill Anderson: I started in radio 1958 while in high school. After high school I attended Oklahoma A&M, majoring in communications.
The one thing that attracted me to broadcasting, growing up on a farm in southeast Oklahoma, my family always had the radio on in the mornings listening to KWKH, a 50,000-watt AM station. A lot of the singers did a weekly radio show and got their start at a show that KWKH sponsored and owned. It was known as the Louisiana Hay Ride, which aired every Saturday night. Elvis Presley, Jim Reeves, Ray Price and many of the legends got their start there then moved on to the Grand Ole Opry. Some of the announcers who later became famous singers were Jim Reeves and Nat Stuckey. They all had very professional voices as announcers, and as a small boy, I wanted to sound like them.
TBY: How was Cousin Carl born? Did you ever think it would be so popular?
Anderson: Cousin Carl was an accident. I was working as an announcer at KDQN and did a character advertisement for a Chevrolet dealer that the station sales manager was about to lose. He wanted something different, so I recorded a voice change spot and they loved it. A gentleman with KLRA Little Rock heard that spot and came by while I was on the air and asked who had recorded the spot. I told him I did. Him being from a big station, the largest in Arkansas, I thought he was going to tell me how stupid and unprofessional that was. He didn't say either way, but he returned and said he was building a new station near Oklahoma City and wanted me to work for him. The time period was probably well over a year, and he came to my house and said he was almost ready to go on the air and when he wanted me to start. I did not want it; I already had a good job, but felt I needed to make the trip to see it and to tell him that I wouldn't be taking it. I didn't get the chance to tell him, because he made an offer that I had to ask for clarification, two times, and I accepted.
Before we put the station on the air, he asked me what I was going to call the show. I said, 'I guess the Bill Anderson Show.' He quickly informed me that he could hire Bill Andersons from all over the country, but he hired me to do a character and three hours on the prime morning time slot. I told him I couldn't do three hours of that stuff; people would laugh us out of Oklahoma. He won out and asked me to come up with a name. I couldn't and didn't want to do that kind of show for three hours. He, Don Hopson, named the show, "The Cousin Carl Show." It completely sold out in the first three months. I stayed there for two years, and we had paid for the investment of building the station in that time. I accepted a job in TV in Dodge City, Kansas, and was there for about one year. Don Hopson made several calls and telegrams for me to come back, as well as making two trips to the TV station. This offer, I couldn't turn down. I returned and stayed for nine more years. I got into the crop dusting business and flying pipeline patrol, and for the most part still did "The Cousin Carl Show." I had no idea that I could ever dream that Cousin Carl would be the very thing that has made me and my family a very good living.
TBY: KWKZ is known as the home of traditional country music in Southeast Missouri. Why is it important to you to maintain that?
Anderson: KWKZ is known throughout the country music industry as being the traditional country music station not only in the five-state coverage area, but all over the world via the Internet. No one else in the market was playing traditional country. My competition was all playing new country; some called it hot new country and usually played the same Top 20 or so songs over and over. There is a lot of confusion between traditional country and classic country. Classic is the old hits of yesteryear. George Strait, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley, Ray Price, Asleep at The Wheel and many of the new artists such as Joe Nichols do traditional country music. The demographics of traditional country far exceed the new so-called country. Most traditional country has at least one fiddle and a steel guitar that is very dominate.
TBY: Who is your all-time favorite musician?
Anderson: Favorite all-time musician? I have so many that it would be difficult to name just one, because they all contribute so much to the artist. Favorite singers: Female, Susan Anderson Bell; male, Ray Price.
TBY: What's your favorite part about your job?
Anderson: Interviewing people, looking into their lives and interests, and being able to help someone that is going through pain, problems or to help raise funds for a worthy cause -- just playing the music during my show, and hopefully bring a moment of joy or a smile to someone.
TBY: You've won numerous awards throughout your career -- what has been your proudest moment professionally?
Anderson: Would have to be the Mr. DJ USA of the year, I think in 1960 in Nashville. (I was) the youngest ever to win that award.
TBY: Tell me a little about the Texaco Country Showdown and how your station became involved in it.
Anderson: We sponsored the very first Country Showdown while at another station in the early 1980s. When we were approached regarding sponsorship of the Texaco Country Showdown last year we were very interested in becoming involved once again. The Showdown is an excellent opportunity for local artists to have a chance at national exposure and a successful career in the music industry.
TBY: Where can people see the shows?
Anderson: The Showdown this year will be held every Thursday night in July at the Cape Girardeau VFW on Kingshighway at 7 p.m. July 26 will be the final. The winner of the C106.1 Texaco Country Showdown will advance to the state final.
The Texaco Country Showdown will be at 7 p.m. every Thursday in July at the Cape Girardeau VFW hall. The finals will be July 26.