A few months ago Sandy Shepard came into the library with some old wire recordings from KDNT radio, the first radio station “established” in Denton (Mike Shannon, History of KDNT Radio). Included are two jingles, an unknown music program, the “Howdy, Neighbor” program, coverage of the Ponder Rodeo, a speech given by Lady Bird Johnson atTWU, news coverage just after the Kennedy assassination, and a broadcast from 1968. There is more, but in the meantime, here’s a little bit of history from the Denton radio vault.
Sandy’s father, Harwell V. Shepard, was the owner of KDNT Radio Station and he started the business in 1938. New owners took over in 1972 and the station changed hands several times until 1993 when it was sold and turned into a Tejano music station and the name changed to KICI. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail behind KDNT’s history because Mike Shannon already did that. You can visit The History of KDNT Radio to read more about it; there are also many photographs and documents throughout. The library partnered with Mr. Shannon in 2011 to do a History of KDNT Radio. Since then, it has held an interest for me and I am thrilled to have more to add to our Special Collections Department.
According to Sandy, the Howdy Neighbor show began in late 1950s. A reporter (in this snippet it’s Buford Harrell) would wait at the Dixie Trailways Bus Station every Tuesday and Thursday at 12:45 p.m. to interview people. Included in this clipped portion of the recording: the Howdy, Neighbor! introduction, a commercial for Jimmie’s Restaurant at 619 S. Locust, and an interview with Miss Sharon K. Guinn, a six-year-old from Denton on her way to visit her aunt.
As for the origin of the title of the show – I don’t know whose idea it was first – but there is an article in the Denton Record-Chronicle on November 8, 1950, entitled: ‘Howdy Neighbor’ Denton Will Greet City’s Newcomers. The membership committee of the chamber held a big “Newcomers Party” to greet new “Dentonites” and all of the 200 newcomers’ names were listed in the article.
Jimmie’s Restaurant which also went by Jimmie’s Cafe in other years, was located on the north side of the square at 619 S. Locust Street. The business changed hands many times, but I believe the original owner was Jimmie Morris; their home was listed at 619 1/2 S. Locust. The voice of Gene Fletcher can be heard doing the advertisement and it’s his wonderful accent that gives flavor to the “Think how hot the kitchen is for the Little Woman these summer days.”
Buford Oceola Harrell worked for KDNT as a newscaster and in sales from 1950-1984. Sandy told me that he and his family lived on Fry Street, so I checked our city directories, and sure enough, the Harrell family lived at 305 Fry Street. Sandy said Buford drove the mobile news unit, but “he almost lost the car because he never opened up the hood and checked the oil.”I think that I found Sharon Guinn in the 1959 Denton High School yearbook, using our Ancestry database. I tried different variations of the name and came up with this photo. If you look at the photo on the bottom, she is the eighth one from the left.
You can hear her interview below:
P.S. -If someone can tell me how to spell her aunt’s name, I’d appreciate it.
And let me know if I got anything wrong, or if you have something to add to this post.
-Leslie Couture, Special Collections