Friday, November 14, 2008

Dude Martin on KLX

The Dude Martin band was pretty popular in Northern California and the North West. In various incarnations he recorded several records for RCA-Victor. His biography, The Dude martin Story is well worth reading, there is also a documentary film. As you may know, much rockabilly originated not in Nashville, but the Sacramento Valley and the San Joaquin Valley in California. Dude Martin first was on air at 910 KLX-AM in 1932 with his first band, The Nevada Nite Herders. Martin’s show was called the “Round-up.”

KLX-AM shared a frequency, staff and equipment with KZM-AM in the 1920s. KZM had come up as experimental station 6XAJ getting the calls in 1921. The Tribune Newspaper was deeply involved with the station and through inexplicabel logic, was convinved to get it's own license for the share-time by KLX founder Preston Decker Allen in 1922.

In 1928 Allen wanted to sell his license and rather than sell to the Tribune, he sold out to a lcal buisnessman Leon P. Tenney. Tenney moved the station to 1300 as a share time with KRE-AM then 1370. By 1930 Tenneywas bored and sold out to Julius Brunton who already owned KJBS-AM. That last transfer was not authorized by the FRC (this is pre-FCC) and bang the FRC deleted the license. The void of KZM is what allowed KLX to flourish.

So in 1932 when Dude martin does his first mic break on KLX they have the new frequency of 880 to themselves and are running at 1000 watts from the 20th story of the Tribune building. For the era, this was a big stick.

The Nevada Nightherders were Martin's highschool band. The Nightherder name went away as the shows popularity grew. The band ballooned to 10 members and the band was known as 'Dude Martin's Roundup Gang.' Around then they At this point they moved over to 1260 KYA-AM in San Francisco where they stayed for a decade. On KYA his sponsor was Gene Compton's Restaurant. By 1939 he changed the name again to the Wild West Show Revue Gang.

In 1949 Martin took at stabe at television and hosted The Dude Martin Show on KGO-TV. It was popular enough that he eventually moved to Los Angeles to host the Hoffman Hayride taking over for the erratic and possibly manic Spade Cooley on KTTV-TV in that much larger market. That show ran into the 1950s. He died in 1991.