WordPress automatically creates this “Hello World” post, I suppose I could delete it, but I’d rather use the opportunity to introduce the material I intend to post on this new website, and introduce a marvelous piece of recorded history from my collection.
This Okeh custom pressing, titled Hello World 001, was made in 1930 for the owner of KWKH radio in Shreveport, Louisiana, one W.K. Henderson. The first side, by Henderson himself, was recorded February 17 or 18, 1930 in Shreveport, Louisiana, and the second, by country artist Blind Andy, was recorded March 5, 1930 in New York.
William Kennon Henderson, Jr. was born in Bastrop, Louisiana in 1880 and made his fortune as owner and president of the Henderson Iron Works and Supply Company. Henderson became interested in radio in 1923, when he was requested by Shreveport radio station WGAQ to help fund a replacement of their low-powered transmitter. In 1925, he bought the station and renamed it KWKH, the callsign representing his initials. Broadcasting across many states with his 50,000 watt station, Henderson made a name for himself with his rural brand of humor and his heated, profanity-laced political rants against chain stores, large corporations, the Federal Radio Commision, and the establishment in general. Henderson was a long time friend and associate of governor Huey Long, who appeared as a guest on the station occasionally, along with some of his allies. Long also aided Henderson in keeping government regulation away from his controversial broadcasts. Henderson also founded an alliance of small business owners dubbed the Modern Minute Men (MMM), which at one point claimed around 32,000 members nationally and raised almost $375,000 for Henderson.
Despite his attempts to exploit loopholes, Henderson was an enemy of the fledgling Federal Radio Commission for his repeated and numerous violations of their policies, including his obscenity laced monologues and his reliance on “canned music”. In 1931, Governor Long had a falling out with Henderson, and the Federal Radio Commission ordered an inquiry into the affairs of KWKH. That combined with hard times brought on by the Great Depression saw him to declare bankruptcy and sell the station in 1932. On his death bed in 1945, Henderson said, “I was right, you know… I guess I was fighting for free speech and free enterprise.” KWKH would later gain new fame for their “Louisiana Hayride” program beginning in 1948, which eventually featured a young singer by the name of Elvis Presley in the 1950s.
Recorded by Okeh in Shreveport, Louisiana, W.K. Henderson tones down his act considerably for the record’s first side, “Hello World”, a diatribe from Henderson about other stations interfering KWKH’s frequency of 850 kilocycles by WABC in New York, a “chain outfit”, WLS in Chicago, that “Sears-Rareback outfit”, and WENR, and the entity responsible for the interference, the Federal Radio Commission.
On the flip-side, recorded March 5, 1930 in New York City, noted country and gospel artist Andrew Jenkins performs “Hello World Song (Don’t You Go ‘Way)”, a well-done country song set to the tune of his older composition, “The Death of Floyd Collins”. Blind Andy warns listeners not to invest their money in the stock market and offers other bits of timely advice from the agenda of W.K. Henderson.
Having shared that piece of history, I leave you with a final word…
Hello world, doggone ya. Now don’t you go away!
Updated on October 21, 2015.