Texas radio station sets country music standard

January 4th, 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.

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Texas radio station sets country music standard

January 4th, 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.

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Related Handbook of Texas Articles

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With more than 27,000 articles about Texas history, the Texas State Historical Association's Handbook of Texas is the largest online encyclopedia about all things Texas. Now you can celebrate the history of Texas every day by activating your free subscription to Texas Day by Day. Each day's email tells a little bit more of the story of Texas and links to our collection of more than 27,000 articles. It's one of the best ways to learn more about Texas history — in only 15 minutes a day!

Activate your free subscription to Texas Day by Day and you can:

  • Explore Texas history each day in bite-sized pieces conveniently delivered to your inbox each morning
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  • Get in-depth looks at some of the overlooked events and landmarks in Texas history
  • Discover new places to explore in the Lone Star State
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