ROAR RADIO FLASH: Mark & Brian received a big national publicity boost in 2008. "Mother Ghost", written by and starring Mark, was bundled in a newer Red Laser format for marketing promotion with a special high definition player. The playback unit debuted during international glitz of Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas, when the arrangements with Mark were announced.
As top-rated syndicated morning show
personalities, Mark Thompson and Brian Phelps of the Los Angeles
based "Mark and Brian Show" entertained audiences LIVE with
their dauntless comedy weekday mornings from 6:00 am to 10:00 am PCT on radio for 25 years. Jump to the KLOS Internet site.
The duo was introduced in 1986 by a mutual
friend who was working at radio station I-95 in Birmingham,
Alabama who felt that their personalities "might
click". Deciding to heed the friend's advice, Mark and Brian
each gathered bags of audio cassettes, locked themselves in a
hotel room with coffee, junk food and a tape player and proceeded
to sit through an entire evening listening to each other's work.
Management at 1-95 agreed to give the pair a chance. In no time,
the radio team was racking up solid ratings. After a year at the
station where they reached number one status, Mark and Brian left
Birmingham in September 1987 and ventured west where as they say,
"the rest was history!"
Built on the foundation of friendship,
comedic timing and mutual respect, the "Mark and Brian
would have been heading into the 26th year on the air from Los Angeles if they had not announced their departure from KLOS.
Already two-time winners of Billboard Magazine's "Air
Personalities of the Year," Mark and Brian are also credited
with achieving the radio industry's highest for on-air stars -- The National
Association Broadcasters' Marconi Award.
The former duo won an
Emmy Award for hosting an Andy Griffith TV Special which aired
on the Fox network. And, they starred in their own NBC television show. Therefore, Eddie Foote predicted long ago that because of Andy Griffith connections and the sagging, shelf-load of Radio and TV awards, they were expected to show up "any year" for the famous University of North Alabama George Lindsey Film Festival. That year finally arrived in April 2004. Mark Thompson attended The 7th annual George Lindsey UNA Film Festival in Florence, and thereby, he promoted a new joint certificate program with UCLA for Dr. Foote's majors. But, Mark came especially to the University of North Alabama hometown to show his own independent film, "Mother Ghost". UNA students, native home media professionals and local Shoals-area fans and friends of Mark converged on the locally-famous and nostalgic Shoals Theatre to see the North Alabama Festival premiere of "Mother Ghost".
Eddie Foote is featured on Valley's CW in 2008. Commercial was shot at old WOWL radio/television studios, built in 1957 for Florence/Muscle Shoals area. Mark Thompson became DJ here in 1972.
Dr. Avon Edward Foote, one of several UNA and UCLA instructors in the UNA/UCLA Joint Certificate in Film Program, rubbed shoulders with Mark's North Alabama fans for the screening, and now loudly proclaims the Hollywood radio star's film future to his students. Foote talked of fond recollections of Mark's mother when he took guests, including Jess Daily from UCLA Archives who is Hollywood associate of Dustin Hoffman and Norman Lear, to see Tonya S. Holly's Alabama movie, "When I Find the Ocean". The movie has been available on DVD since 2008.
Bob Blume, the Footes' Shoals friend, went with Jess and Eddie after wives Bets and Dottie departed for home. A few nights earlier, Dottie with granddaughter Niki Foote/Foot of Roanoke, Virginia, had been at a head table for the regional premiere of the film at the Shoals Marriott Convention Center near where the Shoals Chamber of Commerce is now located (see film advisory from Chamber at Red Laser Link). But, Jess, Bob, and Eddie attended the showing of Holly's "When I Find the Ocean" at the same theatre where "Mother Ghost" had been introduced by Mark Thompson to the Shoals. At dinner in Tuscumbia just doors from the old Bijou Theater, which closed forever at the beginning of the sound film era, Foote had told all his guests about Dottie's and his own brushes with Mark's "Mother Ghost". The Footes think -- with a smile -- that the Shoals Theater and other Shoals' film locales, such as the old Bijou building, are haunted since the Shoals Theater showing of "Mother Ghost". That should make Holly's hair stand on end.
But if "Mother Ghost" doesn't do it for Holly, Mark's newer movie is waiting on a Hollywood Movieola. Move over "Mother Ghost" for 2:13 The Movie, with an Official Film Website at www.213themovie.com . Mark Thompson's parents had lived at 213 Duncan in North Florence, Alabama.
Kathryn Tucker Windham was in the Shoals a few years ago, but she did not speak on Ghosts during run-up to Halloween. Instead, she played the musical comb with Professor Bill Foster on banjo and told her University of North Alabama audiences many famous family stories. Kathryn's stories are often heard on Alabama Public Radio, National Public Radio and published in her series of books about Jeffrey the Ghost. A film about Kathryn won top honors during the George Lindsey UNA Film Festival.
Ernest Borgnine on his second trip to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, joined Mark Thompson at the 2004 Festival. Friends Borgnine and Lindsey are long-time "pals" and Ernie had come back to the Festival to put world attention on the Shoals. In 1992, "Current Affair" went to Jasper, Alabama, to give us a lasting video history of the friendship between Goober and Ernie. Borgnine is best known for his talented work in "Marty", "The Dirty Dozen", and "McHale's Navy", but he has starred in hundreds of other films and television shows and won many awards for his work, including a legendary Academy Award for "Marty".
The "MARK AND BRIAN SHOW" had been
syndicated live from (95.5) KLOS-FM, a Disney station when Mark and Brian were hired, to Birmingham, Portland, Sacramento, Seattle and many other cities. The Walt Disney Company announced several years ago a merger of ABC Radio with Citadel Broadcasting Corporation of Las Vegas. The former Disney stations have moved more recently into Cumulus Media ownership after its take-over of Citadel. The MARK & BRIAN program's distribution continued to change after the mergers affected station line-up. As Wi-Fi peaked, KLOS on-demand streaming of MARK & BRIAN expanded. And KLOS personalities held local fundraising events -- such as one given in Pasadena with sister station KABC.
On any given day, the top names in music,
sports and entertainment frequently joined Mark and Brian live in
the studio or make call-ins to the show. Among those who visited
their digs in the early years of the show included Scott Bakula, David Spade, Michael York, and Billy Idol. Such star power as Tim Allen, Billy Crystal,
Tom Cruise, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Mel Brooks, Jason Priestley,
Stone Temple Pilots, Graham Nash, Dick Van Dyke, Mike Piazza,
Walter Payton, Jack Palance, Anne Rice, Martin Landau, Pete
Townshend, Charlie Sheen, Tina Turner, Black Crowes, Luc
Robitaille, Tony Bennett, Marilu Henner and Chris Isaak to name a
few from the early years that signed their guest book in the KLOS studios.
Every morning, the show took on a shape of
its own. Often, Mark and Brian's spontaneity lead them to
outrageous man-on-the-street skits, episodes of "Freeway
Love Connection," remote broadcasts, comic "bits"
by the duo and other members of the morning program team,
"Miniature Theatre" bits and listener call-ins offering
various unique, peculiar and humorous talents. The fellows even
allowed for more serious moments including a call from a brother
confessing his homosexuality to his sister, a child wanting to
reunite with an estranged parent or a nervous young man proposing
marriage to his girlfriend. Because Mark and Brian are open with
their feelings and personal lives, listeners were made to feel as
though they are part of the "Mark and Brian Show"
Mark and Brian didn't limit their exposure
to the four hours they share with the audience on the air. The
duo provided listeners with a myriad of events, including
"Mark and Brian Drive-Ins," the "Mark and Brian
Day Before Thanksgiving Day Parade," "Mark and Brian's:
What Would You Do For Superbowl Tickets?" and their biggest
show of the year, "The Mark and Brian Christmas Show,"
in addition to various advance private film screenings and
listener appreciation events, such as "Chic Night" and
"Dude Night." They encouraged listener participation and
involved themselves in scores of charity benefits including their
own "Mark and Brian Pet Adoption Day" and the
"Annual KLOS Christmas Tree Drive." The team put
together a charity CD of "favorite moments" from the
show, titled, "Mark and Brian: All of Me," which
benefits the Mark and Brian Scholarship Fund and the KLOS Food
Their daily encounters with listeners and
staff, coupled with their own ambition came in handy during the
production of their short-lived, prime-time series for NBC,
"The Adventures of Mark & Brian." Juggling both
radio and television proved to be very chaotic. However, Mark and
Brian still maintained their high radio ratings throughout the
Mark Thompson, originally from Florence,
Alabama, attended the University of North Alabama and claims
he gravitated to radio by starting at North Alabama's WSHF in the Shoals, (Huntsville-Decatur-Florence DMA), because he "couldn't do anything
else." As a high school senior Mark moved up to work for Richard Biddle at WOWL Radio. Rick Shayne was WOWL Radio's Program Director during Mark's employment and later a famous country-music programming consultant with Rusty Walker,
Rusty Walker 2010 CMA Director-At-Large
whose firm has home offices in Burnsville and Iuka in Tishomingo County, Mississippi and a secondary company location in Phoenix, Arizona. Walker's legal name is Sammy Darwin, 1971 graduate of Corinth High School who started his radio career with jobs in Corinth, Tupelo and Iuka before moving on to North Alabama. At WOWL, Florence, he was first to instruct new employee Mark Thompson on running Biddle radio broadcasts. Darwin [Walker] married the daughter of Iuka Mayor Jackie Bryant and Burnette Medley Bryant. Both graduated with Eddie Foote from Iuka High in 1955. It is probably because of Walker's company -- Rusty (in picture) is a Director-At-Large of the Country Music Association -- that Joel and Ethan Coen put the local Tishomingo County radio station in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" at Burnsville and included Pickwick Lake flooding north of Iuka in the movie's plot.
Dr. Avon Edward Foote Attended 2012 Nashville Summit to Honor Rusty Walker, Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings
Billboard Magazine, which bestowed honors on Mark & Brian, has named Walker "country music consultant of year" seven times. Did that information from Billboard motivate the Coens to choose northeast Mississippi for the station's fictitious location? We know they decided to shoot the scenes, including station exteriors, elsewhere in the state to give the movie's Burnsville area a realistic but disturbing, flat Mississippi Delta appearance. But, the 400 Mississippians who live in Burnsville Bottom, extending east along Norfolk Southern Railway from downtown to Walker Switch already knew Burnsville "is flatter than a flivver" even though Woodall and Turnpike Mountains are only a few minutes away by auto (See promotion art from O Brother Concert for movie's flat-out look of road and railroad. During the publicity buildup for the movie's release, the Coens with T-Bone Burnett as music producer backed the benefit, Concert for May 2000 at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium to feature bluegrass, country music stars from the soundtrack.) Walker's business address in Burnsville has been listed as both 38 and 190 Gross Avenue, 38833. Click to see official Mississippi State map showing location of Gross Avenue, which the map identifies as "Cross Avenue", terminating at the Burnsville Cemetery Road, west of Mississippi #365.
Flivver with smoking exhaust pauses before turning toward Walker Switch rather than face stalling on grade of Turnpike Mountain?
Google Maps, Terrain option, for 2009 show "Turnpike Mountain Road", off "Eastport St.", two blocks north of "Foote St." in Burnsville and west of Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway
Shayne could remember personal "escapades" by Mark during his "OWL Radio" years. Shayne said that Dick Biddle, who had hired Shayne in 1971 right off Sand Mountain, considered Mark's professional attitudes outrageous, but Dick changed his assessment after Mark's great success in Birmingham radio. Mark and his wife Lynda have three grown children in Malibu, Burbank and Pasadena -- Matthew,
Amy, and Katie. In his spare time he enjoys baseball, tennis,
and riding his Harley Davidson.
[2007 comment from Eddie Foote (born 1937 in Soggy Burnsville Bottom): Rick Biddle, son of Dick, put his family's flagship WOWL Radio on an FCC educational radio FM channel assignment at Burnsville. Biddle's "Fun 91" is on 91.9. Since his commercial stations originate from offices and studios in Iuka, overlooking old Jaybird Park on Front Street, he should be,
Stephen Root at UNA, April 2000 Stars as Radio Station Mgr.
not actor Stephen Root, the real manager of the Tishomingo station in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"
As he did later with Rusty Walker, Buddy Bain sparked my interest in radio when he put me on-the-air at WCMA, Corinth, to announce a record he was about to play in 1951. I was 14. Nearly three years later my determination to do radio maxed-out in a hot Iuka summer sun while pressing my ear close to the Hodges Cafe screen door to listen to the first Elvis record from Sam Phillips. Standing and leaning into the screen from the Front Street sidewalk, I heard my jukebox debut of "That's All Right" before continuing a short journey to V. J. Elmore's 5 and 10 (Alabama/Mississippi store chain that was a small community version of Woolworths).
Pirate radio transmissions started within a few months in 1954 - 1955 school year, using mailorder Progressive Radio Edu-Kit gear, ordered from a "Science and Mechanics" magazine advertisement. Power increases for wide-range coverage of several miles in Iuka was the first AM broadcasting in county of Tishomingo. I had tried earlier shorter-range, legal AM transmissions with the Microvox Wireless Microphone from Johnson Smith Company, Detroit, Michigan, before building Edu-Kit circuits and a Realistic regenerative radio from Radio Shack modeled after Lee de Forest's invention. Several improvements and other electronic devices were purchased during college study in Electrical Engineering/Electronic Physics, starting in summer 1955. Knight Kits from Allied Radio had just introduced their own wireless device in May as I prepared for relocation to Starkville.
When I arrived at Mississippi State for classes the following month, I found a fully-equipped radio studio on the top floor of Lee Hall. Even though the huge "Old Main" student dorm was immediately adjacent to the studio, President Ben Hilbun turned down my face-to-face request that he make it available for student radio production, that included planning to distribute the campus radio signal to all of Main Dormitory. He suggested instead that after I meet with Joe Phillips' employees at WSSO and the Bernie Imes team at WCBI, I should go on down the State College Drill Field to survey
The Mitchell Memorial Library music listening rooms
Rare Book by Jim Detterline - Link Rocky Mountain National Park Ranger
and music collections as possible resources for radio program recordings. I called on Travis Palmer at WSSO but found that Wilbur already had the record librarian's job totally organized for all Starkville commercial radio, and Palmer disappointed me with his own opinion that Wilbur didn't need a student volunteer's help. At WCBI, Columbus, staffers said they might need me for parttime dj at their Macon station if I could afford to buy a car.
On a visit to Iuka I shared my college blues with Gene Jourdan, one of my very best friends. Gene convinced me that Mississippi Southern College, where he was a student of business and banking, would be a good match for all my radio ambitions. So with the visions of college radio success at Mississippi State blocked and with the encouragement from my Iuka friend, I transferred in January 1956 to "Southern Miss" in Hattiesburg where campus WMSU had pioneered student radio in the state. And, where I would meet Elvis in July in the WBKH old downtown studios just as I started a professional radio dj career with the support of my college roommate, Norm Schneider from Mobile, Alabama. Amazingly, the Hattiesburg dj beginnings had included a visit from the King of Rock to promote his Hound Dog/Don't Be Cruel RCA 45 rpm record. Classmate Lynda Lee Edmondson from Iuka (who married Charles Kay and lived many years in the Persian Gulf) remained my experimental station's number one fan, giving me infrequent reports on the strength and quality of the Tishomingo home signal.
Transmission testing ended forever in 1958 after I became alarmed that the Federal Communications Commission might learn from international students at Florence State College of my on-and-off pirate station. My two Cuban roommates -- Frank de los Reyes and Guillermo "Titi" Rodriguez -- had begun asking technical questions about radio broadcasting in the US after Titi visited in my parent's home on North Wilmuth Street in Iuka and got to know some of my other friends. One of these friends, Judy Holtsford, who later would edit the Corinth paper for The New York Times, was the daughter of the local newspaper publisher. Her father had a long-term interest in radio station development for Tishomingo County. I knew Titi's brother-in-law was with Castro's forces
George Lindsey at UNA, April 2000 with Dr. Garry Warren
Oh, by the way, Jerry Phillips -- Sam Phillips' son who owns and runs the radio stations in old WJOI building on Sam Phillips' Street in Florence -- now lives on Pickwick Lake at Eastport in Tishomingo County just across Eastport Slough from Rusty Walker's. Since her 2010 marriage, Walker's daughter -- teacher Nikki Darwin Clark who is pictured -- has moved to the family's Eastport lodge with her attorney husband, who is Hollywood writer for famous network TV series. Was the movie's Flivver driving on via Walker Switch and Iuka to Eastport in 1937?]
Billboard in Tishomingo County at Burnsville Close by Little Yellow Creek, March 2010
I'm lookin' for some old-timey material.
People can't seem to get enough since
we started broadcasting it on the Pappy
O'Daniel Flour Hour. (Radio Station Manager, "O Brother Country Radio")
Disney's Mark Thompson
receives an Honorary Lifetime Membership in the University of
North Alabama Broadcasting Club/Society from UNA'S Greg Privett, chapter president, who also served as Clinton White House
intern. Greg Privett later worked in TV news for the CBS affiliate in Huntsville, WHNT, which was The New York Times station for North Alabama until 2006. When a student of Foote's at UNA, Privett produced Roar Radio News and wrote news headlines for this BBC Networking Club website, which celebrates its 18th Anniversary on 15 November 2013.
Brian Phelps went to Illinois State
University where he toured with a comedy group for three years
which guided him into writing and producing humor. Brian is
single and enjoys skydiving and cruising on his Harley Davidson.
Daily, Mark and Brian remain loyal to their
long time fans while continuing to gain a newer and broader
Listen to Mark and Brian archive shows from Los Angeles? Contact KLOS, Disney's once-owned FM station in California. KLOS is sister station of News-Talk KABC (790 AM). The ABC Television Network -- that is still part of Disney -- is network home of CMA Awards and the new "Nashville" TV series.
The information on Mark and Brian was first prepared at Disney's Los Angeles station and reviewed by Dr. Foote with Mary and Luther, Mark Thompson's parents of Florence, in the Pine Street MultiMedia Lab, Communications Building, University of North Alabama before their deaths. Since that important Florence meeting by Dr. Foote with Mark's parents, Mark's friend and WOWL Radio program director -- Rick Shayne -- has been inducted into the Alabama Music Hall of Fame in Muscle Shoals, and Mark's parents -- Mary and Luther -- have become characters in his movie, "Mother Ghost". The historic Disney station information on Mark Thompson has been revised frequently since first appearing on Chotank.com, but his associates' connections to the Coen films were not added until 2008. Thornwood þublishers claims British origins for Chotank.com because it launched in November 1995 as a BBC Networking Club member site on the Worldserver, operated by Pipex, Cambridge, England.
In time for Foote's May 2006 visit to London, the Science Museum, Exhibition Road, London, placed historic 1994-95 BBCNC E-mail documents sent to Foote at unaalpha.una.edu by BBC Education into Museum digital and vertical file collections. Shortly before Dr. Tilly Blyth, Curator of Computing and Information for the Museum, commenced correspondence with Foote in September 2005, she had told an interviewer, "I'm in the enviable position of being able to identify and acquire significant computing items for the National Collection, but that also means you have to develop a strong sense of items that are culturally and socially important, not just technological firsts or breakthroughs. It is fascinating to try and identify contemporary items . . . that will engage our audiences and evoke meaning and stories from them in the future." She wrote Foote that she believes the BBC E-mails to him will be "of interest to future generations". [You can find the complete interview with Blyth in the Autumn 2005 issue of the Museum of Computing Magazine from UK. Lead article in this issue is "Computers in Film".] The documents donated by Foote are kept in the same building in England where exhibits of the Fleming Diode valve, the de Forest Audion tube, and Baird's mechanical television receiver are on public view. The Science Museum is situated near the Victoria and Albert in a famous museum complex.
During Foote's trip, he attended the Science Museum's special exhibition, "Pixar: 20 Years of Animation", organized by the MOMA from the archives of the Pixar Animation Studios. Disney had announced in January 2006, that it was buying Pixar, and Disney under Michael Eisner had released all the films highlighted in the 2006 New York and London exhibitions. Steve Jobs relinquished his leadership of Pixar in May 2006 after heading the animation company for 15 years, and a new Disney CEO then announced that Jobs was becoming a board member of the parent Disney. During this time, Foote sat-in on London lectures by famous BBC, ITV and British movie animators at the Science Museum, London. One educational talk featured the underwater animation team for "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire". The film's lead London artist and the London-based producer of the Potter film segment participated in the presentation, that the Science Museum titled, "Walking with Monsters to Harry Potter". Mike Milne, head of computer animation for Framestar CFC, with help from animator Max Soloman, explained that as Europe's largest animation company, CFC employs around 250 animators on its largest film contracts. The Milne/Soloman lead team, responsible the underwater action scenes from the 3rd-annual, Potter film worked first on a Discovery Network/BBC joint series, "Walking with Dinosaurs". This internationally famous series spawned another Discovery special on dinosaurs that included exteriors shot in North Alabama at Dismals Canyon using students from UNA. Framestore CFC has won "an unprecedented 11 Emmy awards in the United States", according to Science Museum promotion literature. The Discovery Network -- founded by John S. Hendricks, history graduate of University of Alabama, Huntsville -- offers a DVD set with North Alabama footage. A different DVD set from Discovery features Milne's explanations about the London production on disc two. The Milne two-disc pack is available from the Discovery website store for $29.95. The New York Times reported, 4 March 2007, in the Arts & Leisure section on plans for Pixar as Disney purchase of its rival reached a first-year anniversary. All Harry Potter movies released before 2010 have been shot at Warner Brother's Leavesden studios in Britain.
Foote has also visited Ealing Studios near London. Ealing is the world's oldest film studio. UK Film Council web pages give important credits to Ealing for the 2011 British film, The King's Speech. The Council credits list shows "Production Facility: Elstree Studios, Ealing Studios".
Eddie Foote has photographed exteriors of older sound stages and new construction to revitalize the studio at Ealing. During visit to Ealing in May 2006, he toured the new £11.5 million (GBP) digital film Institute next door at Ealing, Hammersmith and West London College. He talked of opportunities for educational cooperation with The Ealing Institute of Media / EHWLC administrators and faculty during UK trip with Dr. Dorothy Gargis Foote. Administrators and faculty explained to him the BBC's participation in the Institute approvals process. Facilities design makes it a designated, state-of-the-art Centre for Media Excellence. The famous Studio and the BBC-affiliated Ealing Institute overlook historic Ealing Green.
New Material (c) Copyright 1996 -- 2012
Avon Edward Foote, professor emeritus, University of North Alabama
WHNT -- Channel 19, the CBS network affiliate for North Alabama, owned and operated by The New York Times until 2006, transferred the station's Huntsville area news film archive to Dr. Avon Edward Foote in 1994 for instructional distribution and research from UNA. A much smaller WOWL Television Newsfilm Archive will remain with Dr. Foote after his retirement in September 2008 for research and production.
Recently, Dr. Foote recalled two of his professor-friends at
Ohio State University with Tishomingo ties. Professor Galen Rarick
had been editor and publisher of a Mississippi newspaper at Booneville
before receiving a Stanford Ph.D. and becoming Director of Journalism
at OSU. Professor Walter Emery had sold Nashville Bibles and Dictionaries
in Lee County, Mississippi long before being certified to practice law
before the U. S. Supreme Court and before writing widely-read books on
federal regulation of broadcasting and international systems of
broadcasting. Both men agreed to help Foote by serving on his Ohio State Ph.D. Committee. Other Committee members were I. Keith Tyler (brother of famous University of Chicago educator/scholar Ralph Tyler), Richard Rieke and Bob Monaghan, Chair.
Mass Media Bureau Call Sign Actions (Report #367) for 15 October 1999 show that the Federal Communications Commission assigned WOWL-FM to Southern Cultural Foundation, Burnsville, Mississippi on 12 October 1999, after granting new tower height and moving the tower location toward Corinth. On 15 November 2008, FCC official records show that the Southern Cultural Foundation has current radio station
applications pending in Anderson and Moulton, Alabama, and in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. The Pine Ridge station is to be nearby in Whiteclay, Nebraska. A web site reports "Whiteclay, Nebraska (which sits 400 yards off the Reservation border in a contested buffer zone) has approximately 14 residents and four liquor stores which sell over 4.1 million cans of beer each year". The current address for the Foundation given on the Anderson application is Huntsville-Brown's Ferry Road, Tanner, Alabama. If checking online,
readers find that the Pine Ridge station is now operating in Whiteclay
and gives ownership information naming the Southern Cultural Foundation.
On 18 January 2012 the South Dakota Broadcasters Association, Pierre, confirmed (256)
area code for the Foundation licensee that operates the Pine Ridge Reservation station.
Dick Biddle's radio team employed Sammy Darwin at WOWL in 1972 --
a year after Rick Shayne had arrived for his own air shift with the station.
"Sam Goodtimes Darwin" had still not adopted his Rusty Walker air-name
when he moved to WQLT in 1975 to work with Shayne for Sam Phillips,
after Phillips bought the WJOI stations that Van Sandt had owned earlier.
Five years later Mark Thompson and Rusty Walker nearly competed
head-to-head in Birmingham radio. By 1983 Walker had become nationally
famous for his exceptional country music ratings at Birmingham's WZZK
as Mark Thompson moved on to Disney in LA with Brian Phelps in 1987.
Eddie Foote introduced Bob Blume to Richard Clark and Tony Gaines at
the Country Cupboard Restaurant in Iuka in fall 2010, before Nikki Darwin
married Clark's son. Her future husband received his undergraduate in
electronic media from Syracuse University before becoming a Hollywood scriptwriter.
Buddy Bain and wife Kay would be hired by Frank Kyle Spain at his
television station in Tupelo after Spain returned to NE Mississippi from
his job in New York's Radio City and built TV station WTVA. Buddy Bain had
contributed significantly to early successes of Muscle Shoals music by
joining Blue Seal Flour Pals on network from WJOI,
Florence, & WSM, Nashville.
During his first Sun Record promotion tour, Elvis (with Scotty and Bill) stayed
overnight at old Bain home where Buddy lived later with wife Kay and his
mother in Glen, Mississippi. It is a few miles west of current Elvis billboard.
Burnsville's Elvis sign has been updated with new colors and images for 2012
summer travelers on US Highway 72. In 1955 Corinth performances, Elvis
wowed audiences after appearing on Buddy's WCMA show.
When E. C. Holtsford
opened new radio station in 1960, Buddy moved show with sponsors to Iuka.
More at Chotank.com on Spain and his support of Comcast Cable start-up in Tupelo
in 1963 -- the very same year that Spain himself became a co-founder of MCI.
Go to subject page (http://chotank.com/una2.html) to get details of Frank
Kyle Spain in Tupelo and his marriage into Richard (Dick) Biddle's family.
During July 2005 meeting with Dr. Foote, Spain acknowledged that young Elvis had been his mother's pupil in elementary school classes at Tupelo.
In Summer 1956, Elvis and his companions arrived at downtown Hattiesburg,
Mississippi, WBKH radio studios in a 1954 Cadillac convertible belonging to
Elvis. After an on-air interview Elvis left by rear door to avoid screaming crowd
gathering near buddies waiting in car. The convertible is now displayed in
Elvis Auto Museum at Graceland where Dr. Foote, traveling with several
of his grandchildren, viewed it again in July 2010.
Frank Kyle Spain told Dr. Foote during their July 2005 meeting in Tupelo
that Holly Biddle Spain asked Spain for a MG sports car -- the model she had
owned as a teenager in Florence. Spain's restoration of
the sports car for
Holly in 1974 started a collection that decades later has become the famous
Tupelo Automobile Museum. In the 1960s, Ron Pressley, WOWL Radio DJ, owned
MG that was often seen around the Biddle radio/tv studios in Florence.
WOWL-FM (107.3) became WJOI-FM in 1965 under Tommy Van Sandt, President and
General Manager. Sam Phillips, the Sun Records founder, bought the WJOI
company and changed FM call sign to WQLT. Phillips family stations still operate from
Van Sandt AM/FM studio's location on Sam Phillips Street. Kevin Avon Foote --
whose home address was the former Biddle family address on Shirley Drive in
Forest Hills -- worked for Sam as Radio DJ to pay for
a Red 1973 MG Midget while attending the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa.
Max Berryhill, first manager of the Tupelo Automobile Museum, had been a NASA
engineer before joining Spain. Powell Electronics in Sheffield, had hired him
in Radio-TV-Music electronics after his completion of military service. When
discharged from the Army, Berryhill returned to the Shoals to work for Carl Powell,
only a few miles from where his family had lived during his years at Deshler High.
Leroy Wright, who also worked for Carl Powell before and after his graduation
at Sheffield High School, knew Berryhill well. Before Wright rose in later
years to be vice president SONY Electronics, Inc., Business and Professional
Products Group, Atlanta, he found himself a frequent passenger in the yellow
MG that Holly's father had given her.
When Mark Thompson and Rusty Walker worked together in Muscle Shoals radio over 30 years ago, they competed with a pirate station home-based in Sheffield. The pirate teenage broadcaster mimicked WABC, New York.
Alabama Heritage published a 2007 article on effects of
Pickwick Lake flooding in 1937-38. Patricia Bernard Ezell writes in
Volume 83 that the post office in Riverton, Alabama -- across Bear Creek
from Eastport, Mississippi -- closed on 1 August 1937 and flooding
reached the town site by February 1938. When TVA held dedication
of Pickwick Dam a few years afterward, they invited the Sheffield
High School Band to join a Memphis Shiner's band for entertainment
to 30,000 people. Bill Erwin, WHNT's Shoals reporter until 1998, has
restored photo of carpentry crew on Pickwick Dam, that includes his dad. The panoramic photo was made 15 December 1937.
The New York Times published an important 2 May 2001 article by Emily Yellin on Spain's new Tupelo Automobile Museum. Yellin credits Frank Kyle Spain with beginning of MCI. In November 2009 the article appears in the GOOGLE web cache.
Johnson Family, founders of Muscle Shoals Music. Family
members moved to North Alabama before Sally Johnson graduated from
Iuka High School in 1949. Sally had attended Burnsville
High School for
her freshman and sophomore years as her father operated country grocery
at North Cross Roads, between Burnsville and Iuka near Doskie and old Yellow
Creek NASA facilities in NE Mississippi. Sally is now Mrs. Louise Johnson Harrison of Dyersburg, Tennessee.
Jimmy Johnson, nephew of Louise and member of the famous Muscle Shoals
Swampers, has told Eddie Foote that he "spent the weekends of my youth" in
Iuka. L. R. Lewis, Jimmy's cousin, was the projectionist at the Majestic Movie
Theater. Jimmy would attend in the 1950s the Saturday afternoon western
matinee for 10 cents after putting away two hamburgers and a Coke for 15 cents
at Claude Curtis Hamburger Stand. His weekend visits with relativies in the Lewis
home on Eastport Street continued into the 1960s. During most of this time,
Jimmy's Grandpa Lewis operated the local fish market out Eastport Road near
the fork with Snowdown Road.