Small Town Radio Station

Old bush radio

It must be hard on your morale when you think your radio program is reaching thousands of listeners over a several hundred mile area, and then to only get the same caller for every contest.

Just as Austin claims to be the *Live* Music “Capital of the World”, Carthage prides itself on being the “Natural Gas Capital of the World”. Appropriately, their radio station’s letters were (and still are) KGAS.

KGAS has always been a great station that served the area well, but one day, back in 1963, they became so frustrated by a little boy … er, uh, that is, me, that they finally had to beg me to let someone else call in to win some contests for a change.

They had a program called “Toons for Teens”. You could get the top 40 songs from the local book store. Often, the first caller who could identify their next song and tell them where it fell in the top 40 rankings would win free tickets to the local movie theater or some other prize.

Rotary Dial from the 1960's

I would dial the station’s number on my rotary phone, and hold the last digit tightly against the silver, half-moon shaped finger stop. As soon as I heard the first note of the song, I would let go, allowing the last digit to click, click, click it’s way into the phone system.

Almost immediately, the station’s number would ring. This is before caller-id was invented, so they could not know who was calling. After awhile, though, the D.J. would just answer with a sigh, and say with resignation, “Hi, Mike.” … before I could even say “Hello.” Clearly, I had him before hello.

I felt badly, of course, and stopped calling in, but this could only happen in a sleepy, little Mayberry type town … which is another reason for me to love my dear hometown of Carthage, Texas.

This post was submitted by Mike Strong.

2 thoughts on “Small Town Radio Station

  1. What a hoot! I remember those rotary phones and could see it all in my mind, your finger following around to the silver half moon. You were so smart. I never would have thought of that technique. You’re an excellent writer. Enjoy reading your stories. They make me smile. Something that’s helpful during this season.

  2. Before any locals get too offended, let me hasten to add that Carthage has enjoyed a healthy economy. Panola College has been recognized as an exceptionally good school. KGAS is a great station, faithfully and skillfully serving a very large area of East, Texas since 1955. Finally, the area has grown considerably since 1963. So, an affectionate, nostalgic view of Carthage as a “Mayberry type town” is not intended as an insult. It’s a compliment. It’s the sort of place where you can get a job AND raise a family.

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