Interview with Horace Logan, October 13, 1976
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63 Interview with Horace Logan, October 13, 1976 —Earl Porter Horace Logan’s name will always be uttered in the same breath as the Louisiana Hayride. His decisions as program director for ten years and his talents as an announcer imbued the Hayride with its special character. Logan published his own remembrances several years before his death, in a 1998 memoir Elvis, Hank, and Me, written with Bill Sloan (and reprinted the following year under the title Louisiana Hayride Years). As the title suggests, along with the book jacket images of Elvis Presley, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash, this memoir self-consciously positions its author as a key figure in the stories of these three popular culture icons. By contrast, the interview excerpted here, occurring on October 13, 1976, more than two decades before the memoir, finds Logan in a different place in life. He was working at the time as station manager at KREB in West Monroe, Louisiana. Talking with Earl Porter, a student in an upper-level oral history seminar at Louisiana State University-Shreveport, Logan seems relatively unguarded and unrehearsed. There is a refreshing, human quality to the conversation between Porter and Logan, lacking that weight of posterity and posturing that pervades the later published memoir. As Logan shared with his interviewer, his entry into radio during the early 1930s was accidental. As a high school student, he accompanied a friend to the KWKH studios, then housed within the Washington-Youree Hotel in downtown Shreveport. His friend planned to participate in an announcer’s contest, sponsored by Half Past Seven Coffee. When one of the other participants failed to show up, Logan was recruited to take his place in order to maintain the radio segment’s timing. With the description,“The delicate, volatile oils of Half Past Seven Coffee,” Logan won the contest and a job as KWKH announcer for fifteen dollars per week. From that moment, radio shaped the course of Logan’s life. EARL PORTER 64 The bulk of the interview concentrates on Logan’s memories of the Hayride. Throughout his conversation with Porter, Logan stakes his claim as the Hayride’s originator. As other sources have argued, this is a title he shares in varying degrees with other early Hayride figures like the Bailes Brothers, Dean Upson, and even Henry Clay, KWKH’s general manager at the time. Despite the static between different points of view, it cannot be denied that Logan, as program director, dictated the show. In the interview, he reflects on his own guiding vision for encouraging performers to do their best, and for pacing and rotation among the emcees. He also touches on the show’s relationship to the musicians’ union, to commercial sponsors, and to Shreveport’s civic leaders. In the end, we gain a greater sense for the unpredictable and freewheeling spirit that so distinguished the Louisiana Hayride from other barn dances. Tucked for three decades in an archive folder at the Noel Memorial Library Archives and Special Collections at Louisiana State University-Shreveport and known to only a handful of scholars, this interview finds Logan in a more reflective and thoughtful mindframe. We have edited the interview from the typed transcript housed in the Oral History Collection. Ellipses points replace portions of the transcript omitted from this reprint. In addition to portions that become redundant or off topic, we excluded Porter’s questions, leaving only the voice of Logan. We initially began the Hayride by everybody in it sharing in what was left over after all the expenses were paid. After it was obvious, the first several weeks, and it was obvious that the Hayride was going to be a monetary success, KWKH then assumed the financial responsibility for the program and started paying the talent. Union scale at that time was $12.00 for a side man, $18.00 for a soloist, and $24.00 for the leader of a band. . . . Steve Grunhart was the head of the local union there in Shreveport when we started the Hayride and he was still head of it when I left, and the relations were very amiable. He asked that since the majority of the artists on the show were recording—most of them on little labels or unknown labels—he requested that we stick strictly to union musicians which was a reasonable request because, in those days, you basically had to be in the union in order to get on a record or even to play on a...


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