WDZ "THE CORN WAS GREEN"
ORGANIZES TALENT IN ONE ROOM
The new commercial WDZ
would offer grain reports, but now saw a chance
to help the poor and down-and-outs of the
Depression Days in Illinois and nearby states
with a little entertainment. The new manager of
the station was "Mom (Edith) Bush". In organized
confusion, singers and performers were wandering
all over the grain and radio operation. As it
was described, "the corn was green." Mom Bush
insisted that all entertainment be performed
live and in one room to prevent complete chaos.
A song would be written by the famous Smiley
Burnette about Mom Bush, entitled, "Momma Don't
Allow No Music Played in Here."
SMILEY BURNETTE ARRIVES AT WDZ
About 1930, a gangling kid was hired at WDZ. He was a song
writer and singer and would stay at the station
for a number of years. Ray Livesay tells the
story of Smiley Burnette. He said that "Lester
"Smiley* Burnette was a talent at the Tuscola
station from 1930-1934, when he was hired by
Western star and singer Gene Autry. Autry had
come from Chicago to audition Burnette in
Tuscola. Burnette later gained stardom as Gene
Autry's sidekick in more than 60 motion pictures
with Autry and in several with another legendary
cowboy star, Roy Rogers. A singer, actor and
comedian who could play dozens of musical
instruments, Burnette was also well-known on
national radio and television. He was featured
as engineer Charlie Prattin in the "Petticoat
Junction" series. Livesay ended his story of
Smiley Burnette by stating that Burnette was a
native of Fulton County and died in 1967."
OLD-TIME "LIVE" ENTERTAINMENT
PERSONALITIES AND PERFORMERS IN "MOM BUSH'S"
Ray Livesay recalls other popular talents at the old Tuscola
WDZ. One performer was from Jewitt in Cumberland
County, His name was Denver Darling and he
played the guitar and sang on the station in the
early 30's. He later made over 120 records in
New York City* He died in 1981 at the age of
72. Livesay also mentioned "Blue Grass
Freeman", a balladeer and "Lazy Jim Day", a
comedian who sang the news in the late 1930's.
He put everything in rhyme, including the news.