Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Boss Johnston and WLW in 1928

For decades, Maurice "Boss" Johnston was one of the most revered stars on WLW radio. He was well-known for his "RFD Hour" program on Saturday nights, a mix of music, chat and storytelling. And he was perhaps best-known as the founder of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association (NMLRA) and the annual shooting meet at Friendship, Indiana.

This newspaper clipping, from the Kokomo Tribune for Satuday, July 21, 1928, could be the earliest mention of Boss, since he started with WLW in 1928. (Click on the image to see it larger.)

Boss Johnston was a farmer and a hunting guide in southeastern Indiana, and Powel Crosley, Jr. went hunting with him on a number of occasions. Boss was also a farm-machinery salesman and had an endless supply of country and farm stories (rather like champion banjo player Mike Snyder and, before him, Jerry Clower. Both were storytellers and racantors like Boss Johnston.) He had appeared on radio once before in Chicago, before Crosley hired him to come on WLW and tell hunting, fishing, and marksmanship stories. Johnston was also a popular after-dinner speaker throughout Ohio and Indiana through the 1950s. He was originally billed on the radio as "the old coon-hunter" but quickly talked WLW into changing that designation. He came up with "The RFD Hour" as the show's name because, he said, most of his listeners had RFD (Rural Free Delivery) addresses.

No comments: