Radio 1940s - 60s

It was during the late 1940s that Buddy began his radio work for Pueblo stations such as KGHF, KDZA, and finally KCSJ.

Radio stations in the East began with the letter W, while those in the West began with the letter K. The station he worked for the longest was founded by the Chieftain and Star-Journal newspaper company. It had the call letters KCSJ. Dad met many Western recording artists during these early years on radio who were peddling their wares or playing in town.

Here is Buddy in 1949 with some friends visiting town for a few days of concerts at Memorial Hall. Left to right, Hank Williams, a band member, an agent, Ernest Tubb, two band members and Buddy.

This photograph was taken either at the studio of KGHF or KDZA, most likely at KGHF.

03-02 1948-1949 KGHF radio schedule

A 1948 KGHF radio show listing just the “Colorado Rangers.

During the radio shows with Buddy and the boys, between songs they would informally talk and joke around so the listening audience got to know all the band members by name and their personalities. Often they’d request that maybe Duke, Russ or Roy sing a particular song or be featured on an instrumental number.

These are penny postcards from the late 1940s. Listeners would send in postcards requesting that Buddy and the Colorado Rangers play certain tunes on next week’s program. How communications have changed over the last eighty years!

03-04 1949 KDZA radio schedule

For a short time it appears that Buddy and the Rangers were on two stations KGHF and KDZA at the same time. Here is a listing from 1949 for KDZA radio. Now he is often just listed as "Buddy Johnson.”

03-05 Buddy mike

Buddy and his favorite mike with the ever present cigarette. He loved unfiltered Camels and an occasional shot of Jim Beam. I’m sure this was taken during this early radio period, probably in one of the Johnson houses on Idaho Street in "the blocks" area of Pueblo. At one point the extended Johnson clan (Buddy’s parents, his two brothers and two sisters and Buddy and Tillie) occupied most of the houses on that street. He’s probably in his twenties here.

Missouri Day celebration in Fowler, Colorado, July 25, 1956. Buddy is interviewed by his old friend Cliff Hendrix.

Cliff was a good friend and in the early days of The Colorado Hayride he emceed the live music TV show of Buddy and The Colorado Rangers. Cliff was one of the very earliest radio DJ’s in Colorado radio.

A March 1959 KSCJ radio schedule. Buddy and the band moved to KCSJ in the early 1950s and would be on the radio there into the 1960s. The KCSJ AM radio signal was widely heard over Colorado, well into Eastern Kansas and a good portion of New Mexico.

Even on the road Buddy and The Rangers represented KCSJ TV & Radio.

This is from one of the gigs in New Mexico. Buddy and the gang played a number of places there including, Albuquerque, Raton, Española, and Gallup. I think this is when the band was in Gallup for a week in the late 1950s at the Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial celebration. The crowd in the large center was among the largest interior crowds Buddy and the Colorado Rangers ever played for, estimated at over 5,000. Notice the characteristic Cadillac and trailer. This was one of his many early Cads.

On KCSJ radio Buddy had a noon western radio show with visiting performers in town often stopping by for talk and sometimes to play a song or two. It was during the radio days that Buddy came to know and become friends with many of the Western music idols of the day. When he later moved into television, they often would make an appearance there too.

Many of the men in this 1958 ad also moved over when the TV station was established. It was the era of using local talent for the bulk of a station’s broadcasting day.

KCSJ radio and later KCSJ TV was created by the owners of the Pueblo Chieftain and Star Journal newspapers. The newspaper owners thought it was a natural evolution in media and they wanted to be a part of it. A number of these men were life long-friends of the family.

A 1990s article told about KCSJ radio and its much vaunted history. The radio station was separated from KCSJ TV when the TV station was purchased by an investment group which included Bob Hope, in the early 1960s. At that point KCSJ TV became KOAA TV after the other TV station they owned in Colorado which was KOA TV (now KCNC) Denver.

03-11 1962 KCSJ & KOAA schedules

Here’s a 1962 radio and TV schedule which shows both the KCSJ radio schedule and the change of KCSJ TV to KOAA TV, with Buddy listed on both.

If anyone has any photographs of Buddy in a radio studio with or without the Rangers, please contact me.

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