Downtown St. Louis

Downtown St. Louis - traffic jams, even then.

Swingin’ St. Louis – 1952 – Radio During Segregation – Past Daily Pop Chronicles

Downtown St. Louis
Downtown St. Louis – traffic jams, even then.

The G. Show (George Logan) – KXLW, St. Louis- November 18, 1952 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Continuing our series of Urban (i.e. Segregated) Radio of the early 1950s; the mid-morning show by George Logan, from November 18, 1952. Like many disc jockey shows from this period – it was shows and radio stations like this that became the backbone for what eventually became Rock n’ Roll and top-40. Stations playing records considered “race” by white-owned/white-only record stores, which were never usually available, except by special order or only available from Black-owned or White-owned record stores serving the Black community. Artists known on the “chitlin’ circuit”, and from small independent labels dotting the South and major Urban areas.

In some cases, particularly with Jazz artists, reputations would cross culture and color lines and establish widespread popularity. But many artists, especially those of the rural blues genre, were relegated to these small stations and out-of-the-way clubs for their popularity.

And it’s also interesting, listening to these shows, what was being hawked by the DJ’s; Beer and Wine, lay-away stores, Baking and cooking goods, loan companies – all advertisers whose products were readily available in Black communities, but not otherwise as available in White communities.

At the moment I can’t, but it would be fascinating at some point, to run two disc jockey shows from the same city and timeframe in days and years; one from a station which catered to the Black community and one which catered to the White community, to hear just how much difference there was in segregated America at the time. It’s hard to really get a feel for life in those days by giving abstract examples without laying side-to-side comparisons to really know just how stark a contrast there was in our society at the time.

Or in the words of The Electrifying Eddie Harris and Les McCann: “Trying to Make It Real, Compared to what?”

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