Sunday, July 13, 2008

WJXN Jackson, My Home Town 45 (1961)

Interview with Bob Rall conducted July, 2008.

In 1961, the Dallas-based PAMS company (known for its signature radio jingles) created a "extra" for stations - a 2-minute song bed, to be used to create a local song called "My Home Town." While the tune was written by Euel Box, the stations were in charge of creating their own Chamber of Commerce style lyrics, highlighting local attractions, historic monuments, or simply stating civic pride. Terry Lea (or Terry Lee or Terry Lee Jenkins, as she is credited on the recordings), a regular PAMS jingle singer, sang what are estimated to be hundreds of different versions of this song - many of which were turned into 45s and distributed via the various local radio stations.

In 1958, Bob Rall was a junior in high school, working for WJXN in Jackson, Mississippi. By the age of 20 he was the program director for the station. He remembers writing the lyrics for the local Jackson version of "My Home Town."

"I took it pretty seriously," he admitted. "Several of us at the radio station made a list of things about Jackson. Then, I took the instrumental track and wrote lyrics to fit. You had to work within the prerecorded music, so the lyrics had to fit percisely. With the song, you had no optional melody"

brainstorming took about ten hours to complete "over two or three evenings."

Listen to sample of record here.

"We took it to Ace Records, which was based here in Jackson [the label home of Jimmy Clanton, Frankie Ford, Huey "Piano" Smith, and Joe Tex]. Johnny Vincent with Ace sent them off for us," he said.

A total of 500 of the singles were pressed, and distributed at the station - where it the disc received regular rotation. "Until all of us were sick of it," he admitted.

"The response was very good. The promotion lasted about a month, as I recall. We rationed the
give away of the 500 so they would last."

Rall left WJXN in 1961, to have a successful career throughout the south. "I was on the air at WKGN Knoxville, WABB Mobile, WTIX, New Orleans, KBOX Dallas,
WSLI Jackson, WRBC Jackson, and WWUN Jackson, until 1980, and then General Manager at WRBC Jackson, WSVA/Q101 Harrisonburg, Virginia, K99 (WKNN) Biloxi/Gulfport, and Z106 (WSTZ) Jackson."

Currently he is "semi-retired" doing helicopter traffic reports at WLBT (NBC TV Jackson), and WFMN FM, afternoon traffic for six Clear Channel stations in Jackson - and on Sundays he has a 3-7 shift on WQJQ (Q105) in Jackson.