When the radio was considered furniture

My name is Bill Moll. “William G” is what my mother called me, William Gene. Born in 1937, which was kind of an unsettled time in the world. I’ve often wondered what my parents were thinking as they brought two young boys into the world right at the beginning of World War II, coming out of the Depression The world was in chaos.

It was an unsettled time. But there’s an interesting dimension to it, because the very first piece of furniture my parents bought was a radio. In those days, a radio was a piece of furniture. It stood about four feet tall and about 30 inches wide and it put them in touch with the world. But the closest radio stations were in St. Louis and Memphis 150 miles away from our home in Southeast Missouri. a little town called Sikeston. Sikeston had been founded by John Sikes in 1860 and was an extremely prosperous farming community.

It was a good time to be growing up in a little community of under 10,000 people. It was a community that had an enormous sense of pride and was remarkably well educated. The people who lived there were wealthy farmers for the most part Obviously there was a good deal of poverty, but the wealth was one of the things that defined that community About 1952 the St. Louis Globe-Democrat published a story saying that Sikeston, Missouri had more millionaires per capita than any little community in the country and they were the friends and family whio had cultivated this extremely rich farmland that was a part of the Mississippi River Delta It had at one point been swamps and once they drained it, it had eons of fertile soil to be cultivated.

Well, with that radio as the focal point of our family household, it put us in touch with the world. We could listen, and my parents were faithful to listening to the news of the world and the news was pretty grim as the war developed. My father had two brothers in service, one in the Navy and one in the Marines one in Europe, and one in the Pacific. So we were following both parts of the battles regularly. Dad had rheumatoid arthritis and was 4F–unable to go to the war.

But that’s the way we found it and the radio was the link. After the war we finally got our own little radio station 250Watts: KSIM in Sikeston. And so it became a real focal point for our community to get news and information and to have something that we could call our own in our little community without having to rely on St. Louis and Memphis. Well in 1954 I was a senior in high school actually I was a junior, it was in March of 1954 I called the manager of the radio station in a bold move and said, “I’d like to talk to you about what I have to study to work in this industry.”

And Dick Watkins, the manager said, “Come on down!” 30 minutes later, after I’d gleaned all I could from him about what to study in college,

he said, “How would you like to work here?” Well, three days later I was on the air and have never really stopped.

So that’s 62 years ago, just about now, that my career began on radio. The programming was all block programming It was like TV is now. We had dramas, we had variety programs, we hard large blocks of news. And it was not until later, around 1955 when we got our first television station on the market. and it severely threatened the listenership of our station.

Radio was about to lose its life to television. But the way we survived it was by inventing Top 40 radio. A gentleman in Texas had developed a program to play the top 40 tunes on records and that’s when the term “Disc jockey” came into fashion And that’s the way I evolved into my own career as a DJ.