Interview with Albert Hendrix (October 21, 1974)

Material Information

Interview with Albert Hendrix (October 21, 1974)
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
WRUF ( Radio station : Gainesville, Fla.)
Ted Burrow Tapes
Radio stations -- Florida


This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
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This interview is part of the 'WRUF' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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bd Page 1

H; We built this for bands. and things; like that, you know, like we had

oyer at the old studio.

I, Yeah.

-I -But we never did have them here. The old piano's there you know and

EBrught a piano and never did use it.

I I^ glad it's being used for something now. It was just kind of

a, a dusty room...

H: Yeah, just an old room that all you had to do was just dust it up

sometime and that was it.

I: Uh, first let me check with. you Al about how long you've been with

the station. Uhl, when did you first start work?

Hf I came here to the station March the 3rd, 1933.

1'; 1933. So I', gee, I' guess that's, you've been here longer than any-

body else that's on the staff now.

HT Oh, yeah, definitely.

I: Yeah, cause Otis didn't get here till, when, around 1937, something

like that.

H: Yeah.

I'; Uh, how did you happen to get a job here at the station.

H1 Well I' met 'lajor Po-'o-( out at the golf course.

I; 'Uh- huh.

H: And -uh, he needed a man.

I: And he just told you to come on over.

D He asked me to come in and, uh, we talked it over, and that was it.

WRU 10A Side one
bd Page 2

I: What was it like to work for the Major?

HI Oh there isn't, wasn't a finer man than kajor Powell was.

I: Seems like I haven't yet run in to anybody who didn't like him.

H .CChucklel

I: EveryBody seemed to like him.

HI Yeah, he was a fine man.

I: It seems like he probably really set the, set the tone of the

station, you know. Uh, probably, probably did more than anybody

else to determine what it was gonna he like.

I: Oh yeah, definitely so.

I: Uh, I wanted to, uh, ask about a couple of things. Let's see, I

took a look at one of these books. It seems like you were a, didn't

you do some singing back in the thirties or uh...

HI: No, no I, there were some quartets that was here and I kind of,

sort of headed them up you know.

I: Made arrangements for them to be on the air?

H: Yeah, and for them to get on the air, and uh, made sure that they, they

got on the air.

I:: Uh huh.

HI: So, uh, I didn't never do any singing.

I: Uh, it seems like I've seen some names of different groups, and uh,

I was just wondering if you would have heard of them or worked with

them, because they would have been back in the early thirties or,

WRUF 10A Side One
bd Page 3

well, maybe in the late twenties, it may have been before you got

to the station. But there was an outfit called the High Speed Male

Quartet, and then there was something called the Low Speed Male

quartet, and I can't find anything else about them except that

those were the names, and...

K: No, I:don't remember them, I never did see 'em there.

I: Cause there, there were a lot of groups cause they used all local

talent, and there wasn't much of anything on record except, I guess

what records they could borrow from one of the furniture stores

downtown. So uh, I got the impression that so many groups were

formed and came and went over the years that, uh, I guess they

didn't keep much of an account of who they were.

HI: No, I don't think so.

I: Uh, do you recall whether there were any particular programs aimed

at the black audience back then. Uh, maybe different, uh, different

times of the week or something?

I: Well, these boys here they sang mostly on, uh, on Sundays.

I: Um hum.

H: And uh, seemed to me like they sang once in the weekday, I don't

remember when.

I: Um hum.

K: But mostly Sundays is when they sang on Sunday mornings. And it seem

like they sung one day out of the week.

WEUF 10A Side One
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I: The reason why I asked that is because somebody who used to work

here, a guy by the name of Sam ocrFl I don't know if you

remember Sam.

I: Oh, ...

I: But uh, he said for a while there was a program, he didn't say

when it was, but uh, he thought there had been a program that used

primarily black entertainers. And uh, that may have been later.

H: No, Sam came here, r been here forty-two years, and you don't have

anybody, that's a long time. Anvd l.wIf, sure I remember him,

anybody you want to call, just call them from, just call their names.

I: Yeah.

H: Sam was a, Sam t-i-s he was a good man. And I don't, uh,

I don't recall this any special thing for the blacks.

I: Maybe he was mistaken, uh, maybe he just remembered maybe a couple

of particular programs, there wasn't any, any real series of them

or anything, you know?

H: Uh huh.

I: Uh, I want to, uh, check another item, uh, do you rememberARed Barber

was here when you came to work?

H: No, Red was, just got out, he just walked out of one door and I

came in the other.

I': Yeah, oh, so then uh, I: guess you would have come along after every-

body had to take a cut in pay. There was something about, he said

something about being real hard times.

WRUF 10A Side One
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K: CChuckle). Oh my God, I can tell you all about that.

I: Yeah, why don't you describe what things were like back then. I

mean was it, I guess the depression had really hit and money was


HM Oh, it hit the station real had. And uh, we uh, the State just

couldn't pay off because they didn't have the money. And uh,...

I: Were there ever times when you didn't get paid?

H Oh. yeah. It was, uh, oh it lasted a good long time before we got

paid, and then we, and we didn't get paid all at once anyway. We

got a check like today, maybe two weeks hence we got another one.

Oh we finally got paid now.

I: Well, yeah.

K: Let's, now let's make sure of that.

I: It just took a while.

H: Yeah.

I: Oh boy.

H: But it was, my God, uh, the little bit of money, Ted, they was paying

us, I mean you could have paid us out of your pockets.

I: Yeah.

K: It hit all of us, I think that even Dr. Tigert, he was president.

I: Yeah, cause, uh, I think Red said something about everybody in the

whole state government took a ten percent cut in pay, and I guess

that was everybody from the governor on down.

IH Sure, it was, this was bad. And uh, during the time that we didn't

WRUF 10A Side One
bd Page 6

get paid, we got some, uh, they had to get the milk out of a cow's


I': Um hum, that's right yes.

H: And we did this, or pour it on the ground, there wasn't any place

to put it. So they give. us milk, and we planted these turnip greens.

Well those turnip roots was as big as your two fists

like this. And they give us hunches of greens. They give us sweet


I. This was like from out at the. farm here?

HI Yeah, at the farm.

I: The experimental station?

IH Yeah.

I: Yeah, I guess they had to pay off some way, or help the people

along, you know.

H: Well, they just helped, I meant you could go down and pick it up,

you know.

I: Yeah.

K: But uh, it was tough back then.

I: Yeah, I guess times were hard for everybody, but still they had to

keep: the university going.

H: Yeah.

I: Um, was this about the time when the station started taking a little

commercial advertising to keep it going?

H: Well I think after, during that time after that, shortly after that,

WTUF 10A Side One
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then they had to go -B advertise. Because this Gov. Cohen is

the one cut us off, back in "40 in 140 I think when he became

governor of Florida.

I:: Um, yeah.right.

H: And uh, Major Powell, we had to call on him to, I think Mr. Chandler
got and beat the brush and we finally went commercial.

1: Huh. Let's see, you, you came on when they were, everybody was over

in the old building. Uh, what was it like over in the old building?

Did they, uh, I'm trying to find out exactly when certain things

were done over there. Uh, when you came along over there, did they

have the attic fixed up in any way. Were they doing anything with

the attic over at the old building?

Hi Well there was a attic there with a bunch of old stuff in it because

they had the old shingles on top of it, uh, on top of the building.

When you cnuld look up like this and you see all the holes off, see

sunshine shining all through...

I: Oh boy, did it leak once and while in the rain?

H: Oh yeah, it leaked and uh, when it was cold we had to get a heater,

electric heater,Aplug it in.

I: Oh I guess they did't have any central heating system, huh? No furnace

or anything?

H: Oh.gosh, huh uh. And uh, we had the ice man used to bring us ice,

a block of ice and we put it the cooler outside and chop it up, and

drink the ice water during the summertime.

WRUF 10A Side One
hd Page 8

I: Yeah, that's right the days before air conditioning, nobody had

heard much about air conditioning back then. It must have been

kind of warm over there.

K: Oh yeah, it was, it was, uh, and of course you know, Ted, that the

transmitter was there under the same roof.

I: Yeah.

H: And I remember when I went out to sweep the floor in the transmitter,

and the dust would even cut the transmitter off.

I: No kidding?

H: Yeah.

I': That's right, yeah, they, they don't like too much dust in there.

K: No, no it would cut off, and the man.who was sitting on the board

he had to jump up and push the button. (Chuckle).

I: I imagine it got a little hot in the transmitter room too. Those

old transmitters, I thought, put out quite a bit of heat.

H: Oh, yeah. Yeah, those old tubes.. ?4 '

I: Yeah, they really heat up. Now days I guess they don't too much, with

all the transistors.

H: No.

I: Ur, what was the lay out like, were theyusing.. how many different

studios did they have. Now here we've got, well one two, three I

guess, but uh...

H: Well we only had two studios then, we called it the big studio and

the little studio, the small studio.

WRUF 1QA Side One
bd Page 9

I': Okay, but you were only using two?

I: Just the two studios.

I: Okay. Cause I read something a long time ago that said that they

had three rooms that had been hooked up so they could be used, but

I got the impression they didn't use them all the time. Like they

used two most of all.

IH Yeah.

I: But they had another room that they could use in an emergency I


H Yeah, yeah.

I: Uh, I forget who told me, but I think somebody mentioned getting some

of the news from down at the newspaper office.

K: Well I did all that myself.

I: How did you manage to get it?

K: Well I rode a bicycle down there. And uh, I never will forget, uh,

I came back on the bicycle and just as fast as I could ride it, and

the bicycle came apart, just broke.

I: (Chucklel.

Bb And I just left the bicycle in, uh, where the news, the announcer

was standing in the door waiting, looking for me, waiting for me

to bring it in.

I: Uh.huh.

K: And I just left the bicycle and went running with the news like this

and met him at the door and he took it, went upstairs with it.

WRUF 1QA Side One
bd Page 10

I: Just was getting the time to do it.

H: Yes, right to that.

I: Oh Boy.

H: He was just, kept looking and looking, and that was a time.

I:: Oh boy. And this happened every day? That was one of your jobs

that on the way in you had to do this?

K: Yeah, oh yeah, I had to do that.

I:: Was the newspaper office located in the same place where it is


Ml: Yeah.

1 Down there by the old post office?

HI By the old post office, yeah.

I Huh, oh boy.

fL That was JO-s-hLik and I had to do that through the rain and cold

and wind, and everything. You name it.

I: Because they had a program scheduled at the same time, well I guess

it would have been every week day, and not on the weekends?

H: Oh, no, not on the weekends.

I': Im. Do you remember about what time of the morning this would be?

IH Well, it seemed like, uh, close to 12:00, eleven something.

I:: Oh okay, yeah. Um...

H: And I think it was twice a day that I did this.

Ir: Oh. Now..

K: Seemed like it was twice a day that I had to go down and pick up the

WRUF 1QA Side One
bd Page 11

news. Of course, uh, I had to wait down there when the, they had

this machine with the news coming through.

I: Oh yeah, the teletype.

HM The teletype, and by the time wetd run we didn't get anything too

good coming through, I had to wait finally...

I: Yeah, wait for the big stuff.

EH: Yeah, and then get on the bicycle.

1: How did the newspaper feel about this?

H: Well it was uh, Mr. Pepper owned the paper down there, and he was a very

good friend of ours, we had the right of way.

I: Oh, so no problem.

H7 No problem at all.

I': guess, uh, probably on the programs they mentioned that the informa-

tion came from the newspaper.

R: Oh yeah, yeah we give the newspaper a plug.

I: Hum. About what time period was this, like during what years? Do you

remember? Did you start right in doing this when you first came to

work, or did it happen later?

Hf No, no. No, it happened later. Because, uh, a lot of the newspaper

stories came out of the Times-Qnion, used to cut the clippings out


r: Oh.

Hf Until the, because they didn't have, uh, well they should have had this

machine down at the Gainesville Sun, but I'm not too sure whether they

WRUF 1QA Side One
bd Page 12

had there when they started.

I. Hum.

HI: Seemed like later on they put this machine in.

I: Yeah.

HI And then after that.

r: Sb would this...

EI: Then we got it, then we had uh, then I used to go down here, but

right at first I don't think, cause we used to get most of the news

from the newspaper.

I: Oh yeah.

) o would this have been maybe like in the late thirties, and maybe

through the forties, that general time?

H: Oh yeah, it had to be up to the forties then.

I: Yeah, hum.

HI Cause uh I_

I1 Yeah, right. And of course during the forties you got the network

so you could get news off that.

HI: Yeah.

I: 'Mutual and uh...

H: Yeah, mutual, we was broadcasting from the mutual.

I: That must have been some kind of times back in the thirties.

H" Oh-man I'm telling you, you just don't know. Uh, what's good is

good, oh, uh, what's gonna be, gonna be, and what was, was, and even

if I had to go back through it, I still would go back through it,

WRUF 10A Side One
bd Page 13

I still would go back through it.

SOh- yeah.

H* Because it's a great experience.

I: Yeah, there must have been good things that happened too.

H. Oh yeah.

I: Was the station a good place to work Back then. I mean, what about

the. atmosphere, were people easy to get along with?

I: Oh, they were, we had the finest people you could get because every-

body worked as a team. Major Powell was a very good man and uh,

he had everybody just as one person just like a family. Got no doubt

about that.

I: How did people around the area, around Gainesville look at the station.

Uh, did they seem to have a lot of respect for it?

HI Oh yeah, yeah, it's only one station in Gainesville at that time.

r: Could you get stations from outside very often?

H: Yeah, with the little old radio sets you had, and they wasn't too

much. The Crosby five, five-two radio, you know, couldn't get too


I: Let's see, there would have been a station over in Jacksonville,

I guess.

H: Yeah, a station in Jacksonville, and but, uh, you couldn't get too


I: Back then there must have been a lot of funny things that happened

from time to time, especially with some of the students working there,

Wruf 1QA Side One
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uh, what were some of the, you know, the humerious incidents that,

that happened? Do you remember any in particular?

HKI Uh, CChucklel.

I; Aside. from the one about the bicycle falling apart.

Hf: Well there's a lot of things happened there, but I don't think we

ought to talk about them.

I: Do you remember if there was, in the old building, a room where

some of the announcers could sleep if they wanted to, like maybe

did one or two of the guys live there?

HL Yeah, we had a place where they could sleep in there. They had a

shower and a double deck bed. And uh yeah...

I: Do you remember if any of the guys, do you remember who some of

them might have been that stayed in there?

H: Well George Wl4sk for example, he stayed in there. And then one

of the engineers stayed in there.

I: I'm trying to trace that down...


II: ...personal interest like I have because I worked here, I figure

that uh, you know, maybe I'm a logical one to doit, but uh, I just

hope I do a good enough job so that, uh, you all will get a kick out

of reading it.

H: (Chucklel.

WRU 1QA Side One
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I:: You never can tell, after I do this master's thesis, maybe I'll

get a book out of it, maybe we'll have a book with everybody's name

in it. So, let's see, I know you're busy I don't want to take up

too much of your time. But let me ask you, do you remember back

during World War ITI to the time when the station went on at night

with some kind of special permission. Do you remember the station

broadcasting at night because there was an air base around here and

they wanted to provide a little entertainment?

H: Yeah, well first of all, Ted, uh, you know we had, we was, we used

to had to put the station to bed at sunset.

r: Yeah, right.

H: I think we was Denver.

I: Yeah, right.

H: Somehow we had to get out of the way for them.

I: Yeah, same frequency right.

K: And then we'd open up at six in the morning, that is uh, you know for

broadcasting. And uh, and of course, uh, seemed like there was some-

thing about the air base, I think that was Camp Blanding wasn't?

I: Um, I don't believe it was Camp Blanding, I think it was something

called Alachua Air Base. Now I'm trying to figure out where that

could have been. I wonder if it was actually up around Alachua or

whether it was over here, maybe what's now Gainesville Airport.

I don't know. People don't seem to remember exactly where that was.

H: No I: don't think it was either one of those places.

WRUF. 10A Side One
bd Page 16

W: Well I. know there were a lot of little air bases around here doing

various things, it could have been any one of a bunch of them, some-

place out around Williston too I think. So uh, I guess it doesn't

matter much. I guess some of the service men wanted a little enter-

tainment at night, so uh, they went on with low power. I can...

HM Yeah, the station was cut down, the power was cut off, that is down


I: I' think, it was 100 watts.

H: Yeah, about 100 watts.

I: Something that would just get out a little ways and not interfere

with that Denver station.

H: That's right.

I': Uh, let me ask. you about the move over here. Now, let's see that

took place in '55, I believe.

H: '55.

I: But uh, how long did it take? Was it the case of uh, moving over

gradually or did all happen at once?

H: No, no. No, we started moving piece by piece, load by load over


I: About how long did it take.

m: Uh...

I: Days, weeks, months?

H:: Well, I think it, well I think. it took, uh, oh I would say about,

about six weeks a little bit over here from time to time, you know.

WRUF 10A Side One
bd Page 17

I:: Yeah, I guess it took a lot longer than that to plan it thought.

H- Oh yes.

I: I: imagine the Major was coming over here quite a bit.

H: Well, uh, we had, uh, Danzler?

I: Oh yeah, Ray Danzler.

H: Ray Danzler was, he was...

I: Like the assistant manager?

HR He was assistant manager. He, he was a much younger man, and he did

most of the, of the engineering part of transferring the set up over

here. Course Major would naturally come over, you know sometime, but...

I Oh yeah, to look the place over.

Hi But, I think Ray did most of it.

I: I guess everybody was, uh, pretty happy with the move?

HI Oh yes, we was glad to get out of that place. (Chuckle).

I: Was there anybody who didn't like the move?

H: I think Jim CzvIp didn't like the move, cause he said many times

since we've been over here, that he wish he was back at the old place.

As a matter of fact, Ted, we call it the old barn.

I: Oh yeah?

H: (Chuckle). Yeah.

I: The old barn.

i: Yeah, that's what we called it after we left.

I': How about that. Gee I:guess they must have changed it a little bit
so that the policicould be in there. I imagine they changed the rooms

WRUI? 10A Side One
hd Page 18

and maybe put a new roof on the thing.

Hi Well let's see now about the roof. They changed it around, naturally

they had to cause of, uh, different, uh, the expansion of the police

force moving in there, they had to change it around.

I:: You'know I heard some interesting things about the old towers that

used to be over there, about what happened to them after, uh, after

the.transmitter got moved out west of town. I heard that this tower

oyer here with the radar thing on top of it is, is part of one of the

old radio towers.

H. Yeah, we had two radio towers there, that's one of them out there.

And uh, I: don't know really what happened to the other one.

I: Uh, somebody said that WGGG when it went on the air, bought either

the top part of this tower, or maybe it was the other tower and

moved it out there.

K: Perhaps oreTb the other tower.

I:: Hum, I'll have to check on that. Uh, maybe uh, maybe in the files of

that old station they might have the information as to where it went.

Cause I guess they weren't junk, they could be used for something.

Hf Oh no,- they could use it. Now, the tower is like a force you know,

and then the antenna...

I': _______

H' Oppose the force, and I had to help the engineer let that down and we

had to grease that antenna every once and while. And that was a job

rolling that thing up.

WRUF 1QA Side One
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I: OQhboy, how long did that take I wonder?

H: Oh-y, let's see, uh, on Sundays we opened the station at about

eight o'clock. And we had to get in there time enough to let it

down and grease that antenna and then roll it back up. And it was

quite a thing.

I: I:'m not sure I understand that...

H- But we only, that was...

I: did it sometimes on Sundays, but did you go on the air later

that day with the antenna?

H: The sooner we did it at the time, just a soon as... in other words

we had to get it back up in time to go on the air.

I: Oh, I see, right.

H: Yeah.

I: And uh, so how long would that take, maybe about an hour? Or...

H: Well between forty-five minutes to an hour.

I: Oh, okay, so that way you could go back on the air say about nine


Hi Well, we, we uh, we had to be on there at eight o'clock.

I: Oh, I see, yes.

H: So we had to, we did it before eight in order to...

I:'d come out there real early.

H: Yeah, uh huh, and then rolled it back up.

I: That must have been some job.

R: Oh man I tell you it was something.

bd Page 20

I: I guess having the antenna greased up would help transmit the


H: Yeah, oh yeah.

I- And I:guess the weather, the rain and everything, and the sunlight

would wash. it off after a while.

EL Uh huh.

I: Do you remember about how frequently you might have to do that?

H: Not too much, maybe every two or three months.

I: Oh, I see. But it was a tough job getting it down and back up.

H: Oh, you let it down, you know you just kind of hanging on.

I: Did you, oh, you had some kind of a, did you have a reel like that


H: Yeah, reel like, uh...

I,: And you just kind of crank it...

H: And it rolled up on it's, flat...

I: ...crank it down and it...

H: yeah.

I: Oh I see.

H: And then uh, and then we rolled it back up.

I: [Chuckle]. Well see, now that's valuable information and no one else

told me about that see, I:'m glad you mentioned that.

11: Well they didn't, uh, k- on cer%, they probably didn't know

about it.

I! Yeah.

WRUF 10A Side One
bd Page 21

H: But see I had to work with the, the engineers as well as the


I: IBuh, yeah. That's, that's amazing.

H: Duncan was, was uh, chief engineer.

I: Oh, yeah, I heard about him. Yeah, somebody told me he didn't say

much. He was kind of quiet.

H: No, no. No, he was very quiet. You had to get close to him to

hear what he said. He knew his work though, there wasn't any question

about that.

I: Yeah, I guess it was, uh, pretty, uh, pretty complicated back then,

where they didn't stay on the frequency automatically. You had to

keep fiddling with the knobs and everything.

H: Yeah, uh huh. Checking the meters, you know, and uh... sort of,

sort of like you say.

I: Uh, do you remember some, any of the people who used to come out and

put on programs. Any names that come to your mind right away? I

guess, uh, a lot of it was recorded music by the time you came along.

H: Yeah, we had those old, the old discs like that you know.

I- Seventy-eight's, yeah.

H: It was that big...

I: And the transcriptions, yeah...

H: No, bigger than that, uh...

1: Oh.yeah, those big sixteen inch discs?

H: Sixteen inch discs where, uh, you had, you know, you started broadcasting

WRUF 10A Side One
bd Page 22

and uh, we had to group the, the uh...

?: Excuse me for just one...

J; Yeah, sure. I tell you what this, oh, we've still got a little bit

more on that.

H: So that's where, wasn't tapes, just wasn't in existence as far as

we knew at that time.

I': Yeah, I guess you either broadcast off one of those discs, a seven-

eight r.p.m. record, or else it was live and that was about it, huh?

H: Yeah, uh huh.

1: Uh, so uh, it must have been quite a time.

H1 Well, uh, it was a lot of fun, and uh, like I said it was, uh, Major

powell, I:, we respect him as a father, and we was like one family.

I UhV huh.

H. And there wasn't no question, we all got along.

I: I guess, uh, I guess nobody argued with him too much. I guess, uh,

from what other people say, it seems like, uh, everybody felt that,uh,

he was right about just about everything.

Hi Oh yeah. Yes sir. And we've had people to go from every walk of radio,

communications and announcers. We uh, people was waiting on, had a job

as soon as they got out of school.

I: Yeah, it seems like he was always very proud of his people that went


K: Yeah, yeah, he was. And we had some good men there too.

I: Oh-yeah.

WRUF 10A Side One
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H: Oh man.

I: Yeah, I've heard about some...

H: ...good men.

I: Uh, it seems like the station has really changed a lot over the years.

It started out doing a lot of educational programs, and now it's mostly


H: Uh. huh.

I: So uh, it will be interesting to see, you know, what I come up with...