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09 May 2010

Ray Charles ON KRSC Radio & TV In 1948-'49

Photo: KRSC-TV cameraman
Tom Priebe, Seattle, 1948.
An article about Seattle's Radio and TV Pioneers states that Ray Charles' Maxin Trio was frequently aired on KRSC radio shows, and a bit later also on their TV shows, to promote their local gigs:
"Station management began scouring the town seeking out talents who could fill the hours with decent content. Like early radio around the nation, many broadcast hours would be booked with 'block programming' - 15-minute or half-hour or one-hour blocks of time purchased by sponsoring companies of other advertisers. These could range from bread bakeries, to breweries, to, well, the Kelvinator appliance shop. Another option that arose at KRSC was to have area musicians pay to play - which is how the FM station began airing the live music of the Maxin Trio - a popular jazzy African American group who coughed up their own $ 15 a week for a 15-minute weekly show on Saturdays at 4 p.m. - mainly in order to get free advertising for their upcoming nightclub gigs. KRSC TV started transmitting on Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 25) 1948.
KRSC-TV made history by airing some of the first ever TV shows hosted by African Americans. [...] Then too, the Maxin Trio shifted over to the TV station, once again to hype their money-making dance gigs. And the trio, of course, ended up recording Seattle's first R&B 78 rpm disc in 1948 -  Confession Blues (and soon after, Alone In The City) - and their singer/pianist, Ray Charles went on to global fame."
From Billboard,
July 13, 1959.
In a Downbeat article from 28 November 1956 Ray was quoted, saying that at 18 this "first sponsored Negro television show" was "the biggest thrill of my life".

According to this clipping from Billboard (13 July 1959), Ray had his own Seattle tv show when he was 17, i.e. in 1947. The information no doubt came to Billboard through Atlantic. Ray's biographers agree that Ray's chronology on his Seattle period is off by about 2 years [he e.g. also dated his first recordings - Why Did You Go?, Wonderin' And Wonderin' (aka I'm Wonderin' And Wonderin'),  Walkin' And Talkin' (aka Talkin' 'Bout You) and St. Pete's Blues (aka I Found My Baby There, aka Done Found Out) too early, by approximately 2 years].
To add to the confusion, well into the 1960s many sources quoted a version of Ray's biography which stated that he was born in 1932...

In an interview with Associated Press (quoted from the St. Petersburg Times, May 7, 1989), Charles stated that he was first on television in 1948. "My trio had this 15-minute radio show every week," he recalled. "They came in and filmed part of it. We didn't do anything great on it but I was playing my music and getting it exposed. I was extremely excited; I was beside myself. TV wasn't big then. Bars had one TV and people would meet up there and watch."
The story was repeated in publicity materials until the early 1960s, but then abandoned.

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