- Associated Press - Monday, September 21, 2015

ALEXANDRIA, La. (AP) - Taylor Thompson knows the impact Danny White has had as the longest-running disc jockey in Alexandria.

A co-owner of Cenla Broadcasting, which includes KRRV-FM (100.3), Thompson met some people from Mamou while on a cruise a couple of years ago.

“They found out I was in the radio business,” he said, “and I found out one of the women liked country music. I asked her, ‘Do you listen to KRRV?’

“‘I listen every Sunday morning,’ she said. ‘I get up at 6 to listen to Danny White, and I cook by him. I’ve done it for years; in fact, I started going to church on Saturday so I could listen and not miss any of his show.’”

White, 74, a singer, songwriter and band member, has been hosting a six-hour broadcast, “Solid Gold Sunday,” on KRRV in Alexandria on Sunday mornings, from 6 a.m. to noon, every week for 18 years. Twice inducted into the Louisiana Hall of Fame for Radio, he’s a veteran of almost five decades in the radio business, and for the better part of the last two decades, he has become a popular local fixture in that Sunday morning time slot.

“He’s consistently had the No. 1 Sunday morning program in our market,” said Thompson.

“I’m retired, except for weekends,” said White in a recent interview at his Pineville home. “I record our Saturday morning show (6-10 a.m.) on Friday nights from 5:30 to 8. I play in a band on Saturday nights from 7 to 11, and I’ll wake up at 4 on Sunday morning, leave at 5:15 and get there at 5:30. It takes me 30 minutes to set up.

“After the show,” he added, “I sleep all afternoon.”

Not many people in radio host live programs any more, especially at that early time on a Sunday.

“What he does is very rare,” said Louis Coco, who since 1982 has been hosting “The Greaser Show” from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturdays on KLIL, the station he owns in Moreauville in Avoyelles Parish. “The time and the day of the week to do it are very rare. And he doesn’t miss (only one missed program in 18 years), so that helps him develop a strong following because people know he’s going to be there every Sunday doing that show.”

“Everybody in Central Louisiana knows his voice,” said Cenla Broadcasting co-owner Charlie Soprano, “and he’s got a good reputation.”

Many listeners know him, too, for the 1985 song he wrote, “Okie from Tiogee” - a local spinoff of Merle Haggard’s “Okie from Muskogee” - sung by him and the late Jerry Jones, “The Ole J-bird.”

“We used to play at Immaculate Heart (of Mary) Church in Tioga, in Allen Hall,” said White, a south Louisiana immigrant whose wife of nearly 50 years, the former Gloria Smith, is from Tioga. “I started saying I was an Okie from Tiogee and the crowd loved it. In writing the song, all the places I mentioned were where we played softball - our team from the station - and I put in a few little things. Merle had already done the hard work” with the tune.

White said Jones’ lone contribution, but an important one, to writing the song was the second line of the chorus about Tioga being across Flagon Creek from Ball. As part of the “Danny White and White Lightning” band for 12 years, White was glad to get his band’s name in the final line of the chorus where the moonshine by the same nickname was in the original lyrics.

White didn’t start out with intentions to follow a career in music and radio. While he was growing up in Intercoastal City in Vermilion Parish and then going to Abbeville High School, he and his parents and teachers thought he’d be an electrical engineer. As a straight-A student, he likely could have pursued that vocation.

Nonetheless, music is almost as big part of the culture in that area as are swamps, rice fields and shrimp, and his family loved country music. He remembers his father, a rice farmer, tuning in to the Grand Ole Opry every Saturday night and listening to the country greats of the 1940s and ‘50s.

White started college at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (then Southwestern Louisiana) and worked part-time at KVOL in Lafayette while he was a student there, but he later transferred to Northwestern State, where he majored in radio and, thanks to his roommate, got a job at KNOC in Natchitoches.

His off-campus roommate was a fellow from Anacoco by the name of Jim Hawthorne, well known now as the longtime radio Voice of the LSU Tigers who is scheduled to retire after the basketball season. Hawthorne is also country music fan and former host of the Louisiana Hayride country music show in Shreveport.

“Jim likes to sing,” White said. “He got me on at the (KNOC) radio station, and I got him on with a band as the lead singer. He was the best man at my wedding, and I was the best man at his. After we got married, we went our separate ways. Had he gotten to be able to sing (full time), he would never have become the LSU guy.”

“We got to be very good friends,” said Hawthorne. “I performed with his band, and we wrote several songs together, and we were signed to a recording contract by Rebis Records. He’s a good person and a terrific guitar player - best I’ve ever been around. He’s the first person I’d ever been around that wrote music.”

Hawthorne said the day he got married to his second wife, White and his wife, Gloria, followed him and his wife to Center, Texas, where they were married in a courthouse.

“Danny was driving a Volkswagen Beetle, and I was in some kind of jalopy, and my car broke down (after the ceremony) and I had to leave it in Center, Texas. The four of us piled into his Volkswagen Beetle and went straight to Natchitoches, where we played in a gig, and both of us made 12 bucks.”

White spent about six months in Las Vegas in 1973 performing with Jay Chevalier and the Louisiana Longshots. After being voted to the Louisiana Hall of Fame for Radio on his own in 1997, he was again inducted in 2000 as part of Chevalier’s band.

White has played with J.R. Basco, Clint West, Tommy McClain and Burton Garr over the years and is currently playing with the Bernie Alan Band that features the self-taught accordion player from Oberlin.

“I’m making an album now at home with my equipment - ‘A Good Country Song,’” White said. “Raymond Waycaser of Deville wrote (the title song), and I sing it,” said White, whose home studio has a Cascia work station and Tascam 24 track, which he bought at an “incredible” discount for a combined $1,000.

White, who has two children and three granddaughters, said he has seen many fellow musicians and singers die during his career - often prematurely as a result of lifestyles rife with nicotine, drugs and/or alcohol. Yet, he said he has steered clear of those vices. Although he has tipped a few beers or glasses of wine on occasion, he prefers to be “cold sober” when he is performing. “Otherwise,” he said, “I’d feel too insecure. I enjoy it so much I don’t need a drink to enjoy it.”

He is a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with colon cancer shortly after New Year’s Day in 2001 after he complained of stomach pains. “It was the kind of cancer that could spread, but it had not attacked anything when they found it and were able to remove it. That was pure D luck, is what it amounts to, and some people think they won the lottery.”

White, whose granddaughter, Lauren White, is an actress in the “Party Down South” reality television series, recalled when he started at KRRV, he followed “the Ole J-bird,” who initially had the 6 a.m. to noon time slot on Sundays. When he took over the early time slot, he ran the program a bit differently.

“J-bird could talk, and he did that a lot, rattling off names of those who had called in with requests, which worked fine for him,” he said. “But I wanted more time for the music, so I just say where a request is from and play the music.”

When he goes to the radio station on Sunday mornings, he always packs in two black bags full of country music CDs, many of which have music that isn’t already on the computer.

“Some requests, you can computer ‘em in,” he said. “Others I can find in (my bags). If it weren’t for the computer, I could not do that job, but I’d be lost without those two bags because the computer misses some.”

Soprano said he never has to worry about the show with White at the helm.

“He’s very loyal and very punctual,” said Soprano. “He gives 100 percent all the time, even now at his age. When he comes here on Sunday, there must be 27 million CDs all over the place. It’s unbelievable, and he knows where everyone is.”

White said he works his shift standing up because “I’ve got to move around” looking for particular music and getting it ready to play. He estimated he’ll get between 60-70 calls requesting songs each week and play about 72 songs during the six-hour show.

Perhaps the most requested song, he said, is “Legend of the Parlangua,” recorded in 1983 by a Colorado based band names Cahoots, not a Cajun band as many have thought since the lyrics deal with the theme of the Louisiana swamps.

“It didn’t go (well) nationally, but people liked it here,” said White. “I moved back here in ‘97 and I saw the Parlangua CD on a desk at the old station. The gal there said, ‘If somebody doesn’t pick it up, I’m throwing it in the waste basket.’ I said, ‘No.’ I got it, and there was a glitch in it, but Rich Joyce (production director at Cenla Broadcasting) got the glitch out, and we put it in the computer. I guess it’s the most requested song.

“Another that gets a lot of requests is ‘Jesus, Hold My Hand’ (by George Jones),” White continued. “But, then again, it is Sunday morning, and a lot of our listeners are suffering from something or other or know someone who is, and so that’s naturally a favorite.”

He has enjoyed his music and radio career, and White said it wouldn’t have been possible if not for the 39 years that Gloria, now retired, put in working at a local bank.

“I’d like to tell the people who listen,” he said, “if it were not for their calls, I could not do the show. It makes it fly by. If it wasn’t a request show, I couldn’t do it.”

___

Information from: Alexandria Daily Town Talk, https://www.thetowntalk.com

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