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When Country Music Television Wasn’t CMT

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I got a lot of questions about yesterday’s blog. Apparently, mentioning The Louvin Brothers, Buck Owens, George Jones and the like stirred  memories in some folks and curiosity in others. CMT or ‘Country Music Television’ did not exist until March of 1983. That doesn’t mean there was no country music on television. Quite to the contrary. There was a myriad of country music shows, from locally produced broadcasts to nationally syndicated programs to network extravaganzas.

In the 60s in Midland/Odessa, Texas on Saturdays you could see Red Hayes play his fiddle on the local CBS affiliate. You could also see Waylon Jennings performing at Panther Hall in Fort Worth in a locally produced program, followed by ‘The Wilburn Brothers Show’, ‘The Porter Wagoner Show’, The Del Reeves Show’, which later became ‘Del Reeves Country Carnival’ (all syndicated out of Nashville), ‘The Ernest Tubb Show’ and the ‘Buck Owens Ranch Show’ shot in Oklahoma City. All of this before 7pm!

This was the forerunner to network television tapping into the country music audience. You might be surprised what ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ did for country music on a national basis. Jimmy Dean (yes, the sausage king) had one of the first nationally televised network shows that showcased popular country artists of the day. That was followed by high profile network productions like Hee Haw, The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, and The Johnny Cash Show.

As good as we have it today, with 1500 channels of entertainment at our fingertips, I still miss the days of 3 channels and the great live performances we were privy to back in the early days of country music television.

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