The Louisiana Hayride, known as "Cradle of the Stars", was world reknown. It first hit the KWKH airwaves on April 3, 1948. The inaugural broadcast included: the Bailes Brothers, Johnnie and Jack and the Tennessee Mountain Boys with Kitty Wells, the Four Deacons, Curley Kinsley, the Tennessee Ridge Runners, Harrie Smith, the Ozark Mountaineers, the Mercy Brothers and Texas and the Texas Playboys. Horace Logan was the shows original Producer and emcee.
The program was brodcast from The Shreveport Municipal Auditorium in Shreveport, Louisiana, which was designated a National Historic Landmark on October 7, 2008, over the local station KWKH's 50,000-watt signal reached listeners in over 28 states and lured them to packed performances of the Hayride's road show. This part of northwestern Louisiana played a critical role in the development of both country music and rock and roll. Sitting between the Old South and the West, this one-time frontier town provided an ideal setting for the cross-fertilization of musical styles. The scene was shaped by the region's easy mobility, the presence of a legal "red-light" district from 1903-17, and musical interchanges between blacks and whites, who lived in close proximity and in nearly equal numbers. The region nurtured such varied talents as Huddie Ledbetter, the "king of the twelve-string guitar," and Jimmie Davis, the two term "singing governor" of Louisiana who penned "You Are My Sunshine."
Against the backdrop of the colorful history of Shreveport, the unique contribution of this radio barn dance is revealed. Radio shaped musical tastes, and the Hayride's frontier-spirit producers took risks with artists whose reputations may have been shaky or whose styles did not neatly fit musical categories (both Hank Williams and Elvis Presley were rejected by the Opry before they came to Shreveport). The Hayride also served as a training ground for a generation of studio sidemen and producers who steered popular music for decades after the Hayride's final broadcast. While only a few years separated the Hayride appearances of Hank Williams and Elvis Presley--who made his national radio debut on the show in 1954--those years encompassed seismic shifts in the tastes, perceptions, and self-consciousness of American youth. Though the Hayride is often overshadowed by the Grand Ole Opry in country music scholarship.