W. K. Henderson
|William Kennon Henderson, Jr.|
August 6, 1880|
Bastrop, Morehouse Parish
|Died||May 28, 1945
Shreveport, Caddo Parish
|Greenwood Cemetery in Shreveport, Louisiana|
|Alma mater||St. Edward's University|
|Spouse(s)||Josie Carter Henderson (married 1908-1945, his death)|
|Parents||W. K. and Mamie Jamison Henderson|
William Kennon Henderson, Jr., usually known as W.K. Henderson (August 6, 1880–May 28, 1945), was a pioneer in the radio industry who in 1922 acquired WGAQ in Shreveport, Louisiana, expanded it, and renamed the call letters after himself as KWKH.
Hello, World, Doggone, Ya! -- trademark greeting of W. K. Henderson
Henderson was born to W. K. Henderson, Sr., and the former Mamie Jamison in Bastrop, the seat of Morehouse Parish north of Monroe. The parents moved to Jefferson in Marion County in northeast Texas, where Henderson was reared and educated. He attended the Thatcher Institute in Shreveport before he entered and subsequently graduated from the Roman Catholic-affiliated St. Edward's University in Austin, Texas. In 1896, the Hendersons moved to Shreveport. After college, he established Henderson Garage and sold Ford automobiles. Upon the death of the senior Henderson near the end of World War I, Henderson, then thirty-eight, disposed of the garage and assumed management of the Henderson Iron Works and Supply Company, the largest company of its kind south of St. Louis, Missouri.
Henderson, meanwhile, developed an interest in the new medium of radio. He and several partners operated WGAQ from 1922-1925. He then acquired full ownership of the renamed KWKH, and the station with expanded band width went on the air on September 25, 1925. Operating from his estate called "Kennonwood," north of Shreveport, the 50,000-watt, clear-channel station matched in prestige WWL in New Orleans. On the air, Henderson railed against the power of the new Federal Communications Commission to regulate his station, going so far as to issue a private phonograph record to present his views. During the evening hours, its powerful signal reached all over the United States. Henderson allied himself politically with the popular Democrat, Huey Pierce Long, Jr., who was elected governor of Louisiana in 1928. Like Long, Henderson challenged the power of chain store monopolies. Henderson and Long came to a parting of the ways, and Henderson sold the station in 1933. Henderson's trademark sign-in on radio was "Hello, World, Doggone Ya!" The Shreveport mayor during Henderson's heyday as a broadcaster was Lee Emmett Thomas, who pushed for the acquisition of Shreveport Municipal Auditorium.
For seven years, Henderson was one of the most famous personalities of radio, not just in Louisiana but throughout the world. He received more than fifty letters daily from Europe and thousands from within his country. In addition to his opposition to chain stores, Henderson solicited his own brand of coffee over the air. His group known as the "Minute Men" consisted of independent merchants who paid dues to have their stores advertised on KWKH. In 1930, Radio Digest reported KWKH to have been at the time "the most powerful station in the South."
Long after Henderson's death, KWKH broadcaster Frank Page introduced Elvis Presley to the nation via radio when Presley performed at the Shreveport Municipal Auditorium on the Louisiana Hayride (1948-1960). Presley appeared on the Hayride on several occasions for the eighteen months between 1954 and 1956, having at first in his career been shunned by the more established and permanent Grand Ole Opry of Nashville, Tennessee. KWKH became synonymous with coverage of the Hayride, broadcast from the Municipal Auditorium located downtown at 705 Elvis Presley Avenue (formerly Grand Avenue).
In 1908, Henderson married the former Josie Carter, daughter of New Orleans native and Shreveport druggist Leon Marks Carter (1855–1903) and the former Mattie L. Parsons (1856–1937). They had two children, daughter Kennon and son William Carter Henderson. Henderson died in Shreveport at the age of sixty-four.
Josie Henderson was a delegate to the 1932 Republican National Convention, which met in Chicago to renominate the Hoover-Curtis ticket. Born in 1882, Mrs. Henderson died on June 29, 1945, a month after the passing of her husband. The Hendersons are interred, along with the Carters, at Greenwood Cemetery in Shreveport.
W. K. Henderson's son, the late William Carter Henderson, was one of the founders of KSLA-TV, the CBS affiliate in Shreveport. W. K.'s grandson, William C. "Bill" Henderson (January 30, 1940–March 10, 2010), was active in real estate management for his family's Henderson Properties Company.
- "Henderson, William Kennon". Louisiana Historical Association, A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography (lahistory.org). Retrieved December 24, 2010.
- "Biography of William Kennon Henderson". usgwarchives.org. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
- Sherman, Mike and Nauck, Kurt (1998). Note the Notes: An Illustrated History of the Columbia Record Label. Monarch Record Enterprises. ISBN 0-9632903-2-0.
- Derek, Vaillant, "Bare-Knuckled Broadcasting: Enlisting Manly Respectability and Racial Paternalism in the Battle Against Chain Stores, Chain Stations, and the Federal Radio Commission on Louisiana's KWKH, 1924–33." Radio Journal 1, No. 3 (2004): 193-211.
- "Music: KWKH & W.K. Henderson, Jr.". caddohistory.com. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
- "Thomas, Lee Emmett". Louisiana Historical Association, A Directory of Louisiana Biography (lahistory.org). Retrieved December 29, 2010.
- "Louisiana Hayride". caddohistory.com. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
- "Leon Marks Carter". findagrave.com. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
- "Josie Carter Henderson (1882-1945)". findagrave.com. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
- A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography bases its article on W.K. Henderson on these sources: Lilian Hall, A History of Programming KWKH, 1920-1950 (Ph.D. dissertation, Louisiana State University, 1959); Maude Hearn-O'Pry, Chronicles of Shreveport (1928); Lilla McLure and J. Ed Howe, History of Shreveport and Shreveport Builders (1937); C. Joseph Pusateri, "The Stormy Career of a Radio Maverick, W. K. Henderson of KWKH," Louisiana Studies, XV (Winter, 1976); J. Ed Howe, Shreveport Men and Women Builders (1931); "History of KWKH," Shreveport Times, January 29, 1978.
- "Index to Politicians: Henderson". politicalgraveyard.com. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
- "W. K. Henderson". findagrave.com. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
- "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
- "William C. "Bill" Henderson obituary". Shreveport Times, March 13, 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2010.