W. K. Henderson

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William Kennon Henderson, Jr.
W. K. Henderson of Shreveport, LA.jpg
Born(1880-08-06)August 6, 1880
Bastrop, Morehouse Parish
Louisiana, USA
DiedMay 28, 1945(1945-05-28) (aged 64)
Shreveport, Caddo Parish
Resting placeGreenwood Cemetery in Shreveport, Louisiana
Alma materSt. Edward's University
Founder of KWKH Radio
Political partyDemocrat
Spouse(s)Josie Carter Henderson (married 1908-1945, his death)
ChildrenKennon Henderson
William Carter Henderson
Parent(s)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.[1]


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[2] 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 ownership of the Henderson Iron Works and Supply Company, the largest company of its kind south of St. Louis, Missouri.[1][2][3]

Radio station ownership[edit]

In the early 1920s, Henderson developed an interest in the new medium of commercial radio broadcasting. He and several partners operated WGAQ from 1922-1925. He then acquired full ownership of the renamed KWKH,[3] 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 10,000-watt, clear-channel station matched in prestige WWL in New Orleans. During the evening hours, its powerful signal reached all over the United States.[3]

For seven years, Henderson was one of the most famous personalities of radio, not just in Louisiana but throughout the US. His trademark sign-on slogan was "Hello, World, Doggone Ya!"[4] By 1928, Radio Digest magazine said his station was the most popular in the South.[3] He defended his program's frequent invective and coarse language, saying "People don't care about gentle modest talk. They want it strong. They want to hear you ride somebody."[3] On the air, Henderson railed against the power of the new Federal Communications Commission to regulate his station and its threats to revoke his license, going so far as to issue a private phonograph record to present his views.[5] He called the FCC "crooks, skunks, and grafters".[3]

Henderson allied himself politically with the popular Democrat, Huey Pierce Long, Jr., who was elected governor of Louisiana in 1928.[1] Like Long, Henderson challenged the power of chain store monopolies. However, Henderson and Long eventually came to a parting of the ways. With the loss of the powerful governor's backing and the likelihood that the FCC would revoke his license following an investigation and show cause hearing in Washington, DC, in 1933, Henderson sold the station for $50,000.[1][3][6]


In 1908, Henderson married the former Josie Carter, daughter of New Orleans native and Shreveport druggist Leon Marks Carter (1855–1903)[7] and the former Mattie L. Parsons (1856–1937).[8] They had two children, daughter Kennon and son William Carter Henderson. Henderson died in Shreveport at the age of sixty-four.[1][9]

Josie Henderson was a delegate to the 1932 Republican National Convention, which met in Chicago to renominate the Hoover-Curtis ticket.[10] Born in 1882, Mrs. Henderson died on June 29, 1945, a month after the passing of her husband.[8] The Hendersons are interred, along with the Carters, at Greenwood Cemetery in Shreveport.[11]

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),[12] was active in real estate management for his family's Henderson Properties Company.[13]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Henderson, William Kennon". Louisiana Historical Association, A Dictionary of Louisiana Biography (lahistory.org). Archived from the original on February 25, 2010. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Biography of William Kennon Henderson". usgwarchives.org. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Schneider, John (September 1, 2018). "The Rabble-Rousers of Early Radio Broadcasting". Radio World. Vol. 42 no. 22. Future US. pp. 18–20.
  4. ^ "Music: KWKH & W.K. Henderson, Jr". caddohistory.com. Retrieved December 24, 2010.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ "Leon Marks Carter". findagrave.com. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  8. ^ a b "Josie Carter Henderson (1882-1945)". findagrave.com. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ "Index to Politicians: Henderson". politicalgraveyard.com. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  11. ^ "W. K. Henderson". findagrave.com. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  12. ^ "Social Security Death Index". ssdi.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved October 16, 2011.
  13. ^ "William C. "Bill" Henderson obituary". Shreveport Times, March 13, 2010. Retrieved March 26, 2010.