The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989 Page: 636
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
duced a book that will further illuminate several areas of our varied
past. Such border radio stations as XERF, XEG, XEPN, and XELO,
with their transmitters resting on Mexican soil but aimed at listeners
north of the Rio Grande, operated with wattage far in excess of that
permitted to stations in the United States. With a potential access to
millions of American homes, the border stations were positioned to
exert an influence that lay well beyond mere diversion. And, as Fowler
and Crawford convincingly argue, their programming shaped popular
attitudes in their own day and presaged the media exploitation com-
mon in our own time.
The X-station entrepreneurs, like goat-gland doctor J. R. Brinkley
and insurance executive Carr P. Collins, catered to American listeners
who were new to the city and fascinated with such time-saving and
leisure-providing innovations as the radio, but who were nevertheless
still close to the rural roots and the folk values that sustained them. The
border stations therefore skillfully combined folk programming with
sophisticated marketing techniques and such technological innovations
as the radio transcription. The audience who listened to Cowboy Slim
Rinehart's ballads or the Stamps Quartet's gospel music, or who sat en-
thralled while Dr. Brinkley gave his medical lectures, also faithfully
ordered the baby chicks, Kolorbak hair dye, Crazy Water Crystals,
prayer cloths, songbooks, and "genuine simulated" diamonds that the
stations advertised. The X-stations also provided forums for the work
of such evangelists as A. A. Allen and the notorious battler against De-
mon Rum, Sam Morris, and they did much to transform Wilbert Lee
"Pappy" O'Daniel from a flour salesman and hillbilly music empresario
to a household name and governor of the state of Texas. Apart from
their roles in American business, religion, and politics, the most impor-
tant influence of these stations came in their dissemination and popu-
larization of such grassroots musical styles as country, gospel, conjunto,
and rhythm-and-blues. Transmitted by the powerful broadcasts of the
X-stations, these once-localized forms found a new and receptive na-
Border Radio is a book, therefore, that can be read for both innocent
diversion and scholarly profit by readers with a wide range of interests.
For Texans it should be particularly fulfilling because so many of its
characters and central events played out their roles on Texas or neigh-
boring Mexican soil. Accompanied by a recording that illustrates some
of the music and merchandising heard on the stations, the book recap-
tures an era that will seem both alien and familiar to most of us. It is
Tulane University BILL C. MALONE
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 92, July 1988 - April, 1989, periodical, 1989; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101212/m1/702/: accessed February 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.