Before you saw Frankie, Johnny, or The Special
Man on the television commercial which was blasted into your home in 1989 you heard a familiar voice while a photo of the
furniture store was displayed. That was Bob Walker – the legendary “Oldies King” of radio fame.
On November 15, 1965 he played the first song (Seventh
Son by Baton Rouge's own Johnny Rivers) on the first broadcast of student operated WLSU radio. He called his show Bob Walker's
Wax Museum and played oldies, even back then. After 45 years in radio Bob said, when speaking of his affinity for “the
oldies”, “It'll probably follow me to my grave”.
Walker began his professional career in radio in 1965 at WNNR, spent a year at WSMB, and moved to WTIX-AM 690 in 1967.
By 1968, the 22 year old's Afternoon Drive show was one of the top five in the nation. In 1979, at age 32, while working
for WTIX he said “My nickname around here is the Oldies King”.
Robert Mitchell became Program Director in 1968, and the station had over 100 gold 45's and
LP's on the wall for groups and singers we "broke" like Dr. John, Tony Orlando and Dawn, Sonny & Cher, Roberta
Flack, the Fifth Dimension, etc. by the 80's.
says that in 1973 WTIX introduced Malcolm John "Mac" Rebennack, Jr. to the world as "Dr. John The Night Tripper”
with "Right Place, Wrong Time" and that in 1975 he “broke” the three-year old version of Second Line
by Stop Inc. (1972) during our Mardi Gras remote broadcast. “The crowds around our station van went wild. The Second
Line had been re-born”. During the Carnival Day broadcast that same year Bob premiered "They All Ask'd For You"
by the Meters from from a Fat City Parking Lot.
Second Generation On the Air
Walker said that in1980, when he began hosting WTIX Original Oldie Hour at noon daily, “All
the legendary '60's local singers were 'dead '(figuratively) and long forgotten”. So he devoted every Thursday to feature
the great ones. “WTIX and the Oldies Hour were personally responsible for restarting the careers of Irma Thomas, Ernie
K-Doe, Benny Spellman, Tommy Ridgley, Oliver Morgan, the Dixie Cups, John Fred, and the Nevilles [individually and as a group].
Mardi Gras Mambo by Art Neville & the Hawketts was literally forgotten. We were so successful, as written up in the trade
mags like Billboard and Cashbox that every major market had most minor markets popped up with an oldies station”. ”
In 1986, when WTIX dropped most local programming
by hooking into “Solid Gold” produced by Dallas based Satellite Music Network, Bob's dissatisfaction with that
decision led him to leave the station. That year he moved to 990 AM – WYAT, which billed itself as “The Oldies
Channel”. After a post-Katrina return to WTIX he retired from radio in 2006.
You can catch him now on television (Treme) and movies (with Will Ferrell, DAn Ackroyd,
BRooke Shields, Virginia Madsen, Daryl Hannah, Wanda Sykes, Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, Tim Robbins, and Brad PItt to name
a few). And you can try to keep up with him by visiting his website at walkerpub.com and by viewing his facebook page.
To help make ends meet while his children were growing
up, Bob took on a variety of DJ gigs at weddings, parties, and reunions. His son Scott, as a young teen, helped carry and
set up the then bulky audio equipment He too, got the bug to speak before an audience. By age 15 Scott was doing his own
gigs while also working as a weekend DJ on Oldies 106.7. Scott attended the University of Southern Mississippi, majored in
Broadcast Journalism, and began a career in television – working while still a student at a Hattisburg station. After
a variety of moves to several southern stations the sports announcer turned to news. He is now as a familiar a face in the
greater New Orleans area as his dad is a familiar “voice”. Metairie born Scott Walker is the Emmy-nominated news
anchor for WDSU News. (Courtesy of Scott Walker.)