Radio personalities re-enact Western classic

CNJ Staff Photo: Tony Bullocks Radio announcers Diana Duran and Joe Walker re-enact a radio broadcast Wednesday at Clovis Community College’s Town Hall.

By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent

Doc Holliday was a slender, sickly 30-year-old when he was part of the events leading up to the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral in 1881. Frank Sherman, on the other hand, is a robust 70-year-old citizen of Clovis in 2007.

So how is it possible for Sherman to pull off portraying Holliday on stage? He can, if the stage is used to recreate an old-time radio broadcast.

And that was the case Wednesday night at Clovis Community College’s Town Hall where a group of radio announcers performed, “My Darling Clementine,” as a kickoff to this weekend’s Clovis Music Festival.

“We went online for a western play and got the exact script that was used for a 1947 radio show,” Sherman said. “We decided this would be a good introduction to this week’s music festival.”

Holding scripts and mostly sitting in chairs until it was their time to read their parts, around a dozen members on stage performed for just over an hour. It was a show that also included commercial breaks, in which the players also read the parts for the sponsor.

All of it had an authentic old-time feel, according to one member of the audience.

Carl Melinat said that, as a boy, he got to watch live radio performances of the Lone Ranger at radio station WXYZ while growing up in Detroit.

“We could go about three times a year. They had a little light that read, ‘Applause’ and you would applaud,” said Melinat, 69, who now lives in Clovis. “There were a group of us kids and the parents would take us down there to watch them do it live.”

Melinat said the performance, which was sponsored by Tallgrass Broadcasting, was similar in most respects. The two major differences, according to Melinat, were radio shows in the late 1940s were held at actual radio stations in control rooms and that usually a couple of workers were responsible for inserting the needed sound effects.

Sherman acknowledged modern liberties were taken with his group’s recreation.

“On old sound effect stages, they used to have a small door and they’d open and close it, they had it all miked and everything,” Sherman said. “They’d have a real bell they’d be ringing for a church bell, hoof beats were coconut shells, stuff like that. And, also, a lot of the sound effects guys did the noise with their mouths.

“In the modern day and age, we’ve succumbed to the computer,” he added.

Fast facts

What: 2007 Clovis Music Festival
When: Today through Saturday
Cost: $15
admission to evening shows

Music Festival schedule

7 p.m. — Clovis Legends Show at the Clovis Civic Center

7 p.m. — Buddy, Roy and Elvis Tribute at the Clovis Civic Center

Noon to 2 p.m. — Rockin’ Round Table with artists followed by Fanfare at the Clovis Civic Center
1 p.m. — Grupo Eclipse performs at the Clovis Civic Center
A ll day — Classic Car Show at Hillcrest Park
10 a.m. — Rockin’ Motorcycle Rally and Poker Run at High Plains Harley-Davidson
4 p.m. — Wine and cheese reception with sneak preview of future museum at the Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce
7 p.m. — The Texas Playboys and Bobby Vee at the Clovis Civic Center
Daily tours of the Norman Petty Studios will be at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Other events
10 a.m. Sunday—gospel at Norman Petty Studios