The greatest B-CS song you may have never heard

 There are plenty of songs about Texas towns.  A few that come to mind:

“Abilene,” by George Hamilton IV
“Ding-Dong Daddy from Dumas,” by Bob Wills (among others)
“El Paso” and “El Paso City,” by Marty Robbins
“Galveston,” by Glen Campbell
“LaGrange,” by ZZ Top
“(Lubbock) Texas in My Rearview Mirror,” by Mac Davis
“Luckenbach, Texas,” by Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson
“Houston (Means I’m One Day Closer to You),” by The Gatlin Brothers

But did you know Bryan-College Station belongs on that list, as well?  It’s true, but to learn about its origins and heyday, you have to flash back 50 years.

“Bryan-College Station: That’s My Hometown”
In the early 1960s, Bill Watkins decided the radio station he co-owned, WTAW-AM, needed a new sound to freshen things up, and a jingle package would be just the thing.

Think of a jingle package as a collection of catchy and memorable moments that mention a station’s call letters and frequency.  Bill turned to Dallas-based PAMS that offered the incentive of recording a customized song, called “My Home Town,” about his community and creating a supply of 45 RPM records that could be sold or given away. 

All Bill had to do was come up with some lyrics.

“I first thought it was a simple and easy chore,” Bill said.  “Then came the reality that finding enough to brag about Bryan-College Station for two minutes wasn’t so easy. After all, we only had a whopping 35,000 people or so in Brazos County back then.”

Because WTAW signed off at sundown, Bill was able to gather the on-air and sales staffs one evening, provide burgers and beer, and start drafting song lyrics.  The result — two minutes of radio gold, called “Bryan-College Station: That’s My Hometown.”  The first verse:

Let me tell you about my hometown — it’s really great!
The center of population in the good ol’ Lone Star State.
Where the widest main street and a nuclear reactor can both be found,
And the deer hunting is better than it was when the Indians were around.
In Bryan-College Station…that’s my hometown!

As a former news director for WTAW-AM, and as someone who gleefully played this song on the morning show numerous times in the 1990s, the deer-hunting line remains my favorite.

In all, Bill and his staff wrote four verses that relied heavily on Aggie traditions and academic prowess, included some clean-cut filler words like “mighty-fine” and “yessiree,” and turned to natural surroundings for additional inspiration.

“In an effort to get in as much about both cities as we could, we started counting facilities,” Bill explained.  “That’s where ‘…32 parks, and a lake, and oak trees all around…’ comes from,” referring to the final phrase just before the grand, harmonious finish.  “I think fitting all that in makes it one of my favorite lines.”

Click here to listen to the entire “Bryan-College Station: That’s My Hometown” song.

Bill recalls the community being initially “awestruck” about the song, and that it translated into an increase in sales for the station.  But over time, residents began poking fun at the lyrics.  Television was supposed to be killing radio, he said, and his staff had to prove themselves every day through innovative means like this one.

CS City Hall groundbreaking, 1969

Meanwhile, Bill said WTAW was committed to covering “every fender bender in the community,” as well as city government and school board meetings, in order to be first with information and stay ahead of his television counterparts.

Bill Watkins and John Hicks jointly owned WTAW from 1961 until Watkins bought out his partner in 1980.  Six years later, he sold the station to John’s son, Bill, who since has overseen WTAW’s striking growth and success, along with acquiring several additional stations.

Bill Watkins and WTAW-AM are certainly part of College Station’s 75 years of history.  Incidentally, WTAW turns 91 this year; Bill turns 81.

Jay Socol
 
 
Jay Socol
Director | Public Communications
 
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