"The Old Record Collector" prepares for landmark 2,000th broadcast

Wayne Glenn (at microphone) during one of his "Remember When" broadcasts on KXTR-FM. (Wayne Glenn)
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. Appointment radio is largely a thing of the past. Gone are Sunday nights with Jack Benny and Jello, or Bob Hope for Pepsodent on Tuesday nights.

We still have appointment radio in the Ozarks. Saturday mornings belong to Wayne Glenn and his “Remember When” program on KTXR in Springfield. Glenn has been sharing memories and his always-growing record collection with listeners for almost 40 years. On December 10, Glenn will be at the microphone for his 2,000 show.

It’s quite an accomplishment for a native Ozarker who didn’t train to be a radio disc jockey. “My first career was as a social studies teacher and then an administrator at Fair Grove, Clever, and Nixa from 1970 into 1983,” he said.

A few years into that education career, Glenn began offering his own brand of history lessons on the radio. “Remember When” debuted on KTXR in September 1978. The show, which airs Saturday mornings from 6 to 1 p.m., offers a generous helping of music from the last 80 years or so, pop culture, Ozarks history and messages from advertisers you often won’t hear anywhere else. It’s more a five-hour visit with an old friend than a radio program. Although Wayne Glenn IS “Remember When,” he is humble about how the show got its name.

“It was named by a lady that worked at KTXR – Mrs. Mary Ellen Nelson,” he remembered.

In truth, KTXR has changed more than its signature program or its host. The format has changed, from easy listening, to adult contemporary, to “timeless love songs,” and now, finally to something called “red dirt country” – a format that didn’t exist when Glenn started his program. Even the frequency has changed, from 101.5 to 101.3.

Still, Glenn has tweaked the program over the years. “In the 1978-1990 era the music I played was largely big band music with lots of easy listening vocals from the 1930s and '40s. In the 1990-2000 era, I moved toward a lot more early rock and roll of the 1955-1965 era, but I still played a lot of music from the 1945-1955 era.”

Looking back, Glenn can remember when the bosses at KTXR said no to one big star. “In the early years of the show I was not allowed to play Elvis Presley at all. More than half of the music I play on my shows now, would not have been allowed as recently as the 1990s.”

Glenn and his fans know him as “The Old Record Collector.” His radio show grew out of that passion for records. “I was a record collector first, which led me to want to share my record collection on the air. And yet it is true I always wanted to be in radio doing a show like I do!”

Glenn says the show has never gotten old, although the music often is. “My show has also survived because I still enjoy doing it! In some ways, every show I do is like doing my first one. I am excited about being able to come on KTXR on a Saturday morning or a Sunday night and play ‘my music’ for thousands of listeners on the radio and the net.”

Even as he does his show, his nickname still defines the way he lives his life. “I still enjoy collecting old records, but I love hearing newly undiscovered music in any format - if that discovered music is to my taste. I love especially enjoy western swing.”

The “Old Record Collector” never stops looking. He even advertises on the radio, offering to buy old records. “There are still many 78 rpm recordings I would love to have by artists such as Gene Autry and Jimmie Rodgers (father of country music). The special record in my collection is a 1933 RCA Victor 78 rpm that is a picture disk, with pictures within" both sides of the vinyl. It was issued in '33 as a tribute to Jimmie Rodgers who recorded for Victor until his 1933 death of tuberculosis. It is quite rare, as perhaps less than 100 of those disks have survived. I do not play it. I just look at it!”

Glenn said he’s also happy to see vinyl records making a comeback for music lovers. “I am excited by the return of new vinyl. I have only bought one of the newly processed album. It was a Bob Wills issue of material he did in 1949. It was perfect in the sense that there was NO background noise or foreign sounds. I rate the quality of this new disk a ‘10’. Was it worth $20 instead of the $10 you might pay for a new CD? In this special case, since I am a Bob Wills fanatic, I would say yes it was worth the extra cost. Also you would not get that perfect sound thru You Tube.”

Many of Glenn’s fans wonder why he hasn’t offered his show beyond the Ozarks. “I have often been asked why my show has not been syndicated to other stations plus KTXR. I doubt that would have worked, because I do not like a "canned" (pre-recorded) show. I do best live. Going along with that thought, I doubt I would still be on the air on KTXR IF the station was owned by a corporation somewhere else. Owners or managers from other places perhaps would not understand my LOCAL Ozarks approach to broadcasting.”

KTXR is owned by Springfield-based Meyer Communications, which also several stations, including news/talk KWTO-AM, once a legendary country music station of the 1930s, 40’s and 50s.

Glenn said as he prepares for a milestone, his road map to making the show a success is pretty simple. “In describing Remember When I can only say that my shows aim to be musical entertainment interwoven with friendly conversational chatter about whatever hits me at the time I speak. My live comments are not planned. The big advantage of a live, really live show is that I can go with the flow of the LIVE moment.”

The live moments of Glenn’s landmark show air Saturday, December 10, beginning at 6 a.m. He invites listeners to join him and his family for his special day until 1 p.m. at Meyer Communications located at 3000 East Chestnut Expressway.

Wayne and Nira Glenn with grandchildren Paige and Michael Sportsman at a KTXR remote 2010. (photo courtesy Wayne Glenn)