We were very excited when Leadville “finally” got its own radio station in 1950. The call letters were KLVC. After a few years the call letters were changed to KBRR because “KBRRRRRR” sounded so much more like the winter weather in Leadville. The station was located on the hill opposite the ball park on West Sixth Street.
Along with the usual broadcasting from the station, they did a lot of remote broadcasts. One of them was tracking the burro race competitors out on their run to win the race each year. Another was local and out-of-town broadcasts of our Leadville High School Panther basketball team games.
Gene Vancil, the J. C. Penney store manager, did all those broadcasts for many years and he did an exceptional job each and every game. They did a great remote broadcast of the return from Denver of the Leadville High School Class A State Basketball Champions in March of 1956. Another talented radio announcer was Bill Jacobson. He was a second cousin of ours, and we really enjoyed his broadcasting skills, too. There were many other announcers over the years who helped keep the radio station going with a lot of wonderful news and entertainment.
Our O’Leary family Valley Home Dairy decided to sponsor a once-a- week half-hour radio program from 1955 through 1958. We called it “The Bright Spot of the Week” and it featured Emmett and Mary O’Leary making music. Our theme song was “The Girl Friend,” composed by Richard Rodgers with words by Lorenz Hart.
We thought that song was appropriate because most of the people we came in contact with on our retail milk routes were women and we also really liked that song. Every Thursday evening from 6:30 to 7 we did our show. Mary played the piano and sang. I sang, told some stories and even did some commercials. Our fabulous regular announcer was Dick Peyton, better known as “Grampa” or “The Old Man of the Mountain.”
The station had an upright piano that they always kept in tune for us and that helped a lot, too. Mary was a wiz at playing the piano without music, and I knew the words to endless songs, so we would ask our listeners to call in with song requests. I don’t remember ever getting a request that we were not able to do right away.
You might be interested in our ages. I graduated from Leadville High in 1954 and Mary graduated in 1959. Mary was still in school when we did this radio program from 1955 thru 1958. One reason I wanted to write about this now is because we always had such a wonderful time doing our holiday radio programs, especially Christmas shows. Our younger sister Doris used to like to join us in singing “All I Want for Christmas is my Two Front Teeth”, on the radio. She really liked that song.
Unfortunately, Doris developed incurable cancer and passed away at age 72 on Nov. 2, 2019. We really miss her and shed many tears this Christmas because she was not with us to sing “her song.”