The decade began with Sammy Kaye, Guy Lombardo, and Bing Crosby riding the top of the charts. It ended with Elvis Presley, Fats Domino, and Ricky Nelson as the big sellers. It was probably the most dramatic difference in the style of music ever in a ten year period.
Ike was President for most of the decade. Jet passenger planes hadn't arrived at Tucson Municipal Airport yet. You could still drive all the way to the end of Sabino Canvon. Gas at the Blakely Station on Speedway was 29¢ a gallon (and you got a set of nice Cactus glasses with a fill-up). The biggest discipline problem for high schools was gum chewing. Tucson's population reached almost 50, 000 in 1950. By the end of the decade it would be over 200,000-an amazing 4 fold increase!
In October, 1957 the fantastic Show of Stars with
a dozen gigantic performers including Buddy
Holly would appear at the Catalina High School
gymnasium. Ticket prices were $2-$3.
KTKT In The 50's
KTKT started the decade as Tucson's fifth radio station. There was no TV yet in Tucson, it would not arrive locally until 1953. Phoenix had TV, but only those with a huge antenna could get a snowy picture and broadcasting just a few hours a day. This meant radio in Tucson was just like it was everywhere else before TV. Since KTKT did not have a network like the other stations, it featured various musical shows with recorded music and different formats from country to pop.
For a look at some great KTKT photos from the early 50's, take a peek at David Lawrence's KTKT PAGE.
Then it all changed in May of 1957. A young man named Frank Kalil brought Color Radio to KTKT and Tucson radio would never be the same.
Click on the buttons below for a year by year history.
NEW! EARLY CHARTS & PROMOTIONAL ITEMS 1957-1960 :HERE
Left: Bob Wolfe without his trademark black rimmed glasses courtesy of former KTKT DJ Russ Jackson.
Above was part of a promotional piece from KTKT in 1958 with the complete DJ lineup...59 years ago!
IN 1957, ABOVE IS THE NEWSPAPER AD THAT ANNOUNCED THE START OF COLOR RADIO IN TUCSON.
This was the sound that would revolutionize radio listening in Tucson and make KTKT the number one station for almost 25 years!