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Roy Bodden

I'm glad you're enjoying my tribute to Bob. No, I'm not really a professional per se. Just one who loves good music...and Bob Nolan is one of my 6 top favorites as far as composers are concerned. They are as follows and not in any particular order...Bob Nolan, Cindy Walker, Billy Hill, Marty Robbins, Harry Warren and Chopin.

For 12 years I was a volunteer programmer for WMNF here in Tampa. I called my program "Country Music Memories" and played Country, Western/Cowboy, Western Swing, Old Timey music, Bluegrass and always closed my program with an half hour of what I referred to as "Grand Old Gospel Favorites". The program got so popular here in Tampa that 2 other stations in the area - WRFA in Largo and WTAN in Clearwater - asked me to do the same program for them. They paid me for the programs which peeved WMNF somewhat. So I did CMM for 12 years with WMNF (1979-1991), WTAN for 3 years (1984-87) and WRFA for 4 years (1987-91). So actually from 1984 to 1991 I was on the air twice a week here in Tampa. Then in 1991 I went to Radio Cayman in Grand Cayman on a 2 year contract that ran into almost 13 years.

That Bob Nolan program was a labor of love. When he died, believe me, I felt as if I'd lost a member of my own family. I'm so glad that my father brought those old 78's back in the 1940's when he came home from sea. Truthfully I can't remember not having the Sons of the Pioneers recordings in our home, I grew up on them...and that's before I even came to the U.S.A. in 1948 at the age of 11.

Are you familiar with Nick Kenny who wrote "There's A Gold Mine in the Sky" and "Leanin' on the Old Top Rail"? I moved with my family to Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1952 at the age of 15. I went to Boys' High School there. In 1953 I was singing in a school program and Nick and his brother Charlie were in the audience and got in touch with my mother (my father was a merchant marine and away at sea) and asked her if she'd allow me to do some USO shows with them. So at 16 on weekends I went around with Nick & Charlie and sang in  numerous USO shows between 1953 and 1957.

In the early 60's I formed a little country band and we called ourselves "East Country". From 1961-68 we did summer shows at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey and had the opportunity to open shows for artists like Tex Ritter, Webb Pierce, Elton Britt and Rosalie Allen, Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Kenny Roberts and many others.  I forget to tell you that I play guitar.

In 1968 Reva (my dear wife) and our 2 children, Rosemarie and Roger, and myself moved back to Tampa. They hadn't lived here before, but I just didn't want to bring up our children in New York. Need I say that they fell in love with Tampa? Our daughter Rosemarie now lives in Maui, Hawaii, and our son Roger lives in Grand Cayman. He's a bank manager for the Bank of Nova Scotia and Rosemarie is the accountant for an assisted living facility in Maui named Kalama Heights. We have 8 grandchildren ranging in age from 27 years to 7 months old! Rosemarie has 3 sons, Roger has 5 daughters (2 adopted).  

I worked full time for Sears in their Advertising Dept as a production manager from 1968 until 1991. So from 1968 to 1979 I really didn't do much singing except for our church and other churches in the Tampa Bay area.

Then in 1979 I volunteered to do my "Country Music Memories" program for WMNF, which opened up a whole new venue for me. In 1984 Reva and I were the founding members of The Society for the Preservation of Country & Western Music, Inc" here in Tampa. In 1984 the Florida Country Music Association gave me their D.J. of the year award. By 1985 I found myself again, along with the Society Members doing shows at Fairs and again opening shows for other C/W artists here in the Tampa Bay area.

I have a good friend, Tom Henderson, who still has a program called "This Is Bluegrass" that's now syndicated  out to about 120 stations around the country. Tom had a store "The Bluegrass Parlor" and a band called "The Bluegrass Parlor Band" naturally. We did loads of shows around the area on Friday and Saturday nights back in the '80's, Tom doing bluegrass and myself with a small band made up of society members doing the country and western segment.

The last show I did the night before leaving for Grand Cayman in 1991 was at the Tampa Theatre...and that was opening for the "Riders in the Sky".  Since coming back to Tampa in 2003 I still do shows every so often for churches and fairs with present members of the society.

By the way, I forgot to tell you that the special shows that I did back in the WMNF days, such as the Bob Nolan Special, were all produced right here at my home on my own equipment. I have a little studio that I put together back in the 1980 and in order to make sure that special programs were timed properly, I would tape them here at home. All of the recordings for my programs came from my own record collection (a little over 7,000 LPs and over 700 45's, remember them?) I did quite a few recordings here at home with a good friend of mine Ralph Wimberly, who was a fine steel guitarist. Unfortunately, Ralph died a few years ago. His wife, Billie Jean, played guitar and bass and I played  guitar (and still do). Billie Jean died 2 years before Ralph did.

Back in 1987 I did a Gene Autry special on his 80th birthday and it just happened that Herb Dailey, who was Gene's captain when Gene was in the Army Air Force during WWII, lives here in Tampa and was a listener of my program. He called me and asked me for a copy of the program and fortunately, like the Bob Nolan tribute, I pre-recorded it at home. So I went over to Herb's home and gave him a copy (back then on cassettes). He sent them to Gene and I got a very nice letter from Gene, hand-written no less, thanking me for doing the program! I still have that letter framed in our music room.

As you read this letter, you are listening to Roy himself, introducing the Bob Nolan tribute program he aired on WMNF 88.5 FM on June 20, 1990.