Bill Whyte & Nashville Recording Artists To Hold Acoustic Concert On June 18
April M. Fronick • Editor
Many people remember Bill Whyte from the song, “Mo Mo, the Missouri Monster” and his early days in the cow pasture on KPCR. The local boy, who went on to large market radio and Nashville success as a songwriter and comedian, will be performing about an hour away in Montgomery City on Father’s Day weekend.
The acoustic concert will feature Whyte along with Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter Linda Davis and Lang Scott. See more on the artists on page 3. “Evening In The Round” will take place at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Montgomery City on Saturday, June 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are still available for $15 at any Peoples Savings Bank location or can be purchased at the door. Call the bank at (573) 564-3444 for more about tickets.
A native of Montgomery City, Whyte said the group decided to schedule a date there on Father’s Day weekend for Whyte’s dad.
“We’ll be playing at the place where my father played basketball and my grandfather helped to build,” Whyte said. “With my schedule, I don’t get home nearly enough. This is a wonderful show. It’ll be a wonderful gift to be there again.”
Whyte has been touring with Davis and Scott for a while. The trio were in South Carolina when the idea of taking the show home came up.
“They are the coolest, down-to-Earth people,” Whyte said of Lang and Davis. “I told them I’d love to be able to perform in my hometown. They said ‘put up a hog pen and let’s go do it for your dad.’ It touched my heart and I started digging in.”
Plans came together about a month ago. Whyte said the venue is not a normal thing, but will be a return to his roots.
“I think it’s going to be great.”
Whyte has spent a lifetime in music, starting with his family in church. Originally from Montgomery City, his family moved to Elsberry when he was in school. Thanks to an FFA public speaking buddy he heard on the air, Whyte got his start in radio.
“My buddy, Steve Whitmore, was on KPCR and I said, ‘if he can do it then I can do it, too.’ So I drove down there.”
He explained that then-station owner Paul Salois sat him down at the microphone, showed him what a few of the knobs and buttons did, then left the building.
“I was on my own and on the air.”
This trick of letting a radio host sink or swim was later replicated with the Trib’s own Chuck Branstetter in his debut in radio on KPCR.
“I listened to Bill and said to myself, ‘if he can do it, so can I.’ After a few minutes with Bill in the studio, he opened the mic and said, ‘Now ladies and gentlemen, a young man you’ll be hearing a lot from in the future…Chuck Branstetter.’ I was scared to death, but looking back that was a pretty good way to go about learning what to do,” he admitted.
Branstetter said Whyte is a friend he has admired for many years and credits for his start in broadcasting.
“I have, and will always, consider Bill one of the finest radio talents I’ve ever heard. I’m proud to have learned from him and consider him a friend for life,” Branstetter said. “He is a very funny fellow and I will always look up to him In the days of personality radio in Pike County, I think of Bill Whyte, Joe Lewis, Duke Wilmes, Steve Whitmore, Bob Chilton and others. I thank Bill for allowing my name to be put in that list as well. There are a few who remember the good ol’ days of Pike County Radio.”
Shortly after Salois put Whyte on the air, he received notice that he would be KPCR’s “Weekend Warrior.” He was a student at Central Missouri State University in Warrensburg. While still performing with a band when not on the air, Whyte commuted across the state to nurture his blossoming career in the cow pasture.
In the summers he would work full-time and play in a band as well. After graduating, he became the station’s program director. During this time, a poem penned by Joe Lewis sparked Whyte’s first big hit, “Mo Mo, the Missouri Monster” and appeared on his first album, “Bill Whyte…Makin’ Music For Money.” The beloved song is still requested when Whyte performs.
While he jokes that he just couldn’t keep a job, Whyte’s career continued to grow and took him from the small market at KPCR to the large market in Cincinnati.
“A lot of it has been a wonderful accident, but it’s mostly hard work. I got a strong work ethic from my parents.”
Whyte left KPCR to do a stint at KWRE in Warrenton then moved to Cincinnati. He wasn’t in radio for a while as he concentrated on music. He met his wife, Kathy, of 27 years there in the first week. After several years of traveling with the band to Nashville and other places, Whyte settled back in Cincinnati and reentered radio at WUBE (B105). It was a KPCR alum, Duke Wilmes (Hamilton), who got him back on the air doing weekends.
“He got me comfortable in the big building in a big station,” Whyte said.
Still writing songs and parodies, it was a spoof of “Seven Spanish Angels” that put him on the map.
“It was during the bank debacle in Cincinnati and Newport, Kent. sat right across and was sort of seedy and known for ‘ladies of the night.’ The song was about seven of these Newport girls who lost all of their money in these banks.”
Whyte and the morning show guy at the time played the song and it grabbed a great deal of media attention. The mayor of Newport was outraged but the free press helped boost the station’s ratings and the new station manager decided Whyte would be perfect for a morning “zoo” type of show with an ensemble cast.
“It put me on the map. It was the right boss and the right situation.”
Whyte won a CMA in 1991 for “Best Large Market Personality. He’s also received two Billboard awards as a broadcaster for “Best New Morning Show” while working at WSM-FM in Nashville and a Gavin Award while at WUBE in Cincinnati. Three years ago he was nominated for the Broadcast Hall of Fame.
Through the years, Whyte has never stopped writing music and his songs have been used by Keith Anderson, Billy Dean, Linda Davis, Craig Morgan and many others. His comedy has yielded two albums and has been recorded by such talents as Cledus T. Judd and Ray Stevens. He’s performed with Jeff Dunham, Heywood Banks, Larry the Cable Guy, Crystal Gayle, Little Big Town, Gary Morris and others.
Linda Davis is a Grammy winning artist who has performed with Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, George Strait and Kenny Rogers. Lang has made multiple Grand Ole Opry performances and toured with Reba McEntire for seven years. His songs have been recorded by LeeAnn Rimes, JoDee Messina and his wife, Linda Davis. They have two children Hillary and Rylee. Hillary is with the group Lady Antebellum.
Whyte said he’s looking forward to the performance on June 18 and hopes to see a lot of family and old friends.
Find more about Bill at www.billwhytecomedy.com.