Rob Grayson

Host - Morning Edition

My heroes have always been disc jockeys. I especially admired the ones who could take the canvas of the fourteen-second intro of a teeny-bopper song and paint a masterpiece.  From my youth, I strove to emulate them.  I had the good fortune to walk in some of their footsteps, albeit a respectful pace behind. 

The Mississippi Delta in the 70's was a great place to begin a career in radio.  My first after-school job was doing the afternoon shift at an easy-listening FM in my hometown of Greenville at age 14. 

George Klein brought me to Memphis, and WHBQ, in 1976.  Most of the ensuing time has been spent in the general Memphis radio community, and producing and engineering at Wilkerson Sound Studios. 

I landed on the WKNO doorstep in 2001, and am tickled that they continue to let me show up here every morning. 

Ways To Connect

In early 1958, the introduction of army induction suddenly threw everything into fast forward for Elvis Presley and those in his immediate circle. During his time in the service, there would be a two-year hiatus in Presley‘s ability to create new product, but contracts still committed Elvis to four singles and an album per year owed to RCA. The clock was ticking on his 90-day deferment, and much of the calendar was already tied up with the filming of King Creole.

The Elvis Presley story is full of “what ifs” that were trumped by manager Col. Tom Parker dictating “what is”. By 1957, the Colonel had reportedly turned down at least two movie opportunities, basically because the producers couldn’t guarantee the requisite million dollars upfront. One was a serious role opposite Burt Lancaster in The Rainmaker. Another would have been a shot in the musical comedy The Girl Can‘t Help It.

Arkansas Delta Heritage Music Project

Almost every recording artist can cite the first time they heard their song on the radio. Just like in the movie That Thing You Do, the dancing-in-the-street euphoria of the Oneders when their song split the airwaves in Erie, PA, was experienced time and again throughout the 50’s and 60’s for garage bands, singers and pickers alike. Surely the most repeated radio debut story has to be the night Dewey Phillips played “That’s All Right Mama” and “Blue Moon Of Kentucky” repeatedly on his Red Hot And Blue show on WHBQ.

Memphis, TN – Before Sun rose, the sounds that originated at Memphis Recording Service at 706 Union Avenue found their way to the world via Chicago or Hollywood on Chess, Checker, or RPM records. Jackie Brenston and His Delta Cats, B.B. King and His Orchestra, Rufus Thomas, Jr., and The Howlin' Wolf were laying the foundation for the Memphis sound, but nothing nailed the music to the Bluff City itself.

Memphis, TN – The two East Coast born California dwellers for whom Elvis Presley had earned thousands of dollars, but whom Elvis had never met, were waiting. The waiting room was the studio at Radio Recorders in Hollywood where "Big Mama" Thornton had recorded their song Hound Dog. The occasion on that Tuesday, April 30, 1957 was the initial recording session for the movie Jailhouse Rock, for which the reluctant songwriters had been commissioned to create musical magic.