Charles Crutchfield's Opinion of the WBT Briarhoppers

On March 17, 1997, Charles Crutchfiel wrote a letter to Wayne Martin of the Cultural Arts Center in Raleigh, NC, to nominate the WBT BHoppers for the NC Folk Heritage Award. This scan of the letter may be too small to read; we would like to show you what Crutchfield said in the second and third paragraphs: Having been in radio (and television) for 47 years, before retiring 20 years ago, I had the good fortune of "growing up" with the Briarhoppers, as their announcer in the thirties and forties. In my considered judgment, the group contributed more to the heritage we all cherish than any group or individual I can think of. They "made" WBT the great station that it has been all these years.
Personally, I think one of the worst things to happen to me in my long career in broadcasting was the day the owners of WBT promoted me to management making it necessary to give up my role as "Charlie Briarhopper". We were "visiting" in literally hundreds of thousands of southern homes, every afternoon--six days a week! Everybody, it seemed, loved and respected the Briarhoppers. We were neighbors. The Briarhoppers played and sang the songs people grew up with. We talked with our vast audience--not at them, as so much radio and TV seems to do today. Briarhopper listeners loved it and they responded, for example, by sending in 8,000 to 10,000 box tops (from Peruna) for pictures of the Briarhoppers--every single week! I am reliably informed that no network elicts that much response for any "special offers" today.
To think that one of the most influential media people in the 20th century favored being just good ole "Charlie Briarhopper." As a note, Crutchfield was on the advisory board for the Community Action Network, which is on the letterhead. Also on the board, and whose name is listed above Crutch's on the righthand side of the letter, was Walter Cronkite.

No comments:

The Legendary Briarhoppers!

In 1934, a potential advertiser called WBT's Charles Crutchfield to ask if the station had a hillbilly band to help advertise its products. Telling a fib, Crutch said "Yes," which led to the birth of the Briarhoppers. The name comes from WBT announcer Bill Bivens who, during a hunting trip with Crutch, was startled by a rabbit jumping out of a thicket, and Bill yelled, "Look at that briarhopper!" At that moment, Crutch found the name for his hillbilly band.

The original band members were Johnny McAllister, Big Bill Davis, Don White, Thorpe Westerfield, Clarence Etters, and Jane Bartlett. The last original 1934 Briarhopper, Don White, died in 2003. Billie Burton Daniel, who joined the group in 1936, is happy and well in Wilmington, NC. Since that time, The Briarhoppers' fans are/were Bill Monroe, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs (who filled in on banjo a few times), Curly Seckler, Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly, and many other entertainment stars.

In keeping with the tradition, the band kept going through the years by adding new musicians to those who left the station or who died. Today, Alana Flowers and Tom Warlick head the band with their stage show including the old Briarhopper songs, new songs, and the original scripted commercials of Peruna, Kolor-Bak, Zymole Trokeys, and Radio Girl Perfume! Enjoy this site and learn about the Briarhoppers' storied past and the bright future that is ahead. Don't turn that dial...Hit's Briarhopper Time!