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Cal Shrum

Originally from Missouri, Cal was a deejay at Tampa’s WHBO in the late 60’s and early 70’s during the station’s country music period. He got his start in radio at Denver’s KOA in 1933 and later at KEEN in San Jose, California, before moving to Hollywood as a member of his brother Walt’s musical group, The Colorado Hillbillies. In 1938 he and the band landed a job at Republic Pictures and were cast in an early Gene Autry western, “The Old Barn Dance.”

Cal went on to head up his own band, The (Republic) Rhythm Rangers, and also appeared in films for other studios, like Monogram’s “Rollin’ Home to Texas” with Tex Ritter and Columbia’s “Thunder Over the Prairie” with Charles Starrett.  Like many western bands, the Rhythm Rangers underwent many personnel changes and former members included Spade Cooley and Tex Williams.

By the mid 1940’s, Cal had appeared in over 50 westerns before getting the chance to star in some films of his own, including “Badman from Big Bend” (a.k.a. “Swing Cowboy Swing”), “Roaring 45’s,” “Buckskin Rider,” and “Trouble at Melody Mesa.” Each was shot in about five days at $45,000 apiece for Westernair, a small movie studio. His co-stars included real-life romantic partner Alta Lee, Walt Shrum, and comic-relief sidekick Max Terhune of Republic’s Three Mesquiteers and Monogram’s Range Busters fame.

Cal continued performing with the Rangers on the radio and at rodeos in the 50’s and finally left the group in the 60’s to become a radio performer in Springfield, Illinois. At one time he owned his own record label which distributed not only his songs but those of others. At WHBO, he worked with his son, Gary, also a deejay there. After the Tampa station was sold and switched to an oldies format, Cal returned to Springfield and spent his final years entertaining at area nursing homes and senior citizen centers. In 1996, he passed away from a heart attack at the age of 85.

 

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1965 - 1978 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (On Air Personality)

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