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Big band a big hit at Rosewood

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Posted: Friday, July 8, 2011 12:00 pm

By Rebecca Rose

Harker Heights Herald

At the Rosewood Community Care Center, resident Joyce Trost spends part of her Sundays doing one of her favorite things: listening to 91.3's "Big Bandstand," a KNCT staple for nearly 10 years.

Hosted by Charles St. George, the show plays music that harkens back to a time long before handheld computers and phones that play digitally downloaded music.

St. George, 80, has been a part of local public radio for more than 30 years, starting out as the host of a one-hour show called "Veteran's View." The show addressed issues for the growing military community in the greater Killeen area.

St. George said playing classic swing music that heralds back to the glory days of Wolrd War II seemed like a natural fit.

"I played big band music because that's what I wanted to do," St. George said.

"Veteran's View" ran for 18 years until the dawn of computer-assisted radio programming. St. George said the radio station wanted to do a Sunday show with six hours of music and programming.

It was then that "Big Bandstand" Sundays was born.

Featuring classic standards from the big band, swing and jazz era, St. George's show is popular among older listeners and contemporary music enthusiasts eager to keep the genre alive.

Working from a studio in his Copperas Cove home, St. George personally edits the list of music to ensure only songs that fit the big band and swing genre make it on the airwaves.

At one point, St. George even led his own band, "The Memory Makers," which played all across Texas from 1990 until 2005.

St. George said he was always impressed with how much interest still remains for the music he performed at his concerts, even among those who were born decades after the big band era.

"They would come all dressed up. The girls would wear their hair in the style of 1940s. Some of the men would wear Army uniforms like they had back then," he said.

Spinal arthritis caused him to take a break from leading the band. But it didn't stop fans from their interest in St. George or his radio show.

Trost, 74, has been a resident at Rosewood for 12 years, and has been listening to KNCT's signature "Simply Beautiful" programming for all of that time.

She first contacted St. George several years ago to request her favorite song "When the Lights Go On Again All Over the World."

St. George played the song, and dedicated his "Three O'Clock Salute" to her. Since then, Trost has been a devoted listener and fan.

"I know about a million songs and all the words to them," Trost said. "I sing along to all of them."

Trost said she's requested songs such as "Harbor Lights," and the wartime favorite, "Sentimental Journey."

A hit record for Doris Day and Les Brown and His Band of Renown in 1944, "Sentimental Journey" became the unofficial homecoming theme for soldiers returning home from WWII.

"When I was a little girl, my dad came home one day with a record player. The one record he gave me was called 'Near You,'" she said. "Ever since then, I would sit on the floor and listen to them."

"Near You" was a hit song for Frances Craig in 1947. Sharp-eared listeners and fans of classic television will also recognize the song as theme music played during the closing credits of the Milton Berle's Texaco Star Theater on NBC.

Trost said she spent her teen years playing 45 rpm records of her favorite song, or listening to "Hit Parade," a popular countdown radio show.

"They played 10 songs until they got down to the last one, and you'd wonder what the last one was going to be," she said.

Trost said the music from St. George's show brings back memories of those times.

"I go to the dining room in the morning, and I turn on KNCT 91.3," she said. "I just get a wonderful feeling. I start singing along with it, at the table. And then everybody can listen to it."

"Most of the people listen to it. They know this music," she said. "They all love this station."

Contact Rebecca Rose at rebeccar@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7548.

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