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Chester Smith: RIP

Chester Smith

Chester Smith

Eureka Television Group owner Chester Smith passed onto that big Country & Western stage in the sky Friday.  ETG controls the following Eureka stations, or so sayeth Wikipedia:

  • KVIQ CBS 6 
  • KUVU Channel 9 / “Eureka’s CW”
  • K52FK Telemundo 20 Coming Soon
  • KBVU FOX 29
  • KEMY KEMY 33 / My Network TV
  • KEUV Univision 31

Chester started on the Country/Western scene in the 1950’s and ran with the likes of Hank Williams Sr., Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry.

From the obituary:

Mr. Smith created Northern California’s first Spanish-language radio station, and he later was honored for his work by the Latino Community Roundtable of Stanislaus County.

In an October 2002 article in The Modesto Bee, Mr. Smith said all the broadcasters who made fun of his Spanish-language programming in the late 1960s and 1970s missed an essential point.

“Before the Mexicans came to work in the fields, my people (Oklahomans from the Dust Bowl era) were the braceros,” Smith said.

In recent years, Mr. Smith loved performing in front of audiences at churches, said Pastor Herb Henry of Richland Faith Assembly of God in Ceres. Mr. Smith was a people person who never forgot where he came from, Henry said.

Mr. Smith was scheduled to perform at Henry’s church in July before he called to cancel because he was too ill, Henry said.

” ‘I just want to leave singing and praising the Lord,’ he said to me on the phone,” Henry said. “I guess he knew his life was about to end.”

More here.

  1. Anonymous
    August 12, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Wow, somebody in media who was down to earth and humble. Aren’t those qualities in even shorter supply now.

    Condolences to his family.

  2. Anonymous
    August 15, 2008 at 4:05 pm

    Sorry the man died. But is this the guy who put that crazy Arkansas preacher and his son overnight on Eureka’s local TV stations?

  3. Anonymous
    August 15, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Oh my God! IS he?

  4. August 21, 2008 at 5:44 pm

    We lost a good person when Chester Smith died. The first time I saw Ferlin Huskey was on Chester’s disc jockey show on KTRB, Modesto about 1949 or so. Ferlin went by the name of Terry Preston and he did a pantomine of a motorcycle rider that was hilarious!
    Chester sponsored Hank Snow, Johnnie and Jack and Kitty Wells, Marty Robbins and Hank Williams among others at the Riverside Clubhouse, a big old barn in Riverbank, California. Two other teen aged boy and I had a drink of Seagram Seven whiskey with Hank Williams out in the parking lot during one of his breaks when he played there. It was the highlight of my life up until then!
    And when Lefty Frizzell was beginning to get popular, it helped that Chester played Leftys music on his DJ show on KTRB almost every day.
    Back around 1990 or so, a bunch of us ex-Okies had a Little Okie, Airport District reunion jam session and dance at the Legion Hall at Legion Park. I lived at Orland at that time and had no idea of who would show up but my wife and I drove to Modesto and got to the hall at around six PM or so. The music started before long and I’ll give you one guess at who showed up and sang a couple of songs with us! It was Chester Smith. He knew many of us because we had gone to his drive-in cafe for cherry cokes as well as to the radio station to watch him DJ when he had celebrities.
    My sister, Joan, went on a date with him to the Jumping Frog Jubilee right after he broke up with Ann, his first wife. She said he was a perfect gentleman.
    I never knew how well off he was financially until now but I know what a great fellow he was when I knew him. So, if you didn’t know Chester personally, you really don’t know him. You can take my word for it. Chester Smith was a great guy.

  5. August 21, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    ‘oops’ “…RiverSIDE Clubhouse, a big old barn in Riverbank, California. Two other teen…” shoulda been, “RiverBANK Clubhouse!”

  6. Joe Blow
    September 3, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    No, Anonymous, Chester Smith was not an honest man. When he was 24 years old, he stole Wait A Little Longer, Please Jesus word for word, note for note, from a 16-year-old girl from Florida named Shirley Malcolm. She composed the song in Nashville. This song put him on the map and started his road to riches.

    It was no secret that this girl wrote the song and Smith stole it from her. Everybody associated with the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville knew it and several announcements were made on the Grand Ole Opry about him stealing it from her. Several of these people are still alive and in the business. Me, for one.

    It is my understanding she hired a lawyer and spent several thousand dollars trying to get restitution for this song as well as others, to no avail. Chester Smith flat out denied that he stole the song from her.

    Maybe Chester Smith did favors for others, but he never compensated her. I understand she is still alive and living in Georgia. Hopefully, he made things right in his death and left her something in his will.

  7. A friend of the family
    September 19, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    Only the Lord knows what happened.. so who are you to judge Chester, there is only one judge and it sure isn’t you. Chester was a very thoughtful and giving person and he will be missed…

  8. Joe Blow
    September 20, 2008 at 12:21 pm

    But I know the facts and so do many others, and that is:

    Chester Smith stole Wait A Little Longer, Please Jesus.

  9. Shirley Sheppard
    September 20, 2008 at 1:38 pm

    I just received an email regarding Joe Blow’s posts.

    Joe, whoever you are, I would like to ask that you cease from posting information about me.

    Please respect the fact that Mrs. Smith has just lost a husband and Chester’s three daughters have just lost a father.

    I am dealing with the Smith family about my song, Wait A Little Longer, Please Jesus, and I prefer that I be the one to speak about it.

    Thank you.

  10. Joe Blow
    September 21, 2008 at 5:49 pm

    Ok. I’ll respect your wishes, but in parting i’d like to say this to a Friend of the Family.

    Yes, the Lord knows, but you are wrong when you say only the Lord knows. Shirley, the real composer knows, Chester Smith and his sidekick certainly knew, half of Shirley’s hometown knows, and half of Nashville knows.

    This thing is going to bust wide open one day.

  11. Ginny
    September 24, 2008 at 5:41 am

    This is interesting. I’d like to hear more about it.

  12. Anonymous
    November 24, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    And what many don’t know is that twenty-six people of “high integrity” in her hometown was paid hush money to keep quiet about facts they knew of her original songs and Wait A Little Longer, Please Jesus of one of the five that became big hits. So, think twice before you say half a neighborhood can’t be paid off to undermine her.
    We’re talking big money from hit songs that have made certain publishers a lot of money for a lot of years and are still making money, and the recipients want to keep the money in their purses.

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