TV dance party to live again in event saluting ‘The Scene’

Gene Triplett, Entertainment Editor Published: September 2, 2009
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Back when souped-up old Chevys and daddys’ T-Birds were cruising through hamburger stands called the Delta, Quik’s and the Split-T, B-movies like "Agent for H.A.R.M.” were headlining the Northwest Hi-Way Drive-In and the Rolling Stones were having their "19th Nervous Breakdown” 24 times a day over WKY Radio, one of that station’s disc jockeys decided it was time to rock local TV.

So, Ronnie Kaye launched "The Scene,” Oklahoma City’s answer to "American Bandstand,” in March 1966 on Channel 4, which then shared owners and the WKY call letters with the AM radio station.

"I went in just on a lark one day and said, ‘You know, I’d like to do a dance show on television’,” Kaye said. "And the boss says, ‘Well, guess what? We just had a sponsor come in and say they want to do a dance show on television.’ I mean, you know, the timing was just perfect.”

The show, which lasted eight years and boasted such stellar in-studio guests as Ray Charles, James Brown, Otis Redding, Jerry Lee Lewis, Ike and Tina Turner and Smokey Robinson, will be celebrated at 7 p.m. Friday when the Oklahoma History Center presents "Ronnie Kaye’s ‘The Scene’ 1960s Dance Party.”

The program is one of a series of events growing out of the museum’s "Another Hot Oklahoma Night: A Rock & Roll Exhibit.” The exhibit traces the Sooner state’s role in the history and development of rock music.

The dance party will feature live music from The Five Americans, who formed at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant and had the national hits "I See the Light” and "Western Union” in the late ’60s, Oklahoma City native Mike Brewer of Brewer and Shipley fame ("One Toke Over the Line”), local rock kingpins of the era Jim Edgar and the Roadrunners, and Oklahoma City-based R&B band the Uptown Syndicate.

Kaye will be on hand along with other former WKY jocks including Danny Williams, Don Wallace, Dale Wehba and Terry McGrew.

"We recruited about a hundred kids a week,” Kaye said of "The Scene,” talking to me while juggling music and commercials during his 11 a.