Radio Range Riders by Boyd Magers

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Ken Maynard“Tales from the Diamond K”
by Boyd Magers

In the mid to late ‘20s Ken Maynard was one of the silent screen’s top screen cowboys. He continued on into talkies, commanding $10,000 per week on through 1940. He ran a circus for about a year called The Diamond K Wild West Circus and Indian Congress. After the Trail Blazers B’s in ‘43-‘44 and the one-off “Harmony Trail”, Ken’s starring days were over.

Ken Maynard and Tarzan record logo.In 1951 Ken recorded 39 episodes of “Tales From the Diamond K” as a juvenile radio series. Each 15 minute show was a Western yarn simply told by Ken—there were no other actors, no music and no sound effects except a whinny from his horse Tarzan. “Hi there folks, this is Ken Maynard, kinda gettin’ saddled up here to spin another yarn. You know it’s a right nice day out here at the Diamond K Ranch, sunny and warm. Makes you feel like maybe travelin’ a little. Travelin’ reminds me of circus and the Wild West Show…” and Ken would launch into his story. The program was intended to be heard five times a week in the afternoon. Produced by Peterson, Schafer and Buck Agency of Hollywood, of which nothing is known, it may have simply been an ad hoc company formed for the express purpose of producing “Tales From the Diamond K”. “From the tack room” the show involved a direct mail offer of Ken Maynard K-Shirts—tee shirts with a flaming red picture of Ken and Tarzan on the front
"Tales from the Diamond K" album. and/or Ken Maynard personalized phonograph records for $1. The series was supplied to radio stations at no cost, but a portion of the money garnered from the mail was sent to the Peterson, Schafer and Buck Agency who fulfilled the order and shipped the product, the balance was kept by the radio station. Obviously, the agency paid Ken a portion of the mail-money as he was apparently not paid up front for recording the shows.

78rpm red vinyl phonograph record.The personalized 8" in diameter 78rpm red vinyl phonograph records were a terrific idea. Each two-sided record began with Ken saying, “Hello   (name). This is Ken Maynard with a story just for you!” He addressed each kid by his/her first name. Obviously Ken did not record separate discs for each juvenile listener. With the newly-common tape recorder it was easy for Ken just to record the opening sentence with the required mane, then have the line added to the stories as the discs were cut. The two stories were “The Killer Stallion” and “Fargo Red and the Dangerous Double Cross”.

Unfortunately, the idea and Ken’s tales received sparse distribution and the series was short-lived.

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