O‘ahu in 1958: Remembering The “Sheriff of the Posse” on Hawai‘i’s KGMB-TV
For years, about 50,000 TV fans waited every week to hear Ken Alford say, “Howdy Buckaroos.”
When KGMB-TV first signed on in 1952, it mostly delivered national network programs to Hawai‘i’s audiences. But local programs soon gained prominence and local viewers.
One of those was The Posse, which started with that famous greeting, “Howdy Buckaroos,” in 1954. Sheriff of the crew was Ken Alford, an entertainer known more for a very different reason in Waikīkī.
When jazz devotees gather Sunday nights in the Moana Hotel’s Banyan Court to dance to the music of the Dixie Cats, Ken Alford puts on his straw skimmer and lets go with a trumpet.
Ken met and was subsequently greatly influenced toward jazz by several present jazz greats—Burt Bales (San Francisco pianist), Lester Young, tenor sax, and Jo Jones, drummer-man … the latter two all-time great figures with the famed Count Basie band of the 1930’s.
Bales helped Ken form a small combo to perform at post dances. This was his first “taste” of Dixieland style music … and it’s stuck with him ever since. “There’s a happy sound about dixie that’s not duplicated in any other kind of music.”
After the war, Ken began a California radio career which was to take him to Hawaii in early 1949. With the advent of TV in the Islands, he was offered a job as the “Sheriff of the Posse” on KGMB-TV. His opening “Howdy, Buckaroos” has been a daily feature for nearly four years.
His Posse fan club attracts dozens of requests for membership each week. Letters come from all major islands of Hawaii and, wherever he appears, he’s mobbed by “varmint-haters” and straight-shootin’ buckaroos.
Although his popular TV show, “The Posse,” features full-length Western films, the Sheriff “gimmicks” the program with contests, birthday announcements and occasional interviews with prominent local and mainland entertainers of interest to his younger viewers. Included on his list of VIP visitors to the “Sheriff’s Office” are Gene Autry, Marshal Matt Dillon of TV’s “Gunsmoke,” Ken Maynard, Roy Rogers, and even Liberace!
In 1953 … he assembled his group once again, named them the Dixie-Cats and started a rash of “jazz concerts” around the city. During their appearance at a Waikiki nitery, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong, while on a tour of the Far East, stopped by to catch the Cats in action and couldn’t resist the temptation of “sitting-in,” something he rarely does. Afterwards, Satchmo was heard to say, “These cats really play the dixie story.” When he left the Islands, he presented Ken with an engraved gold-plated trumpet mouthpiece inscribed, “To Ken, Louis Armstrong, 1954.”
The Posse ran on TV until 1965. Alford’s band also played for four presidents, the Hawai‘i statehood celebration in 1959 and at the 1977 celebration of the 80th anniversary of Consolidated Theatre’s first movie showing.
Alford died in 1999.
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