When we think of radio stations, we think of the sound rather than focusing on the people behind the sound. The radio station call sign, KSIG, will sound more familiar than the names B. Hillman Bailey, Jr. and Clovis Bailey, two brothers who worked at and helped found KSIG in Crowley. The Baileys were born about nine years apart in Rayne, Louisiana (1). Hillman’s degree in Journalism from Louisiana State University and Clovis’ degree in Radio Communications from Chenier College in Texas helped the brothers start the Bailey Radio Company in Rayne, which operated from 1934 to 1941.
In 1937, Clovis temporarily worked at WJBO in Baton Rouge as an engineer and became chief engineer of KVOL in 1940, before returning to Rayne to operate his own radio repair shop after the brothers’ company closed in 1942. That same year, Clovis was drafted during World War II to serve in the U.S. Army Signal Corps while Hillman remained in the South, becoming chief engineer for KVOL, WSKB in McComb, Mississippi, and KPLC in Lake Charles. After the war, plans for KSIG were well underway in 1946 with Hillman as general manager of the station and Clovis as chief engineer. Before the station first aired on April 11, 1947 from the second floor of the Crowley Daily Signal building (the station’s namesake), its poly-cylindrical studio was heralded as “unique and modern” (2).
The station received a warm welcome in Crowley and the greater Acadiana area as a 1948 newspaper article claimed that the existence of KSIG “bound Acadia communities closer together” (3). The success of the Bailey brothers with KSIG influenced them in opening another radio station in 1950 in Jennings, KJEF which, like KSIG, still exists today (4). This is also one example of the entrepreneurial spirit of Hillman who was very active in business endeavors and local politics (5). Hillman was the station manager of KSIG until 1955 when the station was sold and management was briefly under George Thompson and, later, Lou Basso. Clovis left KSIG by 1953 to work at KJEF as its station manager, where he remained as late as 1987. Eventually, Hillman died in 1997 and was followed by Clovis fourteen years later in 2011 (6).
The story of the Bailey brothers at KSIG is a reminder of the interesting lives and experiences of those who may not necessarily be in the spotlight, but contribute much to where they work. Much like a radio, it is not only the sound that counts, but all the parts within it that make it possible for us to hear it.
1. Hillman was born in 1908 and Clovis in 1917.
2. "Bailey Will Manage KSIG," The Crowley Post-Signal, March 12, 1947, newspapers.com.
3. "Rice Mill Strike Top News Story Of Acadia Parish For Year 1947," The Crowley Post-Signal, January 3, 1948, newspapers.com.
4. Elizabeth Mae Roberts, “French Radio Broadcasting in Louisiana, 1935-1958,” (master’s thesis, Louisiana State University, 1959), 42.
5. Hillman became a part of the Natchitoches Parish Chamber of Commerce in 1961.
6. Clovis Bailey Obituary, https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/dailyworld/name/clovis-bailey-obituary?id=22133810.