KEUN: Eunice, the Prairie Cajun Capital
A Place for Cajun Music
The founding of radio station KEUN in Eunice occurred as Cajun and zydeco music were gaining prominence in the mid to late twentieth century. However, both genres struggled to get airtime anywhere because Cajun music was long considered a “novelty” and zydeco was seen as “too black” for French stations and “too French” for black stations (1). When KEUN began airing in 1952, “two daily French newscasts” were aired between Monday and Saturday (2). Gradually, the station added more shows between 1955-1957 that played “French recordings” like Fais do-do, The Church Point Jamboree and Bon Ton Roule hosted by Houston LeJeune (3). By 1958, according to Elizabeth Mae Roberts, KEUN had dedicated five hours weekly to playing French music (4). The station, then, had a considerable audience willing to listen to French music and programs.
In 1962, KEUN began “weekly remote” broadcasts on Saturdays in Mamou, which were hosted by Revon Reed and aired live Cajun music being played at Fred’s Lounge (5). These performances attracted large crowds who spent their Saturday mornings dancing to Cajun music, carrying on the dancehall tradition associated with the music. As a result, the station was credited as beginning a “Cajun renaissance” which, according to Barry Jean Ancelet, helped Cajuns in “validating their culture” (6). These were some of the many live recordings that KEUN conducted to give airtime to local musicians. KEUN maintained its connection to Cajun music, as seen in the KEUN Cajun Music Day fundraiser which occurred from 1987 to 1989, and the station developing a show for zydeco music by 1992 (7). As of 2005, KVPI in Ville Platte continued the weekly broadcasts that KEUN had started from Fred’s Lounge (8). Today, Cajun music can still be heard on KEUN over 105.5 FM, making almost 70 years of playing the genre.
Perhaps what is most associated with Acadiana is the Cajun culture, which includes unique music, food, and traditions. The music is especially crucial because it provides the sound for a rich culture and people which a radio station, like KEUN, allows to be heard.
1. Making Waves: Louisiana’s Radio Story, directed by Tika Laudun (Louisiana Public Broadcasting, 2005), 33:33; 34:48-34:55, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=keEkhOJR1FE, accessed April 18, 2022.
2. Elizabeth Mae Roberts, “French Radio Broadcasting in Louisiana, 1935-1958,” (master’s thesis, Louisiana State University, 1959), 61.
3. Roberts, “French Radio Broadcasting,” 61-62. Assumedly, “French recordings” means Cajun music.
4. Roberts, “French Radio Broadcasting,” 83.
5. Making Waves, 37:10-37:21.
6. Making Waves, 37:05-37:15; 37:47-37:55.
7. The Basile Weekly, May 21, 1992, newspapers.com.
8. Making Waves, 37:41-37:44.