Cajun Jam Tee-Bruce signs off after 44 years
The Cajun Jamboree Sunday Morning radio show wasn’t supposed have long-time host John “Tee Bruce” Broussard on Jan 20. But Tee Bruce decided to make an unannounced visit to the show.
Tee Bruce has been broadcasting the early Sunday morning Cajun music show for 44 years. He was with KOGT Radio in Orange for the first Cajun show broadcast. After 17 years he moved to KPAC Radio in Port Arthur. KLVI in Beaumont needed a permanent host for the Cajun spot after the death of Johnny Janot and hired Tee Bruce. He is ending the show after 17 years at KLVI.
With his long-term commitment to the Cajun Jamboree radio show, it is no wonder that he could not stay away. He has had some health problems and the show has been in the capable hands of his daughter, Barbara and her husband, Joe Clark. Barbara was brought up with Cajun music as a part of her life. Joe is from Baltimore, Maryland, and said he is a “Coonanky.” He came into the Cajun culture through the “back door” when he married Barbara. Barbara and Joe had no idea that Tee Bruce was coming until he walked through the door. He then pulled another surprise and he announced his replacement.
The announcement was not supposed to be made until the last broadcast on Jan 27. Tee Bruce said his replacement will be Dana Melancon.
Melancon is the chief meteorologist of KBTV Channel 4 in Beaumont. He, like Tee Bruce, is a Port Arthur native. His first job in broadcasting was at KHYS, a local radio station. He then moved to NBC 4 as a station announcer and has been there since 1980. He lives in Lumberton with his wife Carly and daughter Kelli. Like Tee Bruce he has a strong desire to promote Cajun music and culture.
Tee Bruce worked at the Texaco refinery, along with his father and brother, when he began his radio career. Because of his life-long love of music, he became interested in becoming a DJ.
When he as a DJ, he never dreamed that a part-time job would lead where it did. He began to publish music and promote local Cajun musicians. Along the way he began to produce Cajun music festivals. Eventually, he would produce and promote as many as seven festivals a year in Texas and Louisiana.
Broussard’s love for Cajun music and culture and his involvement in the Cajun music industry led to him being elected to the Cajun French Music Association Hall of Fame in 2003. He is one of only three DJ’s to be so honored.
Sunday morning Jan. 27 at 6, the last show began. After the theme song was played Tee Bruce opened the show by saying “We won’t be taking requests today, we’ve got a lot of talking to do.” He also said, “Today is a bittersweet moment.”
He pulled 25 or 30 of his favorite records for the show. Several that he played were by the late Joe Bonsall. Bonsall lived in Orange and had a band called “The Orange Playboys”. He later moved to Vinton.
Tee Bruce mentioned that there is a CD due out with 27 of Bonsall’s songs. Floyd Soileau, another of Tee Bruce’s long time friends, produced the CD.
Between songs, Tee Bruce, Barbara and Joe talked about people and places from the past. One club they talked about was the Rodair Club at Port Acres. The Rodair was the most famous Cajun club in the area.
“I wish I could have bought the dance floor, sawed it up in one inch pieces and sold it. I could have made a fortune,” Joe said.
At one point, Tee Bruce said “I’m going to travel and get back to my (wood) shop.”
Tees Bruce said that in the early days of radio everyone had to have an FCC license to broadcast.
“I remember you studying at the kitchen table to get your radio license and Mom calling out questions to you,” Barbara said.
“I’ve still got my license and I carry it with me everywhere I go” Tee Bruce said.
Melancon joined the show and he and Tee Bruce talked about the new show. The name “Cajun Express” has been suggested but no decision has been made and they are still open to suggestions.
The time slot will change to 7 to 10 a.m. The format will change from CD’s to digitized music. Melancon and Tee Bruce emphasized that the focus of the show will remain to promote Cajun music and culture.
“I’m getting a lot of positive response about taking over but I’m still a little nervous” Melancon said.
Tee Bruce told him “I’ve got one piece of advice – JUMP IN.”
One of the visitors that came for the last show was Jerry Bellot. Bellot is the president of the Golden Triangle Chapter of the Cajun French Music Association. He presented Tee Bruce with a plaque from the CFMA. The plaque was in appreciation of the efforts that Tee Bruce has made to promote the Cajun music and culture for so many years.
Long-time sponsor Big Rich Courville and his buddy, Tee Bob, were there to express their feelings for Tee Bruce. Courville told how much he had enjoyed working with Tee Bruce over the years. He told Tee Bruce, “I may have a job open for a taster.” Tee Bruce replied “I’ll take it.”
Jerry Broussard told of working with Tee Bruce in Orange at “the old place on Main Street,” referring to the old KOGT studio. Broussard also said he had worked music festivals with Tee Bruce from New Orleans to San Antonio. They had also worked together in the production side of the music business.
Several more people came on and spoke of the high regard for Tee Bruce. Some were old friends and some were sponsors who became friends.
One of the men who broadcast the show before Tee Bruce was Buddy Johnson. Johnson, along with A.J. Judice, were the DJ’s for the six months after the death of Johnny Janot. Janot had been doing the show that was then called “Cajun Bandstand.” Tee Bruce was hired to fill the show permanently and the “Cajun Jamboree” began.
At one point, Tee Bruce said to Melancon, “tag you’re it.”
t was easy to feel the emotion. Listeners and friends called to the station. He apologized for not being able to talk to everyone who tried to call in. “There were just too many” he said.
The Broussards have plans for what Tee Bruce calls his “fourth retirement.” They plan to do a lot of camping. “My wife Bonnie has been my strongest supporter for my whole career. We want to go camping without having to worry about being back at a certain time or a certain day. Bonnie and I want go to places a little farther away than we have been going” he said.
Tee Bruce said “the clock is winding down.” Minutes later he announced the last song, “The Last Waltz.” The Cajun Jamboree theme song played and the last show was over.
One more tribute to John “Tee Bruce” Broussard will be held Feb. 24 at Pinetree Lodge. The time will be from 1 to 5 p.m. The public is invited, but there will be no reservations. The family said it is strictly first-come, first-served. Music will be by Billy Poullard and the Zydeco Combo.