Sunday, August 16, 2009

Where is Belle Starr?

If you read Part I of the article about Emperor Holiday, you probably remember well Ron Henselmen's intro to the story:
I first heard A.J. as Doc around 1963 or 64 in the evening from Melrose Park, IL. Doc had a young lady on the show he called Belle Starr. She had one of the sexiest voices I have ever heard. Sometimes he called her Belly Starr to make fun of the way the name is spelled. Once in a while Doc referred to himself as The Rockin' Doctor. I'm not sure he even remembered that. All of this stuff was very important to me when I was sixteen or seventeen.

So, who was Belle Starr? And is there is a recording of her?

A few years ago, Ron asked that question to A.J. himself in an email he sent at the end of December, 2006:

I remember hearing a young lady on a couple of the early Rob Robbins shows. She was called Belle Starr. I loved her voice. Do you have any idea who I am talking about?

On January 1, A.J. replied to Ron:

Yes, I remember Belle Starr. She started doing requests when I was doing the night show. She was a very attractive girl from Little Rock University where I was going to college. The Belle Starr name obviously came from the Doc Holiday connection. She kept doing requests at night when I moved to morning drive. I wish I had a photo.

A.J. did a bit of research and reported back on his blog on January 2, 2007:

"Her real name escaped me, so I asked Jim Pitcock a/k/a Ron Owens. Her real name is Sue Phelps and his last information was that she is living in Baton Rouge, LA. All of us at KAAY and the listeners alike, were in love with Belle Starr. I met her at Little Rock University and asked her if she would like to read requests and dedications at night on KAAY. She agreed and started when I was on at night. When I moved to the morning show she continued on the Robbins show. The name Belle Starr was used because of the Doc Holiday tie. Anyone have any pictures or tape?"

And that's the 64-dollar question --- any pictures or tape? I searched A.J.'s audio archive, and I found a great audio clip of Rob Robbins in 1962, broadcasting from "Arkansas's Giant":

but, alas, no Belle Starr is heard on the clip.

By the way, the Rob Robbins clip was donated to A.J. by Ron Henselman himself, who did significant restoration work to bring it up to decent audio. Thanks, Ron, for your efforts!

I let Ron read a first draft of this post, and Ron's response adds to the "mystery'' of Belle:

"I'd pay to hear her voice again.

About the aircheck: I am not sure if it was the same Rob Robbins.

And about Rob Robbins: I was upset when Rob appeared because I liked Tom Campbell (I think) --- he was the first voice I ever heard during the KTHS transition to KAAY; then there was suddenly another DJ called Rob Robbins. Then there was Rock Robbins after awhile. I wasn't aware personnel changes were keeping existing LIN names. The whole thing seemed strange to a sixteen (at that time) year old kid who knew electronics but nothing about the business end of broadcasting.

Belle Starr might have been my initial attraction to the Doc Holiday show. Our friend A.J. was the first Doc Holiday I ever heard because the first Doc was never on the air during the hours when signals were bouncing."

So, there are a number of us now who are intrigued by this story --- please contact us if you have any info, trivia, or materials regarding the mysterious, sultry Belle Starr....

---Dave S. (

1 comment:

  1. The Doc Holiday Dance Party came to high school in Donnellson, Iowa in 1964. Ron Owens and Belle Starr were there, I have photos of both which I will post shortly. Other DJs were there from WPGU, KOMA, WLOL. I won a twist contest and was given an first release Surfer Girl LP which the DJs autographed..