Harold L. "Brother Hal" Webber (1926–2005)
Harold L. “Brother Hal” Webber was a popular morning announcer on the Little Rock (Pulaski County) radio station KLRA. A large part of central Arkansas woke up to his broadcast for over three decades. His morning show was always filled with homespun humor, storytelling, and advertisements that were more like recommendations from a friend—all interspersed with a mix of gospel and country music.
Harold L. Webber was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on February 19, 1926. His grandparents were farmers in Poinsett County, Arkansas, and he spent time there in his younger days soaking up the rural culture and stories. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Navy Seabees.
After the war, he returned to Memphis, where he married Dorothy East of Toccopola, Mississippi. A daughter, Paula Webber Hibbs, was their only child.
Webber began his radio career at WAZF in Yazoo City, Mississippi, moving from there to KXJK in Forrest City (St. Francis County), where he worked with his brother Bob. It was here that the name Brother Hal became his signature character, as he was frequently referred to by Bob on-air as his “Brother Hal.” He then moved to KBRI in Brinkley (Monroe County). Webber said that he modeled his Brother Hal character on a garrulous World War I pensioner he met in Forrest City who held strong opinions on all topics and was eager to share them.
Webber moved to the KLRA AM radio station in Little Rock in 1956 and was on the air in the mornings Monday through Saturday until he retired in 1988, though there was a brief later stint, recorded at Webber’s home, broadcast over a less powerful KLRA-FM in England (Lonoke County).
Morning commuters and listeners at home provided a devoted audience for Brother Hal’s folksy tales and commentaries on life from the perspective of a rural, “common sense” Arkansan. His broadcasts harkened back to the Lum and Abner era of radio—some listeners even heard a gradual shift from the pronounced rural accents of his early morning gospel-centered segments (Webber went on the air during the morning five o’clock hour) to a more polished delivery for town-dwelling country music fans on their way to work.
Many of Webber’s stories related to the sponsors of his show. In the days of increasingly canned and polished commercials, Webber spun bare-bones price lists into funny and sometimes outlandish stories, personalizing his sponsors with his humor to sell their products. This proved to be a successful formula, exhibited in the high demand for advertising air time on his program. Other stories took the day’s news broadcasts or even a just-played hit as starting points for Brother Hal’s homespun social and political commentary.
Following his retirement, Webber continued to make commercials and provide stories for broadcast. He died on February 11, 2005.
For additional information:
Cochran, Robert. “Brother Hal: An Arkansas Institution”. http://fewmets.net/articles/cochran/hal.html (accessed March 19, 2015).
Fields, Arlin, “Brother Hal, a Bumpkin Announcer.” Arkansas Democrat Enjoy Magazine, April 4, 1971, pp. 1–2.
Fletcher, John L. “A Redneck? Ol’ Hal May Sound Corny, But He Sells Goods.” Arkansas Gazette, September 3, 1961, p. 8A.
Frazeur, Shannon. “‘Brother Hal’ Aired Rustic Wit, Wisdom.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, February 14, 2005, p. 4B.
Hibblen, Michael. “KLRA/England, AR.” Hibblen Radio. http://www.hibblenradio.com/KLRA.html (accessed March 19, 2015).
Little Rock, Arkansas
University of Arkansas, Fayetteville
Last Updated: 04/23/2015