Radio Show features Oil History
The hour-long morning Exploring Energy radio show includes a Wednesday segment that offers energy education articles from the American Oil & Gas Historical Society. The show, which began in January 2012, in 2014 added weekly editorial contributions from AOGHS Executive Director Bruce Wells, who calls in on the last Wednesday of every month to talk history.
Listeners nationwide can find the show broadcasting online weekday mornings 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. Eastern Time. The “Remember When Wednesdays” are also available an the online archive maintained by Shawn Wilson.
In addition to interviews of regularly scheduled guests from government and industry (from top executives to roughnecks and tool pushers) the Oklahoma radio program offers weekly looks at the industry’s neglected history.
As part of a partnership with the “Exploring Energy Network,” an energy education radio program and monthly publication, AOGHS contributes both feature articles and guest commentary. Since being added in April 2014, the Wednesday talk-radio show has included stories from the historical society’s “This Month in Petroleum History.”
The Elk City KECO 96.5 FM radio program Exploring Energy is live nationwide on the Internet on most weekday mornings.
Although the show hosts regularly discuss Oklahoma’s energy scene, they also look at national issues – and interview industry professionals often straight from the historic Anadarko Basin oilfields.
Elk City is above the deepest part of the Anadarko, which extends into Kansas, Colorado and the Texas Panhandle. A prominent Elk City tourist attraction is one of the largest drilling rigs in the world, the 180-foot Parker Drilling Rig 114 on display along Route 66.
Educating Listeners about the Energy Business
According to co-host Shawn Wilson, frank discussion often occur when owners and employees of area companies appear as guests.” Wilson came to Elk City working in the oilfields in 1981 – during Oklahoma’s deep-drilling natural gas boom.
In 2014, host Nathan Brewer, without roughnecking experience, frequently encouraged clear explanations of technologies – and job descriptions. “Now, what exactly is a ‘worm’ on a drilling rig?” Brewer asked one guest, learning the term applied to inexperienced rig hands.
“You guys out there are educators,” Wilson proclaimed to an employee of Cudd Well Control, a company known worldwide for its oil well blowout control and firefighting. The service company, founded in 1977 by Bobby Joe Cudd, was headquartered in Woodward, 75 miles north of Elk City.
Prodded by Brewer, one commentator noted that although people know about firefighter Red Adair thanks to John Wayne in “Hell Fighters,” it was Cudd, who died in 2005, who extinguished most of the dangerous 1991 Kuwaiti fires during the Persian Gulf War.
“He didn’t beat his own drum,” said the Cudd oilfield worker about the Woodward native who started the well pressure control company with eight employees and a hydraulic snubbing unit.
Straight from the Oil Patch
Exploring Energy show’s guests, many with long experience in their part of the energy business, can offer frank and detailed descriptions of what they do – and the equipment they use.
Some of the show’s expert guests visit the broadcast studio straight from a drilling site, including Apache Corp. executive Rob Johnson – who traveled just a few blocks for a March 27 interview. Not long earlier, his company had spudded a well inside Elk City city limits.
Johnson said that utilizing sound suppressing 32-foot walls on three sides, Apache had begun drilling a well down the street. The well, already about 12,000 feet deep, planned to turn horizontal and continue drilling without disturbing residents. If successful, it would be the first of several drilled efficiently from the same platform.
To avoid loud diesel engines, hydraulic fracturing would be done with LNG-powered engines, Johnson explained. Wilson noted that back in the early 80s it took 45 days for wells around 12,000 – about twice as long as today. Apache drilled its first successful well in 1954 in Oklahoma.
Other Exploring Energy guests – and callers – often refer to years of working in the oil patch. Many, like Eric Williams a long-time employee of J&R Transport describe the loyalty inspired by family owned service-sector companies. J&R Transport has been family owned for 50 years.
Oilfield Technologies and Tales
The show heard from Rex McAlary, who started in the industry in the 1970s as a worm on a Parker Drilling rig, “catching mud samples.” He offered vivid descriptions of the inexperienced crew encountering multiple, high-pressure natural gas zones during drilling.
McAlary added that modern petroleum industry’s technologies – especially 3-D seismic, measurement-while-drilling, and horizontal drilling – have made energy production far safer and more efficient.
Now owner of McAlary ATV & Cycle in Elk City, he said his favorite oilfield job was pushing tools, although, “I grew up on a farm, but’d never seen nuts and bolts that big.”
When Parker executives later sent McAlary and a drilling crew to a desert in Algeria, “they told us it was just like a beach – but with no water.”
Oilfield workers appear to be regular listeners to each morning, which ends with Brewer and Wilson asking a two questions from the show, with right answers winning a prize. Often incoming calls are intermittent or cut off – because they are coming from workers driving to or from Anadarko well sites far outside Elk City.
Exploring Energy airs on the internet at two Oklahoma stations – KECO in Elk City and KWDQ in Woodward – thus covering a lot of western Oklahoma’s energy industry.
KECO is part of Paragon Communications, which every fourth week of the month publishes “Exploring Energy” as an eight-page insert to the Penny News, a free weekly shopping newspaper with a circulation of 20,000 in western Oklahoma.
Today, the radio show is co-hosted by Shawn Wilson and Jared Atha.
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