Baxter’s Place and KFPL Radio Station
By Frank Chamberlain
Baxter’s Place was one of the longest-lasting businesses in the history of Dublin. This discount store was an integral part of the downtown area for over sixty years. It was founded by C.C. Baxter in 1910 and remained a family-owned business until it closed in 1975. The Baxter family also owned similar stores in Brownwood and Comanche, Texas. In addition to their franchise of discount stores, the Baxter family also ran a successful radio station that was based in Dublin. These two enterprises combined to play an important role in the lives of generations of Dublin citizens.
Baxter’s Place was located in downtown Dublin adjacent to the present day bank building. A saloon was once located on the other side of the store, but was closed whenever the town became a “dry” community. Mr. Baxter bought this newly closed saloon, tore down the middle wall, and enlarged his store. The bars that formerly held beverages were converted into display tables. Other distinguishing features of this store were a large pot-bellied stove around which customers frequently gathered to fraternize and a large clock that kept the time for over fifty years. The store also had unique skylights installed on the ceiling that gave the appearance of there being a hole in the ceiling.
The store maintained steady business because Baxter offered virtually every product that most families needed for daily life. This brisk business was even maintained during the Depression years. Baxter placed a 50% discount on all stock in the store so that his patrons could afford to shop there. He was still able to turn a profit because he had bought his items at wholesale prices which were far below the retail price of the goods [Stephenville Empire-Tribune 2/9/1975].
The business at Baxter’s Place was enhanced by the fact that the family owned and operated the radio station KFPL, which was located in the town. During the early 1930s, this was the only radio station in operation between Ft. Worth and Brownwood. The broadcasts reached 58 counties and around one million listeners. It has been reported that a broadcast from the station was once heard as far away as New Zealand. Area musicians, singers, or school groups provided the music for the station, as Baxter broadcast their performances over the airwaves. He also broadcast high school football games, church services, and an occasional radio drama at his station. Of course, he also used the radio station as a means top advertise his other business in town. This studio was located on Grafton Street, near the downtown area. The station remained operational for fifteen years until 1942 during World War II, when the demands for more technicians, engineers, and equipment forced its closing. Most people in Dublin were not too disturbed by the loss of one of their favorite forms of entertainment because they believed the closing would only last until the end of the war. However, the station never reopened, and today there are virtually no physical remains of this once-important radio station [Stephenville Empire-Tribune 4/30/72; Westphal 196, 198].
The Baxter businesses were truly family-run businesses. Baxter’s son Troy managed the Dublin store after his father stepped down and his son, Rouss, ran the store in Brownwood. Another son, C.B., managed the Comanche branch and also served as the chief engineer of the radio station [Westphal 101-102].
“Baxter’s Place Closes Doors Soon”, Stephenville Empire-Tribune, February 9, 1975.
“Dublin Radio Station KFPL Brings Back Many Fond Memories”, Stephenville Empire Tribune, April 30, 1972.
Westphal, Dorothy V.D. Covered Wagons Keep On Rollin’/hand-printed and compiled from the pen of Doroty V. Dunn Westphal; the history of Dublin, Texas; 1995. Dublin, TX, 1995.
“Woldert Peanut Mill Off And Running”, The Dublin Progress, June 13, 1974.