Entertainment
The 12 O'clock Siren
By Edward Southerland
Dec 4, 2019
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The three cabeleros of The 12 O’Clock Siren: Jason Fuller, James Hartley, and Matthew Harvey.
Leonard, Texas -- Recently the 12 o’clock siren has taken on an additional meaning. Three friends from school days in Leonard, Matthew Harvey, who moved back home in 2018 to distribute an accessory for Jeeps that he invented, James Hartley, in sales for a technology company, and Jason Fuller, an electrician, started a podcast titled, “The 12 O’clock Siren.” Fuller is Leonard born and raised, Hartley arrived in the sixth grade, and Harvey in the fourth grade.

“James and I are always coming up with ideas. We like to call them, ‘get rich slow schemes,’” Harvey said. “We liked making goofy little videos and things like that. We also like to sit around and just talk and tell stories, and we always thought it would be neat to record these sessions and then edit out what was not appropriate.

“Last summer, the Leonard Chamber of Commerce honored R. C. Kuhn, a cowboy who is now in his 90s and a Leonard native. Our idea was to start a podcast and interview him. He agreed to do it, but has not been feeling well lately so that one’s on hold for the time being. The more we thought about it, the more we decided it would interesting to interview other people in the community about Leonard’s history and what’s going on now. Our idea was to talk with someone who people might know, but not really know, if you know what I mean? Since we started doing it, we’ve gotten comments from people we never thought we would hear from.”

Matthew Harvey, James Hartley, and Jason Fuller around the podcast mics in the 12 O’Clock Siren studio at the Cowboy Corner on the Southeast corner of the square in Leonard, Texas, Broadcast Central.

Harvey called on his RTV expertise to round up the necessary equipment and set up a studio in the front part of his building; the first interview was longtime Leonard pharmacist, Eugene Kegans, and more followed. About a month ago, Harvey contacted me about doing an interview. He had read stories that I had written for various publications over the years, about spending summers in Leonard with my grandparents, Les and Mary LaRoe. My memories of those days in the 1950s are among my fondest.

Those were the times before television took over the evenings and pushed the long-standing tradition of visiting neighbors into the background. On warm summer nights, friends would visit friends, sitting on the screened in porches, talking about the day, and whatever grown-ups talked about while shelling peas or beans fresh from the garden for tomorrow’s dinner. The conversations were impenetrable to the kids, so they would go out in the yard and fill the night with the sounds of games and their own conversations.

I enjoyed answering questions from the three very well-prepared interviewers about my recollections. In short order, Regine Van Schoick, a playmate from those early days, contacted me. She was the daughter of a doctor who lived nearby, and her parents were friends of my grandparents, and I played with her often when I first started visiting Leonard during the summer. It had been at least six decades since I had heard from her.

 Harvey said that he and his two friends had a special bond. “Between the three of us, there is unique dynamic. James and I both came to Leonard at about the same time, and Jason has the perspective of having lived here all of his life and knowing more about the town and people than we did. James has a more political angle and I’m sort of neutral. The first podcast was in August.”

What about the name, The 12 O’Clock Siren? “I was doing demolition on the building to turn it into a warehouse and every day at noon I would hear it go off. It was so loud that sometimes I could hear it at my house in Celeste. I didn’t know if people would get it, but I thought it was a cool name. When I announced it to the Chamber of Commerce, everyone started laughing, but they got it.”

So far, there have been 15 interviews, and several recaps. And don’t think this is just about the old days. “The idea is community news and entertainment,” said Harvey. “That’s our tag line, so we’re looking for anybody with interesting things to talk about. And it’s not just about Leonard. “It’s anybody in Texoma, from Sherman and Denison down to McKinney over to Greenville and over to Commerce or so. We kind of started on US 69, with guests from Leonard, Celeste, Trenton, and Whitewright, and I’d like to have someone from Bonham next. It’s kind of a city yearbook if we can find the right people who are willing to talk.”

True to his start in the radio, TV business, Harvey said he would like to do some YouTube material down the line. And even better for the future of the project, the Siren has its first sponsor, Leonard Internet provider, 903 Broadband.

Right now the trio was on a push to let the audience know about a special project they staged on November 30. “It’s the Leonard Chamber of Commerce Toy Drive. We’re going to have a party from 2 p.m. until 10 p.m. at my building. It’s about giving back. We’ll have corn hole, ping-pong, and dominos tournaments, a bounce house for the kids, and snacks and drinks through out the day. One our podcast guests was a musician, and he’ll be there to play in the evening. It’s something we hope to have every year.”

To let folk know about the podcasts, The 12 O’clock Siren has a Facebook page of the same name that in a short time has garnered more than 800 likes. You can find The 12 O’clock Siren on the iTunes store for Macs and the App Store for iPhones and iPads. It’s also on Google Play, Spotify, and YouTube.


So far, the Siren has done podcasts with 16 guests. As mentioned above, H.E. Kegans, longtime owner of the Leonard Pharmacy was the first. There followed: 2. Gene Martin of Celeste and a descendant of legendary Shields Giants also known in their day as the Texas Giants; Hannah Null the owner of the Blue Bonnet Meat Market in Trenton; Jim McDonald, an artist, musician, and friend of the Siren.

 

Coy Clements, the owner of Sidewinder Jiu Jitsu in Whitewright was next followed by David “Scoop” Johnson, the former owner of the Leonard Graphic and now the owner of Bear Creek Farms. Michael Daugherty musician and friend of the Siren was next, and then they interviewed David Newton lead singer of Blake Nation, a Blake Shelton Tribute Band, and in the Number Nine slot was Edward Southerland, writer, journalist and with ties to Bonham and Leonard.

 

In the 10 spot was Arvis Buchanan, former owner of B&B Grocery, followed by coach Shane Fletcher the athletic director and head coach of the Leonard Tigers. Leonard historian Steve Coker was next up, and then came Tony Kent and Jamey Gleaves, the percussionist and bassist of the Whiskey Myers Band.

 

Gayle Doyle of the Leonard Chamber of Commerce came into the studio to tout the Christmas Toy Drive, followed by Pastor Joe Gist of the First United Methodist Church and then Roger Alexander of Sudderth Real Estate in Leonard. And of course, there will be more to come.