One of Knoxville’s colorful characters was born in 1903 as Orton Caswell Walker to a poor family in Sevier County. Cas made a name for himself as a businessman, radio and television show host and politician. He was a Country music promotor with a keen eye for talent and a self-promoter that understood how to use marketing as cross promotion for all his ventures. (These are some great examples of his advertising commercials archived by the Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound) Telling it like it is, was just the Cas Walker way of doing business.
Cas invested his own money earned working in Kentucky coal mines to open his first grocery store in 1924. Promotions told people they could “get the savings of your life … when you shop at the sign of the shears.” Thanks to successful marketing he soon expanded into a grocery market chain.
In 1929 he began promoting local country musicians with a radio show he hosted on WIVK-AM. He also hosted the Farm and Home Hour on television station WBIR. He was a change maker that didn’t stop at business and entertainment.
He also made a name for himself in politics serving on the Knoxville City Council and for a short time as Mayor. He made national headline news when a difference in opinion at a council meeting ended up with fists flying. After his political career came to a close, he continued to voice issues he felt mattered with a publication he put out called The Watchdog.
WBIR and TAMIS have a lot of great footage of all aspects of Cas Walker’s legacy. In this video Bradley Reeves of TAMIS gives some insight into the man that stood up for the common man.
Cas Walker eventually settled down in the North Hills neighborhood of Knoxville, where you can search for a home of your home using our link to current home listings.