DeRouen is best-known for over a half century of working at Eunice’s first radio station, KEUN 1490 AM, as disc jockey, sports reporter and general manager.
DeRouen began working in radio at KEUN in 1952, a few weeks after the first Eunice radio station began broadcasting.
His first stint in radio lasted only one weekend, but he came back to work at the station about a year later, when he was hired to cover sports.
“That was his big desire in the whole thing, to cover high school football games,” said KEUN General Manager Rick Nesbitt “He loved the high school sports end of things.”
DeRouen got his start during a very special time in radio, a time when disc jockeys were as revered by their local communities as the performers whose records they played, a time when DJs were almost seen as superhuman.
In 1959, DeRouen became immortalized in Eunice history and legend for performing a near-superhuman feat of his own.
As part of a promotion, DeRouen set about breaking the world’s records in longest radio broadcast and longest time without sleep while broadcasting in front of the window at Bellow’s furniture store.
DeRouen managed the feat, with the help of a “Citizen’s Council for the Preservation of Karl DeRouen” which maintained round-the-clock companionship, and his brother, Dr. F.J. DeRouen, who provided periodic check-ups, according to the April 23 and April 30 1959 editions of the Eunice News.
Although the records didn’t last (Tom Rounds of Honolulu set a record of 260 hours awake later that year), the Eunice News reported: “He reaped a host of prizes including a new car financed by public donations, an 8-day trip to Mexico and a stereophonic record player.
“Wednesday (April 29, 1959) was proclaimed “King Karl” day in Eunice and a parade was held in DeRouen’s honor.”
Nesbitt said DeRouen left the radio station for a time, attending college in Houston, but returned to work continuously at the radio station until a few years ago, when illness forced him to leave.
DeRouen married Sheila Herrod on Dec. 28, 1961, after a one-year courtship. Together the couple had two children, Karl DeRouen, Jr. and Anne DeRouen Josien.
DeRouen became owner of KEUN AM in the 1970’s and continued to have partial ownership of both stations when KEUN merged with 105.5 FM under the primary ownership of Roger Cavaness in the late 1990’s.
DeRouen instituted a foreign exchange internship program at the radio, the first of its kind, Nesbitt said.
“Not only did the station get the help of interns, but they were exposed to American radio. At that time, no one else was doing it,” Nesbitt said.
DeRouen was one of the founding members of the Eunice Players’ Theatre in 1969; for over two decades he acted in 13 plays and worked on at least 20 more. He was a frequent and recurring host of the Theatre’s annual Irving Awards.
In 1988, he was poresented with the Tim Wooten Award for outstanding contributions to the Theatre.
DeRouen was active in performing public services for the benefit of the community; he was a member of JayCees and the Eunice Rotary Club, and in 1983 was named Eunice Rotary’s “Citizen of the Year”. DeRouen continued to be an active participant in Rotary until 2009.
On Dec. 22, 2006, he was recognized for his service to the Eunice community and awarded a second “King Karl Day” by Eunice Mayor E. Lynn LeJeune.
In 2007, DeRouen suffered a stroke, which limited his ability to speak, particularly difficult for someone who had made his living through his voice.
Health issues continued to plague DeRouen following his stroke.