In 2010, The Bob Edwards Show instituted a short series they called Music City Mondays; programs recorded in Nashville, TN devoted to country music. Most of you know I am not a huge fan of the genre; the sound of a pedal steel guitar is to me what fingernails on a chalkboard is to you. And yet, oddly, country music singers tend to be some of my favorite interviews…sitting the possibly-bogus twang aside, they do tend to be awesome storytellers.
But this show has less to do with country music than it does with radio history, so naturally I’m immediately sucked in. Bob’s introduction:
Today we’re telling the story of one of the country’s great radio stations. WSM in Nashville went on the air 85 years ago and started a program called the WSM Barn Dance that ultimately became the Grand Ole Opry—the longest-running radio program in history. WSM is The Legend—the Air Castle of the South—a fifty thousand watt powerhouse—and the only clear channel station in the eastern United States that is still playing music. It’s reach is so great that it’s one of those stations the federal government would use in a national emergency. And yet its Opryland studios were flooded this year, forcing the staff to work from the site of the station’s distinctive broadcast tower.
That’s where we went to bring you today’s program.
The show begins with Craig Havighurst, author of Air Castle of the South: WSM and the
Making of Music Citv, and then a tour of the transmitter facility itself with, among others, Chief engineer Jason Cooper.
As I have before, I’ve combined the CD copy of this program from the archives with the original recording I made from the on-line stream so you can have better audio quality and the original promos as aired at 9:00am EST December 6th, 2010. For more on the trip, and a photo slideshow, check out this post at BobEdwardsRadio.com
I hope you enjoy this look at one of the biggest radio stations in the country, produced by Chad Campbell. Oh, I am pleased to report Mr. Campbell survived his close encounter with the killer transmitter…