Air Castle of the South: WSM and the Making of Music City by Craig Havighurst

By Craig Havighurst

Started by means of the nationwide lifestyles and twist of fate assurance corporation in 1925, WSM turned the most influential and unparalleled radio stations within the historical past of broadcasting and kingdom track. WSM gave Nashville the moniker “Music urban united states” in addition to a wealthy culture of tune, information, and broad-based leisure. With the increase of kingdom track broadcasting and recording among the Nineteen Twenties and ‘50s, WSM, Nashville, and state track grew to become inseparable, stemming from WSM’s release of the Grand Ole Opry, renowned day-by-day exhibits like Noontime Neighbors, and early morning artist-driven indicates resembling Hank Williams on Mother’s most sensible Flour.


Sparked through public outcry following a suggestion to drag state track and the Opry from WSM-AM in 2002, Craig Havighurst scoured new and present assets to record the station’s profound impact at the personality and self-image of Nashville. Introducing the reader to colourful artists and businessmen from the station’s background, together with Owen Bradley, Minnie Pearl, Jim Denny, Edwin Craig, and Dinah Shore, the quantity invitations the reader to mirror at the prestige of Nashville, radio, and state song in American culture.

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The Hermitage had opened in 1910 to great acclaim as the city’s jewel. Craig’s band played lunch and dinner in a warmly lit downstairs restaurant, where white-jacketed waiters served the city’s business and political elite. Though the band included reeds, piano, drums, banjo, and tuba, it swung lightly without getting too hot. The job earned Francis legitimacy in his own heart, in Elizabeth’s eyes, and even in his father’s estimation. And when Robert heard his son’s music coming over the remarkable new radio, he began to understand the choices his son had made.

An audition in Detroit led to an NBC contract for a show called The Cabin Door. The Pickard Family would occupy a national stage for years after getting its start at WSM. A very different talent, bass-baritone Joseph MacPherson, was invited to join the Metropolitan Opera early in 1926. By the summer, he’d been slated for a series of roles and was in New York being coached in various languages. Nashville fussed over and adored none of its hometown heroes, however, so much as James Melton, a singer who worked the boundary between popular and classical music.

National Life joined happily in the hype.  . indd 17 7/17/07 10:27:36 AM two The Ears Are Eyes WSM took Tuesday off and switched on again Wednesday afternoon. ­Openingnight announcer Jack Keefe sat before a microphone in the velvet opulence of the WSM studio and described game one of the World Series, based on a steady stream of balls, strikes, hits, and outs from a news wire. A few blocks away, police had shut down Commerce Street for a promotion sponsored and hyped by the Banner. Men in boater hats and boys in knee britches listened to Keefe’s broadcast over loudspeakers and watched the game unfold on a mechanical Playograph scoreboard.

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