National Barn Dance
One of the first country music programs on radio and a direct inspiration to the Grand Ole Opry, National Barn Dance debuted over WLS/Chicago on April 19, 1924. The Saturday night show blended folk and country music with rural humor and was an instant hit among farm families seeking to relax on a Saturday night, and with city listeners who had emigrated from rural communities.
By 1931, the show had moved to Chicago's 1,200-seat Eighth Street Theater, where it remained until 1957. From 1933-1950, the show was heard nationally over the NBC Blue Network (later ABC), with genial Joe Kelly as master of ceremonies.
Among the performers who rose to prominence on the National Barn Dance were musical legends Gene Autry, Lulu Belle and Scotty (who actually met at NBC in Chicago and eventually married), Patsy Montana, Henry Burr, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and a young George Gobel. Comedy was provided by the likes of Pat Buttram and Pat "Uncle Ezra" Barrett. Square dancing was also a fixture of each show, with calls from Luther Ossiebrink, a.k.a. Arkie, the Arkansas Woodchopper.
National Barn Dance continued on WLS until 1960 before moving to WGN/Chicago, where it lasted until 1970.
National Barn Dance was inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame in 2011.
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