Born In 1895


“Solemn Ole Judge”


Popular Announcer For Radio Station WLS Barn Dance

(circa) 1924 


George D. Hay was one of America’s pioneer radio showmen. A reporter for the Memphis “Commercial Appeal,” he started his radio career when he was appointed radio editor for the newspaper. He first went on the air over the “Commercial Appeal” radio station, WMC, in June of 1923. It was there that he gained nationwide acclaim when he scooped the nation on the death of President Harding. Just thirteen minutes after Harding died in San Francisco, Hay was on the air with the news and stayed on the air for three hours, bringing the latest information on the national crisis.


In April of 1924 he went to Chicago and was appointed chief announcer of Radio Station WLS where he was voted America’s most popular radio announcer in a nationwide contest conducted by “The Radio Digest” in the summer of that same year. At the request of WLS, Director Edgar L. Bill, originator of the WLS Barn Dance (which later became known as the National Barn Dance) Hay was ask to do the announcing for this very popular radio show.


In the following year (1925) Hay went to Nashville, Tennessee for the dedicatory exercises, inaugurating WSM as the broadcasting service of the National Life and Accident Insurance Company. This took place on October 5, 1925. One month later Hay joined the station as its first director.


Hay recognized the vast potential of folk music talent and material that lay in the area. As a result, it was at 8:00 P.M. on November 28,1925 that he announced himself as the “Solemn Ole Judge” (though he was only 30 years old) and launched the WSM Barn Dance. In 1927 Hay gave it the title “The Grand Ole Opry” and served as its Master of Ceremonies for many years.


Credits and Acknowledgements

 For writing, editing, researching, documentation of history:

Harold L. Luick, Historian

Excerpt Credits: Official WSM Grand Ole Opry, History-Picture-Book VOL. 2-NO.-2

© 1961 WSM, Inc. Nashville, Tennessee

 © 2004 CMSI- Iowa/Midwest Country Music Heritage Museum, Library, Hall Of  Fame, Harold L. Luick , Author/Publisher.

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