Call Letters stood for “We Help
this point in the history of broadcasting, advertisers still looked at radio
more as a question of “how much time” rather than “how much audience”.
But the public demanded to attend and since the show had out grown two ordinary
theaters, the show was expanded to a three-hour production and it was decided in
the fall of 1935 to move the “Live” broadcast show to the Shrine Auditorium
in Des Moines, a.k.a. (the Radio Theater), where the 4200 seats were filled and
the SRO sign hung out on more than one occasion, to take care of the crowds
wanted to come and see the “Live” broadcast. Since 1947, The Iowa Barn Dance
Frolic was taken to many towns in Iowa, on a number of occasions.
on Saturday nights from special events in local communities. It played one
summer in the 4-H Club Auditorium on the Iowa State Fair ground; and for two
winter seasons in the Hoyt Sherman Auditorium. In 1953 the
was revamped into a one-hour presentation, and was broadcast from Studio A,
W-H-O Building 914-916 Walnut Street, Des Moines, Ia. Saturday night from 7:30
P.M. to 8:30 P.M.
the radio audience and the artists who appeared on the Iowa Barn Dance Frolic
stage each Saturday night, there existed a strong personal bond. Hearing your
applause from the stage, or seeing it in your letters, the Barn Dance gang
naturally had a friendly interest in you! For
this reason The Iowa/Midwest Country Music Heritage Museum, Library, Hall Of
Fame, and Country Music Showcase International web site want you to meet them,
see them individually in picture form or group pictures on stage on the
following pages of our “Virtual” Hall Of Fame.
Ready To Broadcast “Live” 7:30-8:30 P.M. Saturday Night One-Hour Radio Show “ In Studio “A”
In The Building Shown Below. (circa)
Station W-H-O Offices, Studio Building Established At
914-916 Walnut St.
The Heart Of Downtown Des Moines, Iowa (circa) 1933
B.J. PALMER President of Central Broadcasting
Company….sixteen years experience as a broadcaster with the longest
record of continuous service as a major station operator in Iowa and the
Middle West, began amateur radio experimentation in
1921. He established W-O-C, radio station in Davenport, Iowa in March
1922 where he merged W-H-O radio Des Moines, and W-O-C radio, Davenport, in
1930…combined them into one Clear Channel Radio Station W-H-O in 1933 with
50,000 watts power! He then re-established W-O-C- at Davenport, Iowa in 1933.
Great demands were made on his time as a
noted lecturer, world traveler, author of many books and owner of numerous
business and professional enterprises, B.J. kept informed of every new
development in radio broadcasting and was always among the first to utilize
every improvement regardless of what the cost!
His experience, showmanship, knowledge
and visionary abilities provided the best possible program service and most
efficient broadcasting equipment that was available at that time for the success
of W-H-O Radio, “a good station to deal with” and the reason
it became the greatest advertising medium in Iowa and The Middle West for
many years.(circa) 1933-1953
(1917-1997) Paul P. Hayes a.k.a. “Slim” Hayes a professional singer and fiddler at the young age of 15, from Des Moines, Iowa was a regular on WLS National Barn Dance cast (circa1932 to 1939) Learn more about “Slim” Hayes (click Here) for his memorial “Hall Of Fame” Page.
In the “old days” of radio broadcasting WHO Radio created a theoretical town called “Sunset Corners” and in the middle of that town was the “Sunset Corners Opry House” and that is where the Iowa Barn Dance Frolic would do its “Live” radio
Broadcast from every Saturday night. Everyone who listened to the program thought the town really existed… but it only existed in their minds as they listened to their radio. People wanted so much to “see” this town that existed on the radio that WHO Radio put a artists concept of the town in its souvenir program to use as promotion. Shown below is the picture that appeared in all souvenir programs and promo.
The Picture below was taken on the stage of the Shrine Auditorium a.k.a. Radio Theater then later known as KRNT Theater.
Hoyt Sherman Stage (circa) 1950
Some of the Entertainers who performed on the “Iowa Barn Dance Frolic” over the years.
And this is how popular the “Iowa Barn Dance Frolic” was in 1935. The map shows how much mail was received at WHO Radio, and how many people listen to the broadcast.
Every Saturday night, according to careful estimates, more than a MILLION people were radio guests of Radio Station WHO at the Barn Dance Frolic. In 1935 The Frolic was broadcast direct from the stage of the SHRINE AUDITORIUM in Des Moines, Iowa one of America’s largest theaters. A typical Saturday night audience is pictured on this page! For everyone in the crowd that filled this auditorium each week during the winter, there were thousands of guests on the other side of the microphone, sitting beside radios from coast to coast listening. We respectfully dedicate this “Virtual” Country Music Heritage Museum, Library, Hall Of Fame to those that may still be around, in the hope that our effort may help you reminisce a little bit about the WHO Barn Dance Frolic and how much enjoyment you got out of each Saturday night broadcast.
Could Des Moines, Iowa have become Nashville, Tn.? If a little more fore-sight was given by everyone involved in
the shrine auditorium, the radio station, the city of Des Moines and the barn dance frolic….in my humble opinion (Harold L. Luick, Historian/Curator) CMSI Museum/Hall Of Fame….it was feasible and could have happened…but it didn’t?
Des Moines, Iowa had one of America largest auditorium, a 50,00 watt clear channel WHO radio Station, the greatest radio show on earth, over a million radio listeners every Saturday night, this lack of fore-sight by everyone involved….became Nashville, Tennessee…Gain.
As Paul Harvey would say “And now you know the rest of the story.”
Note: we will continue to update and add info and pictures, as we build up this particular WHO pages. If you have any suggestions or WHO artifacts you want to contribute or if you did attend the Iowa Barn Dance Frolic please write to us.
For writing, editing, researching, documentation of history: Harold L. Luick, CEO, of CMSI, Historian, Curator for the Iowa/Midwest Museum, Library and Hall Of Fame. Music Industry reference books used for research/documentation: The Chronology AM Radio Broadcasting (1923-1960), from Harold L. Luick personal library collection. W-L-S and W-H-O Radio History, from Janet Weaver, private, personal history memory collection (circa) 1959-2003. Slim Hayes personal info from: PMECI Echo Chamber Newsletter, Betty Scovel, Editor (circa) August 1977. Ruby Blevins a.k.a. Patsy Montana mini bio info from: “Keep It Country”, Bob Timmers, site mgr. P.O. Box 70 Kimberly, Wi. 54136
© 1984 Harold L. Luick, Author, Historian of CMSI.All
CMSI-Iowa/Midwest Country Music Heritage Museum, Library, Hall
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