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 coverage corporation in 1925, WSM turned essentially the most influential and unheard of radio stations within the heritage of broadcasting and state track. WSM gave Nashville the moniker “Music urban united states” in addition to a wealthy culture of track, information, and broad-based leisure. With the increase of nation track broadcasting and recording among the Nineteen Twenties and ‘50s, WSM, Nashville, and kingdom track turned inseparable, stemming from WSM’s release of the Grand Ole Opry, renowned day-by-day exhibits like Noontime Neighbors, and early morning artist-driven exhibits similar to Hank Williams on Mother’s top Flour.


Sparked through public outcry following a suggestion to tug kingdom track and the Opry from WSM-AM in 2002, Craig Havighurst scoured new and current resources to record the station’s profound influence at the personality and self-image of Nashville. Introducing the reader to colourful artists and businessmen from the station’s heritage, 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 kingdom song in American culture.

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Extra info for Air Castle of the South: WSM and the Making of Music City

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Besides Keefe and two engineers, WSM employed a program director and “radio editor” named Bonnie Barnhardt. indd 19 7/17/07 10:27:36 AM storyteller from Atlanta’s WSB, where she had been program director under Lambdin Kay. m. bedtime stories. For a time in the 1920s, before male radio station owners fully understood the gravity or potential profitability of their enterprise, women were frequently assigned to manage what was seen as an administrative role. Although several important female broadcasting pioneers emerged from that short-lived window of semi-opportunity, Barnhardt was unfortunately not one of them.

Though Clements was also the company’s comptroller, there seems to have been little concern about cost. After spending about $40,000 to get WSM on the air, the company dropped $50,000 more in 1926 and more than that in 1927 with nary a dime in commercial revenue, for it did not run advertisements. But to grow, besides solving persistent interference problems, WSM would need to be part of the emerging radio networks being built among the cities of the East. At the hub of the most important network was New York’s WEAF, the station that had pioneered sponsored shows.

In a May 19, 1924, newsletter, a cartoon pictured a Shield Man sitting on top of the world while the Home Office floated in the clouds. ” Then, on May 26, another cartoon cut to the bottom line. This time the Home Office had a radio horn coming out the top, and the Shield Man had his hat out. ” In July 1925, Edwin Craig received clearence fron the Federal Bureau of Navigation to use the call letters WSM. He seems to have had a clear preference for the name, as he reportedly negotiated with the Navy to have the letters reassigned from a ship.

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