There were two radio productions called “The History of Country Music”, one that was narrated by Ralph Emery, and this one written and narrated by Hugh Cherry, who was active in country music as a disc jockey and historian from the 1940’s onward.
After World War II, Cherry got a job as a radio announcer. When the station owner asked him to launch a hillbilly music show, Cherry, who preferred big bands, said he wasn’t interested. But hillbilly is what the owner wanted, so Cherry set about learning how to program it.
He started by seeking out Pee Wee King, the Louisville bandleader who co-wrote the country standard, “Tennessee Waltz.” King told him, “I don’t think you know much about this kind of music, but if you’ll take the time to learn, I’ll take the time to teach you.” Cherry learned enough to land a radio job in Nashville in 1948. He said, “I was the unfunniest fellow on the air, so I talked about the music and I talked about the artists. I had the best teachers – the people who made the music. I talked to Roy Acuff and Grandpa Jones and all those other people. I’d just sit down and milk their brains, backstage at the Grand Ole Opry every Saturday night.”
The whole production ran on Kountry KAYO during my Sunday air shifts in 1971. I brought my Teac reel-to-reel from home, patched it into the production room and dubbed all the master cuts to virgin tape at 7.5 ips.This is Hour Two. It runs 43:21. With five minutes of local news on the hour, five from the ABC Entertainment Radio Network at :30 and three from ABC Sports at :45, that leaves three and a half minutes. Spots must have been :30’s.
I’ve included a short film from 1930, “The Singing Brakeman”, in which Jimmie Rodgers sings three songs and banters with two female admirers after checking the call board and getting his assignment to head out west.