WSM. Those three call letters bring up images, burned into the memory of past generations. An entire genre of American popular music essentially began right here at this radio station, in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1925 with a weekly show called, “The WSM Barn Dance”. The first announcer/MC for the program was Judge Hay, who changed the name of the show to “The Grand Ole Opry” the next year. The Opry is the longest running radio program in history, and WSM was the first radio station to broadcast Country music on a regular basis.
Its also interesting to note that while WSM is where Country music was essentially launched into the American mainstream culture, the radio station did not broadcast Country fulltime until 1979! Prior to that format ‘tweak’, WSM was split-programmed. NBC radio programs by day (and later, Top 40 and ‘Adult Contemporary’, such as the term was in the 1960s and 70s), and Country music after sunset. You can hear a sample of WSM’s daytime programming here. The DJ is Pat Sajak from June, 1975!
WSM has only had three owners in its long history. From its first broadcast until 1981, the station was owned by the National Life and Accident Insurance Company. American General Corporation purchased WSM, WSM-FM (95.5), The Opryland Hotel and Opryland USA and what was then WSM-TV, but quickly spun off the group to Gaylord Entertainment. In 2012, Gaylord changed its name to Ryman Hospitality Properties. And don’t forget, WSM’s parent company launched The Nashville Network in the 1980s as well.
Enough about the history. Here’s a sample of WSM recorded from Beacon Falls, Connecticut between 5 and 5:30 am Eastern time. The jock is Marcia Campbell on the show called, “The All Nighter”. We’re presenting this as an example of one radio station which has maintained its heritage well into 2014, and just to show how far WSM’s signal travels even in an era where electronic interference has all but rendered the AM band useless.
3 minutes, scoped.