Wink Martindale, Saturday Morning Dance Party on 56 WHBQ Memphis | 1956

560 Memphis WHBQ

Wink MartindaleThis is the tale of three legends. A performer, a future game-show host, and a legendary Top 40 radio station. Put it all together and you have Wink Martindale interviewing Elvis Presley on WHBQ radio in Memphis.

Too many of our younger listeners, this aircheck will likely have little meaning. Wink Martindale hasn’t done a new game show in years (although he is still a DJ – on the Music of your Life network), and WHBQ has been Sports 56 for many years.

But there was a time when all three were the very best in their trade. Number one in every respect. It is the time of this aircheck that the three entities began down that long road to stardom – and legendary fame.

On this aircheck you will hear a very young Elvis, a young Martindale… and a WHBQ JUST beginning it’s top 40 broadcasts. In fact, former WHBQ program director (and one of your webmaster’s personal friends) Jack Parnell told me that this aircheck was likely from a few months before the station actually went Top 40. At that time, this would have long pre-dated the Drake era at WHBQ. This recording is perfect for Elvis fans! You’ll hear Elvis perform songs that are so rare, I’m not sure they get airplay anywhere today. Notice his style in 1956- Elvis is very much a COUNTRY act, in fact, was at this time in his career still a member of the Grand Ole Opry (650 WSM Nashville). This is a very unique aircheck and one that deservedly belongs in our online radio museum.

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This aircheck comes to us by way of Contributor Jack Parnell. Jack says it was given to him by Wink Martindale, which would make sense since Parnell and Martindale were co-workers.

Many thanks to both gentlemen for their generosity!

Posted on the occasion of the anniversary of the passing of the King of Rock n Roll!


  1. tommy

    this is aircheck is from sept 1956.wink got one fact wrong tutti frutti wasn’t peformed on
    ed sullivan but on the dorsey bros stage show.

  2. flashgunnerson72

    This is a super site for those of us that love the old Top 40 radio jocks. keep up the great work. FlashGunnerson72

    • Ray McElhaney

      Good grief–such memories!
      I was on Dance Party as a Soph & Junior at Overton HS–won the dance contest–got a transistor radio prize. LOL!
      Also knew Barbara Anderson at Memphis State (62-67) where I earned a BBA degree & began Grad School before Lyndon Johnson decided I was better qualified for Viet Nam.
      Small world!

  3. Jimmy Powers

    In 1960 Ron Moroney hosted the Top Ten dance party. I was part of the High School crowd from Frayser HS, and we were dressed in masquerade. I came as “Harry”, which was a character from the Dewey Phillips show. Apparently, the viewing audience liked my antics so much that I became a regular on the show. It was a fun time until I enlisted in the United States Air Force in Jamuary of 1961.
    A more famous person by the name of Barbara Anderson ( Star on the TV series Ironsides, with Ramond Burr) was a fellow Frayser student who appeared with me. Barbara went on to be famous as an actress. I wound up as a career Arline Pilot. Barbara and I are still very good friends. She lives in Sante Fe NM now.

  4. Marty

    Does anyone know if there are any Dance Party episodes on tape?

  5. My cousin, Jerry Heart Klenke, and I appeared on Dance Party three times. She attended Frasier High, and I went to Central in Memphis. We had both taken dance lessons at a studio near E. H. Crump Stadium and loved to dance, so when it was her school’s turn to appear, she asked me to be her partner. I agreed, and we won the next three dance contests on subsequent shows. I remember that Wink Martindale was the host for the first show, but he left and was replaced by Ron Maroni for the other two programs. Guests on the shows that we attended were Brenda Lee, Annette Funicello, the Kalin Twins, and some lesser performers. For winning the dance contests Jerry Heart and I received stero phonographs and many lesser prizes. Just before the dance competition that was judged by the Kalin Twins, I was brassy enough to take one of the twins aside and told him that there was a twenty dollar bill in it for him if we were the winners. As the other teens were removed from the floor, it was soon obvious that Jerry Heart and I were winners. Soon after the host interviewed us, the twin came to me and whispered in my ear, “where’s the twenty?” Even though he was teasing me, I was embarrassed, because I was flat broke. The time frame for these Dance Party programs might have been the summer of 1959…I am not for sure. We had a super time and WHBQ was always on my mind, as it is today. I called WHBQ recently, and a lady helped me to try and find the tapes or films of those programs, but she informed me that when the station was purchased by the current owner. all the old films and tapes were destroyed. I am not certain if Wink Martindale has copies or not. I think not…and I am sure that Ron Maroni has none. He had lots of other things to be concerned with..

    Kenneth N. Stiverson
    Spring Hill, TN


  6. OOPS!!!!!!!

    The correct spelling for my dance partner from Fraiser High is Gerry Heart Klenke (Class of 1961), and not Jerry as I mistakenly had it in my previous comment. Please forgive me, Gerry Heart…..

    Kenneth N. Stiverson
    Spring Hill, TN


  7. Bert Hurst

    I remember your radio show well. I lived in Memphis my senior year at White Station High School, 1956-1957. You heard our band — The Deuces — at a high school dance, liked us, gave us encouragement, & had us on your Dance Party in 1957. Then we won the 8-week r&r band contest you emceed at the fairgrounds youth center, the Casino. I moved to LA after the Navy & caught you several times, in different venues, during the 60s. Thanks, Wink, for some wonderful memories!

  8. Cles

    Elvis was never a member of the Opry. He sang on the Opry once and was told he wouldn’t make it. He was never invited back

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