Long before compact discs, broadcasting conglomerates and predictable radio programming (i.e.-top 20 play lists, etc.), folks seeking entertainment tuned into radio stations---some local, others perhaps hundreds or thousands of miles away---to hear their favorite show or recording artist. Besides technology, what distinguished the early programs from what we have today? The performances were live! And every now and then, the inevitable mistake would occur, but the spontaneity of live performances surely made for better listening in many cases.
Many old-timers have shared with me their fond memories of tuning into WSM's Grand Ole Opry each week, but local stations frequently featured talent comparable to anything coming out of Nashville. Wholesome and family-friendly, the programs often showcased versatile performers whose repertoires included country, folk and gospel. Positive role models to young listeners, for the most part, there were no offensive lyrics or crude remarks. Haven't times changed!
Sixteen-years-old at the time, my mother recalls living in the Madison community of Oconee County, South Carolina---just minutes from the Georgia state line. Her father worked for McClure's Dairy, and the family lived in a tenant house on the farm---miles from the nearest town. My mother would tune into radio stations broadcasting out of North Georgia and Upstate South Carolina, and her dad regularly listened to the Opry every week. Just as today's teenagers might join fan clubs or send correspondence to celebrities, Mom would write her favorite singers, requesting photos or autographs. The black and white images she received put faces with names she had come to recognize and associate with good music.