Tired of the terminal
dyspepsia of Don Wade and the rantings (and thumpings) of Rush Limbaugh?
(Dr. Laura, for better
for worse, has permanently left the building).
Then make your way
out to 1230 West Washington Boulevard and walk up to the third floor. Enter the
world of WLS, the Prairie Farmer station. You'll receive a warm greeting.
And if you walk into the legendary "Cornstalk Studio", you will very
likely find some of your favorite radio artists performing on the air. (They might
include Gene Autry, Pat
Buttram, Little Georgie
and Scotty, Mac
and Bob, the Cumberland Ridgerunners,
the Prairie Ramblers,
Patsy Montana, Rex
Allen, Bob Atcher,
"Arkie" (the Arkansas
Woodchopper), Hermann Felber and
the WLS Orchestra, the Maple
City 4, or "Jolly Joe"
Kelly---to name a few whose names pop into mind).
If it's a
weekday, you'll want to stick around for the Dinner Bell program at noon.
But if it's Saturday night, make a beeline for the Eighth Street Theater and see
if you can get a ticket to the WLS
National Barn Dance (if it's sold out, you can listen in; and if you're
beyond the range of WLS's 50,000 watt signal, you can catch the hour picked up
From 1928 until the spring of 1960, WLS (which went on the air in 1924) aimed
its programming at the farm families of the prairies of the Midwest. Sharing (until
the the mid-50's) the 870 (and later 890) spot on the dial with WENR,
WLS was one of the nation's great broadcast stations.
Below you can enjoy a few of the WLS artifacts that I've found here and there.
(More to come when I get a chance).
the WLS Studios at 1230 West Washington. The building is still there. The
studios were on the third floor.
to the NBC Network portion of the WLS National Barn
Dance from October 2nd, 1943. You'll hear Jolly Joe Kelly, Lulubelle and
Scotty, the Dinning Sisters, Pat Butram, the Hoosier Hot Shots and a host of others.
Enjoy the 1932 WLS Family
Album. Prairie Farmer, the publishing parent of WLS, produced one of
these every year. Featuring a wealth of material about WLS artists, staff (and
their families), it was as indispensible on the farm as the Sears Roebuck catalogue.
View highlights from the 1934 WLS
Family Album. Read the original text and see early photos of great WLS stars
like George Gobel, Gene Autry and Red Foley.
View highlights from the 1941 WLS
Family Album. Included are spectacular photos of WLS folks taken by Fons
Ianelli. (Prairie Farmer celebrated its centennial in 1941).
highlights from the 1954 WLS Family Album. Only a few more years would pass
before ABC would show the country folk the door.
Join the WLS-Prairie Farmer Protective
Union. Your membership will keep thieves away from your barn, though it will
probably not deter the travelling salesmen who have eyes for your daughters.
For more on one of
the nation's most evocative call letters, check out the following: