By Jack Swift
Johnson County Historian
In the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s many folks came in from the fields after working hard all morning, sat down to a delicious meal, turned on the faithful battery-powered radio (some didn’t have electricity yet) and settled down to music, news and entertainment from their favorite station.
In the Johnson County area I believe the usual station was WCYB out of Bristol, Virginia. The program was called Farm and Fun Time and that program featured each day a bluegrass or country music band that played during the hour.
Of course there were plenty of farm news including stock prices etc.
Some of the bands that played on the Farm-and-Fun-Time were Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs with their band, the Foggy Mountain Boys; Mac Wiseman and his group; the Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys; and other popular bands over time.
WCYB was often viewed as a stepping-stone to powerful station WSM out of Nashville, Tennessee that aired the very well known Grand Old Opry on Saturday nights. WSM was a powerful station that covered much of the United States.
I remember those days and how good it was to have a chance to relax from whatever the work involved that day. Perhaps it was making hay, plowing beans, cutting tobacco or whatever needed to be done that day. After the meal it was back to the field and more work.
There were other choices of stations as well. One that I also remember was the Mid-day-Merry-Go-Round out of Knoxville, Tennessee. The station was WNOX, a pretty powerful station for that time. As I recall, there was an entertainer by the name of Bill Carlisle who was both a prolific songwriter as well as a popular singer and
entertainer. He had a comedy act in which he dressed up and performed as a character called Hot Shot Elmer. As that character he, no doubt cheered up many over his career. I remember laughing at his antics as I listened to them described on the little Philco radio we had in the living room of our house. Oh Well, those days are gone, but we can always think back to those days and remember the good times.