On this day in history, November 28, 1925, Grand Ole Opry debuts on WSM radio in Nashville

The Grand Ole Opry, the world’s longest-running broadcast, debuted on WSM radio in Nashville on this day in history, November 28, 1925.

“The showcase was originally called the Barn Dance, after a Chicago radio show called the National Barn Dance that began airing last year,” according to History.com.

Impressed by the popularity of the Chicago-based National Barn Dance, producers at WSM radio in Nashville decided to create their own version of the show to cater to southern audiences who couldn’t receive the Chicago signal. “

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The Barn Dance was renamed the Grand Ole Opry two years later, courtesy of an unscripted moment of on-air inspiration by host George D. Hay on December 10, 1927.

“In response to an NBC broadcast of Walter Damrosch’s Music Appreciation Hour [a classical music program]exclaimed Hay on the air, “For the past hour we’ve been listening to the music largely taken from the Grand Opera, but from now on we’ll present the grand ole opry,” writes the Opry website in its history of the moment that reshaped the future of American music.

Grand Ole Opry founder George D. Hay, signature whistle tucked under his arm, is pictured with the WSM microphone attached to his head.

Grand Ole Opry founder George D. Hay, signature whistle tucked under his arm, is pictured with the WSM microphone attached to his head.
(Grand Ole Opry Archives)

Hay’s phrase, “grand ole opry”, with a rural South American accent, resonated with listeners and proved an instant sensation.

The Barn Dance broadcast was soon renamed the Grand Ole Opry – and has been going strong ever since.

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Hay “was a remarkable visionary and colorful romantic who played a pivotal role in the commercialization and promotion of country music,” writes the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The Barn Dance broadcast was soon rebranded as the Grand Ole Opry and has grown greatly since then.

The Grand Ole Opry originally broadcast from the radio station studio on the fifth floor of the National Life & Accident Insurance Company in Nashville.

The Opry’s growth accelerated in 1932, when WSM, Tennessee’s first clear-channel station, added a 50,000-watt transmitter.

The new technology made WSM “a nation-wide giant,” the station’s website says.

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Now the Grand Ole Opry could be heard in large parts of the country, far beyond its home base of Nashville.

It became a national institution.

The broadcast became so popular that in 1943 it moved to the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville.

A Thousand Horses performing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, August 27, 2022. The Grand Ole Opry moved from the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville to its current location in Opryland in March 1974.

A Thousand Horses performing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, August 27, 2022. The Grand Ole Opry moved from the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville to its current location in Opryland in March 1974.
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

The Grand Ole Opry built its own theater and country music campus, Opryland, in 1974, about 10 miles east of downtown.

The Opryland Theater continues to be a showcase for American songcraft, ranging from traditional Appalachian violinists to the best hitmakers in contemporary country music.

The Grand Ole Opry built its own theater and country music campus, Opryland, in 1974.

“Both the Grand Ole Opry and National Barn Dance aired on Saturday nights and featured folk music, fiddling, and the relatively new genre of country western music,” reports History.com.

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“Both shows provided growing audiences for a uniquely American style of music and were the starting point for many of America’s best-loved musicians – singing cowboy Gene Autry got his first big break at the National Barn Dance.”

Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn and Dolly Parton all generated national fame for early career appearances on the Grand Ole Opry.

American singer and songwriter Dolly Parton poses with American country singer Loretta Lynn circa 1997 at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.

American singer and songwriter Dolly Parton poses with American country singer Loretta Lynn circa 1997 at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee.
(Photo by Ron Davis/Getty Images)

A statue of Lynn, who died last month, stands outside Ryman Auditorium today.

Cash, as an unknown teenager in 1950, met famed future wife June Carter, already a celebrated country music artist, backstage at Ryman Auditorium.

The image of Johnny Cash can be seen all over the Music City, including in this ad during a Grand Ole Opry performance promoting Cash sites in downtown Nashville.

The image of Johnny Cash can be seen all over the Music City, including in this ad during a Grand Ole Opry performance promoting Cash sites in downtown Nashville.
(Kerry J. Byrne/Fox News Digital)

Their relationship would become one of the most celebrated romances in American pop culture history.

Guinness World Records recognized the Grand Ole Opry as the world’s longest-running broadcast in 2004.

Broadcaster George Hay, left, with performers Uncle Dave Macon with Paul Warmack in an early WSM broadcast.

Broadcaster George Hay, left, with performers Uncle Dave Macon with Paul Warmack in an early WSM broadcast.
(Grand Ole Opry Archives)

The unique Grand Ole Opry name, created in a moment of inspiration by host Hay, solidified the broadcast’s rural American identity that has been so critical to its success.

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“Hay had a very romantic and nostalgic vision of country life, music and culture, and he carefully cultivated that in early Opry programming,” Opry archivist Jen Larson told Fox News Digital.

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