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date: 20 April 2021

Hay, George Dewey locked

  • Craig Havigurst


(b Attica, IN, Nov 9, 1895; d Virginia Beach, VA, May 8, 1968). American journalist, radio producer, and founder of the Grand Ole Opry. Trained as a print journalist, Hay was reluctantly drawn into radio during the early 1920s. Hay wrote for the Memphis Commercial Appeal before honing his air persona on the paper’s radio station, WMC. He then took his signature steamboat whistle and nickname “The Solemn Old Judge” to WLS in Chicago, where he helped produce the National Barn Dance and was voted the nation’s most popular radio announcer. Edwin Craig, founder of WSM-AM, invited Hay to his station’s grand opening on 5 Oct 1925 and offered him the post of “radio director” shortly thereafter. Within weeks of starting his new job, Hay invited fiddler Uncle Jimmy Thompson to perform live on a Saturday night. The slot became a weekly “barn dance,” which Hay would name the ...

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