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Smile-A-While, Aug 3, 1951, WLS aircheck

May 25th, 2008

In this post, a local early morning country music radio show, "Smile-A-While", originally broadcast on WLS, Chicago, on August 3rd, 1951. This is an incomplete recording of the program, preserved on a Chicago-Webster recording wire by an amateur that captured it directly off the air. I'm basing the dating of the show on the program contents, which mentions an upcoming WLS Barn Dance show at the Illinois State Fair and the relationship of Frank Sinatra and Eva Gardner.

The show features as performers the Sage Riders, with Dolph Hewitt and Don White taking solo duties. Announcer Bill Dwayne is also heard in the program. You can read more about the Sage Riders at hillbilly-music.com.

Songs include "On Top of Old Smokey", "When the Chapel Bells Are Ringing", "Fisher's Hornpipe", "My Rocky Mountain Sweetheart", "I Only Want a Buddy, Not a Sweetheart", "Old Skyball Paint", "When Jesus Beckons Me Home" and part of an unidentified fiddle instrumental.

This wire is part of a set that was given to me with a vintage 1947 Lear wire recorder. The owner used it mainly to record family events and individual songs off of the radio; this is one of few times it was used to simply record a major part of a radio program. (You can read more about the wire recorder at my personal home page here.) Amateur wires and tapes from the 1950s may be one of the "last frontiers" in finding previously lost radio shows. I've found some recordings of television programs and radio shows scattered on amateur tapes and they're worth looking through - you never know what you might find.

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  • Jim Widner

    This is a great recording! Thanks for making it available.

    May 29, 2008 at 4:18 pm
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    Mar 4, 2010 at 4:21 am
  • Elizabeth Pearson

    I can’t thank you enough for posting this! I was looking for WLS soundbites, found your site, and the name Bill Dwayne caught my eye. Actually, his name was Bill Duane, and he was my father. He joined the WLS in the late 40’s, and was a newscaster all through the 1950’s and until his early death [at 48] in 1961. He also occasionally emceed the National Barn Dance. He eventually moved into management [he had a Master’s degree in Speech & Theatre from U of Michigan], and was program/news director at the end of his life, although he continued to do the early morning news. I do remember that not long before he died there were billboards up, also ads that ran in the Chicago movie theaters, with his photograph encouraging people to listen to “Chicago’s Ace Newscaster, Bill Duane.” My sister and I visited the WLS studios [old and new] so many times, and remember meeting many of the personalities: Lulu Belle and Scotty, Homer and Jethro, Dolph Hewitt, Archie the Arkansas Woodchopper, etc.

    This is the only soundbite I’ve found for him and it means so much to me and my family. A wonderful, tangible memory to pass along. So thank you again!

    May 18, 2010 at 12:55 pm