Old Farm Hour
In Ivan Tribe's book on country music history in West Virginia, "Mountaineer
Jamboree", he tells of a show out of Charleston, West Virginia that aired
over WCHS called the "Old Farm Hour." The show apparently was the creation
of Buddy Starcher who Tribe said was "...destined to have the largest
impact on the Charleston country radio scene."
While Buddy was working in Charleston, he found himself being asked
to work on personal appearances with an act called Salt and Peanuts
who were working out of WOBU. He got the idea that he could begin
booking himself. He began auditioning amateur talent on Wednesdays
with announcer Gene Ferguson. Those that did well in this audition
would appear on a broadcast on Friday nights. As time went on,
the show had regular performers and was held before a live audience.
That show became the "Old Farm Hour."
There was a long-time emcee on the show, Frank Welling. He was on the WCHS
staff as announcer and musician. He had a show at one time that was
sponsored by the "Pow-A-Tan" Tonic company. When he did the emcee chores
on the Old Farm Hour, he did it as his character, "Uncle Si". Frank Welling
also did numerous recordings with John McGhee. As Buddy Starcher's career
moved on, Frank Welling would also audition talent that would appear
on the Old Farm Hour show.
The Old Farm Hour show was held on Friday evenings. The show would
draw about 2,000 folks to the WCHS auditorium (Middleburg Auditorium) that
was home to the radio station.
During World War II, live shows such as the Old Farm Hour and the larger
WWVA Original Jamboree had to cease or curtail their live performances
with gas rationing and travel being curtailed. The WCHS show did however
put on a live show monthly at the auditorium.
The Old Farm Hour saw many artists on its roster that would one day
become well-known to country music fans. Here's some of the artists
we've been able to determine who appear to have been a part of this
- Buddy Starcher
- Frank Welling
- T. Texas Tyler
- Lonesome Holler Boys (the name the Lilly Brothers performed as then)
- Bailes Brothers
- Harmie Smith
- Cowboy Copas
- Orville Q. Miller, the man with the Musical Feet
- Ernest Ferguson
- Rex Parker
- Lee and Juanita Moore
- Slim Clere
- Red Sovine
- Bob Atcher
- Cap, Andy and Flip
- Kitty Wells
- Grandpa Jones (he was at WCHS for a few months before going to WTIC
in Connecticut, then moving to WMMN in Fairmont, WV for an extended stay.)
Ivan Tribe's book mentions that the show was revived for a time in the late
1940s, and Frank Welling was still serving as emcee as Uncle Si. But we've
not been able to determine when the show came to an end or when it was off
the air before being revived.