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WWVA Jamboree
Wheeling, WV
Year Started:  1933
Date Started:  January 7, 1933

WWVA Jamboree

It was late in the year in 1932 when WWVA Radio Managing Director George W. Smith called a meeting with Program Director Howard Donahoe and Paul J. Miller. The purpose of the meeting: to program something special for the 5,000-watt station's listeners on Saturday nights.

Out of the meeting came a unanimous choice: a light, spontaneous, after-midnight program of entertainment which would be called "The WWVA Jamboree".

WWVA Jamboree Radio Broadcast - 1933

WWVA Jamboree Cast Photo - Wheeling, WV - July 1945
Front Row (L由:)Sherlocke White; Tommy Radcliffe; Charlie Tweedy; Harry Tweedy; Fred Craddock
Second Row (L由:)Ginger, Snap and Sparky; Howard Donahoe; Elmer Crowe; Felix Adams; Paul J. Miller; Willard Spoon; George Kanute; James Lively; Luther Hockenberry

WWVA Original Jamboree Cast PhotoFirst row: Smokey Pleacher, Hiram Hayseed, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Sunflower, Jimmy Hutchinson, Wilma Lee, Big Slim, Little Shirley, Stoney Cooper, Cy Sneezeweed, Chick Stripling. Second row—Paul Myers, Melvin Ritchie, Red Belcher, Chuck Henderson, Monty Blake, Budge Mayse, Galen Ritchie, Fudge Mayse, Curley Reynolds, Bill Carver, Jiggs Lemsley, Uncle Tom. Third Row—Doc Williams, Bonnie Baldwin, Marion Martin, Millie Wayne, Cy Williams, Chickie Williams, Joe Barker.

From that first show held in the WWVA studios, the show captured the audience's attention and soon, the show had to move. On April 1, 1933, the WWVA Jamboree made its first move to the Capitol Theatre. An admission charge of 25 cents was charged to help defray the cost of renting the theatre for the show. In fact, they advertised it as the 'Greatest Show on the Air for a Quarter." The crowd was said to be 3,266 for that first show with another thousand having to be turned away.

The first of the WWVA Jamboree shows were held in Wheeling's Capitol Theatre and continued there right up to February 10, 1934. A change in theatre management caused a change in the Jamboree's venue to the Victoria Theatre. However, only two performances were held at the Victoria Theatre as larger seating capacity to handle the crowds was necessary. From there, the show moved to Wheeling's Virginia Theatre for two years. Then, in February 1936, the Jamboree moved back to the Capitol Theatre. From there, the show moved to the Wheeling Market Auditorium where they say an air of 'peanut-chewing, pop-drinking informality' was the rule of the day. The show was discontinued due to gasoline rationing on December 15, 1942. The WWVA Jamboree's in-person audience drew from folks from many places well beyond Wheeling. Jamboree personal appearances resumed on July 13, 1946 and the shows resumed again from the Virginia Theatre.

WWVA Jamboree - Cast Photo From April 1939 Goodwill Tour

WWVA Jamboree Cast Photo - Wheeling, WV - July 1945
First Row (Seated) (L由:) Chief Red Hawk; Little Shoe; Jake Taylor; Laughing Lindy; Little Joan; Rhoda Jones; Millie Wayne; Doc Williams; Penny Woodford; Quarantine; "Mut"
Second Row (L由:)Yodlin' FLo; Rawhide; Mary Ann (Estes); Froggie Cortez; Betty Taylor; Shug Fisher; Big Slim; SIs Simpson; Willie Whistle; Sunflower; Elmer Crowe; Little Shirley
Third Row (L由:)Freddie Hewitt; Muleskinner Bob; Shorty Fincher; Curley Sims; Dolph Hewitt; Joe Barker; Brother Cy; Bud DiCarlo; Chuck Sherman; Bill Thomas; Herman Redman; Tony Biacca; Big SHorty; Harry Adams; Hugh Cross; Mel Cass; Little Johnny; Harry Stemple; Ted Grant; Frankie More; Paul Miller

WWVA Jamboree - Cast Photo 1942

WWVA Jamboree Cast Photo - Wheeling, WV - July 1945
Front Row (L由:) The Smile Sisters; Newcomer Twins (Eileen and Maxine); Shirley Barker; Honey Davis, Sonny Davis
Back Row (L由:) Sunflower; Paul Miller; Pepper Bahanna; Lew Childre; Big Slim; Joe Barker; Vivian Miller; Brother Cy; Smiley Sutter; Lew Clawson; Doc Williams; Tommy Sutton; Millie Wayne

WWVA Jamboree - Cast Photo July 1945

WWVA Jamboree Cast Photo - Wheeling, WV - July 1945
Reading From Left to Right: Reed Dunn; Eileen Newcomer; Sunflower; Joe Barker; Maxine Newcomer; Bonnie Baldwin; Honey Davis; Millie Wayne; Vernon Hyles; Lucky Carter; Denver Crumpler; Shirley Barker; Walter Leverett; Gay Schwing; Arnold Hyles; Ramona; Rex McDowell; Toby Stroud; Herman Schwing; Paul Yost; Tex King; Dick Biddle; Wyn Sheldon

WWVA Jamboree — 1946

WWVA Jamboree Cast Photo - Wheeling, WV - July 1945
Back Row (L由:) Shorty Fincher; Bob Thomas; Smilie Sutter; Sandy Edwards; Joe Barker; Hawkshaw Hawkins; Jimmie Hutchinson; Dick Lanning; Curly Collins; Bud Kissenger (Kissinger); Jack Gillette
Middle Row (L由:) Rawhide; Boy Huey; Clyde Fogel; Little Sampson; Red Belcher; Reed Dunn; Pete Cassell; Sonny Davis; Roy Parks; Bill Bailey; Benny Kissnger (Kissinger); Dude Webb
Front Row (L由:) Wyn Sheldon; Sally FIncher; Millie Wayne; Bonnie Baldwain; Shirley Barker; Honey Davis; Eileen Newcomer; Maxine Newcomer; Lew Clawson

WWVA The World's Original Jamboree — August 1951

WWVA Jamboree Cast Photo - Wheeling, WV - July 1945
Back Row (L由:) Bill Carver; Cowboy Phil; Roy Scott; Stoney Cooper; J. J. Sumner; Hawkshaw Hawkins; Red Smiley; Ace Richmond; Tex Logan; Marion Martin; Lee Moore
Middle Row (L由:) Wyn Sheldon; Fred Daniels; Monty Blake; Margaret Ann Hess; Gene Jenkins; Doc Williams; Carol Lee Morrison; James Carson; Cy Williams (Brother Cy); Don Reno; Grace Joanne Lawrence; Toby Stroud; Eddie Wallace; Buck Graves
Front Row (L由:) Hiram Hayseed; Abbie Neal; Chickie Williams; Gay Franzi; Juanita Moore; Dusty Brown; Wilma Lee Cooper; Crazy Elmer

The WWVA Jamboree also had its share of traveling troupes of artists who would go to outlying cities and towns to perform for audiences. For WWVA, these were called "Goodwill Tours". One WWVA album mentions that these tours would travel as far as 500 miles away to reach their audiences.

Like the WLS National Barn Dance, the WWVA Jamboree had music that one might readily associate with 'hillbilly' or 'country' music back then. As such, WWVA had its own such person in the name of Vivian Miller, who was the Jamboree organist. They attributed the Jamboree theme song to her and they mentioned that the words to the tune were believed to be the work of Elmer Crowe and Howard Donahoe.

Now here's the Jamoree to greet you
In the good old-fashioned way
We'll do our best to please you
And hope that you'll feel gay

We are more than glad to see you
And hope you'll be care free
So laugh an dsmile with us awhile
On the Midnight Jamboree

Skeeter Bonn

Bill Griffith and the Jack Pine Ramblers

Hal Camp and the Rhythm Riders

Jim Howard

George Morgan


Chickie Williams

Reed Dunn, The Singing Mountaineer

Tony and Domenic

Walter (Pat) Patterson

Dolph Hewitt

Mayse Brothers

Rudy Thacker and the Stringbusters

Marion Martin

Sallie Fincher

Donna Darlene

Buddy & Marion Durham

Happy-Go-Lucky Joe Barker

Hardrock Gunter

Yodeling Flo

Roy (Shorty) Hobbs

Little Shirley

Paul Yost

Johnny Hill

Walter Leverett


Credits & Sources

From "The World's Original WWVA Jamboree History-Picture Book", Official 1969 edition.
WWVA 20th Anniversary Family Album 1926-1946

Related Web Links  

History of WWVA, Wheeling, W. Va.
The Wheeling Jamboree - An American Legend


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