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Air Castle of the South: WSM and the Making of Music City

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Started by the National Life and Accident Insurance Company in 1925, WSM became one of the most influential and exceptional radio stations in the history of broadcasting and country music. WSM gave Nashville the moniker “Music City USA” as well as a rich tradition of music, news, and broad-based entertainment. With the rise of country music broadcasting and recording betwe Started by the National Life and Accident Insurance Company in 1925, WSM became one of the most influential and exceptional radio stations in the history of broadcasting and country music. WSM gave Nashville the moniker “Music City USA” as well as a rich tradition of music, news, and broad-based entertainment. With the rise of country music broadcasting and recording between the 1920s and ‘50s, WSM, Nashville, and country music became inseparable, stemming from WSM’s launch of the Grand Ole Opry, popular daily shows like Noontime Neighbors, and early morning artist-driven shows such as Hank Williams on Mother’s Best Flour. Sparked by public outcry following a proposal to pull country music and the Opry from WSM-AM in 2002, Craig Havighurst scoured new and existing sources to document the station’s profound effect on the character and self-image of Nashville. Introducing the reader to colorful artists and businessmen from the station’s history, including Owen Bradley, Minnie Pearl, Jim Denny, Edwin Craig, and Dinah Shore, the volume invites the reader to reflect on the status of Nashville, radio, and country music in American culture.


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Started by the National Life and Accident Insurance Company in 1925, WSM became one of the most influential and exceptional radio stations in the history of broadcasting and country music. WSM gave Nashville the moniker “Music City USA” as well as a rich tradition of music, news, and broad-based entertainment. With the rise of country music broadcasting and recording betwe Started by the National Life and Accident Insurance Company in 1925, WSM became one of the most influential and exceptional radio stations in the history of broadcasting and country music. WSM gave Nashville the moniker “Music City USA” as well as a rich tradition of music, news, and broad-based entertainment. With the rise of country music broadcasting and recording between the 1920s and ‘50s, WSM, Nashville, and country music became inseparable, stemming from WSM’s launch of the Grand Ole Opry, popular daily shows like Noontime Neighbors, and early morning artist-driven shows such as Hank Williams on Mother’s Best Flour. Sparked by public outcry following a proposal to pull country music and the Opry from WSM-AM in 2002, Craig Havighurst scoured new and existing sources to document the station’s profound effect on the character and self-image of Nashville. Introducing the reader to colorful artists and businessmen from the station’s history, including Owen Bradley, Minnie Pearl, Jim Denny, Edwin Craig, and Dinah Shore, the volume invites the reader to reflect on the status of Nashville, radio, and country music in American culture.

30 review for Air Castle of the South: WSM and the Making of Music City

  1. 5 out of 5

    Acolvin

    More than a fascinating read on the music business in Nashville, Air Castle of the South tells the story of how radio opened up the world, regionally and beyond. I had mostly discounted the value of the medium, country music, the Grand Ole Opry and artists affiliated with the genre, but the author does a great job connecting time, place and personalities in what is clearly a well researched book. It is a story about music, artistic pursuit, culture, technology and marketing - at a time that many More than a fascinating read on the music business in Nashville, Air Castle of the South tells the story of how radio opened up the world, regionally and beyond. I had mostly discounted the value of the medium, country music, the Grand Ole Opry and artists affiliated with the genre, but the author does a great job connecting time, place and personalities in what is clearly a well researched book. It is a story about music, artistic pursuit, culture, technology and marketing - at a time that many of those things were just coming into their own in the "modern" era. I found the earlier part of the book/history more interesting than the latter, but overall enjoyed connecting names and bits of pop culture knowledge I had to context provided in the book. An interesting read for anyone interested in the history of popular music, culture, business or the coming of age of the modern south.

  2. 5 out of 5

    ambyr

    I am completely the wrong audience for this book; I picked it up out of the discard pile because I thought my dad might be interested in it, but I know nothing and care nothing about the country music industry. And then I started reading it, and I loved it. Yes, this is about country music, but--especially in the first half--it's even more about the history and politics of broadcast technology, and I eat that stuff up with a spoon. Havinghurst is also committed to including both women and people I am completely the wrong audience for this book; I picked it up out of the discard pile because I thought my dad might be interested in it, but I know nothing and care nothing about the country music industry. And then I started reading it, and I loved it. Yes, this is about country music, but--especially in the first half--it's even more about the history and politics of broadcast technology, and I eat that stuff up with a spoon. Havinghurst is also committed to including both women and people of color in his narrative, in their own words whenever possible. If I have any complaints it's that Havinghurst is trying to cover a lot of material and as a result tends to throw out brief anecdotes and then move on, leaving me going, "Wait but I NEED TO KNOW MORE." (But why did someone think the Nashville train station needed a fountain full of live alligators? This question will haunt me forever.) They're great anecdotes, though, and a book that sends me searching out other books for deeper knowledge on a variety of subjects is no bad thing.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Author Craig Havighurst did extensive research on the history of WSM radio and the city of Nashville. It was interesting to see how the radio station helped build a city and a city helped to keep a radio station true to its roots. There are great stories from station employees and Opry legends. Anyone interested in the history of radio, history of country music or the history of the Grand Ole Opry will find, I believe, this book as an interesting and informative read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Fantastic historical account of arguably the most important radio station in the country's history and how it shaped country music and Nashville. Fantastic historical account of arguably the most important radio station in the country's history and how it shaped country music and Nashville.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ray Dinterman

    I love Nashville and country music, this book, while dry at times, gives a very interesting perspective on how one radio station (WSM) infleunced an entire genre of music.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Behlke

  7. 5 out of 5

    Lionel Cartwright

  8. 4 out of 5

    Terry Dullum

  9. 5 out of 5

    Steve Johnson

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joel Wallace

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Stahl

  12. 4 out of 5

    Hyde

  13. 5 out of 5

    Greg Johnson

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leann

  16. 5 out of 5

    Maurice Savard

  17. 5 out of 5

    Rita

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dimi

  20. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anne

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sue

  23. 5 out of 5

    Stanley

  24. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  25. 4 out of 5

    Dave

  26. 4 out of 5

    Leon

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cali Behr

  28. 4 out of 5

    Pat Johnson

  29. 5 out of 5

    John

  30. 5 out of 5

    Zach Fulbright

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