January 7, 1933: Jamboree Airs on WWVA
On January 7, 1933, the Jamboree first aired on WWVA radio in Wheeling. Along with other radio shows of the day—like the Grand Old Opry, the Chicago Barn Dance, and the Louisiana Hayride—the weekly Jamboree helped make country music an international sensation. At its peak, it could be heard across much of the East Coast and even in parts of Canada. Its listenership went national for a while in the ’50s, when CBS radio picked up a portion of the broadcasts every third week.
Over the years, Jamboree regulars included country music legends Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Doc and Chickie Williams, among others. In 2008, after a 75-year run, WWVA stopped broadcasting the Jamboree. But it was immediately picked up by WKKX-AM. Known as the Wheeling Jamboree, it now airs from the Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino & Racetrack. It remains West Virginia’s premier live-audience country music program. And it is one of the most successful shows of its kind in the nation. Today, the Wheeling Jamboree and the Grand Ole Opry endure as the only survivors of country music’s early radio days.