Grand Ole Opry, weekly American radio program featuring live country and western music. The nation's oldest continuous radio show, it was first broadcast in 1925 on Nashville's WSM as an amateur showcase. Founded and shaped by station manager George Dewey Hay ("The Solemn Old Judge"), it was called the WSM Barn Dance until 1926. Hiring professionals beginning in 1930, the Opry won wider popularity during the decade as Roy Acuff starred and other country luminaries became regulars; in 1939 it debuted nationally on NBC. The Opry moved to a permanent home, the Ryman Auditorium, in the early 1940s, and established a live stage show there. By the end of the 1950s it was the nation's favorite radio program. As it developed in importance, so did the city of Nashville, which became America's country music capital. Over the years, the Opry has featured a wide variety of country styles and its cast has been a virtual who's who of the field, including the Carter family, Ernest Tubbs, Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells, the comedienne Minnie Pearl, and such later stars as Dolly Parton, Garth Brooks, and Reba McIntire. Since 1974 the show has been broacast and televised from Nashville's Opryland USA amusement park.
See C. Hagan, Grand Ole Opry (1989); J. Hurst, Nashville's Grand Ole Opry (1989); M. Tassin, Fifty Years at the Grand Ole Opry (1991); P. Kingsbury, Grand Ole Opry History of Country Music (1995); R. J. Bedwell, ed., Unbroken Circle (1999); C. K. Wolfe, A Good-Natured Riot (1999).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.