WOWO Hoosier Hop
The WOWO Hoosier Hop show has took its roots or mission from the lore of
what Hoosier Hospitality was all about. Back in the early 1800s or even earlier,
the first community social affairs were held within the wooden stockades
of the old 'fort' (remember, the show was in Fort Wayne). Hoosier Hospitality
reigned then as part of the entertainment then and was part of the inspiration
of the show that came to be known as the Hoosier Hop.
The Hoosier Hop was established as a feature of WOWO's programming schedule
back in 1932. The CBS network liked it enough, that it gave it a half-hour
spot each week for many months.
On July 17, 1943, the Hoosier Hop came alive again as a studio broadcast
with a cast of about 15 people. They kept adding to the cast and in no time
it seems, the show moved to capacity crowds of 4,000 at the Shrine Auditorium
in Fort Wayne starting on October 8, 1943. By that time, the cast included
over 30 people.
During its run, the cast would appear at fairs, bond rallies, civic functions,
and sometimes, even private wedding and house parties.
On May 5, 1944, the Hoosier Hop achieved some bit of national fame when it
became part of the Blue Network with a full 55-minute show that offered "...
rural rhythms and traditional American folk music."
It was said to be a 'midwestern wilderness blossoming into a new summer
playground where the gala entertainment would center aound radio and stage
shows from a great open air amphitheater. Buck Lake, located just outside
of Angola, Indiana, on U.S. Highway 20 and 27, provided the natural
setting for the new center. The amphitheater was located on a hillside
under large oak trees and comfortablly sat over 5,000. The stage was fashioned
after the famous Hollywood Bowl. It was said to be complete
in every detail.
It had two completely independent sources of electricity to provide the illumination
of the grounds and stage and to power the broadcasts that would originate
through a soundproof control room constructed into the 30x40 stage building.
The soundproof room would also be the control center of the amphitheater's
high fidelity sound system, which was 'custom designed'.
WOWO in Fort Wayne originated the Saturday night "Hoosier Hop" from
Buck Lake as well as other broadcasts throughout the summer.
Sundays were reserved for a series of personal appearances by famous western
Besides the amphitheater, the grounds included bridle paths, barbecue pits,
pony rides, and an old Indian trading post. Fishing and boating was also
part of the regular facilities.
"Happy Herb" Hayworth appeared to be the announcer for the show. He was know for his
"off-the-cuff" remarks as well as his inexhaustible store of songs.
Some performers mentioned as part of this show were:
- George Troxel, one of the youngest on the show at the time, was a ventriloquist whose
sidekick was Danny O'Grady.
- Kenny Roberts, was a favorite WOWO singing and yodeling start. He was
said to have won a chanmpionship yodeling contest which had entries
from six New England statesthe youngest to ever hold that titlehe was
also a 'solid' bass player, guitarist and harmonica player.
- Blackhawk Valley Boys, a quartet that had been together over 15 years and
appeared throughout the 48 states back then.
- Judy and Jen, a sister team originally from KXOK in St. Louis, MO.
Nancy Lee and the Hilltoppers
Blackhawk Valley Boys