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Maumee Valley Jamboree
WTOD
Toledo, OH
Year Started:  1947
Date Started:  August 9, 1947

Maumee Valley Jamboree

The Maumee Valley Jamboree was led by Marge Engler and was the first show of its kind in the Toledo, Ohio region. The show first aired on August 9, 1947. Shows were broadcast live from the Hickory Park Dance Pavilion in September 1947.

The show did not happen overnight. A 1947 article indicated that Marge had tried to put together the show for over four years. She handled all of the business of the show - auditioning talent, writing and producing the show. Keep in mind around this same time another female emcee, Sunshine Sue, was heading the show back in Richmond, Virginia - the WRVA Old Dominion Barn Dance.

Marge put together her own band for the show - the Maumee Valley Ramblers. It was an eight piece band that was cable of doing round and square dance numbers.

A year later, it was said that the show had a Hooper rating of 8.9. An article by Mrs. Al J. Jarvis in 1948 shed some light on Marge and the show.

Marge sat down for lunch with Mrs. Jarvis for an interview. Marge set the tone from the start - she told her interviewer that ..."before I begin, let me set you straight on one thing. I am not from the South and neither have I haveen a lover of 'hillbilly' music all my life."

Marge stated she was born and raised in northern Michigan and had never heard any 'hillbilly' music until January 1933. It was over radio station WAIU out of Columbus, Ohio. It was a record by Montana Meechy and his cowboy band. She was so taken by the music that she wrote her first fan letter and Montana dedicated a song to her over the air.

Time went by, she listened to more of the music, wrote more fan letters and began to meet the entertainers.

Marge seemed one never to shy away from a challenge. Her response to her interviewer about her songwriting showed that side of her. A group of friends were gathered and it seems she made a bet with one of the boys that as to whether she could write a "hillbilly" song. He was of the opinion that it was impossible for a woman to write a successful song. She wrote a tune called "A Letter To The Warden". She continued to write lyrics, but never showed them to anyone. She finally sent them to a publisher on the west coast who accepted them and sent her a check.

She got the idea of starting a barn dance while she was writing. In 1942 she got her first break. She met a guy who was willing to sponsor such a show. But that was the easy part. She had a sponsor, but none of the stations in Toledo thought much of the idea. They felt the people of the area were not ready for it. Undeterred, she went to work for the local newspaper, the Toldeo Blade. After two years she was seen as the "hillbilly authority" and fan mail started rolling in.

In December of 1946, radio station WTOL contacted her about starting such a show. But there was a string attached. It seems the station did not want the performers to bother the other employees in the building. She had to find a venue to hold the show. It took a few months. She thought they had found a venue, but it had no lines to run back to the station to put it on the air. After considerable debate, the station finally relented and allowed one of its studios to be used. She even had to re-write the show, but it got on the air.

Her next step was to start a show on WTOD to enable the local performers to get the on the air experience they needed and to audition new talent. The momentum continued. She had the Round-Up show on WTOD, the Ranch House program on Sundays, the Home Folks and Maumee Valley Jamboree shows on Saturdays.

She wrote and sold all the advertising on the show.

Finally, she told Mrs. Jarvis that she had written several tunes, "You Can Cry On My Shoulder", "Only The Embers Remain", "Seven Years With the Wrong Man", and "My Silver Haired Daddy Is In Heaven." Bill Carlisle was said to have recorded "On the Embers Remain" on King records.

A 1948 article provides some details as to who made up the Maumee Valley Ramblers. Slim Klestermeir was on bass; Pappy Bob Currier played guitar; Cousin Bea also played guitar; Grandpa Davis was on electric guitar; Smiling Dick Dickerson handled the mandolin; Thelma Gardner also played guitar. The "Happy Emcee" was Uncle Bernie Young. The show also included the Harmony Boys (Vic Gressler and Frank MacKay). Another group was the Play Boys (Bud Stribry, electric guitar; Jimmy Hulcke, fiddle and Bud Hassenville on guitar).

In addition to the other shows mentioned, Marge was also part of the Lakemont Barn Dance Gang. She handled the DJ chores over a daily Monday through Friday show called "Hillbilly Hit Parade" at 7:30pm.

Not much else can be found on this show. There is some indication that Marge and her band played on WTOL at least through 1951 based on magazine listings of "Where the Acts Are Playing." And the only photo of anyone associated with the show is Marge herself.



Miss Marge Engler

 

Credits & Sources

  • National Hillbilly News; November - December 1947; Mr. and Mrs. Orville Via; Huntington, WV
  • National Hillbilly News; May - June 1948; Mr. and Mrs. Orville Via; Huntington, WV
  • National Hillbilly News; November - December 1948; Mr. and Mrs. Orville Via; Huntington, WV


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