WGY Radio Ranch
The WGY Radio Ranch show out of Schenectady, NY appears to have got its start
in the early 1950s. It has a bit of history for its main star, Ernie Lindell,
was first on KWGB in Goodland, Kansas before arriving on the scene in New York.
But that start sort of shows you the type of person Ernie was as he performed
on these shows and other radio stations.
It was back about 1948 and Ernie Lindell had just finished his stint in the
military service. But he had a 'break' of sorts around that time when an
axle on his car sheared and suddenly, the new Cadillac loaded with musical
instruments and his show props went up in smoke as the car skidded and crashed
on a Kansas highway - a loss of nearly $12,000, back in those days, we're sure
that was a good sum of money.
But Ernie was a person who was a friendly type. Jim Blair, the general manager
of KWGB in Goodland had just signed Ernied three days prior to that stepped
up and underwrote Ernie's expenses on that accident and the band got replacement
instruments and were back entertaining the folks back there on schedule.
Ernie was quoted in a Cowboy Songs article then, "To have friends, you've
got to be a friend."
From Goodland, Kansas to Schectady, New York was the trail blazed by Ernie,
but the details of that route are sketchy at best. It appears he started
at WGY in the summer of 1953 as the article mentions this. And they wrote
that even before he got to WGY, he had already appeared on 31 radio stations!
But we do know that
Ernie was said to have quite a loyal following in New York just as he
did in Kansas. The listeners enjoyed his music and wrote him letters
by the bushel.
The Radio Ranch gang as they were known had a daily show over WGY from
1:05pm to 2:00pm and on Saturdays from 4:00 to 4:30pm. The Radio Ranch
gang would also do the usual personal appearances at theatres, schools
and community events in New York and other areas of New England. The seven-member
Radio Ranch gang were the first complete "hillbilly" show to air over WGY
since Otto Gray and his Oklahoma Cowboys were there in 1934.
When they were on the air, the Radio Ranch gang would play listener requests
as part of their entertainment. When they were on sage in person, the gang
was known to do a two-hour live show.
Meet the Radio Ranch Gang
Ernie Lindell, you've already learned a bit about him - you can learn more
elsewhere on the site.
Candy Lindell, was entertaining folks in Massachusetts about 1949 or so
when Ernie met her. She could play the guitar and bass. Ernie took
an immediate liking to her, and she soon joined the cast and became
Stan Fish was one of the top steel guitar players back then. They mentioned
that audiences enjoyed hearing the Hawaiian vocals he did back then. He learned
those island tunes when he was stationed over in the Pacific with the U.S. Navy.
He was also the arranger for the group.
Speedy Wyman was the 'hot country fiddler' of the group, yet Speedy claimed
he couldn't read a note of music. Squeezy Platte would often say "That's
my grandma a'fiddlin'." But he could play a mean fiddle and could learn
a tune just as soon as he heard it.
Bobby Heck was the youngster of the group and a favorite with the female
fans it seems. They always seemed to want his autograph first when they
did their many personal appearances. He sang baritone for the group.
Marion Bruno was the newest member of the group back then - sort of tiny
for they say she barely weighed in at 100 pounds. But she could sing
her heart out and they said her yodeling usually stopped the show.
Then there was Squeezy Platte, said to be "Peoria's Pride". He tipped the
scales at about 325 pounds then. He sang, played the bass fiddle as well
as taking part in the group's comedy skits with Smilin' Ernie Lindell.