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Dink Embry
Born:  May 2, 1920
Died:  December 7, 1999
WSB Barn Dance
WHOP Hopkinsville, KY
WSB Atlanta, GA
WSM Nashville, TN
WHAS Louisville, KY (1934)

About The Artist

Dink Embry came into the world in Butler County Kentucky back in 1920 in a little town called Love which was a bit west of the Mammoth Caves area. His parents were Roscoe and Gladys Goodwin Embry. He attended Lumbustown Elementary School in Morgantown, Kentucky.

He entered the entertainment field at radio station WHAS in Louisville, Kentucky back in 1934.

His musical career took him to Atlanta, Georgia at one point. He was part of Cotton Carrier's Plantation Gang that aired over radio station WSB. Other members of that cast were Leroy Blanchard (fiddle), Chuck Franklin (steel guitar) and Dean Bence (mandolin) while Dink played bass.

He served his country for four years in the U. S. Army during World War II. After his discharge, he worked for a time with the York Brothers over radio station WSM in Nashville, Tennessee.

Dink Embry - WHOP Based on some articles we have found, it appears that Dink's last and most memorable stop was at radio station WHOP in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, a town that today is a bit northwest of Nashville near Interstate 24. He became a legendary disc jockey and entertainer for nearly 50 years for that station. He was the station's farm director and was the mainstay of the "Early Bird Show".

In the mid-1950s, in addition to his disc jockey work, he was making personal appearances and recording for Dot Records. His band included Bob Collins, Ross Sisk, Larry Leigh, Bernard Teague. His wife Elwanda was also part of the group, taking part in the harmonies on duet and trio numbers.

Kentucky Governor Lawrence Wetherby commissioned Dink a "Kentucky Colonel" in 1955 or so. Leo Zabelin in his Editor's Corner column for Country & Western Jamboree mentioned this award as well, but perhaps trying to inject humor into it a bit, mentioned he didn't want any Kentucky Derby passes.

Dink immersed himself into his community over the years. He would entertain folks who were shut-in or recovering at venues such as the State Mental Hospital, Outwood Hospital and at the Fort Campbell Hospital on a regular basis in the 1950s. That same 1955 article mentions his wife was the former Elwanda Warder.

Articles from his passing as well as comments from long ago fans retell their childhood memories of waiting to hear Dink sing a particular refrain in the winter. "There ain't no school today. There ain't no school today. The word is out my friend is this. There ain't no school today." And you know it was probably done with a bit of flair and style.

Joe Wilson of the Kentucky New Era interviewed Dink's long time co-host on the Early Bird Show, Jim Love and he shared some of his memories of Dink. It seems Dink had a bit of a regular routine to prepare for his morning stint. He would get to the station by 3:00am to begin his preparation. He'd walk in and say hello to everyone that was there, then proceeded to go downstairs to the kitchen area and brew up a fresh pot of coffee. Then he would walk up and down the stairs a few times to get the blood pumping and finally sit down at his familiar seat in front of the microphone, waiting for Jim to start the music for the show. We've read in one internet thread where Dink's show would start with a train whistle and many a child in Hopkinsville probably knew when they heard that it was time to get up and get ready for school.

Dink Embry - WHOP His awards and contributions to the community were numerous. He was a member of the local Rotary Club, serving for a time as its president. He was the first person to receive its "Rotary Humanitarian" award. He was four-time winner of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Communications Award. The Western Kentucky State Fair presented him an award for helping make their 1990 fair a success. The Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation also recognized his service to Kentucky agriculture. The American Soybean Association gave him its first Broadcast Journalist Award in 1985. The Future Farmers of America (FFA) warded him a Degree of Honorary American Farmer.

He was a member of the National Association of Farm Broadcasters, Kentucky Farm Press Radio Association, State Agriculture Board, Western Kentucky State Fair Board, Board of the Kentucky Easter Seal Society, Elks Lodge, Masonic Lodge, the Eastern Star and was a Shriner.

He retired as the farm director for WHOP in 1995, but would still work six mornings a week from 5am to 7am on the morning show.

At the time of his death, he was survived by his wife, Virginia, who was also a retired executive of WHOP, a son Drury, and daughter, Connie Jo. His wife passed away in January 2010. According to an obituary, she was hired as WHOP's bookkeeper in 1945, a position she held until her retirement in 1991. Dink affectionately mentioned her on the air as "Ginny Bird".

In reviewing some of the material related to Dink's life, we are not clear as to whether he was married more than once. Early articles mention his wife as the former Elwanda Warder and having two children as named in his obituary of 1999. But later articles mention his wife's name as Virginia. It may be that she used one name for her stage work and another for her private life, though both her and Dink were hardly out of the public eye in their lives.

Timeline and Trivia Notes

Group Members included:

  • Dink Embry, lead vocals, guitar
  • Bob Collins, steel guitar
  • Ross Sisk, rhythm guitar
  • Larry Leigh, bass and drums
  • Bernard Teague, piano
  • Elwanda Embry, vocals

Credits & Sources

  • Jamboree Magazine; January 1949; Ventura, CA
  • Country Song Roundup; No. 20; October 1952; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Cowboy Songs; No. 24; January 1953; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Country & Western Jamboree; June 1955; Maher Publications, Inc.; Chicago, IL
  • Country Song Roundup; No. 39; July 1955; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Charlton Building; Derby, CT
  • Cowboy Songs; No. 43; October 1955; American Folk Publications, Inc.; Derby, CT
  • Kentucky New Era; December 7, 1999; Hopkinsville, KY
  • Pickin' On Peachtree; pg. 178; 1990; Wayne W. Daniel; University of Illinois Press; Champaign, IL

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

Rec. No. Side Song Title
  1039 A Mason Dixon Boogie
  1039 B Please Stay Out Of My Dreams
  1074 A Doll Baby
  1074 B Lay Your Head Upon My Shoulder

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