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KDTH Barn Dance
Dubuque, IA
Year Started:  1944
Date Started:  March 11, 1944
Year Ended:  1945

KDTH Barn Dance

The seeds for the KDTH Barn Dance were planted when the husband / wife duo of Mack and Sandy Ford arrived on the scene. The souple had been married in Gary, Indiana earlier in 1943.

Their introduction to listeners of KDTH was their "Farm Family Circle" program that was heard each day at 11:30am. They were drawing mail from listeners who enjoyed their efforts. Then came an idea for a game that would begin in early 1944. War stamps would be the prizes; Mack was in charge of the program. Karl (Drop-a-Card) Anthony told readers to wait for details.

It wasn't long before this couple was drawing the most mail. Sandy herself had a show that was on four days a week at 6:30am. Since the Christmas season was approaching at the end of 1943, listeners were sending some hand decorated Christmas wishes and sometimes just sending requests. The couple was doing the usual personal appearances around the area. Mack works with huge Australian bull whips. He said he learned it "...as a kid in Texas, popping off grass hoppers and butterflies." Sandy does an 'intriguing rope routine.'

On Saturday evening March 11, 1944, the KDTH Barn Dance was on the air for the first time. An article said the "mail pull proves it now...KDTH has, to say the very least, a 'tiger by the tail.'"

The show tried to bring local talent to the show and give them exposure to audiences. In March 1944, the show held talent auditions at KDTH during the week. That brought many aspiring vocalists and musicians to the station. The process was said to "...arrange appearance of the best the tri-state area has to offer."

In August 1944, readers learned that a "...bigger and better KDTH Barn Dance series..." was to take to the airwaves on September 9, from 9pm to 10pm on Saturday nights. The show would be direct from the Melody Mill facility. It was said that due to the popularity of the show, and the desire of many to attend in person, the program was moved from the radio studio. Melody Mill would allow visitors to enjoy the show in-person.

Articles providing details about the KDTH Barn Dance were found to be scarce. But once in a while, one is found. A small paragraph titled "Barn Dance Notes" appeared in a September 22, 1944 newspaper:

"Only one event, and that in the days when gas was plentiful and rubber was to be had for a fairly reasonable price, has ever come close to matching the Saturday night KDTH Barn Dance for public interest. That was a five ring circus some years back, according to the theatrical historians who keep tab on such matters. Texas Red, Pinto Pete, the Sunshine Sisters, the Barnstormers, Mack and Sandy Ford , and the rest of the Barn Dance crew are rehearsing for their third stanza which goes on the air Saturday night at 9 o'clock."

In 1947, there were indications that Mack and Sandy Ford were moving on to other endeavors. One promotional ad announced the grand opening of the M—S Amusement Ranch located on County Trunk M, three and a half miles nort of Winneconne, WI, some 190 miles north of Dubuque. Promotional ads were seen touting their first appearance on Wisconsin radio on a new station, WNAM (1280am) out of Neenah, WI.

This was perhaps the end of the involvement of Mack and Sandy with the KDTH Barn Dance. They were now the featured act on the WNAM-FM Barn Dance bsed on a May 28, 1948 ad seen. The show was originating in Waverly Beach and said to have a cast of 20 people.

Mack and Sandy did return to KDTH in October 1949 for a homecoming of sorts. By 1950, the show had moved to the Nu-Dells Ballroom in Durango, IA

Promo Ad - KDTH Barn Dance Salutes Colesburg, IA - Skinney Strader and his Westerners - Danny O'Day - Melody Mill - January 1947
Promo Ad - KDTH Barn Dance - Melody Mill - Aug 1945

Promo Ad - KDTH Barn Dance - Mack and Sandy Ford - Sunshine SIsters - Texas Red - Pinto Pete - Junie Blossom - Kay Kody - Karl Anthony - Clarence Zahina's Barn Stormers - Dubuque, IA - Sep 14, 1944
Promo Ad - KDTH Barn Dance - Mack and Sandy Ford - Texas Red - Lawrence Foster and his Music - Ray Memler and his Cowboys - Platteville Armory - Platteville, WI - Sep 21, 1944

Promo Ad - KDTH Barn Dance - Mack and Sandy Ford - Dubuque, IA - Feb 1945
Promo Ad - KDTH Barn Dance - Nu-Dells Ballroom - Durango, IA - Howdie Schultz and his Tall Corn Boys - Feb 1950

The Barn Dance Album - KDTH - Circa 1944

Credits & Sources
  • A Biographical and Pictorial Background of the KDTH Barn Dance;
  • Radiovue; December 16, 1943; The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald; Dubuque, IA
  • Radiovue; December 21, 1943; The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald; Dubuque, IA
  • Radiovue; March 15, 1944; The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald; Dubuque, IA
  • Radiovue; March 16, 1944; The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald; Dubuque, IA
  • Radiovue; August 9, 1944; The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald; Dubuque, IA
  • Barn Dance Notes; September 22, 1944; The Dubuque Telegraph-Herald; Dubuque, IA

Maurice (Skinny) Strader

Sandy Ford

Texas Red

Mack Ford

Uncle Fiddlin' Charlie Cain

Clarence Zahina and The Barnstormers

Mack and Sandy Ford

Sunshine Sisters (Jean and Elinor Martens)

Kay Kody

Marilyn Kerth

Bob and Eleanor


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