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The Old Farm Hour

The Old Farm Hour was the live Friday night jamboree program from WCHS radio in Charleston. Shows were held in the WCHS Auditorium, and during its period of peak popularity the Old Farm Hour regularly drew crowds of 2,000 people. Frank Welling (1898–1957), a musician, homespun philosopher, and radio announcer, played a key part in the program’s success, usually in his comic role of ‘‘Uncle Si.’’ Charleston-area musicians who appeared on the program included the legendary fiddler Clark Kessinger, singer-yodeler Billy Cox, and vocalist Buddy Starcher. During the program’s zenith in the late 1930s and early 1940s, cast members included the Bailes Brothers, the Delmore Brothers, Cliff and Bill Carlisle, and the duo of Slim Clere and T. Texas Tyler. Local favorites affiliated with the Old Farm Hour at one time or another included Tommy Cantrell, tap dancer Orville Q. Miller, and the sacred vocal trio of Cap, Andy, and Flip (Warren Caplinger, Andy Patterson, and William Strickland).

During World War II, the shows were reduced to one per month. The program never regained its former popularity after the war, and the Old Farm Hour had passed into history by the late 1940s. Country music enjoyed something of a renaissance in Charleston on early morning WCHS-TV in the 1960–73 period as first Buddy Starcher and then Sleepy Jeffers had popular programs featuring Wick Craig, the Davis Twins, Herman Yarbrough, and Lori Lee Bowles in addition to themselves.

Written by Ivan M. Tribe


  1. Tribe, Ivan M. Mountaineer Jamboree: Country Music in West Virginia. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1984.