A half-hour musical variety radio program, It’s Wheeling Steel debuted over WWVA in Wheeling on November 8, 1936. Conceived and produced by the Wheeling Steel Corporation’s advertising director, John L. Grimes, the program’s purpose was to promote public relations and serve as a vehicle for advertising the corporation’s products.
The program’s content consisted of light classics, popular songs, and show tunes, performed by an orchestra of local musicians, as well as an assortment of amateur ‘‘headliner’’ performers, all of whom were drawn from the corporation’s extended family of employees. The program was an instant success with local audiences. When it was picked up by the Mutual Broadcasting System in January 1939, its appeal proved to be nationwide. In 1941, It’s Wheeling Steel jumped to the NBC Blue Network, where it rose to fifth place in listener ratings.
The program was at the height of its popularity when it was discontinued in 1944, primarily due to Grimes’s declining health. The show’s arranger, Lew Davies, later assisted Lawrence Welk in developing a musical variety show for television that was a reflection of It’s Wheeling Steel’s format and character.
Written by John A. Cuthbert
Cuthbert, John A. 'In Steel and Song': The Wheeling Steel Radio Show. Goldenseal, (Winter 1992).