The Country Voice of Kansas
The WIBW Round-Up from Topeka
The WIBW Round-Up was one of the hundreds of thousands country music live stage shows that were held all over the United States during the golden age of radio, the 1920s until the 1950s. The WIBW Round Up seems to be one of the longer running and bigger shows than many of its competitors.
Radio stationWIBW, "The Voice of Kansas", was based in Topeka, Kansas, and went on the air in the 1920s. With its signal, the station served areas in Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri. During this time, programming of radio stations was mostly done live and it proved that live country music entertainment on Saturdays was successful and popular with the listeners. It appears that there is not an exact date reported when the WIBW Round-Up first aired but a forerunner of the show was on the air as early as 1936, judging from a promotional picture from that year. Apparently, the show was called intially "Kansas Round-Up" at that time and the name was later shortened to simply "Round-Up".
|Cast of the WIBW Kansas Round-Up, postcard from the mid 1930s|
It seems that World War II interrupted the Round-Up but at the end of the war in 1945, the show was soon on the air again. Billboard reported on June 16 that "Doc and Esther Embree are still at WIBW, Topeka, and Doc is editor of the station's new mag, WIBW Round-Up." This magazine was published by the station in uniform with the show and included stories and interviews by the artists, reports from the studio, plus programming of the station. It was published once a month.
|Photo story of "Uncle Ezra" Hawkins in the WIBW Round-Up magazine,|
August 1947 issue
The show was held live on Saturday nights in Topeka and WIBW carried portions of the show from 8.30 pm to 10 pm. The cast of the show also went out in the country and appeared at fairs. Like the National Barn Dance from Chicago, the WIBW was not strictly limited to country music but was more of a variety show and featured also performers of other genres. Dude Hank, though being also a country singer, was noted for being a trumpet player and his wife, Miss Maudie, was a longtime performer on the station, often accompanying other acts on the piano.
Artists of the show included at one time or another Colonel Combs, Uncle Ezra Hawkins, the Holden Brothers, Emory Martin, Al Clauser and the Oklahoma Outlaws, Jimmie Pierson and his Novelty Boys, and many more. The radio station also set up its own record label in 1947, WIBW Round Up Records, which recorded many of the artists featured on the show. I was able to determine a couple of these records (see discography below).
1955 was the year that brought an end to the Round-Up, a show that apparently has lasted for nearly 20 years. Music tastes and radio were changing. TV was becoming more and more popular, DJs were taking over airwaves and the show closed even before rock'n'roll music came along and shocked the country music world. The last Round-Up magazine was published in March 1955. WIBW featured country music well into the 1970s and is now a talking format. Its sister station, WIBW-FM features a country music programming nowadays.
WIBW Round-Up Records Discography
1072: Holden Bros. featuring Emory Martin - Mother's Not Dead, She's Only Sleeping / I'm Doing My Time (1947)
1074: Edmond Denny - Rainbow of Happiness / A Song - a Dream and You
1075: (Miss Maudie) Maudie Carlson - Holliday Polka / Escapades
1076: Dude Hank - Cry Baby / Corn Cob Schottische
1079: Holden Bros. featuring Emory Martin - Dust on the Bible / Parcel of Love (1947)
• WIBW Wikipedia entry
• Hillbilly-Music.com entry
• various Billboard issues, see depicted article
• World Radio History (monthly WIBW Round Up magazine issues)
• Kansas Historical Society (picture of 1941 WIBW Round Up calendar)