The Grand Ole Opry, one of the longest-lived and most popular showcases for western music, begins broadcasting live from Nashville, Tennessee on November 28, 1925. The showcase was originally named the Barn Dance, after a Chicago radio program called the National Barn Dance that had begun broadcasting the previous year.
Impressed by the popularity of the Chicago-based National Barn Dance, producers at WSM radio in Nashville decided to create their own version of the show to cater to southern audiences who could not receive the Chicago signal. Both the Grand Ole Opry and the National Barn Dance aired on Saturday nights and featured folk music, fiddling, and the relatively new genre of country-western music. Both shows created a growing audience for a uniquely American style of music and were launching grounds for many of America’s most-loved musicians–the singing cowboy Gene Autry got his first big break on the National Barn Dance. The WSM producers recognized that Americans were growing nostalgic for the rural past, so all live performers at the Grand Ole Opry were required to dress in period costumes and adopt old-time names.
The four-and-a-half-hour Grand Ole Opry program became one of the most popular broadcasts in the South, and like its Chicago cousin, helped make country-western an enduring part of the popular American musical landscape.