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The Grand Ole Opry of Nashville, Tennessee



The Grand Ole Opry of Nashville, Tennessee
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.85

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    rockabilly, performers, renamed, network, generation, makeup, broadcast, instrumental, commercial, purpose, stage, entire, settled, power, half-hour, history
     content words:    Grand Ole Opry, Shield Millions, George D., WSM Saturday, Barn Dance, Ole Opry, When WSM, Ryman Auditorium, Roy Acuff, Great Speckled Bird


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The Grand Ole Opry of Nashville, Tennessee
By Joyce Furstenau
  

1     The Grand Ole Opry is located in Nashville, Tennessee. It is the longest continuously running radio show in U.S. history. The first radio broadcast took place in 1925. The radio station was created just five years after commercial radio was introduced. The station was built by an insurance company as a service to the local community. They thought it would be a great way to advertise insurance. The call letters WSM stood for "We Shield Millions." The first program director was George D. Hay. Hay had been promoting a program he called "Barn Dance" at his previous job in Chicago. Hay decided to launch a WSM Saturday night "Barn Dance" in Nashville as well. "The Barn Dance" was mostly made up of a group of musicians playing country "barn dance" music. The weekly performance was a hit. He renamed the show "The Grand Ole Opry" in 1927.
 
2     It wasn't too long before crowds began to gather outside the radio station each week. They wanted to watch the performers play for the radio show. When WSM increased its broadcasting power, people could hear the Grand Ole Opry all across the U.S. Now the crowds were growing bigger. The insurance company built an auditorium that could house 500 people. It turned out to be too small, too. The Opry moved to new locations to accommodate its growing audience. Finally, it settled in the Ryman Auditorium in 1943. It stayed there for thirty-one years. Many of the legends of country music spent their Grand Ole Opry runs at the Ryman.
 
3     The music at the Opry was mostly instrumental until 1948. That was the year that Roy Acuff joined the cast. His performance of "The Great Speckled Bird" changed the makeup of the Opry forever. From then on, Opry stars spent their weeks traveling around the country, but their Saturday nights were spent in Nashville.

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