During the 1950’s and early 1960’s, the Junior League of Charleston (WV) and WCHS Radio 580, in cooperation with Kanawha County (WV) Schools, created three series of 12-15 minute audio programs to be broadcast during the school year: Musical Pictures, Know Your State/Exploring Your State/Your State and Our Musical Heritage. Many students from the time period have fond memories of listening to these in the classroom.
In the late 1980’s, a search was made for anything related to these programs. After several false starts, a short phone conversation with Joe Farris – retired from WCHS and producer of the programs – put us on the right track: that any materials that still existed had been turned over to the Kanawha County Schools. Additional research led to the school system’s audio/visual department, then housed in a small, former church building in the East End of Charleston. In a small storeroom in the very back of the basement, a box was eventually located. Included were some reel-to-reel tapes of a number of programs along with a few scripts and related print material.
With the assistance of Wanda Kirchner and others of the school system staff, photocopies of the print materials were made, the audio was transferred to cassette tapes, and the original source material was returned to storage. (In a 2012 conversation with Pam Mullens, of the school system’s current staff [since retired], when the building was closed and the A/V Dept was moved several years prior, material had been offered to music/art teachers. Any not claimed was discarded.)
In early 2012, the audio files were converted from the cassettes to digital format and are available on this website, along with the print materials. As far as we know, these are the only copies of these programs still in existence. In addition, three years of teacher guides from 1961-1963 for Musical Pictures and Know Your State/Exploring Your State/Your State were discovered in the WV State Archives in late 2011. Copies were made and are also available on this website.
For those who experienced these programs in the past, relive some memories. For those who have not…enjoy!
[Ned Skaff was one of many narrators of the programs over the years.]
[As a result of the Gazette article, both Joe Farris II and Ned Skaff contacted us.]
Joe Farris II His Father, Joe Farris Sr. died in 1987, after working from the ’50s to the 80’s at WCHS, including announcing the final game between Charleston and Stonewall Jackson High Schools. He lost contact with the Skaff family after they moved to California in 1968, where Ned was the “voice” of LAX airport for a time, among other radio activities.
From Ned Skaff, some excerpts from his emails:
“You cannot believe my surprise when I came across the story you [Anna Patrick of the Gazette-Mail] wrote about Musical Pictures and Know your State. I thought the tapes were lost forever. I was not aware they were stashed away in a school basement. I listened to a bit of of the first one, and though the quality wasn’t great I thought the production was first rate. Of course I liked it, I was the narrator. You can’t imagine how many times I was stopped on the streets of Charleston by an adult who said they had listened to the programs in school.
“I moved my family to Los Angeles, Ca. in December of 1968 and lived here since. I continued to work in radio in this market and quit after 65 years in the business.
“I will be 89 years old in October and hearing these programs again after all these years will be the best present my family and I will receive. My children played some of the parts in the ‘Know Your State’ series. . . I got goose bumps when I heard them. So many memories. I will never forget those days. At 89 I am still bowling with a bunch of seniors every week.”
683 Twin Peaks St.
Simi Valley, Ca. 93065
[We are passing along some information Ross Hunter found about Musical Pictures. Ross is a longtime broadcaster in WV (and elsewhere) and belongs to the WV Broadcasting History Facebook page. (You can visit it here.)]
Excerpts from our Facebook conversations:
Ross: “I think you are the Ed Johnson who saved and created the Musical Pictures site. Thank you very much. It was a trip down memory lane for me. When I was searching for information about the program I found an indication that the program was submitted for a George Foster Peabody award in 1942 and I found a 1946 article in Radio Showman. So it seems the program may predate the 1950s. I posted some information on the West Virginia Broadcasting Facebook page. One commenter said his father hosted the show on WGKV. Another posted a link to your site. A program written by my best friend’s mother is among the saved programs. He was thrilled to learn that.”
Me: “Yes, I’m the guy. In setting up the website a few years ago, I vaguely recall something about WGKV, but I had no idea MP started so early. Since your message, I have also found the Radio Showman article, and will post it to the website. . . “
Ross: “I finally had a chance to look for the Peabody Award info link. It’s http://hmfa.libs.uga.edu/hmfa/view?docId=ead/ms3000_1a-ead.xml Scroll down a bit to entry #42104 in the 1942 entries.”
[Here is the entry:]
|42014 ENR||Kanawha Valley Broadcasting Co., Charleston, West Virginia – Charleston Junior League Musical Pictures entry letter and photograph, 1942|
May 10, 2020 — Glad Tidings! The site has a different look, and acts a little differently than before, but everything is back and usable! (except for the Scherherazade program, for some reason)
August 30, 2022 — Scherherazade is now available and working!
- For only a few programs do we have both the audio program and the teacher guide. The quality of both the print and audio material varies.
- These programs were prepared for students in Kanawha County Schools in the Charleston West Virginia area and often contain references to local places and people.
- Though a diligent search found no copyrights to exist, any that might exist remain with the copyright holder(s). This website serves only as an archive for these programs, and no copyright is claimed for them.
- The language, terminology, and overall perspectives and points-of-view are of the time period (1950’s and early 1960’s.) Some may now be considered inappropriate