Lost Huntington: ‘Saturday Night Jamboree’
Editor’s Note: This is the 269th in a series of articles recalling vanished Huntington scenes.
“Got my Sunday shoes on / Got my hair slicked down / Gonna get my honey and take her into town / Gonna have a big time tonight!”
If that opening refrain sounds familiar, then it’s clear you remember the “Saturday Night Jamboree,” the live country music show that aired from the WSAZ-TV studio in Huntington for more than a decade, from the early 1950s to the mid-60s.
The show’s affable emcee, Dean Sturm, had worked at radio stations in Ohio and Illinois before joining WSAZ-TV as a staff announcer. That was in 1953, the same year the “Jamboree” took to the air. The show’s sponsor for that first season was Red Top beer. The next season, Ashland Oil & Refining took over as sponsor and continued in that role until the show’s end.
Retha Neal and Margie Shannon were the program’s first female vocalists. They were followed by Phyllis Noel and Norma Hoople and later by Connie Smith, who went on to country music fame in Nashville. Odey Crabtree and Ralph Shannon, known as the Wayne County Whippoorwill, were regular male vocalists on the show.
Talented musicians who appeared on the “Jambloree” included fiddle player Charlie (Big Foot) Keaton and lead guitar picker Dean Porter, dubbed the Mayor of Bear Creek by Sturm. Harry Mills and the Haylofters, a popular square dance group, never missed a single airing of the weekly show. In 1964, WSAZ changed hands, and the station’s new owner cancelled the show.