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!
[Because 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.”
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- 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.
Musical Pictures was for younger students, generally grades 1-3. Each consisted of a narrative story–“word pictures”–interspersed with segments of mostly classical music. Students were encouraged to use their imaginations during the programs and then create pictures, drawings, stories or poems based on what they “saw” in the “Gardens of Their Minds,” as Fred Rogers, of Mister Rogers Neighborhood, would later call it. Many of these programs were rewritten and/or rebroadcast in subsequent years.
View “Manuals for Teachers” for Musical Pictures and Know Your State 1961-1963 (Pages 3 and 4–the cover page for 1963 and the title page for that year’s Musical Pictures–are out of order. They belong between pages 54 and 55)
Musical Pictures Programs: (Click on title to play)
Know Your State / Exploring Your State / Your State
Know Your State / Exploring Your State / Your State was for older students, generally grades 4-6. Each program was a story of a West Virginia history event, place or historical figure. Unfortunately, we have only a few of these audio programs.
View “Manuals for Teachers” for Musical Pictures and Know Your State– 1961-1963) (Pages 3 and 4–the cover page for 1963 and the title page for that year’s Musical Pictures–are out of order. They belong between pages 54 and 55)
Programs: (Click on title to play)
Our Musical Heritage
Our Musical Heritage, a series of nine programs, was apparently broadcast only once or twice in the 1960’s, and focused on various influences on the music of the Alleghenies and West Virginia in particular. We have titles for all nine programs, scripts for eight, but audio for only four.
Play available programs by clicking on title: I, III, IV, and VIII only.
I – Prologue Available
VII – Work Songs Help Build the Railroad (Hammer Songs) Not Available
VIII – Coal Miner and Lumberman Songs Available
IX – Epilogue Not Available
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