The Grand Ole Opry, running for more than 80 years, is the most successful live radio program to this day. Americans nationwide embrace country music offered by the Grand Ole Opry. It all began in Pittsburgh in 1920, when KDKA became the first regular broadcasting radio station. Only four years later, 2 and a half million Americans adopted the radio in their homes, and a year after that the first radio program was aired.
The first Grand Ole Opry show featured Uncle Jimmy Thompson, a famous fiddler who knew more than a thousand fiddle rounds, and George D. Hay as the radio announcer. He called the program the WSM Barn Dance but then gave it a name that still stands today, the Grand Ole Opry. They went from performing on the radio to hosting live shows at The Hillsboro Theatre, the Dixie Tabernacle and The War Memorial Auditorium. At the time, the cost of admission was 25 cents, but the crowds still filled the arenas with over 3,000 attending each concert by 1943. The Ryman hosted the Opry until it was moved to the Grand Ole Opry house, where it still is today. Gaylord Entertainment owns The Grand Ole Opry, and also operates Gaylord Hotels and ResortQuest International.
In 1939, NBC Radio broadcasted the Opry with Prince Albert Cigars as their sponsor. Featured artists included Uncle Dave Macon, Roy Acuff, Little Rachel, the Weaver Brothers and Elviry, and the Solemn Old Judge. The Grand Ole Opry has had new artists, great artists, and legends under its wing over the years and continues to do so through the new millennium. Nashville, the home of the Grand Ole Opry, has been knighted as 'Music City, USA'.
The Opry is available to a plentiful audience through a variety of media. Whether it's live, over the radio, internet, satellite, or television, the fan base has never stopped growing and continuing to embrace its presence in the world of country music.
The Grand Ole Opry's annual road show always hosts sold out shows all over the nation. Most recently, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, the Del McCoury Band, and Rebecca Lynn Howard, have all been a part of the road show. The artists not only perform their originals but also perform collaborations in group performances.
The Opry also hosts the Opry Plaza Parties, a free show during the CMA Music Festival weekend. The show includes all the performers of the road show, along with numerous others such as Dale Watson & His Lonestars, Ray Scott, John Arthur Martinez, Troy Olsen, BR549, Mandy Barnett, BeauSoleil, Derailers, Old Crow Medicine Show, Bruce Robison, Billy Joe Shaver and Two Tons of Steel.