The sights and sounds of a live radio broadcast will be staged at the Alhambra Theatre this summer in a production that promises to offer a history lesson of 1940s Hopkinsville.
It’s set for June 4, and the sponsors are the Museums of Historic Hopkinsville-Christian County and the Pennyroyal Arts Council. They will share proceeds from the fundraiser.
Veteran broadcaster Hal King will give local news reports from the World War II era, when Camp Campbell was established on the Kentucky-Tennessee line just south of Hopkinsville. Boyd Clark, also a longtime broadcaster who now works for WKDZ, will read national news reports, and a local actor will portray Dink Embry, who was a personality on WHOP for many years and a widely recognized music talent.
Songs of the 1940s — such “This Joint is Jumpin,’ “In the Mood” and “Ain’t Misbehavin’” — will be performed by the Little River Music Society, which Barbara Felts directs.
Tickets for “An Evening on the Air: An Adventure through the 1940s” are $50. The idea of letting an audience be immersed in a different era with elements unique to Hopkinsville is based on last summer’s successful “Evening at the Hotel Latham.” That event, at the Memorial Building, was set in the 1920s.
Alissa Keller, executive director of the museums, is hoping to get the community’s help with WWII-era artifacts that will complement the Alhambra event. She’s looking for photographs, documents and other items related to Hopkinsville during the war. These items could also help the museum expand its Wall of Honor exhibit that features photographs and biographies of men and women who served in the armed forces.
Audience members for the Alhambra radio show are encouraged to dress in 1940s attire. Organizers promise “food, a photo booth, dancing and cavorting.”
Tickets are available at the arts council or the Pennyroyal Area Museum.
I’m betting many people who buy tickets will be old fans of Dink Embry, who was with WHOP for some 50 years. He was a WWII veteran and had worked as a musician and radio talent in Louisville and Nashville, among other places, before coming to Hopkinsville in the late 1940s. He was the farm director for WHOP for many years and a host on the popular “Early Bird Show” morning program, which required him to arrive at the station each weekday while most of the town still slept.
Embry received numerous state and national broadcasting awards during his career. He died in 1999.
My parents always listened to Embry on the “Early Bird Show,” and at some point, I became familiar with Embry’s song to alert local children when schools were closed because of snow.
It goes like this: “There ain’t no school today. There ain’t no school today. The word is out my friend is this. There ain’t no school today.”
The snow day song came after the 1940s, so it isn’t likely to be part of the June 4 show — unless Keller and her cohort, Margaret Prim, the arts council’s executive director, conjure up some magical time-traveler segment. Hey, stranger things have happened. I am ever hopeful.
JENNIFER P. BROWN is the New Era’s opinion editor. Reach her at 270-887-3236 or firstname.lastname@example.org.