The KDTH Barn Dance
In 1943 the husband and wife team of Mack and Sandy Ford joined
the KDTH staff. They were professional actors and musicians who had traveled the country but took a liking to Dubuque. Their
11:30 weekday “Family Circle” program of music and conversation became very popular. One day Mack decided to create
a “Barn Dance” show similar in format to the “Grand Ole Opry.”
The first show was scheduled
for 9pm on a Saturday night in March 1944 from Studio A. By 6:45pm the limited space of Studio A was full and the observation
room was overflowing. By 8:30 the standing room only crowd in the lobby and reception area overflowed to 8th street and around
the corner down Bluff. The show started late as engineers scrambled to set up speakers outside to accommodate the crowd.
a few weeks arrangements were made to move the show to the beautiful Melody Mill Ballroom north of Dubuque on Highway 52.
It was Iowa’s largest ballroom and was often filled to capacity with more than 2,000 fans that paid 60 cents each to
attend. On the first night a two mile (3 km) long string of cars jammed the highway. The KDTH Barn Dance included a cast
of 16 including announcer Karl Anthony, comedian “Skinny” Strader, Kay Kody, Texas Red, The Sunshine Sisters,
Uncle Fiddlin Charlie, Mack and Sandy and The Barn Stormers Band led by Clarence Zahina. It was a unique, colorful program
the likes of which Dubuque radio hasn’t experienced since.