& Early Cincinnati Area Radio & TV Talents

Before Prohibition there was no radio or television. Radio broadcasts began in the 1920s and became an advertising vehicle for many companies, including brewers when Prohibition ended in the early 1930s. It wasn't until the late 1940s that television began to appear in Cincinnati. Under the ownership of the Schott Brothers, Bavarian Brewing Co. (Bavarian) began sponsoring radio programs in 1938 and was one of the first sponsors of a prime time television show in Cincinnati around 1949 - Midwestern Hayride. Sponsoring various shows involved promoting numerous radio and television personalities that were supporting Bavarian, and some became spokespersons for the brewer. Please see the newspaper ads in periods 1935 -1945 and 1946-1956, which often promoted such programs. The personalities involved with Bavarian, as well as some of those also involved in early Cincinnati area television, are recognized in the following.


One of the first radio broadcasts sponsored by Bavarian involved "Baseball  Night Cap" with Walter "Red" Barber in 1938 on WSAI radio. It involved the most interesting moments of the day's games. Barber was the colorful play-by-play announcer for the Cincinnati Reds on WLW radio from 1934 until 1938. A year later, Barber was lured by his friend Branch Rickey to become the announcer for the Brooklyn Dodgers (1939-1953). He was also the announcer for the New York Yankees (1954-1966). He became famous for his use of signature catchphrases. One that he originated and that is still often used is "back, back, back..." to describe a potential home run. Dick Bray remained as a co-announcer and later also covered a baseball radio special for Bavarian. After Barber left for New York, he was replaced by Roger Baker to call the Red's games on WLW, and he was also featured on Baseball Nightcap for Bavarian. There were three local radio stations that broadcasted Red's games before 1941 (WLW, WSAI and WCPO), until WKRC became the exclusive broadcaster for the Reds.


When TV broadcasting began in Cincinnati in the late 1940s, Bavarian became interested in advertising in this medium. There were three television stations that were established in Cincinnati, all from companies that had radio stations with the same call letters. They are briefly mentioned below. (For those that might be thinking this, the answer is no; there was no WKRP in Cincinnati, except as a TV series.)

WLW-T was the city's first station (and the second in Ohio) to begin commercial broadcasts on February 9, 1948; it became an NBC affiliate. The station got its start in 1946, conducting experimental broadcasts as W8XCT.  In 1947, there were only 100 televisions in all of Cincinnati on a closed circuit. WLW-T first operated on Channel 4 before moving to Channel 5, where it was later referred to as WLW-TV. It was owned by the Crosley Broadcasting Corporation, which later became a subsidiary of the Aviation Corporation, or Avco.

(For a history of WLW and its parent company, see Crosley.)

WKRC-TV signed on the air April 4, 1949, originally as a CBS affiliate on channel 11, but later became channel 12 in 1952. It was owned by the Taft family, who owned the radio station with the same call numbers, and became part of Taft Broadcasting in 1958.

WCPO-TV first signed on the air on July 26, 1949, as an ABC affiliate. It was originally broadcast on Channel 7, but later changed to Channel 9. Secondarily, it was part of the DuMont Television Network until 1956 and became owned by Scripps-Howard Newspapers. The WCPO call letters came from its ownership of the Cincinnati Post newspaper, after they acquired the station WFBE. Notably, WFBE had been owned by the Schott Brothers in the 1920s, who became owners of the Bavarian Brewing Company in 1938.


For the next couple of decades, and before Cable TV, there were only three main television stations. In the beginning, television shows were live and mostly impromptu. There were local hosts and talents that performed on Cincinnati television, with some shows airing for more than three decades straight. The shows depended upon local advertisers for funding. The Bavarian Brewing Co. was one of these early sponsors, supporting such programs as Midwestern Hayride and The Paul Dixon Muscis Shop. Before TV, radio had been the only available medium for live broadcasts from the 1920s through the 1940s. Radio continued to be a popular medium in the mid-century even after TV took the stage. Bavarian sponsored both radio and TV programs through the 1950s, and also syndicated multiple series.* The personalities who hosted these shows would often promote sponsored products on air, including Bavarian's Old Style Beer - as exemplified by the photo further below with Paul Dixon, Wanda Lewis and Dotty Mack, as well as other talents.

* This is discussed in periods 8. Post WWII and 9. Turnaround Efforts.


Originally called Boone County Jamboree (named for the county adjacent to where the Bavarian Brewery was located), Midwestern Hayride was a country music show that began appearing on radio in the mid-1930s on Saturday evenings. It was carried on WLW radio, on one of the most powerful transmitters in the world, which was able to reach Europe. The program debuted on television in April of 1948 on WLW-T, just a couple of months after the station started airing; it was hosted in the same location that transmitted WLW radio. The program was simulcasted on radio and TV into the 1960s, enjoying a prime-time hour slot that began at 8pm. Bavarian sponsored Midwestern Hayride (MH) as soon as it began and continued to do so for about six years, until December, 1954.

c. 1950. This performer is practically jumping out of his boots. He's performing on the Midwestern Hayride. The man in the plaid shirt is the show's emcee, Bill Thall. Shown in the background is a prop for the show's sponsor, Bavarian's Old Style Beer.

Midwestern Hayride became a big success, extending its reach far beyond Cincinnati. In 1951, the show was picked up for the summer on NBC-TV and, except for 1953, aired on that channel for each summer until 1956; it was then carried by ABC-TV from 1957 until 1959. In its early years, MH was always performed in front of a live audience of 100. In its heyday, it would take more than a year for a hopeful audience member to get a ticket to the weekly show. MH continued through the 1960s as well, featuring many famous country performers, including Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton and Tex Ritter, to name just a few.

A local regular on MH was Bonnie Lou, who would later become a cohost on The Paul Dixon Show - another popular program that Bavarian sponsored. In its early years, MH’s emcee was Bill Thall, who also appeared in the Corner Store with Bob Shreve. Some artists shown in the Bavarian Brewing Co. ads above were Charlie Gore, Lee Jones, Zeke Turner, Ernie Lee, Jerry Byrd, Neal Burris and Bill Nimmo. In addition to songs by country artists, MH featured square dancing, as shown in this video. Towards the end of the 1960s the name of MH was changed to just Hayride, and it finally ended in 1972, after a nearly 25-year run on the air. However, a MW veteran for 16 years, Kenny Price, went on to host a similar but more contemporary country show that was based in Nashville and called "Hee Haw.” Price’s program began airing around 1976 and ran until his death in 1987.


Dixon began his career with radio in New York City and Chicago in the 1940s. In 1945 he moved to WCPO radio in Cincinnati as a news reporter and announcer. Dixon excelled as a reporter, but he was more interested in becoming an entertainer. He had very successfull shows based in Cincinnati as described below. He was also a spokesperson for Bavarian's, as shown in the photo below with his co-hosts Wand Lewis (left) and Dotty Mack (right).

The Paul Dixon Song Shop (1949 - 1953)

 In 1949, as television broadcasting was gaining a foothold in Cincinnati, Paul Dixon established his own show with Wanda Lewis and Dotty Mack, known as the Paul Dixon (Song Shop) Show on WCPO-TV. They would pantomime to hit songs of the day. For an excerpt of one of his shows, click here.  In addition, please see information about Dotty and Wanda below. Due to the popularity of the show, Dixon was lured to New York City to have his shown on Dumont Television in 1954. However, Dixon missed Cincinnati, staying in New York for just a year and returning in April, 1955.

Co-Hosts On the Paul Dixon Song Shop

Dotty Mack. Dotty was particularly gifted in pantomiming, earning her the nickname “the Queen of Pantomime.” She also was given her own show in June, 1953, which ran until 1956. Dotty Mack dated various celebrities, including Frank Sinatra, Joe DiMaggio and Dick Van Dyke; she socialized for many years with Rosemary Clooney (also from Cincinnati), Dorris Day, Eydie Gorme, Steve Lawrence and other burgeoning stars. She moved to Florida when her husband died in 1986, and passed away on November 11, 2019​

​Wanda Lewis. Wanda was artistic, and she would sometimes design stage sets and draw figures live on the Paul Dixon Show. A couple years after she left that show, she joined her husband on his Uncle Al Show in 1956, which was oriented to children. A video of one of her appearances on this show can be viewed here. She was known as “Captain Windy” on the show, and a song in tribute to her character went something like this: "We love little Windy we do, we do. We love little Windy, we do. And if you knew Windy like we all do, you would love little Windy too."


The Paul Dixon Show (1954 - 1974)

Avco Broadcasting provided Dixon with his own shown on their WLW-T network, which appealed to housewives. The show featured Bonnie Lou and Colleen Sharp. It quickly expanded from 30-minutes to 90-minutes in length and became syndicated in the Dayton, Columbus, and Indianapolis markets. Dixon became known as "Paul Babby" on his show. One of his most popular shows was the chicken wedding episode. Sadly, Dixon had difficulties coping with his son's death in 1970 and developed some health issues shortly thereafter. His last show aired in 1974, 20 years after it began. In total, Dixon had hosted his own television shows for 25 years. All of Dixon's co-hosts also enjoyed long television careers, and most were highly accomplished.

Former late night TV host David Letterman, who grew up in Indianapolis where the Paul Dixon show was syndicated, cited Dixon's comedic talent as inspiration for his own career. Letterman was also a big fan of Dixon's co-host and singer, Bonnie Lou, and of the Ruth Lyon show.

Co-Hosts On the Paul Dixon Show

Bonnie Lou.  Before co-hosting with Paul Dixon for two decades beginning in 1955, Bonnie Lou had found success as a recording artist. Bonnie was a true cross-over artist.  She launched her career as a country singer, was skilled at yodeling, and is considered to be the first female rock and roll singer. In 1952, Bonnie made her first appearance on the Bavarian-sponsored show Midwestern Hayride.


​Colleen Sharp. Colleen was part of the Paul Dixon show for two decades.


Hosts of the radio and TV shows sponsored by Bavarian in 1955, encompassing news, sports, music and more,  included: Lloyd Baldwin (WCKY, News/Sports); Dick Bray (WCKY, News/Sports); Adolph Menjou (see below); Bill Dawes (WCPO, M-A-D), John Daly (WCPO, News); Don Webb (WKRC, News); Jack Remington (WKRC, At Random); Cecil Hale (WSAI, Music); Phil Howard (WCPO-TV, Monday Night Fights); Rex Dale (WCKY, Hits); and Paul Dixon (WLW-T). See the images of the hosts along with their testimonials for Bavarian's Old Style Beer.


Music jingles advertising Bavarian's Old Style Beer aired on radio. Examples of those used starting in late 1955 for a couple years are below. They included a longer version, about a minute in length, and a shorter version of about 15 seconds, as shown below. The theme used in the jingle, "It's a Promise", was from an advertising theme being used at the time. You may need to tap the play button twice, not just once, for the jingles to play. See Ads: 1946-1956 for examples of these print ads.

IMG_8610Artist Name
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IMG_8612Artist Name
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Another jingle that was used around 1960, after a new label was created and shortly after Bavarian Brewing Co. merged with International Breweries, included the "How 'Bout That" slogan.

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Besides hosting mostly local shows and local talent, Bavarian would occasionally sponsor syndicated shows. A couple of these are mentioned below.

​The Abbott & Costello Show

Featuring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello, this show was syndicated on 40 local stations from the fall of 1952 to the spring of 1954. Bavarian sponsored this program during that time. Abbott and Costello were the most popular comedy duo of the 1940s and early 1950s. They also performed on Broadway in the late 1930s and had their own radio show in the 1940s.  They appeared in numerous films beginning in the early 1940s until 1955 and also began acting on television in 1951. They are best known for one of the most famous comedy routines of all time, "Who's on First?" It was first performed in vaudeville and then on radio on the Kate Smith show, in 1938.

My Favorite Story with Adolphe Menjou

(a/k/a Your Favorite Story & Your Favorite Playhouse) 

Bavarian sponsored this syndicated program on WCPO-TV hosted by Adolphe Menjou. It consisted of 25 episodes that was broadcasted between 1953 and 1955.  Menjou was originally from Pittsburgh, but had a long and accomplished acting career, which began with talkies. He appeared in such films as Charlie Chaplin's A Woman of Paris, where he played the lead role; Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory with Kirk Douglas; Ernst Lubitsch's The Marriage Circle; The Sheik with Rudolph Valentino; Morocco with Marlene Dietrich and Gary Cooper; and A Star Is Born with Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, and was nominated for an Academy Award for The Front Page in 1931. He is shown in a photo with Bavarian executives in the mid 1950s in Turnaround Efforts.


Cincinnati was a cradle for television talent: in addition to those previously mentioned, notable actors, actresses, and personalities involved in TV (and movies), who were inducted into the Greater Cincinnati Broadcast Hall of Fame. A couple of these celebrities, (Bob Braun and Bob Shreve) were also once associated with programs sponsored by the Bavarian Brewing Co.