Heartlands Hayride, the WDVR FM’s live, on-air, Traditional Country Music show,
was created in the late summer of 2000 by Frank “Napp” Napurano, Ginny Napurano
and Fred Boenig. The idea was hatched in little more than an hour, at a casual
meeting when Frank, Ginny and Fred were reminiscing about an earlier on-air
production, “Americana On The Air”, a live radio play.
Originally, Frank wanted to convert his Friday night country show, “The Country
Store”, to a live, audience show. But the mythical “Country Store” with the pot
bellied stove didn’t lend itself well to a live audience production because of
its reliance on several “Off-stage” characters, monologues, audio props and the
active imagination of the listener. So the discussion quickly turned to the
creation of a new show, ala the old barn dance-hayride shows circa 1940s.
The amazing part is, the idea and determination to do it, including the name of
the show, was completed in little more than an hour. It was agreed that
Heartlands Hayride would be created to foster, encourage and actively promote
the musical arts. The show would invite participation of new and upcoming local
talent who would not ordinarily have access to performing on the radio.
Heartlands Hayride debuted on September 30, 2000 in the Loft @ Studio D, a large
studio on the second floor of WDVR’s studio building. It then moved to the
Brethren Church when the audience grew beyond capacity and then was located at
the Kingwood Township Fire Company Banquet Hall, Route 519, Baptistown, NJ,
live, every Saturday from 6 to 8 pm.
At that time, The Hayride owed much of its success to the Chris Val Band with
the inimitable Chris Val whose vocals and yodeling are legendary. The band
consists of Bill Brandon on lead guitar, Al Raney on bass, Arnie Raney on
percussion and John Farrell on steel. Hayride regulars include Ann Brown, Chuck
Pierman, Joe Adda, Tish Zimmerman, Len Rambo, Jeff Randall, Bill Turner, Jeff
Wilson, Dave Bond, William Burk, Don Cogan, Steve Garcia, Roy Hollabaugh, Nancy
Supko, Holly Loux, Judy Perry, Bill Ponnett and other visiting artists.
The Hayride troupe also performed “On The Road” at many venues, county fairs and
churches around New Jersey and Pennsylvania to an audience of thousands. There
are also many fans around the world who listen regularly on WDVR’s full-time
live Internet programming stream:
Heartlands Hayride has hosted some major talent such as BR549, Tracey Graemer,
Moot Davis, Peter Finger, The Summer’s Dream full sized Orchestra, Rosie Flores,
James King, Big Al Downing and Wayne Hancock, just to name a few. There have
also been many of the great bluegrass bands such as PastTimes Bluegrass Band,
Dixie Highway, Bobby Hamm’s Male Pouch Express, Dick Saylor and Friends, the
Sugar Sand Ramblers, The Forgotten Mountain Boys , Louie Setzer & The
Appalachian Mountain Boys, Mark Miklos and the Raritan Valley Ramblers and The
Still River Band, just to name a very few.
The Hayride has become quite a “happening” on a Saturday night for many regulars
who not only enjoy great country music but also look forward to their Saturday
night dinner and “America’s music” with local friends and neighbors. It is a
truly an American institution that harkens back to the rural agrarian, American
Heartland of yesteryear; when every Saturday night local farm families gathered
to free themselves of their weekly toil and enjoy a barn dance.
As a live on-air radio production, the “Hayride” is carefully timed for its
allotted two hour broadcast and is skillfully produced by Richard Evans who is
also the show’s Em Cee. The two-hour show usually features a visiting country or
bluegrass band in addition to the regulars, Each artist or group getting two
sets. At the present time the show airs the 2nd and 4th
Saturdays of each month. The house band consists of Bill Brandon, Al Kessel, Tom
Mintz, Jim Thompson, Ben Lawson Chuck Pierman, and Bill Ponnett.