Trouble on the Banks of the Ohio
The other day I learned a terrible thing: the old Capitol Music Hall, Wheeling’s (WV) cultural seat and home to WWVA and Jamboree USA, has landed in a struggle over ownership.
Naturally, the fight involves a close relative of recently-deceased Clear Channel Communications. Is there anything, aside of Sirius, that Clear Channel hasn’t eaten and spit back up in a completely unrecognizable form?
This landmark is of considerable personal significance to me, and great historical and cultural significance to the Ohio Valley, where I grew up. It was there, home to the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra (yes, Wheeling, WV has an orchestra), that I first heard a symphony concert. I performed every year in the Linsly Institute (formerly Linsly Military Institute for alum Tim O’Brien fans) Extravaganza with my pals. I saw any number of shows there. Two of my nieces have danced with various traveling companies performing the Nutcracker there for seventeen years. And, it is home to the second-oldest country music program in the United States, just behind the Grand Old Opry on WSM.
Jamboree USA has been broadcasting live over 50,000 waft AM 1170 - WWVA Radio since 1933. Fans from all over the eastern seaboard have enjoyed tuning into the live weekly radio show to hear their favorite country music artist perform on the Jamboree stage. Guests on the Jamboree have included every major country and bluegrass artist. And it’s damn near the only good thing left in Wheeling that feels like it’s at home.
I am surprised at how shaken I am at this news. So much of what I left behind is gone, and I expected that. But the Capitol should still be standing after I’m long gone and King Wilkie and Nickel Creek are still going strong. As I struggle with feeling totally lost and out of place, the news of great uncertainty surrounding what has been something of an anchor really knocks me for a little loop, here.
The messages in the last week or two have been steady and clear: time to make a trip down home. I feel anxious, alone, and I am absolutely certain I am in the wrong place. My compass is fogged up. Before I lose my steadiness entirely, I best get back to the Banks of the Ohio and regain my footing. So much has happened since I've been gone.