I would venture to guess, just based on uncovered evidence, that America in the 1950's was probably more balanced from a cultural standpoint, than it is now.
Why do I say that? The evidence - weekend radio in America was a veritable grab-bag of music, information and culture - all laid out, usually in one place. In 1955, NBC Radio introduced a Weekend service called Monitor. It was an adventuresome idea, geared along the lines of America's then-insatiable curiosity over how things worked.
Monitor's credo was "go anywhere, do anything" and it lived up to that credo over a 48 hour period, beginning at 12:01 on Saturday morning until 11:59 Sunday night.
This episode of The Grand Ole Opry comes from that service. For a half hour (On June 22, 1955) it featured the talents of "Little" Jimmy Dickens, "Cousin" Minnie Pearl, Del Wood, Jimmy Newman, Chester "Chet" Atkins and a host of others. Strictly Americana at its most rural.
But here's the thing - right after Grand Ole Opry, Monitor went to Birdland and featured a set by Woody Herman and Erroll Garner, and a half hour after that, a set by Tyree Glenn and "Philly Joe" Jones.
And the next day, you got the NBC Symphony. Quite a blast of disparate culture, to say the least. But if you were up for it, you got one hell of an education in the space of 48 hours. And your musical taste got very broad and all-encompassing. And if you were a musician, you stumbled into a gold mine.
So as a reminder of how potentially isolated we've become as a culture, here is a half-hour of down-home rural/middle America/roots music, supplied by Mainstream Radio in the form of NBC on June 22, 1955.
The Jazz portion comes tomorrow.