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Hoosier History Live is an independently produced new media project about Indiana history, integrating podcasts, website, newsletter, and social media. Its original content comes initially from a live with call in weekly talk radio show hosted by author and historian Nelson Price. You can hear the show live Saturdays from noon to 1 pm ET. It’s over the air in Central Indiana at WICR 88.7 fm, or you can stream at the WICR HD1 app on your phone.

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July 15, 2023

Vinyl era of Indiana music heritage

Strike up the band. But not necessarily a marching band.

For this Hoosier History Live show exploring Indiana's music heritage during what is known as the "vinyl era" (generally defined as 1950 to 1990), the most appropriate band probably would be one that played "rock and roll", as the music was called during its early decades. Histories of other genres during the vinyl era also are being included in a new initiative launched by the Indiana Entertainment Foundation.

The foundation's initiative, called the Indiana Music History Project, is spotlighting the 40-year vinyl records era with various endeavors. They include a new gallery with artifacts such as a recreation of an Indianapolis radio station during the 1960s or '70s; a Wikipedia-type online resource documenting music history during the vinyl era (including entries about Indiana-based businesses, venues and musicians), and a streaming radio service that plays music by all-Indiana singers and bands.

Our guide for this exploration will be music historian and record collector Rick Wilkerson, executive director of the Indiana Entertainment Foundation and the Indiana Music Heritage Project. Rick, who once owned popular vinyl records stores in Indianapolis, will be Nelson's studio guest to share insights about the new initiative and our state's impact during the 1950-1990 music era.

"We want to demonstrate that we had an enormous amount of music talent in Indiana," Rick says. "In addition, people have forgotten about the pressing plants in Indiana for vinyl records that were distributed nationally." They included an RCA plant in Indianapolis and a Columbia Records plant in Terre Haute.

A recreation of a 1960s and '70s rock music radio station is among the attractions in the new gallery, which is located in the lower level of the Flanner and Buchanan Funeral Center, 1305 Broad Ripple Ave. The gallery, which also features posters, photos and other memorabilia from the vinyl era, is open to the public from 9 am to 4 pm Mondays through Fridays.

Want to check out fun facts about performers like guitarist/songwriter Duke Tumatoe (birth name: William Severan Fioro), who wrote a song about the Indianapolis Colts during the 1980s? Or venues such as The Bluebird nightspot in Bloomington? Or bands and businesses associated with various regions of the state like Northwest Indiana?

The factoids are planned for Indiana Musicpedia, which is under development, with much fodder yet to come. One category of Indiana Musicpedia will provide info about genres of music in the state ranging from "country/bluegrass" to "folk/acoustic" and "rhythm & blues". Another category will be subdivided with decade-by-decade info, beginning with 1950-1959.

The streaming radio service, which can be accessed for free at Indiana Music Radio, is dedicated to featuring "100 percent Indiana music 24/7" from the vinyl era.

Our guest Rick Wilkerson owns a collection of several thousand Indiana LPs, '45s, tapes, posters and flyers. Rick was one of the guests on a Hoosier History Live show in 2015 about the resurgence in interest in vinyl records by young generations. He's working on a book, expected to be titled "The Golden Age of Indiana Vinyl: 1950-1990".

In addition to the record pressing plants in Indianapolis and Terre Haute, vinyl records also were pressed in Richmond and Shelbyville, Rick notes. As well as Rick's personal collections, which are expected to be the core of a collection of the Indiana Entertainment Foundation, the nonprofit is seeking donations of memorabilia from the vinyl era.

The gallery in Broad Ripple, in addition to the recreation of a 1960s and '70s radio station in Indiana, features photo displays about Hoosier personalities connected to the vinyl era. They include disc jockey Jimmy Mack, who was the host of Indianapolis-based TV dance shows such as "Bandstand 13" and "Teen Twirl". Jimmy Mack (whose real name was Jimmy McDowell) was a guest on Hoosier History Live in 2016, five years before his death at age 99.

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Roadtrip: The tiny town of Amo

Guest Roadtripper Eric Grayson, a film historian also known as Dr. Film, suggests a visit to Amo a bit west of Indianapolis in Hendricks County.

Eric tells us that "Amo started out as Morristown in 1850 but was renamed because there was another Morristown on the railroad!  It is one of those small towns with a very active core group of people trying to do cool things there. And it’s working. The old railroad and interurban is now part of the Vandalia Trail.

The old Railroad depot is on the National Register and is worth the trip by itself! It’s a beautiful building, but there are more in town.

Located in a historic building is The Cup and the Cone Ice Cream, which is really great! And next door is Amo Pizza, which is known in some surveys as the best pizza in Indiana, also in a historic building. I haven’t eaten here because the line was too long before closing. It’s that popular!"

From our show archives: Block's, Wasson's and Strauss: bygone major retailers in Indy

Our March 26, 2022 show with guest Ken Turchi, author of "Looking Forward, Giving Back: The Jewish Merchants of Downtown Indianapolis" spotlighted the two department stores that rivaled Ayres for about 100 years: William H. Block Co. and H.P. Wasson & Co., known conversationally by generations of Hoosier shoppers as "Block's" and "Wasson's". On this show we also explored L. Strauss & Co., which also was based in downtown Indy and specialized in high-quality clothing. Jewish merchants founded or built all three retailers in the late 1800s, with multiple generations of Jewish families overseeing the businesses for much of the 1900s. (The Ayres family was Protestant.)

There certainly was a day when shopping at a glamorous downtown Indianapolis department store was an exciting thing to do!

Click here to listen to the show podcast. You can also see a list of our show podcasts on our website at www.hoosierhistorylive.org and go to ARCHIVES. You can also sign up for our free weekly enewsletter at our website.


Trivia prizes and southside restaurant sought

Would your business or organization like to offer prizes for our trivia on air question? Or, are you a restaurant on the southside of Indy, or near the University of Indianapolis, and open on Saturdays at 1 pm? Would you like to host Hoosier History Live guests for lunch after the show on Saturday? Contact molly@hoosierhistorylive.org for details.  


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We'd like to thank the following recent individual contributors who make this show possible. For a full list of contributors over the years, visit  Support the Show on our website.

  • Tom Cochrun
  • Norma Erickson
  • Marion Wolen
  • Jane Ammeson
  • Kathleen Angelone
  • Bruce and Julie Buchanan
  • Mark Ruschman
  • Robin Winston
  • Phil and Pam Brooks
  • Rachel Berenson Perry
  • Kevin Murray
  • Susan Bielawski in memory of Jane Bielawski
  • Jill Lough Chambers
  • Sandra Hurt

Molly Head, executive producer (317) 506-7164 
Nelson Price, host and historian
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Facebook logo links to the Hoosier History Live! page.Twitter logo for Hoosier History Live.Acknowledgements to WICR-FM, Fraizer Designs, Monomedia, Henri Pensis, Maddie Fisher, Austin Cook, and many other individuals and organizations. We are independently produced and are self-supporting through organizational sponsorship and through individual contribution, either online at our yellow button on our newsletter or website, or by U.S. mail. For organizational sponsorship, which includes logos, links, and voiced credits in our podcasts and in our show, please contact Molly Head at (317) 506-7164 or email her at molly@hoosierhistorylive.org.

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