Fundraiser features a live radio variety show

The Golden Age of Radio occurred between the early 1920s and the 1940s. It was an era in which radio programming was the main media outlet for all types of entertainment, including news, quiz shows, radio drama, play-by-play sports, mystery shows and more. Families would sit around their home radio listening in suspense while using their imaginations to envision the stories coming from the speaker.

When television was introduced in the 1950s, radio variety shows began to wane. While kids cruised to Wolfman in their cars (think American Graffiti) and adults commuted to work and back from the suburbs, TV was transforming how people received their entertainment and radio was reinventing itself.

On Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Chaffee County Fairgrounds, KHEN, Salida’s community radio station, will bring back those nostalgic years with a brand new radio variety show called the “Tenderfoot Mountain Kaper.”

The community is invited and expected to participate in this live production featuring a local talent pool of musicians, comedy acts, dramatic scenarios and Foley artists (the sound-effect people who were so vital to those early radio shows). The intent is to provide attendees with insight into the world of radio.

The event, broadcast in “Prairie Home Companion” format, will begin at 6 p.m. with an optional family style dinner of KHEN’s famous chicken noodle soup, bread and drinks. Then at 7 p.m., Rooster Noir will narrate a whodunit story about the disappearance and alleged stealing of the giant white “S” on Tenderfoot Mountain. The caper plot resonates throughout the night, encompassing a cast of characters like the McWilkins (André Wilkins and Cailey McDermott) who have a comedic tale about family relationships sure to sound familiar to many.

Audience members are encouraged to submit “shoutouts” upon arrival. These notes can be about anything from birthdays and engagements to words of encouragement and special announcements. These will then be read on stage and the best of the best will be played on air the following week.

The “Tenderfoot Mountain Kaper” is one of KHEN’s two annual fundraisers. “The idea was to do an event that was different from anything else going on in Salida that would be family oriented, fun, super entertaining and raise funds for KHEN,” said Leslie Matthews, KHEN board chair.

“It’s a performance piece. It’s very engaging in terms of how the audience participates in all of it,” she said. “We feel it’s a community-building event as well as an entertainment event.”

Throughout the production local musicians Pint and a Half, the Salida House Band, Salida Brass and Salida A Capella will perform songs that complement the plot. The end concludes with an audience sing-along.

“Our mission is very clear at KHEN. It’s to build community through programming, education and outreach. Everything we do is for the purpose of building community,” Matthews said. “Number one, I want people to come away with a sense of belonging and sense of community, like we’re all here together doing this thing.”