"You find out they made mistakes, thus proving that they are human.”
May 19, 2016 11:16 AM Subscribe
In 1938, as the Great Depression was winding down, a Texas radio station began airing “Thirty Minutes Behind the Walls,” a variety show broadcast every Wednesday night from the state prison in Huntsville. The show featured male and female prisoners singing, strumming, dancing, and acting. At one point, it had five million listeners, who sent in as many as a 100,000 fan letters each year. Executions were stayed so that they would not conflict with the show, which was performed in an auditorium 50 yards from Old Sparky, the state’s electric chair.A Peek at the Golden Age of Prison Radio — The Marshall Project: Nonprofit journalism about criminal justice
"Some of the show’s performers appear on a series of Library of Congress recordings by the folklorist John Avery Lomax, who documented the music of prisoners in the late 1930s. Those recordings are the closest we can get; no recordings of 'Thirty Minutes Behind the Walls' have ever been found."
(Caroline Gnagy's new book is Texas Jailhouse Music - A Prison Band History.)
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