Rumsey Radio Hour visits Shepherd

September 19, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION


Always ready to put a humorous spin on things, Randy Tremba said the fact that The Rumsey Radio Hour is now only performed once a year makes it a classic.

Sort of like Christmas or Easter, Tremba said.

"Most things that happen once a year are good things," Tremba said.

The annual show was held over the weekend in Shepherdstown, with its trademark spoofs on local politics and daily life, music and, as the program notes, "cheeky comment."

The idea behind the show started in 1989 when Tremba, the executive producer, decided he wanted to do a radio show similar to old-time radio broadcasts that featured popular characters like the Lone Ranger.


Tremba and others went to work, devising a show that would be produced in an auditorium at Shepherd University's Reynolds Hall.

The group created its own brand of stories and entertainment, and at times, professional broadcasters would join the production.

The first show was broadcast over WSHC, Shepherd University's radio station. By 1994, the show was broadcast monthly over 14 stations in West Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

Occasionally, the group went on the road, performing at Hagerstown Community College and Frederick (Md.) Community College.

But Tremba said the group eventually became exhausted because of the steady pace and they retired the show in 1996.

But people wanted more.

Members of the original cast decided to bring back the show in 2003 and make it an annual fundraiser for the Shepherdstown Public Library.

The show raised $1,000 for the library in 2003 and 2004. Tremba said he hoped the show would raise $2,000 through the weekend performance. Spectators paid $5 per ticket.

The show was performed at 3 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and at 6 p.m. Sunday.

About 90 people attended the first performance Saturday and the second show was sold out, Tremba said.

The house was nearly packed again for Sunday's show.

And as far as the performers went, it was like they never skipped a beat.

Ethan Fischer, a Shepherd University teacher, played the part of Johnny Dime, Poet of Crime, a takeoff on Johnny Dollar, an old-time radio mystery personality. Musicians like pianist Larry Drechsler performed and Mark Kraham, NBC 25's news director, added various voices to the performance.

The show poked fun at things like the tendency to name West Virginia landmarks after U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd. At one point, Tremba announces the show as the Robert C. Byrd Radio Hour, then does another take.

"We're rested. We're pumped," Tremba told the crowd.

"I think it's fantastic to see people do it live," said spectator Sarah Corwin-Roach, who likes radio broadcasts like "Prairie Home Companion."

"I'm very proud of our area that they could do something like this," Corwin-Roach said.

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