“Piano player Norvy Mulligan, announcer Doug Baldwin, Cowboy Jim, and the WCCO Noon Hi-Lites are a midday hit on Minnesota radio.” *
In this era, WCCO became a famous local radio station owned by Washburn Crosby Company. Initially, the radio station was a tool to promote Betty Crocker, (a fictitious personification of their company), who in turn sold their fine flour and other baking products. The Noon Highlights show had six half-hour shows a week, and were sponsored by the Hormel meat company.**
Thankfully, these giants of the food industry acquired the talents of announcer Doug Baldwin, who recognized the considerable talents of a local jazz great; Norvy Mulligan.
In the 1920’s, Minnesotans favored the sounds of Dixieland, but Mulligan sought to move the needle forward.
Local music aficionados compared Norvy to the iconic ragtime and jazz piano stylings of Fats Waller. More specifically, he played the same type of left-hand tenths with his thumb. He also favored playing the melody with his right hand while inventing a counter-melody with his left.** Consequently, the combination of a quality music, a solid announcer, and a cast of fun personalities made for interesting and memorable radio that impacted the Midwest and regions of Canada!
We remember the Noon highlights with You today Lord. We are grateful that You masterfully lined up these creative forces for our enjoyment and benefit! You are the maestro of causes and effects, and condoned the unorthodox combination of: baking, meat-packing, cowboys, housewives, and jazz.
Will You bless WCCO and its inheritance and legacy in Minnesota? Will You inspire our musicians to go further out like Norvy Mulligan? We bless the impact of radio on our state, and its ability to give the previously unknown joys of connection to our peoples!
We ask for Your imagination in our present forms of communication. Illuminate us to cross-pollinate our imaginations, and shirk selfish boredom. Give us an open hand with our talents and inventions, our businesses and pleasures. Move us to accentuate the highlights of life, and remember the good we know today! Amen.
** Goetting, Jay. “Joined at the Hip: A History of Jazz in the Twin Cities”