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Ozark Jubilee returns to Springfield's airwaves

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by Melissa Wilson

SBJ staff

"Goodnight night, Mama, goodnight Papa."

Fans of the Ozark Jubilee television show, broadcast out of the Jewell Theatre in Springfield from 1954 to 1960, remember these words well. Host Red Foley signed off each show by saying good night to his parents, who were watching in Kentucky.

Bob Mondy, host of the new radio version of the Ozark Jubilee, which can be heard Saturdays at 10:30 p.m. on KWTO 560 AM, doesn't sign off by saying goodnight to his parents. He will, however, bring many of the performers who appeared on the original Jubilee back on the radio, as well as other local and national talent.

"This is something I've wanted to do for the past 10 years," Mondy said. "I've spent the last two or three years getting it planned."

The format of the new Ozark Jubilee will be much like the old: a showcase for local and regional talent with a little Ozarks humor thrown in.

"We want to be that vehicle, whereby we capture that (local and regional talent), but we also want to bring in established legends in the country and gospel field," Mondy said.

Mondy, a local country and gospel singer, has performed with the Jordanaires and opened for Brooks and Dunn, and has been the host of KWTO's Ozark Gospel Express with the Country Express Band, made up of musicians such as Speedy Haworth, Rex Denny and Buddy Jones, all of whom were part of the original Ozark Jubilee.

Mondy credits his background in music for making his dream of bringing back the Ozark Jubilee possible.

"We're real close with people in Nashville. We've done a lot of recording down there, and I've probably visited with over 200 people in Hollywood," Mondy said.

KWTO program director Tom Ladd said the Ozark Jubilee is something KWTO, which gave many of the original Jubilee's performers their start, has wanted to bring back for years.

"We'd been discussing this with Bob for the last three years. We finalized plans for it about six months ago," Ladd said. "We're pleased to have the Jubilee back on the air ... this is Bob's program entirely."

The radio show is only part of Mondy's plan for reviving the Ozark Jubilee. Mondy said several locations in Springfield have already been considered for a Jubilee museum.

"We're going to put a museum in that will be the ultimate performing arts museum, I believe, anywhere in the country," Mondy said.

A private collection of Ozark Jubilee memorabilia, including 250,000 albums and 3,000 posters dating from the '20s to the '60s has been donated for the museum.

"This collection of Ozark Jubilee memorabilia is at least 10 times more complete than what is down at School of the Ozarks," Mondy said. He said he has spoken with several prospective investors locally about backing the museum project.

"I'm hoping the local entrepreneurs I've talked to will get involved ... if they don't, that's OK, because we've got contacts now in Phoenix, Austin and Atlanta," Mondy said.

Mondy said he hopes to have the Ozark Jubilee museum in operation by April 2000.

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