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Iowa Time Machine: "Tune-O" Contest - May 15, 1950

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: On May 15, 1950, Bill Riley hosted the first “Tune-O” contest over Iowa’s airwaves. A popular form of musical bingo, players picked up “Tune-O” cards at local grocery stores and tuned in to KRNT to try and make matches to win prizes.

Following on the heels of another popular Bill Riley and KRNT contest called “Money Man,” the weekday “Tune-O” contest ran daily from 9:30 to 10:00 p.m. Sponsored by Hiland Dairy, local residents could grab a new card every month at any grocer selling Hiland products. 

When 9:30 p.m. rolled around, Riley went live and played a few notes from several songs, one after another. Listeners then tried to name the tune and check it off their “Tune-O” card. Riley held a master card while controlling the music and worked his way toward winning combinations.

“When that moment occurred (a “Tune-O), all hell broke loose,” remembered Riley years later. “With thousands of cards in play, there were hundreds of possible winners.” Phones rang off the hook at KRNT at such a rate the phone company complained of overloaded circuits. Due to the technical difficulties, the popular show only lasted a single season. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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