GI Jill and GI Jive

Gi Jill

GI Jill was the DJ host of a music program on the Armed Forces Radio Service during World War II named "GI Jive".  Her personality and the Big Band music she played provided American troops with a link to home and was a huge morale boost.  GI Jive was the No. 1 overseas attraction on the AFRS and by the end of January 1945 she had made 870 shows and GI Jive was broadcasting daily over 400 Army radio stations.

GI Jill was born Martha Wilkerson, but she never gave her real name over the air.  Her listeners had no idea that she was married and had a young family.  Like an actress playing a role, Wilkerson considered Jill a whole separate person. She later told a reporter: "The men overseas created Jill. They made her what they wanted her to be — the girl back home."

One Navy Veteran later reflected, "GI Jill did so much to bolster our morale. She came across like a wholesome girl-next-door who began each radio show with 'Hi-ya, fellas! This is GI Jill with the GI Jive.' ... We all loved her."


Watch a short film reel of GI Jill on the air.

Jill's relationship with the troops went well beyond the 15 minutes of each broadcast. As servicemen wrote letters asking her to play certain records, she tried to reply to each letter she received, answering as many as 500 letters per week and including a photograph of herself with her letter. The interaction went both ways as some listeners sent Jill pictures of themselves, leading her to comment, "I think I was the only person in the world who had pinup boys." Some troops even sent her hand-made trinkets like a bracelet fashioned from a crashed airplane's broken window and a crudely inscribed heart-shaped pendant saying, "To Jill from Lou, 1944".

Reflecting on her experiences in broadcasting, Wilkerson called her work as GI Jill, "the most important thing I've ever done in my life."  Martha Wilkerson sadly passed away in 1999 at the age of 80.  GI Jill will always be remembered as a radio hero for the Allies.

You can learn more about GI Jill on The Big Band and Swing Podcast.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.



Harlan Leonard

Picture of Harlan Leonard

Harlan Leonard was a clarinetist and bandleader whose career spanned from the early 1920's and lasted into the mid 1940's.  His bands didn't achieve huge national success, but still featured some great tunes. The music he released later in his career are great examples of the transition between swing and bebop. 

Leonard was born in Kansas City in 1905. He joined Bennie Moten's orchestra in 1923, where he led the reed section. In 1931, he left Moten's band and formed the Kansas City Skyrockets, which had some limited success in the Kansas City area.  

Leonard eventually retooled his sound a bit and in 1939 he formed Harlan Leonard and His Rockets.  The band featured a young Myra Taylor and soon became a top Kansas City regional band and toured nationally.

Listen to Harlen Leonard and His Rockets perform "Rock and Ride"

The band broke up during the Second World War, and sadly, Leonard had permanently left the music scene by 1945.

Interesting side note:  Rumor has it that Charlie Parker played in Leonard's band for five weeks, but he was fired by Harlan for lack of discipline.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Free Music Download

Charlie Barnet

Charlie Barnet - Radio Recordings: 1947 - 
This recording features the songs: "Skyliner",  "Strolling",  "You're My Thrill" and "Murder at Peyton Hall" from a Live Radio Performance that took place in 1947.  The audio has been cleaned up and is a classic performance by Charlie Barnet and His Orchestra.

- Only Available for a Limited Time -
Free Music Download
- Click Button to Download Your Free Recording -


Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Podcast: Episode 30

The Big Band and Swing Podcast

The Big Band and Swing Podcast -  Episode 30: Hampton, Fitzgerald and that 'Ol Trusty Fridge

Hey there People of Swing! In this episode we listen to some Stan Kenton, Martha Tilton, Lionel Hampton and Ella Fitzgerald.  Ronnaldo also discusses that old fridge you may have in the garage or basement.

Listen to The Big Band and Swing Podcast

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Send Us Your Song Requests

Send Your Requests

We want to hear from YOU!  Send us your Song Requests and Comments! Don't be shy...

Swing City Radio has now made it very easy to Request to hear your favorite Big Band songs on our station.  Simply click on the "Send a Song Request" button located on the far right side of our website to send your Request though SpeakPipe. Just follow the directions, it's very easy.  We even made a video (located below) to show you how to do it step by step. Feel free to send us your thoughts and comments this way too.


Watch video to learn how to Send a Request to Swing City Radio

One last thing, you'll see that we always ask for your email.  Why? Because I make every attempt to email you back to let you know when I will be playing the song that you've requested.  In the past, listeners really have appreciated this because they can make sure they are tuned in to the station when it plays. 

... and honestly, I love to email Swing City Radio fans and thanking you for listening.

You can still send us requests and comments the more traditional ways as well.  Check out our Song Requests page for more information.  We will continue to offer our Listener Hotline and Email Request form for listeners that prefer those methods. You are also always welcome to send in your request through the very old fashion way of carrier pigeon, but we can't guarantee that it will be played.  :) 

So let's hear from you!  Send me those Song Requests and Comments today.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.

Dinah Shore

Dinah Shore

Dinah Shore was a singer, actress and television personality, and the top-charting female vocalist of the 1940's. She rose to prominence as a recording artist during the Big Band era. I have to say, Dinah was a HUGE artist during the era, but history seems to remember Doris Day and Patti Page more, maybe because they were so similar stylistically. She eventually moved on to television and achieved even greater success a decade later.

Her music career started off bumpy, after failing singing auditions for the bands of Benny Goodman, and both Dorsey brothers, Shore struck out on her own. She became the first singer of her era to achieve huge solo success. She had a string of 80 charted popular hits, spanning 1940–1957.

One of her most popular recordings was the holiday perennial "Baby, It's Cold Outside" with Buddy Clark. The song was covered by many other artists, such as Ella Fitzgerald. Other hits included "Laughing on the Outside (Crying on the Inside)", "I Wish I Didn't Love You So", "I Love You (For Sentimental Reasons)", "Doin' What Comes Naturally", and "Dear Hearts and Gentle People".

 
Listen to Dinah Shore sing "He's My Guy"

During World War II, Dinah Shore participated in the USO tours to Europe. She appeared in person, on radio, and on record with a number of British and American stars, including Major Glenn Miller and his large Army Air Force Band.

After appearing in a handful of feature films, she went on to a four-decade career in television.  I remember watching her shows with my Pop-Pop. I was too young to recall any details, but I know he was a fan of her.  Or maybe it was because there was only a handful of channels back then so you just watched what was on.  Regardless, I have memories of her on the tube.  :)


Watch Dinah Shore sing "See the U.S.A in Your Chevrolet" from a 1953 Commercial

TV Guide ranked her at number 16 on their list of the top 50 television stars of all time.

Listen to Swing City Radio to hear many of Dinah Shore's songs.

Swing City Radio: Playing Your Big Band and Swing Music Favorites from the 1930's, 40's and Today! - Big Band Radio Station Broadcasting Online from King of Prussia, PA.
Support Our Station: Affiliate Disclosure

Connect with Swing City Radio

Swing City Radio: Time Converter

World Clock

Support Our Station

Support Our Station: Affiliate Disclosure

Listen on Amazon Home Devices

Artists We Play

Free Music Downloads

Your Thoughts

Name

Email *

Message *