Photo from a post-card mailed in by Jim Barton, THANKS!

Rick Omert stands by the famous WLW Moon River organ, so named because of the late nite broadcasts of the same name that featured this organ's music. This organ was originally installed in WLW Radio, the famous station that was granted superpower back in the 1930's to operate with 500,000 watts from Cincinnati. (The old transmitter still exists at the WLW site near Cincinnati.) It was during this time that WLW earned its slogan, "The Nation's Station". This organ is now located in the Shady Nook Restaurant on US 27, Millville, OH. At least one story in radio circles says that the owner of WLW, John Crosley, came in one night to the studio and Fats Waller was playing one of his own numbers on this organ, "Ain't Misbehavin", and that upon hearing this song on the mighty Moon-River organ, Crosley fired Waller, as that song was "disrespectful of the organ" which had been dedicated to Crosley's mother. Those were the days when all radio was live...and many stations had their own organs and orchestras for that matter. Whether or not that story is true has not been confirmed.

If you have not seen it, the movie recently released "Radioland Murders" (available at any Blockbuster) is a film that takes place in a radio station of yesteryear, and yes, there is even an organ in the radio station in the movie.

An original photo signed by staff organist Pat Gillick that clearly shows the real unit was a 3 manual console. Submitted by

This photo postcard scan of the WLW studios was sent in by Steven R. Scherer a Cincinnati area historian.
If you look closely, and have good eyes, you will see the picture shows the organ in the corner. We have a blow up here:

Another picture of the studio, empty this time
Surely there are some better photos of the organ out there.

Those of you that also enjoy radio nostalgia will enjoy visiting Steven R. Scherer's home page about the Crosley Radio Corporation

Those who enjoy old radio receivers will enjoy a visit to Jim's Crosley Antique Radio Page And for those Super Brave Souls that enjoy the technical end of radio broadcasting, don't miss the "WLW Transmitter Page" featuring pictures and stories of the golden age of radio back when the organ was on the air every night.

During the late months of 1930, and the depths of the Great Depression, Powel Crosley, Jr., owner of WLW, called his people at his radio station. He told them to come up with a new sign-off program that would be soothing and relaxing. "None of that dance music" he ended, "and I want it ready for airing tomorrow night."

The original Moon River program included a violin, female trio, narrator and theatre organ, naturally! The program aired well into the early fifties before it was pulled from the broadcast listings.

Moon River

(Opening) Moon River...
A lazy stream of dreams,
Where vain desires forget themselves
In the loveliness of sleep
Moon River...
Enchanged white ribbon
Twined in the hair of night
Where nothing is but sleep.
Dream on... sleep on...
Care will not seek for thee.
Float on.... drift on...
Moon River, to the sea.

Down the valley of a thousand yesterdays
Flow the bright waters of Moon River.
On and down forever flowing...forever waiting
To carry you down to the land of forgetfulness,
To the kingdom of sleep... to the realms of...
Moon River...
A lazy stream of dreams,
Where vain desires forget themselves
In the loveliness of sleep.
Moon River
Enchanted white ribbon
Twined in the hair of night,
Where nothing is but sleep.
Dream on... sleep on...
Care will not seek for thee.
Float on... drift on...
Moon River, to the sea.

Copyright owned by Jacor Corp., owner of WLW 700, Cincinnati

With respect to the organ's condition today, wrote to us on 02 Aug 98:

I just wanted to let you know of the current status of the Shady Nook Organ in Cincinnatti, Ohio.

The organ has been in sad shape for a while now, and this past month, has completely given up. The organ is no longer playable. Plans to get it working again are in the works, but the management has no money available, and are looking at getting insurance money to help. Rumor has it that "lightning stuck the relay". The restaurant is still open, and keyboards and piano are played.

I was on staff as a substitute organist there for a couple of years. The organ had no combination action. Pistons were actually used for some sound effects. Registration was completely by hand. The lift is just a forklift motor stuck in the basement, so if you tend to bounce around while you play an upbeat number, you litterally bounced the entire console on the lift. The first time I did this, I thought that I was going to die!

As I hear more on the status of the organ, I will let you know.


Dave Calendine

Email the Webmaster if you can provide any additional photos or information on this subject!

On 6/96 received a message from a Crosley regarding this organ:

Subject: crosley organ

My greatgrandfather was Powel Crosley he owned WLW. The story goes like this;he purchased the organ and installed it at the radio studio which was then located in his arlington street factory where the crosley radio was produced.He did dedicate the organ to his mother but he never fired anyone from misusing it.He asked the band leader,Eddie Byron house band to compose romantic organ music and poetry,which his mother loved very much,to be broadcast on the following evenings program.After the station had gone off the air Eddie and a well known violinist retired to a speakeasy for drinks.Powel would not have been so proud if at the time he had known this was the birthplace of moon river.After a couple of drinks he began thinking of his childhood and where he had grown up,with the moon on the river as it would sweep by gently,he started writing this down.As he was writing the violinist was playing his favorite concerto and in combination with the poetry of Eddie Byron the WLW program moon river was born.

Posted on the PIPORG-L List on 7/10/98

I have been told that the 4/32 Wurlitzer in the Shady Nook is actually the "Moon River" organ, although I have also read that there were multiple organs in the WLW studios.

At any rate, if you are ever in the vicinity of Oxford, Ohio, be sure to stop by the Shady Nook. The Wurlitzer is played nightly from 6-9 PM and Sunday afternoons, and the home-style food is excellent. If Betty Satterfield is playing, you might be even be able to persuade her to let you play a tune. When we visited recently, Betty let my eight-year-old nephew ride the console down into the pit and back up with her. Needless to say, he was really thrilled and is still talking about the experience! With fine musicians/goodwill ambassadors like Betty, maybe the future of the organ is brighter than we think. The Shady-Nook Theatre-Restaurant is located at 879 Millville-Oxford Rd (US 27), Hamilton, OH 45013-4381, Phone: 513-863-4343.

-George Greene

If you have any additional information about this organ, please email The Webmaster We would love to have some pictures of this organ installed in the Radio Station.
Delivery-Date: Mon, 13 Jul 98 19:20:58 GMT
From: Steven R. Scherer
Subject: Moon River Organ

You have a fantastic website.

I am a Cincinnati radio historian and wanted you to see the attached .GIF file.

This is a blow-up view of an organ from a postcard I aquired.

Steve Scherer
Purdue University
Communication Dept.

The Last update we had is not good news:

Subject: Moon River organ

Dear Sir:

I have been reading the web page:

About the Moon River Organ purported to be in Shady Nook Restaurant on US 27, Millville, OH: I visited the place in November of 2000. To my dissapointment, the restaurant has been closed for a long time. I took pictures of the outside of the restaurant. (These are posted below)


Aris Gerakis

Photos courtesy of and Copyright 2000 by Aris Gerakis

For those of you who love radio, check out information about the super station WLW in the days of yore on Jim Hawkins Transmitter Pages

This tidbit came along by a reader on 1/22/10:

Hi, I want to thank you for the text of the poem read on the moon river show. I heard it for years when I was growing up in the Cincinnati area, and I've been trying to recollect the words. I'm curious how long it ran on the air, I'm guessing from the early '30's into the '70's. I remember hearing that it was the longest running show on radio. One other thing I wanted to share about the Moon River organ. In about 1952, when I was 12, my father was a guest on a WLW weekly news show. I got to watch from the control room. I was amused when the announcer said "spontaneous and unrehearsed," as everyone was reading from a script. We were in a studio in a basement area. Next to the studio was a smaller one, just big enough for a large organ and an announcer. I was told, "That's where they do Moon River." I recollect the organ, which must by then have been of the electronic variety because no pipes were in evidence, had 2 manuals and pedals. I also had occasion to visit the WLW transmitter in Mason and saw the 500 KW rig, about 1957, so I was happy to see the pictures on your website. Thanks for the memories. David Ringo

I don't know if it is generally known that this organ had a very rare rank of pipes, a Musette. Wurlitzer built only six of these ranks. The other five were in the NY Paramount, Brooklyn, Detroit, St. Louis and San Francisco Fox theatres. The WLW Musette is in a large residence theatre organ near Thurmont, MD. I had the pleasure of knowing Moon River organist Lee Erwin for many years. Ray Brubacher
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