Country and rockabilly performer Bonnie Lou was born Mary Jo Kath in Talawanda, IL, on October 27, 1924. The signal from Chicago's AM powerhouse WLS reached loud and clear into central Illinois, and Bonnie grew up listening to Prairie Ramblers recordings featuring the yodeling cowgirl vocals of Patsy Montana. Mary also learned to yodel, both through those old records and the influence of her Swiss grandmother. She also studied violin and guitar as a child. By 16, Mary was singing on a radio show in Bloomington, IL; two years later, she was performing as Sally Carson with the Brush Creek Follies radio variety show, airing each Saturday from KMBC in Kansas City. The Brush Creek Follies program was regularly broadcast nationwide through the Columbia radio network. This valuable exposure led Mary to WLW in Ohio, where station exec Bill McLuskey hired her as a singer and yodeler with his Midwestern Hayride country & western radio program. McLuskey also christened Mary with the Bonnie Lou moniker. While with the Hayride, Bonnie performed regularly with the Girls of the Golden West, a cowboy yodeling combo she used to hear on WLS as a child.