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Old Time Radio


Richard Kimble

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A thread devoted to classic comedy and drama of radio's golden age.

 

The golden age of radio coincided with the golden age of Hollywood. Many of Hollywood's biggest stars appeared on dramatic anthology shows like Lux Radio Theater (1934-55), usually in adaptations of well known films. Fans may want to check out performances of their favorite stars, often with unexpected co-stars or in unfamiliar material.

 

This site

http://www.audio-classics.com/lluxradio.html

Lists all the LRT episodes and their stars. Here are a few of the more intriguing titles:

 

02/03/36 #66 Green Grow The Lilacs w/John Boles, June Walker -- this is the play Oklahoma was based on

 

06/01/36 # 83 The Legionnaire And The Lady w/Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable -- a retitled version of Morocco

 

08/10/36 # 93 The Jazz Singer w/Al Jolson, Karen Morley

 

06/28/37 #139 The Front Page w/Walter Winchell, Josephine Hutchinson

 

12/06/37 #153 These Three w/Barbara Stanwyck, Errol Flynn

 

04/04/38 #170 Dark Victory w/Barbara Stanwyck, Melvyn Douglas -- a year before the film version

 

06/06/38 #179 A Doll's House w/Joan Crawford, Basil Rathbone

 

12/26/38 #199 Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs w/Thelma Hubbard, James Eagles

 

01/09/39 #201 Mayerling w/William Powell, Janet Gaynor

 

11/20/39 #238 Goodbye, Mr. Chips w/Laurence Olivier, Edna Best

 

12/25/39 #243 Pinocchio w/John Garfield (!!!), Cliff Edwards

 

12/09/40 #285 My Favorite Wife w/Laurence Olivier, Rosalind Russell

 

01/20/41 #291 The Cowboy And The Lady w/Gene Autry, Merle Oberon -- now THAT is a romantic couple

 

02/03/41 #293 Rebecca w/Ronald Colman, Ida Lupino -- IIRC Colman was the original choice for the role of Maxim de Winter

 

03/10/41 #298 The Awful Truth w/Bob Hope, Constance Bennett

 

09/14/42 #361 This Above All w/Tyrone Power, Barbara Stanwyck -- I don't believe they ever worked together on screen

 

12/28/42 #376 A Star Is Born w/Judy Garland, Walter Pidgeon -- 12 years before Judy's film version

 

02/08/43 #382 The Maltese Falcon w/Edward G. Robinson, Gail Patrick

 

04/05/43 #390 The Road To Morocco w/Bing Crosby, Bob Hope

 

01/24/44 #423 Casablanca w/Hedy Lamar, John Loder, Alan Ladd

 

09/11/44 #448 Break Of Hearts w/Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth

 

04/23/45 #480 The Petrified Forest w/Ronald Colman, Susan Hayward

 

10/27/47 #587 Stairway To Heaven w/Ray Milland, Ann Blyth -- is this an adaptation of A Matter Of Life And Death?

 

03/27/50 #695 The Man Who Came To Dinner w/Clifton Webb, Lucille Ball

 

11/06/50 #719 Rebecca w/Laurence Olivier, Vivian Leigh

 

12/25/50 #726 The Wizard Of Oz w/Judy Garland, Hans Conried

 

12/03/51 #767 Strangers On A Train w/Frank Lovejoy, Ray Milland

 

12/17/51 #769 The Men w/William Holden, Theresa Wright

 

11/03/52 #801 Viva Zapata w/Charlton Heston (!?), Jean Peters -- a warm up for Touch Of Evil I guess

 

07/20/53 #838 The Birds w/Herbert Marshall, Betty Lou Gerson -- yes, Daphne Du Maurier's short story, later filmed by Hitchcock

 

 

Many LRT episodes are available for free download here:

https://archive.org/details/Lux01

Can be DLed as mp3 files and listened to like a podcast or audio book.

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A thread devoted to classic comedy and drama of radio's golden age.

 

 

 

There are a lot of the old radio shows i.e. "The Shadow" and "Charlie Chan" on LP record.

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Shirley Temple did one in 1940 - "The Littlest Rebel. (not the movie) The LP is rare.

 

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These Three with Errol Flynn and Barbara Stanwyck was really good.  The only part that I didn't like was when the little girl was screaming; and that's only because the screaming was annoying to listen to through car speakers.  Perhaps if I was listening in an environment where I didn't have to raise the volume in order to be able to hear over the highway noise. 

 

I also really liked "Break of Hearts" with Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth.  Like in many of his performances, Welles uses an accent.  I think what makes this performance even more interesting is that Welles and Hayworth were married.  Aside from The Lady From Shanghai, I don't know of anything else that Welles and Hayworth did together.  In one way, they seem like such an odd couple; but on the other hand, I kind of like them together.  It's a shame it didn't work out.  Although I could see Welles being really intense, so I could see how that would be annoying.  Out of her 5 husbands, I think Welles was probably the best one. 

 

Another really good Lux Radio Theater performance is The Perfect Specimen with Errol Flynn, Joan Blondell and May Robson.  Since there is some type of copyright dispute (or something) that keeps the movie from being aired on television, the radio version is my only way to "see" one of the few Flynn films I haven't seen.  The radio performance is excellent.  Robson is hilarious as the cranky grandmother.  I really liked Blondell's performance and Flynn was also excellent as the aptly named "Perfect Specimen."

 

Lucille Ball's performances in her radio show My Favorite Husband are also fun.  Since her radio show was written by the same team who also wrote I Love Lucy, there are many MFH episodes that have storylines reminiscent to ILL

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These Three with Errol Flynn and Barbara Stanwyck was really good.  The only part that I didn't like was when the little girl was screaming; and that's only because the screaming was annoying to listen to through car speakers.  Perhaps if I was listening in an environment where I didn't have to raise the volume in order to be able to hear over the highway noise. 

 

I also really liked "Break of Hearts" with Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth.  Like in many of his performances, Welles uses an accent.  I think what makes this performance even more interesting is that Welles and Hayworth were married.  Aside from The Lady From Shanghai, I don't know of anything else that Welles and Hayworth did together.  In one way, they seem like such an odd couple; but on the other hand, I kind of like them together.  It's a shame it didn't work out.  Although I could see Welles being really intense, so I could see how that would be annoying.  Out of her 5 husbands, I think Welles was probably the best one. 

 

Another really good Lux Radio Theater performance is The Perfect Specimen with Errol Flynn, Joan Blondell and May Robson.  Since there is some type of copyright dispute (or something) that keeps the movie from being aired on television, the radio version is my only way to "see" one of the few Flynn films I haven't seen.  The radio performance is excellent.  Robson is hilarious as the cranky grandmother.  I really liked Blondell's performance and Flynn was also excellent as the aptly named "Perfect Specimen."

 

Lucille Ball's performances in her radio show My Favorite Husband are also fun.  Since her radio show was written by the same team who also wrote I Love Lucy, there are many MFH episodes that have storylines reminiscent to ILL

 

Speaking of Orson Wells, his infamous "War of The Worlds" broadcast of October 30, 1938 (Mercury Theatre) is what made him a household name.  Scared the nation to death who wanted his head.

 

0947.jpg

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Speaking of Orson Wells, his infamous "War of The Worlds" broadcast of October 30, 1938 (Mercury Theatre) is what made him a household name.  Scared the nation to death who wanted his head.

 

0947.jpg

The War of the Worlds broadcast is amazing.  It was very clever of the Mercury Theater to frame the broadcast in the form of a news broadcast with "breaking reports" of the invasion.  I could see how someone who missed the beginning of the show that clearly set up the fact that it was fiction, would be led to believe that there were real invasions. 

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The New Adventures Of Nero Wolfe

(1950-1)

 

https://archive.org/details/OTRR_New_Adventures_of_Nero_Wolfe_Singles

 

Sidney Greenstreet starred as Rex Stout's corpulantly stationary detective in this series of 26 episodes. Gerald Mohr, Harry Bartell, and Lawrence Dobkin all took turns playing Wolfe's legman Archie Goodwin (allegedly the show went through so many Archies because Greenstreet did not like being upstaged).

 

IMHO Greenstreet was the closest-ever to the Wolfe of the books (I've never seen the highly regarded '70s TV movie with Thayer David).

 

Wolfe-NW-NBC-Radio.jpg

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Since 1964 Washington's WAMU-FM has had a Sunday night (7:00 to 11:00)  "Big Broadcast" show that features broadcasts of classic radio shows from the 30's through the 50's.  A bonus is that it also includes the original commercials that were included in the shows.  It's one of the purest nostalgia shows on the air, and it shows no signs of running down, since it runs #1 in its time slot and has a surprisingly young demographic.

 

There's a recent NPR feature on the show that you can listen to here.  It's terrific.

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Since War of the Worlds was previously mentioned in the thread, I thought I would post a list of Welles' Mercury Theatre broadcasts. The program had a new sponsor in late '38 and became known as The Campbell Playhouse. These productions are available at http://www.mercurytheatre.info/

 

MERCURY THEATRE ON THE AIR

 

1938

7.11            DRACULA                                                

7.18            TREASURE ISLAND                           

7.25            A TALE OF TWO CITIES                        

8.01            THE 39 STEPS          

8.08            THREE SHORT STORIES                         

8.15            ABRAHAM LINCOLN              

8.22            THE AFFAIRS OF ANATOL             

8.29            THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO    

9.05            THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY

9.11            JULIUS CAESAR                    

9.25            SHERLOCK HOLMES                                    

10.09          HELL ON ICE                                    

10.16          SEVENTEEN (before the film version)                                          

10.23          AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS  (before the film version)         

10.30          THE WAR OF THE WORLDS (before the film version)    

11.06          HEART OF DARKNESS/LIFE WITH FATHER

11.13          A PASSENGER TO BALI

11.20          THE PICKWICK PAPERS 

           

 

THE CAMPBELL PLAYHOUSE

 

1938

12.09          REBECCA...with Margaret Sullavan & Mildred Natwick (before the film version)

12.23          A CHRISTMAS CAROL...with Joseph Cotten

 

1939

1.06            COUNSELLOR-AT-LAW...with Aline MacMahon

1.13            MUTINY ON THE BOUNTY...with Joseph Cotten

1.27            I LOST MY GIRLISH LAUGHTER

2.03            ARROWSMITH...with Helen Hayes (Hayes was in the film)

2.10            THE GREEN GODDESS

3.10            THE GLASS KEY (before the Alan Ladd remake)                           

3.17            BEAU GESTE...with Laurence Olivier

3.31            SHOW BOAT...with Helen Morgan

4.14            THE PATRIOT

4.21            PRIVATE LIVES...with Gertrude Lawrence

5.05            WICKFORD POINT

5.12            OUR TOWN (before the film version)                                              

5.19            THE BAD MAN                                    

5.26            THINGS WE HAVE

6.02            VICTORIA REGINA

9.10            PETER IBBETSON...with Helen Hayes

9.17            AH, WILDERNESS!...with Joseph Cotten & Arlene Francis

9.24            WHAT EVERY WOMAN KNOWS...with Helen Hayes (Hayes was in the film)

10.01          THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO          

10.08          ALGIERS...with Paulette Goddard

10.15          ESCAPE

10.22          LILLIOM...with Helen Hayes

10.29          THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS...with Walter Huston (before the film version)

11.05          THE HURRICANE...with Mary Astor (Astor was in the film)

11.12          THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD...with Edna May Oliver

11.19          THE GARDEN OF ALLAH...with Madeleine Carroll

11.26          DODSWORTH...with Fay Bainter

12.03          LOST HORIZON...with Sigrid Gurie

12.10          VANESSA...with Helen Hayes (Hayes was in the film)

12.17          THERE’S ALWAYS A WOMAN...with Marie Wilson

12.24          A CHRISTMAS CAROL...with Lionel Barrymore

 

1940

1.07            VANITY FAIR...with Helen Hayes

1.14            THEODORA GOES WILD...with Loretta Young (Young later did THE STRANGER)

1.21            THE CITADEL...with Geraldine Fitzgerald

1.28            IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT...with William Powell & Miriam Hopkins

2.11            MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN...with Gertrude Lawrence

2.18            DINNER AT EIGHT...with Hedda Hopper & Lucille Ball (Orson later did I Love Lucy)

2.25            ONLY ANGELS HAVE WINGS...with Joan Blondell

3.03            RABBLE IN ARMS...with Frances Dee

3.10            CRAIG’S WIFE...with Ann Harding (before the remake with Joan Crawford)

3.17            HUCKLEBERRY FINN...with Jackie Cooper & Clarence Muse

3.24            JUNE MOON...with Jack Benny

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  • 3 months later...

I was reading this article:

http://www.midcoast.com/~lizmcl/rfy.html

when I saw a mention of a program I'd never heard of before:

 

Another approach to the variety format was taken by the Maxwell House Show Boat. Premiering in 1931, this Thursday night favorite drew from two major inspirations: the Ferber/Kern/Hammerstein stage production and the "Showboat" program heard in the late 20s over WLS, Chicago. For several seasons, it was the most popular program on the networks, and inspired an almost fanatical loyalty among its predominantly female fans.

 

The Maxwell House Show Boat rode a river of sentimentality -- the Depression-era version of "nostalgia" for the "simpler times" of  the Old South. Even though no attempt was made to reflect a period setting for the show, the entire tone of the program was redolent of cotton blossoms and magnolia, having little to do with the grit and grime of Depression America. It also broke ground in the way in which it combined fictional characters like "Captain Henry"  and blackface deckhands "Molasses and January" with real-life cast members like Lanny Ross and Annette Hanshaw. It was an unusual combination of corn and class, and it  inspired occasional imitations. None remained afloat as long as the original, and certainly none inspired the loyalty that filled the pages of many a fan magazine. 

 

 

wZVLTAR.jpg

 

The description of how it reminded people of simpler times made me think of Petticoat Junction, which is technically set in the 1960s but everybody acts like it's 1910.

 

Here is a short film giving a behind the scenes look at the production of a MHSB episode. It features the only extant film footage of singer Annette Hanshaw.

 

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A thread devoted to classic comedy and drama of radio's golden age.

 

The golden age of radio coincided with the golden age of Hollywood. Many of Hollywood's biggest stars appeared on dramatic anthology shows like Lux Radio Theater (1934-55), usually in adaptations of well known films. Fans may want to check out performances of their favorite stars, often with unexpected co-stars or in unfamiliar material.

 

This site

http://www.audio-classics.com/lluxradio.html

Lists all the LRT episodes and their stars. Here are a few of the more intriguing titles:

 

02/03/36 #66 Green Grow The Lilacs w/John Boles, June Walker -- this is the play Oklahoma was based on

 

06/01/36 # 83 The Legionnaire And The Lady w/Marlene Dietrich, Clark Gable -- a retitled version of Morocco

 

08/10/36 # 93 The Jazz Singer w/Al Jolson, Karen Morley

 

06/28/37 #139 The Front Page w/Walter Winchell, Josephine Hutchinson

 

12/06/37 #153 These Three w/Barbara Stanwyck, Errol Flynn

 

04/04/38 #170 Dark Victory w/Barbara Stanwyck, Melvyn Douglas -- a year before the film version

 

06/06/38 #179 A Doll's House w/Joan Crawford, Basil Rathbone

 

12/26/38 #199 Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs w/Thelma Hubbard, James Eagles

 

01/09/39 #201 Mayerling w/William Powell, Janet Gaynor

 

11/20/39 #238 Goodbye, Mr. Chips w/Laurence Olivier, Edna Best

 

12/25/39 #243 Pinocchio w/John Garfield (!!!), Cliff Edwards

 

12/09/40 #285 My Favorite Wife w/Laurence Olivier, Rosalind Russell

 

01/20/41 #291 The Cowboy And The Lady w/Gene Autry, Merle Oberon -- now THAT is a romantic couple

 

02/03/41 #293 Rebecca w/Ronald Colman, Ida Lupino -- IIRC Colman was the original choice for the role of Maxim de Winter

 

03/10/41 #298 The Awful Truth w/Bob Hope, Constance Bennett

 

09/14/42 #361 This Above All w/Tyrone Power, Barbara Stanwyck -- I don't believe they ever worked together on screen

 

12/28/42 #376 A Star Is Born w/Judy Garland, Walter Pidgeon -- 12 years before Judy's film version

 

02/08/43 #382 The Maltese Falcon w/Edward G. Robinson, Gail Patrick

 

04/05/43 #390 The Road To Morocco w/Bing Crosby, Bob Hope

 

01/24/44 #423 Casablanca w/Hedy Lamar, John Loder, Alan Ladd

 

09/11/44 #448 Break Of Hearts w/Orson Welles, Rita Hayworth

 

04/23/45 #480 The Petrified Forest w/Ronald Colman, Susan Hayward

 

10/27/47 #587 Stairway To Heaven w/Ray Milland, Ann Blyth -- is this an adaptation of A Matter Of Life And Death?

 

03/27/50 #695 The Man Who Came To Dinner w/Clifton Webb, Lucille Ball

 

11/06/50 #719 Rebecca w/Laurence Olivier, Vivian Leigh

 

12/25/50 #726 The Wizard Of Oz w/Judy Garland, Hans Conried

 

12/03/51 #767 Strangers On A Train w/Frank Lovejoy, Ray Milland

 

12/17/51 #769 The Men w/William Holden, Theresa Wright

 

11/03/52 #801 Viva Zapata w/Charlton Heston (!?), Jean Peters -- a warm up for Touch Of Evil I guess

 

07/20/53 #838 The Birds w/Herbert Marshall, Betty Lou Gerson -- yes, Daphne Du Maurier's short story, later filmed by Hitchcock

 

 

Many LRT episodes are available for free download here:

https://archive.org/details/Lux01

Can be DLed as mp3 files and listened to like a podcast or audio book.

Interesting that TV was initially considered a step down from films. Apparently radio, in the '30s and '40s, was not. True?

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Interesting that TV was initially considered a step down from films. Apparently radio, in the '30s and '40s, was not. True?

 

It was not seen as affecting the stars' box office drawing power. The following, all at the top of their popularity, starred in radio series:

 

Jimmy Stewart -- The Six Shooter (later reworked for TV as Restless Gun)

 

Cary Grant -- Mr. Blandings

 

Alan Ladd -- Box 13 (He later did an episode of this for the GE Theater TV show)

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It was not seen as affecting the stars' box office drawing power. The following, all at the top of their popularity, starred in radio series:

 

Jimmy Stewart -- The Six Shooter (later reworked for TV as Restless Gun)

 

Cary Grant -- Mr. Blandings

 

Alan Ladd -- Box 13 (He later did an episode of this for the GE Theater TV show)

On radio, the stars were able to exert promotional clout for their films, even if they did not specifically mention the films.

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Since 1964 Washington's WAMU-FM has had a Sunday night (7:00 to 11:00)  "Big Broadcast" show that features broadcasts of classic radio shows from the 30's through the 50's.  A bonus is that it also includes the original commercials that were included in the shows.  It's one of the purest nostalgia shows on the air, and it shows no signs of running down, since it runs #1 in its time slot and has a surprisingly young demographic.

 

There's a recent NPR feature on the show that you can listen to here.  It's terrific.

Andy,

 

I just worry about what will happen once Ed Walker gives up the show. He must be in his mid 80s by now.  His old radio partner Willard Scott has been lounging around in Florida for more than a decade. We were lucky that Ed was available when the founder John Hickman had his stroke, but who will be there to take it next?

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Wouldn't just be wonderful to turn on a radio and receive entertainment...the likes of the shows mentioned below.  I have listened to the Washington Big Broadcasts and other radio stations over the internet.  I also love shows like the The Shadow and then there was Bob and Ray.  You are able to find some of these broadcasts on a website called Shout, I think.  Anyway...how many of you TCM'ers grew up with a floor radio in the living room and listened while laying on the floor to your favourite shows. 

 

I know my mother listened to the Arthur Godfrey Show and something from Chicago with a breakfast club, but the name escapes me.  She didn't much like the soaps.  But one other tidbit this post reminded me of....listening to the Detroit radio station read the comics from the Sunday Detroit Free Press.   We could follow along with our favourites; Lil Abner (politically incorrect), the Katzenjammer Kids (also not politically correct) and Steve Canyon as well as Blondie and others.  Oh...thanks you all for a trip down memory lane.

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There's a powerful AM radio station from Toronto (AM 740), that specializes in nostalgia.  On a clear night I can usually get it.  Fridays at 10 PM they broadcast "Theater Of The Mind", which is old radio shows, both dramas and comedies.  I have heard "The Shadow", "Father Knows Best", and Jack Benny", among others.  On Sunday nights they have big band music, which I enjoy.  If you live in the northeast U.S. or eastern Canada, you may be able to pull the station in.

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Wouldn't just be wonderful to turn on a radio and receive entertainment...the likes of the shows mentioned below.  I have listened to the Washington Big Broadcasts and other radio stations over the internet.  I also love shows like the The Shadow and then there was Bob and Ray.  You are able to find some of these broadcasts on a website called Shout, I think.  Anyway...how many of you TCM'ers grew up with a floor radio in the living room and listened while laying on the floor to your favourite shows. 

 

I know my mother listened to the Arthur Godfrey Show and something from Chicago with a breakfast club, but the name escapes me. 

 

3Gqz0Gn.jpg

 

 

9uJaFjH.jpg

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Fridays at 10 PM they broadcast "Theater Of The Mind", which is old radio shows, both dramas and comedies.

 

That radio show plays every night from 10-midnight here in all of central NY. One night is comedies, often with Jack Benny or Groucho Marx, other nights focus on crime, mysteries, westerns and horror. It's great only wish it wasn't on so late.

 

I just finished reading Sheldon Leonard's autobiography and he had a LOT to say about sponsorship & the quality of product. 

He much preferred when sponsors supported an entire show, like in radio days. Early TV kept the tradition, but once they broke up "time" into little increments with multiple sponsors, he felt the artistic quality of shows went downhill fast. 

 

"Ratings" took over, pushing the money aspect higher than content. Leonard felt everything went downhill because of that.

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That radio show plays every night from 10-midnight here in all of central NY. One night is comedies, often with Jack Benny or Groucho Marx, other nights focus on crime, mysteries, westerns and horror. It's great only wish it wasn't on so late.

 

I just finished reading Sheldon Leonard's autobiography and he had a LOT to say about sponsorship & the quality of product. 

He much preferred when sponsors supported an entire show, like in radio days. Early TV kept the tradition, but once they broke up "time" into little increments with multiple sponsors, he felt the artistic quality of shows went downhill fast. 

 

"Ratings" took over, pushing the money aspect higher than content. Leonard felt everything went downhill because of that.

 

 

I like that nightly aspect. The Big Broadcast in DC is once a week for four hours, a bit of a commitment prior to computers. Of course now we can stream it all week and stop and start where we choose.

 

Leonard may be right. Another thing that caused was that shows now only get a couple of airing to find an audience or they are gone.  Shows with a single sponsor were going to last at least half a season in the old days.

 

The flip side is that the sponsor could exert much greater control over content under that system. Now the network executives do that. 

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There's a powerful AM radio station from Toronto (AM 740), that specializes in nostalgia.  On a clear night I can usually get it.  Fridays at 10 PM they broadcast "Theater Of The Mind", which is old radio shows, both dramas and comedies.  I have heard "The Shadow", "Father Knows Best", and Jack Benny", among others.  On Sunday nights they have big band music, which I enjoy.  If you live in the northeast U.S. or eastern Canada, you may be able to pull the station in.

On my radio, I have trouble pulling in the Philly AM stations.

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  • 11 months later...

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