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Richard Kimble

Old Time Radio

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Getting off the tangent of radio drama, no Christmas would be complete without Jack Benny shopping from Mel Blanc's department-store counter:

 

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Getting off the tangent of radio drama, no Christmas would be complete without Jack Benny shopping from Mel Blanc's department-store counter:

 

 The best versions are the 1946 broadcast (the first) and the 1954 edition with Mel Blanc and Bea Benaderet (called "Bee-itrisee" by Mel) sounding eerily like Barney and Betty Rubble six years ahead of time. SHE is the one who goes ballistic on Benny!

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Some nostalgia for nostalgia -- the story of Old Time radio fandom:

 

http://blog.commarts.wisc.edu/2015/03/02/the-formation-of-a-bootleg-radio-fan-culture/

In 1971, radio fan Sal Trapani published an open plea in the old-time radio fanzines Epilogue and Hello Again to organize and support a convention for “golden radio buffs.[1]” Epilogue’s editor George Jennings added a note under Trapani’s piece, writing, “we are reaching a stage of development in the collecting of old radio where there should be enough interested parties to support the convention theme.” Indeed, by the early 1970s, fandom surrounding classic network era radio had exploded. Local “Old Time Radio” (OTR) fan clubs existed in many major cities, including Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Buffalo, San Francisco, and others. Several prominent fanzines and newsletters produced for OTR collectors were being published and distributed. Many fans were producing fan shows that rebroadcast classic recordings of radio from their collections on local public, college, and commercial radio stations.

In October, 1971, the first radio fan convention was held in New Haven, Connecticut. Initially titled the Society of American Vintage-Radio Enthusiasts Convention, it would later be called the Friends of Old Time Radio Convention in 1976. While scholars like Elena Razlogova and Matt Hills have written about radio fandom, this area of scholarship has been largely ignored in critical media audience studies. I find this oversight even more surprising in the case of OTR fans, because their community has existed at least since August 26th, 1956, when the Radio Historic Society of America (RHSA) joined together to trade tapes. The fan community continues to have a strong presence both online and in larger cities. This post is part of a larger research project, in which I intervene in radio history to consider the formation of a radio fan community that circulated residual radio from the classic network era.

Collecting radio as a hobby really began to take off in the United States in the late 1940s, when the post-war consumer electronics market expanded with hi-fidelity sound technology and a community of amateur audiophiles emerged. American hobbyists began the widespread collection of radio recordings after the introduction of magnetic tape reel-to-reel home recording equipment in the late 1940s by companies like Ampex and 3M. This small but engaged subset of the hi-fi culture used them to record programs off-air, reformat from transcription discs to tape, and/or duplicate programs from other hobbyists’ recordings. Radio collecting was very much a bootleg culture, because most radio producers never commercially released radio recordings. This is especially true for the genres radio collectors valued most, the popular drama, comedy, variety, horror, and science fiction programs that enjoyed long serialized runs via network or syndicated distribution. The lack of any official catalog or episode guide for collectors, in addition to the nature of obtaining radio recordings over the air or on the black market, made this collecting a collaborative bootleg culture.

http://www.mwotrc.com/rr2009_10/historyotr.htm

The 1971 covers of Time and Newsweek were grim: ongoing war in Southeast Asia, environmental degradation, recession. Week after week there was little good news in sight. No wonder, then, that the time was right for a nostalgia boom, just as there had been during the dark days of World War II. A commentary in Time magazine wonders about “The Meaning of Nostalgia” (May 3, 1971).

Twenty-five thousand copies of Dick Tracy cases and twice as many copies of the adventures of Buck Rogers were sold to a weary public. Liberty magazine, which had gone under in the 50s, was reborn as a “nostalgia magazine.” Three hundred radio stations were broadcasting old time radio reruns. October 16, 1972 Newsweek hit the newsstands with a photo of film icon Marilyn Monroe and the caption “Yearning for the Fifties, the Good Old Days.”

The youth of the 30s, 40s, and 50s had come of age and didn’t necessarily like what they were finding. Is it any wonder that the old time radio hobby exploded in these years?

----

A December 1971 episode of The Golden Age of Radio series, devoted to the first major OTR convention:

 

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Ronald Colman made several very successful appearances on Jack Benny's show in the '40s, and eventually got his own radio series, the fondly-remembered Halls of Ivy. Colman played a college president, while his wife was played by RC's real-life spouse Benita Hume.

 

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A classic episode of The Halls of Ivy, with guest star Jack Benny. Every possible joke is wrung from Benny's established persona. I especially enjoyed the way the writers worked in the title of Benny's most notorious film.

 

"Jack Benny Visits Ivy" (11-22-50):

http://tinyurl.com/hy288ap

 

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For those who want to know what Old Time Radio was really like. Someday I'm going to have to get around to listening to this...

 

https://archive.org/details/CompleteBroadcastDay/WJSV_390921-COMPLETE_BROADCAST_DAY_PART_01.MP3

 

Complete Broadcast Day 

Radio station WJSV in Washington, D.C

September 21, 1939

 

 

On a September Thursday in 1939, the world's eyes were on Europe, where a long-feared war moved into its fourth week.

 

Americans' eyes were on Washington, where a joint session of Congress prepared to convene to hear an address from the President to clarify US neutrality policy. The day was clear, the temperatures mild.

 

And in Washington, DC, on the top floor of the Earle Building, located at the corner of Thirteenth and E Streets NW, the staff of radio station WJSV went about the business of just another broadcast day. 6:00 AM to 1:00 AM the following day -- a long succession of programs supplied down the line from New York, Chicago, or Hollywood via the Columbia Broadcasting System, supplemented by a handful of locally produced features.

 

Announcers Joe King, Hugh Conover, and John Charles Daly went thru their shifts as always -- reading news copy torn directly from a clattering United Press ticker, dropping in spot announcements for Zlotnick the Furrier and Sanitary Food Stores and Bulova Watches and other local clients, reading canned continuity designed to accompany musical selections from the World Transcription Library -- and standing by, always standing by, to hit that next scheduled station break. "This is Columbia's station for the nation's capital: WJSV, Washington."

 

Arthur Godfrey WJSVAnd as the day rolled on, local personalities Arthur Godfrey and Jean Abbey and Walter Johnson and Harry McTighe and staff organist John Salb all turned in their usual performances. Chief engineer Clyde Hunt and sales manager Bill Murdock and program director Lloyd Dennis, and general manager A. D. Willard, and station vice president Harry Butcher all went about their regular daily routines.

 

Just another day. Just another broadcast day evaporating into the ether, like all the days that came before and all the days that followed.

 

Except for one difference.

 

This one was recorded.

 

In its entirety.

 

On thirty-eight 16" double-sided lacquer discs.

 

Washington Senators Baseball programThe recordings were made after discussions between Harry Butcher of WJSV and R. D. W. Connor of the National Archives, following up on a series of discussions between Connor and John Bradley of the Archives' Division of Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings -- discussions which, in turn, were sparked by conversations between Bradley and WJSV's Special Events Director Ann Gillis nearly a year earlier about the value of preserving radio broadcast recordings. On October 30, 1939, the discs were turned over to the National Archives, and remain in the custody of that institution to the present day.

 

=====

 

From "The Sun Dial" in the morning, thru the morning soap operas, thru President Roosevelt's address to Congress, from a Washington Senators baseball game thru "Amos 'n' Andy" and "Major Bowes" and the "Columbia Workshop," from the evening news summaries thru the late-night dance band remotes, here is radio as it actually sounded that September Thursday in 1939 -- the good, the bad, the indifferent, the superior and the ridiculous, the quality and the dross. 
 
It's a once in a lifetime trip back to Radio's Golden Age. 

 

Schedule

 

6:30 Sundial with Arthur Godfrey (music)

8:30 Certified Magic Carpet (quiz show)

8:45 Bachelor's Children (soap)

9:00 Pretty Kitty Kelly (soap)

9:15 The Story of Myrt & Marge (soap)

9:30 Hilltop House (soap)

9:45 Stepmother (soap)

10:00 Mary Lee Taylor (soap)

10:15 Brenda Curtis (soap, featuring Agnes Moorehead)

10:30 Big Sister (soap)

10:45 Aunt Jenny's True Life Stories (soap that Bob & Ray loved to parody)

11:00 Jean Abbey (news for women)

11:15 When a Girl Marries (soap)

11:30 The Romance of Helen Trent (soap)

11:45 Our Gal Sunday (soap)

12:00 The Goldbergs (comedy)

12:15 Life Can Be Beautiful (soap)

12:30 Road of Life (soap)

12:45 This Day Is Ours (soap)

1:00 Sunshine Report (news)

1:15 The Life & Love of Dr. Susan (soap)

1:30 Your Family and Mine (soap)

1:45 News

2:00 President Roosevelt's Address to Congress (speech)

2:40 Premier Edouard Daladier

3:00 Address Commentary (news)

3:15 The Career of Alice Blair (soap)

3:30 News (news)

3:42 Rhythm & Romance

3:45 Scattergood Baines

4:00 Baseball: Cleveland Indians at Washington Senators (sports)

5:15 The World Dances (music)

5:30 News (news)

5:45 Sports News (news)

6:00 Amos and Andy (comedy)

6:15 The Parker Family (comedy)

6:30 Joe E. Brown (comedy)

7:00 Ask-It Basket (quiz)

7:30 Strange as it Seems (true stories)

8:00 Major Bowes' Original Amateur Hour (variety)

9:00 The Columbia Workshop - "Now It's Summer" (drama)

9:30 Americans at Work (true stories)

10:00 News (news)

10:15 Music (music)

10:30 Albert Warner (news)

11:30 Teddy Powell Band (music)

12:00 Louis Prima Orchestra (music)

12:30 Bob Chester Orchestra (music

 

 

Arthur Godfrey

 

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I listened to MY FAVORITE HUSBAND the other evening and was blown away by Lucille Ball's expressive voice. We all know her particular cadence & emphasis from years of watching her in I LOVE LUCY.

 

But hearing just her voice, you instantly visualize her face, her movements, you feel her emotions. A VERY impressive voice actress-no wonder she went on to become our most beloved housewife....

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I've read that people who have enjoyed old time radio dramas has also come to appriciate the more recent "twilight zone radio dramas", so you might want to check that out as well. :)

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For those who want to know what Old Time Radio was really like. Someday I'm going to have to get around to listening to this...

https://archive.org/details/CompleteBroadcastDay/WJSV_390921-COMPLETE_BROADCAST_DAY_PART_01.MP3

Complete Broadcast Day 

Radio station WJSV in Washington, D.C

September 21, 1939

 

 

I was going to ask you to post this in some other way, but then saw the actual URL when I quoted your post.  So in this reply I framed the URL in a code tag [<>] in case the TCM embedded flash audio player doesn't work for somebody else (it is fundamentally broken because in this case it goes to an entire webpage, not just an MP3 file...bad file naming technique on archive.org's part and TCM's embedded flash player only compounds the problem).

 

Very interesting find, thank you.

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Yeah, but that was the 1939 Amos & Andy, back when it was just a 15-min. comic-strip serial.

It improved greatly in 1942, when CBS expanded it into a big-budget half-hour sitcom, initially with actor guest stars:

https://archive.org/details/Amos_N_Andy/The_Amos_n_Andy_Show_44-10-13_ep041_Ichthyologist.mp3

 

(And because Gosden & Correll never sounded anything remotely like black people, listening to it today almost sounds like listening to a radio version of Walt Kelly's old "Pogo" strip.  

Andy and the Kingfish sound uncannily like you would picture Albert and Owl to sound like, odd observations and creative Southern English-mangling included.)

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Writers Bob Carroll Jr, Madelyn Pugh, and Jess Oppenheimer, the future brain trust behind I Love Lucy, go over a My Favorite Husband script with star Lucille Ball

 

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Ball and co-star Richard Denning rehearse a MFH script. A very rare photo of a bespectacled Lucy.

 

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Suspense
"The Night Reveals"
starring Fredric March and Jeanette Nolan
May 26, 1949

A fire investigator suspects that his wife is a compulsive arsonist

Classic episode adapted from a story by Cornell Woolrich
 

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