Jeff Kallman's excellent The Easy Ace: A Journal of Classic Radio
is a wonderful place to spend hours on end, rediscovering the Golden Age of Radio
as it's meant to be discovered and celebrated. Article after article
is filled with a wonderful new vignette about Golden Age Radio History.
---The Digital Deli Online.

[I]n his matchless on-this-day approach to chronicling “yesteryear,”
he easily aces out a less organized mind like mine,
which promptly lapsed into a more idiosyncratic mode of relating the past.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Figurehead, Not Fountainhead: The Way It Was, 4 February

1952---At the height of his groundbreaking career with the Brooklyn Dodgers, and in the thick of the seasons by which those teams would become immortalised in due course as The Boys of Summer, future Hall of Fame infielder Jackie Robinson achieves another first: he becomes the first black executive to be hired by NBC, which names him a vice president and director of community services during baseball's off-season.

However, Robinson will come to believe he is more a figurehead than a genuine leader, and resign the position two years after landing it . . . and two years before he plays his final season of major league baseball.


1922---WGY goes on the air for the first time in Schenectady, New York. Seven months later, beginning with a broadcast adaptation of Eugene Walter's play, The Wolf, after actor Edward Smith convinced program director Kolin Hager to give the idea a try, the station's WGY Players launch radio's first regular drama series, with forty-three plays adapted for forty-minute radio productions over the following year.

1927---KGA goes on the air for the first time in Spokane, Washington. It becomes an NBC Blue Network affiliate in due course and, eventually, a Citadel Broadcasting Corporation outlet whose programming includes conservative talk-show hosts Mark Fuhrman, Laura Ingraham, Bill O'Reilly, Michael Savage, and Rollye James.

1935---Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch, a soap opera adapted by Frank and Anne Hummert from the novel by Alice Caldwell Rice, premieres on CBS, moving to NBC a year later and ending production 23 December 1938.

Classic radio mainstay Betty Garde---later a stage, film, and television actress---stars as the title character. Garde's radio credits will also include America's Hour, Front Page Farrell, The Henry Morgan Show, Jane Arden, Joe and Mabel, and---especially---Lorenzo Jones, the comic soap opera on which she played, as the announcer intoned in the standard introduction, "his devoted wife, Belle. Lorenzo's inventions have made him a character to the town, but not to Belle, who loves him."


1948: BLACKIE LOVES HELEN---Mary (Jan Minor) finds out the hard way but doesn't think it's the real thing---and with good reason, considering for whom Helen Carver works and what she really wants from Blackie (Richard Kollmar), on tonight's episode of Boston Blackie. (Syndicated.)

1951: PLAY BALL!---Or, as spring training looms, play a little friendly husband-and-wife rivalry between a famous/infamous (it depends on a) your point of view; or, b) whether you are a Brooklyn Dodgers fan) manager and his tart spouse (Leo Durocher, then manager of the rival New York Giants, and actress Laraine Day, then his real-life wife). Otherwise, enjoy Fred Allen, Bob Cummings, Jimmy Durante, Portland Hoffa (Mrs. Allen, of course), and Judy Holliday, on tonight's edition of The Big Show. (NBC.) Hostess: Tallulah Bankhead; music: Meredith Willson; writers: Goodman Ace, Fred Allen (actually the kind-of script doctor), Selma Diamond, Frank Wilson.


1889---Walter Catlett (actor: This Is Your FBI, Escape, Campbell's Playhouse), San Francisco.
1901---Tom McKnight (writer/producer/director, Beulah, The Gibson Family), unknown.
1904---MacKinlay Kantor (writer: Lest We Forget, Author's Playhouse), Webster City, Iowa.
1908---Gordon Fraser (newscaster, NBC Blue Network), Lawrence, Massachussetts; Manny Klein (trumpeter: The Ipana Troubadors), New York City.
1909---Robert Coote (actor: Campbell's Playhouse), London.
1912---Erich Leinsdorf (conductor: The NBC Symphony), Vienna.
1918---Ida Lupino (actress/panelist: Hollywood Byline, Screen Guild Theater), London.
1918---Janet Waldo (actress: Meet Corliss Archer, One Man's Family)


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