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.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

In The New Old-Time Radio Way: The Way It Was, 6 February

1974---The mastermind behind The Inner Sanctum Mysteries, The Thin Man, Terry and the Pirates, Bulldog Drummond, and Adventure Theater---to name just a few of his classic radio creations---launches one of the best and most respected bids to resurrect the feel, if not quite the actuality, of old-time radio: Himan Brown’s CBS Radio Mystery Theatre, with E.G. Marshall as its launch host.

The Peabody Award-winning (1975) series will run for eight years (Tammy Grimes will succeed Marshall as host in due course) and over 1,500 installments and earn induction into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1990. It will bring both old-time radio veterans and rising performers on the air---Agnes Moorehead, Celeste Holm, Richard Widmark, Howard da Silva, Mercedes McCambridge, John Lithgow, Tony Roberts, Mandy Patinkin, Morgan Fairchild, and Sarah Jessica Parker, among others.

Its creator's radio pedigree traced as far back as an early portrayal of Jake Goldberg, in the original serial comedy-drama The Rise of the Goldbergs (only later shortened to, simply, The Goldbergs. And his 1974 production is not the first time he has tried to either extend or revive the classic radio oeuvre: he was responsible for trying to turn the former Inner Sanctum into The NBC Radio Theatre in 1959. ("It was really Inner Sanctum in disguise. Great writers writing in the Gothic mode.") That show lasted 185 installments before cancellation.

And yet, for all the fondness with which it will be recalled, it will also be fair enough to argue as to just what The CBS Radio Mystery Theatre really set out to accomplish and whether it really proves as succesful in such terms as its eight-year life suggests.

The CBS Radio Mystery Theatre . . . was a nightly mix of original and classic creep shows . . . Brown gave it his customary all, but the series wasn't carried by enough CBS affiliates, or was shunted into a late-night hour, when its aging core audience was asleep.

---Gerald Nachman, in "Radio Noir---Cops and Grave Robbers," from Raised on Radio.) (New York: Pantheon, 1998.)

I don't see radio in that (nostalgic) sense. I don't want prop airplanes; I want jets. You can't produce an old show for today's audiences. Dialogue in 1997 is not what it was in 1937. There is no reason that radio can't accommodate drama now.

---Himan Brown, as cited by Nachman.

Neither the first nor the last attempt to resurrect the feel in contemporary terms of classic radio, The CBS Radio Mystery Theatre---no matter its flaws---is destined to be considered at least the bravest such attempt.


1924: AIR THE LORD’S PRAISE---The first worship service ever heard on radio---from St. Martin-in-the-Fields Church (Anglican), Trafalgar Square, London---is broadcast by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Toward year's end, the first of the church's Vicar's Christmas Appeal annual broadcasts will air.

1943: YOUNG BLUE EYES---Freshly minted as a solo singing star on Columbia Records, following an arduous break with bandleader Tommy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra makes his first radio turn as a solo performer, on Your Hit Parade. It preludes the debut of The Voice's first radio program as a host, the fifteen-minute music offering The Frank Sinatra Show, later the same year.


1949: PLANNING A TV SHOW---That's what a slightly disbelieving and customarily caustic Fred Allen is doing, with Bert Lahr as a particular partner in crime for a new television revue "before [television] turns back into radio again," heaven help them, on tonight's edition of The Fred Allen Show. (NBC.) Co-stars: Portland Hoffa, Kenny Delmar, Peter Donald, Parker Fenelly, Minerva Pious. Music: Al Goodman; featured singers: the Five DeMarco Sisters. Writers: Fred Allen, Bob Weiskopf.


1888---Bennett Kilpack (actor: the title role, Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons), U.K.
1905---Bill Johnstone (actor: The Shadow, Pepper Young's Family), New York City.
1911---Ronald Reagan (actor/panelist: Hollywood Byline; actor: Lux Radio Theater, Suspense), Tampico, Illinois.
1913---John Lund (actor: the title roles, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, Chaplain Jim), Rochester, New York.
1914---Thurl Ravenscroft (singer: The Sportsmen Quartet, on The Jack Benny Program, My Friend Irma, others), Norfolk, New Brunswick.


Blogger Gene Bach said...

All great information man!

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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I am majoring in Media and Communication Sciences, concentrating on Multimedia and Magazine Journalism, that is why I liked your blog.

I also like Radio and am planing to take a Radio Practicum course that my collage offers.

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Many Thanks,


2:02 PM  
Blogger Jeff Kallman said...

Gene---As always, I'm glad you enjoyed! That's why I do it---for my readers (all eight of them . . .)

3:33 PM  
Blogger Jeff Kallman said...

Fatma---Thank you so much for the kind words. I wish you the absolute best in your career path. And don't be the fool I was. Take what you have when you get it, and make it the best you can possibly make it, and don't even think about getting to the next level until you've made enough of the most of your current level that the next will come to you.

I made the mistake of worrying too much about whatever I was doing at the time I had the opportunity to do it being the one to get me to the next level. And for that among other mistakes I've paid the price. Big time. I don't want you or anyone else seeking to practise the profession to make the same mistakes. Don't be the fool I was.

Again, I wish you the best. And more.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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6:21 AM  

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