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.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Firestone's Two-fer: The Way It Was, 22 March

1948---For the first time, AM and FM radio simulcast a commercial radio program. The show chosen for the groundbreaker: The Voice of Firestone, which premiered on NBC in 1928 and enjoyed one of the longest lives of any classical or semi-classical music program in old-time radio history, perhaps giving thousands if not millions of listeners their first hearings of such music, until its radio life ended in June 1957.

Led by conductor Howard Barlow and vocalist John Charles Thomas (radio historian Gerald Nachman has called him "the Pavarotti of radio"), though it featured many more vocalists over its long life, The Voice of Firestone will enjoy another simulcasting highlight a year after its AM/FM double-play: the premier of its television version (NBC, 5 September 1949), will simulcast on NBC radio, and the simulcasts will remain until the radio version ends.

The Voice of Firestone will enjoy over a decade on television (it ended in 1963), though not entirely without criticism. "Long on musical value but often short on television production value, the show was faulted occasionally for its somewhat stilted visual style, its pretentious nature and its garish costume choices," writes Joel Sternberg for the Museum of Broadcast Communications. "In time, however, the series drew critical praise and a consistent audience of two to three million people per broadcast."


1945: HEART'S DESIRE---Telling his story to a dockside streetwalker may be a bigger mistake for former bank messenger and incurable dreamer Henry Doyle (Lloyd Nolan) as the memory lapse that keeps him from claiming back from a pawnshop a large sealed envelope---containing the never-recovered bank money he hid before his imprisonment for theft, on tonight's edition of Suspense. (CBS.) Writers: Robert Richards, Arthur Laurentz.

1948: A NIGHT TO FORGET---One actor (Ernest Chappell, who narrates) in a supernatural radio show becomes spooked when he begins taking his work to bed with him---in dreams involving his own death, on tonight's edition of Quiet, Please. (Mutual.) Additional cast: Al APril, Lon Clark, Polly Cole, James Monks, Kermit Murdock, Jack Tyler. Writer: Wyllis Cooper.

1956: THE JOLLY ROGER FRAUD MATTER, PART FOUR---When a suspicious insurance claim adjuster and a Coast Guard lieutenant are killed after questioning the story behind a luxury yacht burning and sinking, Dollar (Bob Bailey)---who's convinced the yacht's owner burned and sank the yacht himself, after his overseas accounts are frozen---fears the owner's comely secretary, who's helping Dollar solve the case, may be next on the hit list, on tonight's edition of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. (CBS.) Writer: Jack Johnstone.


1886---Chico Marx (as Leonard Marx; comedian: Flywheel, Shyster and Flywheel, Hollywood Hotel), New York City.
1893---Tio Vuolo (actor: The Goldbergs), Italy.
1895---Joseph Schildkraut (actor: Hollywood Hotel, Columbia Workshop, Intrigue), Vienna.
1913---Karl Malden (actor: The Aldrich Family, Our Gal Sunday, Theater Guild On the Air), Chicago; James Westerfield (actor: Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel), Nashville.
1917---Virginia Grey (actress: Lux Radio Theater), Los Angeles.
1920---Ross Martin (actor: Janice Grey), Grodek, Poland.
1924---Bill Wendell (announcer: Ten Troubled Years, Biography in Sound), New York City.
1931---William Shatner (actor: Canadian Broadcasting Corporation productions), Montreal.


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