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.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Barking at the Moondog: The Way It Was, 3 May

1958---Once upon a time, disc jockeys got fired for what some people think might be a little worse than merely a potty or a bigoted mouth. Actually or allegedly provoking a riot comes at once to mind.

Neither a potty nor a bigoted mouth does Alan (Moondog) Freed have. But he does have, depending upon your point of view, a gutsy or a damn fool mouth, sometimes. Thus does he get himself fired from New York WINS, after his bust for incitement to riot when a hockey game broke out at a Boston rock and roll show he promoted and hosted . . . after he told the audience, reputedly, that the police didn't want them to have fun.

As Freed himself loves to sign off, it isn't goodbye---it's merely good night. The incitement charge will be dropped, and WABC will snap up Freed soon enough. A year and a half before the self-anointed Father of Rock and Roll (he coined the music name, even if he wasn't even close to the first to play the music on the air) faces the kind of legal trouble that makes one dropped riot charge resemble one mint julep at Smokey Joe's Cafe.


1910: BOSTON PRESENTS CORWIN---The cry at the doctor's slap on the seat today proves merely the first note of triumph delivered by one of old-time radio's dramatic virtuosi.

Because of him I discovered Whitman, Wolfe, and, indirectly, Shakespeare, and Shaw. In sum, he gave me the greatest gift any man give another: to dare to speak in great tongues.---Ray Bradbury, author who has written for radio and television.

Anything I know about drama today comes more from Norman Corwin than anybody.---Robert Altman, film director.

[He was] the Bard of radio's golden age. It was no contest.---Studs Terkel, journalist.

Corwin wanted to rediscover America on the air.---Gerald Nachman, historian.

There are a great many contributing elements to the art of radio. I use the word art very consciously and deliberately. The eye has to be entertained in a way that the ear doesn't. Chases, automobiles hurtling from rooftop to rooftop, the obligatory mayhem that you see on TV---action! action! Whereas the ear is a refined sense. It is through the ear, after all, that we perceive the sublimest of the arts, which is music. We don't see the Beethoven Ninth.---Norman Corwin.

1945: "I'M WATCHING THE SIGHT WE HOPED WE'D SEE"---You could consider this a kind of birthday present for Norman Corwin, some of whose radio virtuosity has helped a nation (and a world) at war keep its better spirit alive: W.V. Thomas of the BBC reports the Wehrmacht surrender in Lauenberg, and the end of the war in Europe at least now seems a formality lacking only the signatures to nail the finish.


1940: ENGINE CAB RIDE TO CHICAGO---Sade (Bernadine Flynn) can't understand why her helping make a lifelong dream of Vic (Art Van Harvey) come true---a ride to Chicago in a locomotive cab ("You've talked about it nineteen hundred squillion times")---makes him quake with nobody's help, on today's edition of Vic & Sade. (NBC.)

Rush: Bill Idelson. Writer: Paul Rhymer.

1948: HOW BEAUTIFUL UPON THE MOUNTAIN---Two students (Ernest Chappell, who also narrates; Roy Irving), convinced mountains are abodes of the gods, want to be the first to scale Everest and return alive to tell of their discovery, on tonight's edition of Quiet, Please. (Mutual.)

Writer/director: Wyllis Cooper.

1959: THE UNWANTED DEPUTY---Hoping to lure Matt (William Conrad) into a lethal gunfight as vengeance for his brother's hanging, Vince Wiley offers himself up as an extra deputy that Matt doesn't necessarily need, on tonight's edition (and eighth-season premiere) ofGunsmoke. (CBS.)

Doc: Howard McNear. Chester: Parley Baer. Kitty: Georgia Ellis. Additional cast: Unknown. Writers: Marian Clark, John Meston.


1880---Horace Murphy (actor: Red Ryder), Finley, Tennessee.
1892---Beulah Bondi (actress: Free World Theatre; NBC University Theatre), Chicago.
1898---George H. Combs (commentator: Now You Decide; Spotlight New York); John Roy (actor: Amanda of Honeymoon Hill), unknown.
1902---Jack LaRue (actor: Lux Radio Theater), New York City; Walter Slezak (actor: Best Plays; Columbia Workshop; Lux Radio Theater; Studio One), Vienna.
1903---Bing Crosby (as Harry Lillis Crosby; singer/actor/comedian: Kraft Music Hall; Philco Radio Time; The Big Show), Tacoma, Washington.
1905---James Nusser (actor: Gunsmoke), Cleveland.
1906---Mary Astor (actress: Merry Life of Mary Christmas), Quincy, Illinois.
1907---Earl Wilson (columnist/commentator: Earl Wilson's Broadway Column), Rockford, Ohio.
1910---Curt Massey (singer: Show Boat; The Curt Massey Show), Midland, Texas.
1915---Betty Comden (as Basya Cohen; writer: The Revuers), Brooklyn.
1919---Doris Rich (actress: Houseboat Hannah; Portia Faces Life), Canada; Pete Seeger (folk singer, composer, folk music archivist: Off the Page), New York City.
1920---Nina Bara (actress: Space Patrol), Buenos Aires; John Lewis (jazz pianist/composer, the Modern Jazz Quartet: The Listener's Digest; The Modern Jazz Quartet), LaGrange, Illinois.


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