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.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Approaching a Centenary: The Way It Is, 21 July

1910: FROM THE PRINCESS TO THE MYSTERY THEATER---He is now a mere two years shy of his centenary. He has merely been responsible for some of the best, or at least the most memorable, that old-time radio and even new-time radio has had to offer, from the first known CBS daytime soap (The Little French Princess) to The CBS Radio Mystery Theater, while making a few stops in between . . . such stops as The Adventures of the Thin Man, Bulldog Drummond, Flash Gordon, Grand Central Station, and (especially) The Inner Sanctum Mysteries, to name a mere few.

And to think it all began when the Cleveland native stepped in front of a City College of New York microphone to read poetry over the radio.

[O]f all of [his] many successes, his most enduring creation remains Inner Sanctum, as much for its squeaky opening door as for the shows themselves . . . Even in its heyday, however, it was a little over the top . . . with its frequent hideous screams in the night. The shows now sound more campy than scary---not unlike the schlocky spook shows that now drift onto the tube late Saturday nights. They were intended to be nothing more or less than campfire ghost stories featuring the best ghouls [his] money could buy---Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Claude Rains, Raymond Massey, Paul Lukas, etc.

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

I didn't have Leonard Bernstein and two hundred musicians doing Ride of the Valkyries. All I used was a creaking door. There are only two sounds in radio that are trademarked---the creaking door and the NBC chimes.

---Our birthday boy himself.

His credits also included Joyce Jordan, Girl Intern, The Gumps, The NBC Radio Theater, The Fat Man, and Little Italy. His influence outlived even his best productions. And, he probably still believes as always that radio as done in his heyday could still be done today, if the medium wouldn't mind accepting that it's so.

Not too shabby for a man whose first network radio experience had actually been playing Jake on The Rise of the Goldbergs. For that kind of launch and his kind of attitude, too, we say happy 98th birthday to Himan Brown.


1980: ONE MORE TIME---Four of the station's famous Good Guys disc jockeys---Dan Daniels, Harry Harrison, Joe O'Brien, B. Mitchel Reed, and Jack Spector---are the guests of honour when New York WMCA hosts a Good Guys reunion, highlighted by talk host Barry Gray's interviews with the old jocks, including what's believed the last known interview of Reed.

The reunion occurs almost ten years after WMCA signed off as a rock and soul outlet, becoming a talk station until 1989 when it converted to mostly religious programming.


12 OCTOBER 1963: B. MITCHEL REED---Including one of his once-familiar "Reed Reactivated Mashback" oldies plays.

22 APRIL 1963: "DANDY" DAN DANIEL---Considered a classic of Daniel's seamless drive-time style.

20 MARCH 1965: B. MITCHEL REED'S FINAL HOUR---On WMCA, at least, before the rapid-fire jock returned to Los Angeles KFWB. He counts down the most voted-for songs by listeners and promos his successor, Gary Stevens.

1965: JACK SPECTOR---Undated, specifically, but a classic extract of Spector's enthusiastic midday style.

21 SEPTEMBER 1968: HARRY HARRISON'S FAREWELL---"The Morning Mayor" does his final WMCA gig---including a play and backsell of the Beatles' "Hey, Jude"---before moving to WABC and, in due course, WCBS-FM, to hold the same morning office.


1947: PIANO LESSONS FOR JUNIOR---It figures that Irma (Marie Wilson), determined to better herself, enrolls for piano lessons . . . after Jane (Cathy Lewis) returns the piano they were renting to cut back on household expenses, on tonight's edition of My Friend Irma. (CBS.)

Al: John Brown. Richard: Leif Erickson. Professor Kropotkin: Hans Conreid. Mrs. O'Reilly: Jane Morgan. Writers: Parke Levy, Stanley Adams, Roland MacLane.

1959: BARRY CAMPBELL'S RECORD---To get there, however, you have to ponder a switch in opening theme, performed by Mary McGoon, Webley Webster, Wally Ballou, and Tex Blaisdale, on today's edition of Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network. (Surely you jest . . . )

Writers, after a fashion: Bob Elliott, Ray Goulding.


1863---C. Aubrey Smith (actor: Lux Radio Theater), London.
1895---Ken Maynard (actor: The Ken Maynard Show), Vevey, Indiana.
1901---Allyn Joslyn (actor: Island Boat Club; Page of Romance; Show Boat), Milford, Pennsylvania.
1902---Elsie Hitz (actress: The Story of Ellen Randolph; Dangerous Paradise), Cleveland.
1915---Floyd McDaniel (singer/guitarist, with the Ink Spots: The Four Ink Spots; Let's Go Nightclubbing), Athens, Alabama.
1920---Isaac Stern (violinist: The Jack Benny Program; The New York Philharmonic Program), Kreminiecz, Ukraine.
1921---Barbara Fuller (actress: One Man's Family; Stepmother), Nahant, Massachussetts; Jean Shepherd (writer/host: The Jean Shepherd Show), Chicago.
1924---Don Knotts (actor/comedian: Bobby Benson's Adventures), Morgantown, West Virginia.


Blogger bojim8088 said...

It's good to have you back Jeff. Great info on Himan Brown. "Inner Sanctum" is one of my favorite shows. Maybe Mr. Brown will give us a present one day and release everything he has in the vault. You have THE best OTR blog on the net. Hope all is going well for you. Thanks......Jim

7:02 AM  
Blogger bojim1 said...

Jack Spector was hired by WNBC 660-AM here in New York back in the 80's to host a nightly sports talk show. It was awful!! He didn't know much about our New York teams and was completely lost if someone asked about teams in other states. It was like a "Plan 9 From Outer Space" fun to listen to. Howard Stern was also at NBC at the time and pranked Jack a few times over the phone. He'd replay the calls on his afternoon show the next day. Wish I had that stuff. It was a riot. Jim

9:58 AM  
Blogger Jeff Kallman said...

Jim---Obviously, Jack Spector shouldn't have given up his day job. ;) And thanks, too, for the good wishes.---Jeff

4:02 PM  

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