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.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Time Out: The Way It Is, 8 August

This isn't exactly a date to make an old-time radio lover jump up and shout. But it might be one to make one sit down and relax, and listen . . .


1959: BROWNIE BITES POLICEMAN---So much for man biting dog; or, even man (Alan Bunce) biting wife (Peg Lynch) over soft boiled eggs that are anything but---that's nothing compared to the family pooch taking a bite out of crimefighting, on today's edition of The Couple Next Door. (CBS.)

Aunt Effie: Margaret Hamilton. Police officer: Frank N. Tuttle. Additional cast: Francie Myers, Madeline Pierce, Edith Hatwater. Writer: Peg Lynch.


1885---Gene Buck (president, American Society of Composers and Publishers: World's Fair Concert), Detroit.
1887---Malcolm Keen (actor: Cavalcade of America), Bristol, U.K.
1889---J. Andrew White (sports broadcast executive/pioneer), unknown.
1895---Nat Pendleton (actor: Dr. Kildare), Davenport, Iowa.
1896---Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (novelist: Stars in the Air), Washington, D.C.
1900---James Pierce (actor: Tarzan), Freedom, Indiana; Victor Young (composer/conductor: Shell Chateau; The Old Gold Don Ameche Show), Chicago.
1904---Ray Buffum (writer/director: A Man Named Jordan; Rogue's Gallery), unknown.
1905---Ross Graham (baritone/bass: Cities Service Concert; Show Boat), Benton, Arkansas; Nino Martini (singer: Seven Star Revue), Verona, Italy.
1906---Richard Cunliffe (arranger, with Ted Weems and His Orchestra: numerous radio remotes), McKeesport, Pennsylvania; Joe DuVal (actor: Cinnamon Bear; Old Town), Wisconsin.
1907---Benny Carter (saxophonist/composer: The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street), New York City.
1909---Bob Davis (singer: Spotlight Bands; One Night Stand), Charleston, Mississippi.
1910---Sylvia Sidney (actress: Lux Radio Theater; Columbia Presents Corwin; Philip Morris Playhouse), Bronx, New York.
1912---Gail Henshaw (actress: Kitty Keene; The Woman in White), New York City.
1913---Axel Stordahl (arranger/conductor: Songs By Sinatra; The Frank Sinatra Show; Your Hit Parade; Coke Time), Staten Island.
1914---Pete King (conductor, with the Pete King Chorale: The Bing Crosby Show; The Doris Day Show), Greenville, Ohio.
1917---Ann Francine (singer: Hour of Charm), Philadelphia; Malvin Wald (writer: Suspense), Brooklyn.
1921---Webb Pierce (singer: Grand Ole Opry; Louisiana Hayride), West Monroe, Louisiana.
1922---Rory Calhoun (actor: Lux Radio Theater), Los Angeles; Esther Williams (actress: Lux Radio Theater; Tex and Jinx), Los Angeles.
1923---Jimmy Witherspoon (blues singer: Jubilee), Gurdon, Arkansas.
1926---Richard Anderson (actor: Suspense), Long Branch, New Jersey.
1927---Basil Kirchin (drummer, with the Harry Roy Orchestra: numerous radio remotes), Blackpool.
1930---Terry Nation (writer: The Goon Show), Cardiff, South Wales.
1937---Dustin Hoffman (actor: Soundstage), Los Angeles.
1945---Percy Granger (actor: The CBS Radio Mystery Theater), Norman, Oklahoma.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Cut the Noise: The Way It Was, 7 August

1886---One of radio's most important inventions---the neutrodyne circuit, neutralising the noise rattling most radio receivers of the time, and proving an imperative step toward broadcast radio as we would come to know it---is introduced by Louis Alan Hazeltine.

Thirty-eight years later, Hazeltine will form the corporation bearing his name, selling it his neutrodyne patent for stock and cash, and by 1927 it will be believed that ten million radio receivers using the Hazeltine neutrodyne circuit are operating.


1942: IT MAY BE A QUIET DAY IN LAKE WOBEGON . . . when future Prairie Home Companion mastermind/humourist Garrison Keillor---whose program will evoke the spirit and, in many cases, the style of old-time radio, over the better portion of three decades---is born in Anoka, Minnesota.

1969: SORRY, CHARLIE---Charlie Greer performs his final show for WABC-AM, New York.

1974: KICKIN' COUSIN---Fed up at last with the stations' notorious seven-song playlist (actual or alleged), Bruce Morrow (that's Cousin Brucie to his listeners) performs his last show on WABC, before jumping to then-rival WNBC.


1959: WALLY BALLOU AND FAMILY---An empty Friday with no picnic equals that intrepid reporter bringing his family aboard, on today's edition of Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network. (I can't imagine . . . )

Writers: Alleged to be Bob Elliot and Ray Goulding.


1883---Reinald Werrenrath (baritone: Old Company Program), New York City.
1884---Billie Burke (comedienne: The Billie Burke Show; Gay Mrs. Featherstone), Washington, D.C.
1902---Charles Cornell (composer: Boston Blackie; A Date with Judy), Budapest.
1903---Hilda Hopkins Burke (soprano: WBAL, Baltimore), unknown.
1904---Ralph Bunche (political scientist/diplomat/Nobel laureate: The Big Show), Detroit; Herbert Colin Rice (creator/producer/writer: Bobby Benson), Guilford, U.K.
1906---Ernestine Wade (actress: Amos 'n' Andy), Mississippi.
1907---Alexander Turner (writer: Coat of Arms), London.
1908---Dave Bacal (organist: staff, CBS), New York City.
1909---Sheldon Stark (writer: Columbia Workshop; Straight Arrow), New York City.
1910---Freddie Slack (pianist/conductor: Kraft Music Hall), Westby, Wisconsin.
1913---George Van Eps (jazz guitarist, with the Freddy Martin, Benny Goodman, and Ray Noble orchestras, among others, and inventor of the seven-string guitar: numerous radio remotes), Plainfield, New Jersey.
1914---Clifford Thorsness (sound, including and especially The Closet: Fibber McGee and Molly; The Charlie McCarthy Show), unknown; June Travis (actress: Girl Alone; Arnold Grimm's Daughter), Chicago.
1920---Mel Diamond (writer: Kate Smith Sings; The Milton Berle Show; The Bob Hope Show), New York City.
1921---Poni Adams (as Jane Adams; co-hostess: Darts for Dough), San Antonio; Warren Covington (trombonist/conductor: CBS staff; numerous remotes as a member of the Les Brown and Tommy Dorsey orchestras), Philadelphia.
1926---Stan Freberg (comedian: That's Rich; The Stan Freberg Show), Los Angeles.
1927---Carl Switzer (Alfalfa; actor: Thirty Minutes in Hollywood), Paris, Illinois.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Hello, World: The Way It Was, 6 August

1923---We doubt the future mainstay of New York WNEW-AM said precisely his famous sign-on phrase, when the first slap came across the bottom of William Breitbert, born today in Babylon, New York but due to become beloved as future Radio Hall of Fame disc jockey William B. Williams.


1945: "MY GOD . . . "---That is said to have been the only journal entry in the co-pilot's log, when the Boeing B-29 Enola Gay drops the first in-combat atomic bomb on Hiroshima.


1945: "SCIENTISTS BRITISH AND AMERICAN . . . "---The BBC reports the bomb drop.

1945: APPROACHING THE END---Mutual Broadcasting System delivers several break-ins into a music program to report news from Tokyo via San Francisco that Japan would accept the Potsdam proclamation "soon," in the immediate wake of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.


1881---Leo Carrillo (actor: Grapevine Rancho; Four Frightened People), Los Angeles; Louella Parsons (as Louella Rose Oettinger; commentator: Hollywood Hotel; Louella Parsons; Texaco Star Theater), Freeport, Illinois.
1886---Billie Burke (as Mary William Ethelbert Appleton Burke; comedienne: The Billie Burke Show; The Gay Mrs. Featherstone), Washington, D.C.
1892---Victor Rodman (actor: Those We Love), Arkansas.
1894---Jack Kirkwood (actor: Saunders of the Circle X; Hawthorne House), Scotland.
1900---Lucille Ball (comedienne: The Wonder Show with Jack Haley; Pabst Blue Ribbon Town; The Abbott and Costello Show; My Favourite Husband), Jamestown, New York.
1915---Jim Ameche (actor: Jack Armstrong; Silver Eagle), Kenosha, Wisconsin.
1917---Robert Mitchum (actor: Family Theater), Bridgeport, Connecticut.
1921---Ella Raines (actress: Lux Radio Theater), Snoqualmie, Washington.
1922---Jackie Kelk (actor: The Adventures of Superman; The Aldrich Family), Brooklyn.
1925---Barbara Bates (writer: Just Plain Bill; Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons), Denver.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

A Tale of Two Diamonds: The Way It Was, 5 August

1920: IT'S A LONG WAY TO NIGHT COURT---The baby girl born in Montreal, but raised in Brooklyn, will grow up to make her comedic bones as a published humourist in The New Yorker and, then, an old-time radio comedy writing protege of titans Ed Gardner and Goodman Ace, for whom she will work on, respectively, Duffy's Tavern and The Big Show, before becoming a television writer (believed to be the partial inspiration for Sally Rogers on The Dick Van Dyke Show) and the author of the cheerfully tart Nose Jobs for Peace.

But Selma Diamond will probably be remembered best, alas, as the first lady bailiff on television's Night Court---where she will come to share a grave Duffy's Tavern connection . . . when she and her Night Court successor, Florence Halop (the second Miss Duffy, and also a member of Henry Morgan's radio cast), will die within a year of each other. Both of cancer.


1921: PLAY BALL!---The first known broadcast of a major league baseball game goes on the air over KDKA-AM, Pittsburgh, featuring the Pittsburgh Pirates versus the Philadelphia Phillies and Harold W. Arlin doing the play-by-play of the game.

The Phillies win, 8-0, as heard over the station that becomes in due course the flagship station for the Pirates' radio network.


1887---Reginald Owen (actor: Lux Radio Theater), Wheathampton, U.K.
1890---Al Goodman (pianist/bandleader: Town Hall Tonight; The Sal Hepatica Revue/Hour of Smiles; Texaco Star Theater; The Fred Allen Show), Nikopol, Russia.
1906---John Huston (actor: Lux Radio Theater), Nevada, Missouri.
1908---Wilbur Evans (singer: Vicks Open House; Stars from the Blue), Philadelphia.
1911---Robert Taylor (actor: Good News of 1938; Lux Radio Theater; Plays for Americans), Filley, Nebraska.
1912---Lew Valentine (host: Mennen Jury Trials; Dr. IQ, the Mental Banker)
1914---David Brian (actor: Mr. District Attorney), New York City; Parley Baer (actor: Gunsmoke; Rogers of the Gazette), Salt Lake City; Anita Colby (actress: Radio Hall of Fame), Washington, D.C.
1915---Peter Lisagor (journalist: Meet the Press), Keystone, West Virginia.
1917---Don Stanley (announcer: Adventures of Nero Wolfe; Out of the Deep; The Saint), Stoughton, Wisconsin.
1918---Tom Drake (actor: Old Gold Comedy Theater; Lux Radio Theater; So Proudly We Hail), Brooklyn.

Monday, August 04, 2008

"There's Kicks Everywhere": The Way It Was, 4 August

1901: A HORN IS BORN---In terms of hard old-time radio history, this isn't exactly a hot date . . . unless, of course, you could predict that the infant born today in a poor New Orleans neighbourhood will grow up to learn his first music in reform school, after he fires a gun for a New Year's celebration at age eleven, never mind to revolutionise jazz and charm radio listeners (on The Pursuit of Happiness; Sealtest Village Store; The Story of Swing; The Frank Sinatra Show; and The Big Show, among others) as well as ballroom goers and record buyers.

Louis Armstrong was the first important soloist to emerge in jazz, and he became the most influential musician in the music's history. As a trumpet virtuoso, his playing,beginning with the 1920s studio recordings made with his Hot Five and Hot Seven ensembles, charted a future for jazz in highly imaginative, emotionally charged improvisation. For this, he is revered by jazz fans. But Armstrong also became an enduring figure in popular music, due to his distinctively phrased bass singing and engaging personality, which were on display in a series of vocal recordings and film roles.

---From All Music Guide.

I talked with Louis Armstrong one night in Basin Street and mentioned his record of "When You're Smilin'" which I had early loved and too soon lost: "I was working in the house band at the Paramount when I was young," Armstrong said. "And the lead trumpet stood up and played that song, and I just copied what he did note for note. I never found out his name but there was kicks in him. There's kicks everywhere."

---Murray Kempton, introducing his anthology, Rebellions, Perversities, and Main Events. (New York: Times Books/Random House, 1994.)


1945-46: NEW YEAR'S RADIO DANCING PARTY---Leading a big band of his own, Armstrong delivers both an exuberant trumpet and vocal performance playing "Ac-cen-tu-ate The Positive." ("Well, flock!" "Yeah, leader!" "Have you hoid what Brother Moicer said?") That's one of the highlights of a New Year's Eve radio multi-remote---hookups from hotel to hotel---that also includes Harry James ("Sad Sack"), Count Basie ("One O'Clock Jump"), Jimmy Dorsey ("I Got Rhythm"), Artie Shaw with Roy Eldridge ("Little Jazz"), Stan Kenton ("Tampico," with vocalist June Christy), Tommy Dorsey ("Song of India"), Duke Ellington ("Let the Zoomers Zoom"), and, perhaps needless to say, Guy Lombardo ("Auld Lang Syne"). (AFRS).

1950: AIN'T MISBEHAVIN'---Satchmo makes a swinger out of Meredith Willson, when the grandfather of the swing slips up from the Willson orchestra pit, banters with Bob Hope and hostess Tallulah Bankhead, then growls and blows a marvelous "Ain't Misbehavin'," on this 17 December 1950 edition of The Big Show. (NBC.)

Additional cast: Phil Harris, Deborah Kerr, Frankie Lane, Martin & Lewis. Writers: Goodman Ace, Selma Diamond, Frank Wilson.


1944: THE EUROPEAN BATTLES CONTINUE---Including the continuing battle in and for Normandy, as future Radio Hall of Famer Douglas Edwards anchors this edition of World News Today. (CBS.)

1959: WHO WANTS TO KNOW?---Maybe you do, if you listen to today's edition of Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network. (Three guesses.)

Writers: Bob Elliot, Ray Goulding.


1889---William Keighley (host: Lux Radio Theater), Philadelphia.
1890---Carson Robison (singer: The Eveready Hour; The Dutch Masters Minstrels), Chetona, Kansas.
1897---Abe Lyman (bandleader: The Jack Pearl Show; Lavender and New Lace; Waltz Time), Chicago.
1903---Helen Kane (The Boop Boop-a-Doop Girl; actress: Today's Children), The Bronx.
1904---Theodore Newton (actor: Joyce Jordan, M.D.), Lawrenceville, New Jersey.
1905---Frank Luther (singer: The Frank Luther Show; The Happy Wonder Bakers Trio), Lakin, Kansas.
1908---Wally Maher (actor: One Man's Family; The Adventures of Nero Wolfe), Montreal.
1914---Dick Todd (singer: Avalon Time; Your Hit Parade; The Rinso-Spry Vaudeville Theater), Montreal.
1915---William Keene (actor: Land of the Lost), Pennsylvania.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sweet Home Chicago: The Way It Was, 3 August

1984: THE WILD I-TRALIAN COMES HOME---Radio Hall of Famer Dick Biondi---who moved to Chicago WLS in 1960 and brought rock and roll to millions over that station's powerful signal for three years until his move to Los Angeles KRLA---returns to Chicago for a third time, on WJMK-FM, an oldies station.

Biondi will stay until June 2005, when WJMK switches to the "jack" formula; he will move to another Chicago station, WZZN, in November 2006.


1964: HIT AND RUN---Leaving town for awhile and asking his attorney to oversee his shiftless younger brother in the meantime, a gangster meets a girl and causes a fatal accident while trying to impress her, on tonight's series premiere edition of one of the post old-time radio era's periodic attempts to revive its spirit and aesthetic, Theater Five. (ABC.)

Cast and writers: Unknown. Announcer: Fred Foy.


1885---Arthur Sinclair (actor: The Jumbo Fire Chief Program), Dublin.
1896---Wendell Hall (The Red-Headed Music Maker; singer: The Eveready Hour), St. George, Kansas.
1900---Ernie Pyle (journalist: Words at War; Cavalcade of America), Dana, Indiana.
1903---John S. Young (journalist: NBC News), Springfield, Massachussetts.
1905---Gaylord Carter (organist: Amos 'n' Andy; Breakfast in Hollywood), Wiesbaden, Germany; Dolores del Rio (actress: Hollywood On the Air), Durango, Mexico.
1907---Irene Tedrow (actress: Meet Corliss Archer; Chandu, the Magician), Denver.
1916---Horace Logan (creator: Louisiana Hayride, and the man who first told a hysterical audience that "Elvis has left the building"), unknown.
1917---Larry Haines (actor: Young Doctor Malone; This is Nora Drake), Mount Vernon, New York; Charlie Shavers (trumpeter: Jump Time; The Mildred Bailey Show; The Tommy Dorsey Show), New York City.
1918---Les Elgart (bandleader: Let's Go to Town; Manhattan Melodies), New Haven.
1920---Marilyn Maxwell (singer/actress: Kraft Music Hall; The Abbott & Costello Show; The Bob Hope Show), Clarinda, Iowa.
1923---Jean Hagen (actress: Lux Radio Theater; Stars in the Air), Chicago.
1925---Billy James Hargis (radio evangelist), Texarkana, Texas.
1926---Tony Bennett (as Anthony Dominick Benedetto; singer: The F.W. Woolworth Hour; Songs for Sale), Astoria, New York.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Charting: The Way It Was, 1 August

1962---On the threshold of establishing itself as the edgy first cousin of New York rock and soul radio, as the old-time radio era breathes its last in the bargain, WMCA publishes its first known music survey chart.

Eventually known as the Good Guys Survey, the WMCA survey will feature regularly in a half-station oriented publication known as Go until the station sheds the Good Guys style by the end of the 1960s.


1867---Lew Fields (comedian, with Weber and Fields: The Eveready Hour; The George Jessel Show), New York City.
1878---Edwin Franko Goldman (concertmaster: The Cities Service Concert; The Pure Oil Band), Louisville.
1889---Maurice Baron (conductor, various radio symphonies), Lille, France; Charles Bickford (actor: Radio Hall of Fame), Cambridge, Massachussetts; Alexander Smallens (conductor: Rising Musical Star), St. Petersburg, Russia.
1895---Art Gillham (The Whispering Pianist; vocalist and song plugger to numerous radio programs), St. Louis; Bernard Schubert (writer/producer: The Falcon; Murder and Mr. Malone), Brooklyn.
1897---Walter Greaza (actor: Columbia Workshop; Suspense), St. Paul, Minnesota.
1900---Xavier Cugat (The King of the Rhumba; bandleader: Camel Caravan), Tirona, Spain.
1904---Lou Kosloff (conductor: Blondie; Sad Sack; Sherlock Holmes), Chicago.
1905---Dick Aurandt (conductor: Voyage of the Scarlet Queen), unknown; Richard Keith (actor: Myrt & Marge; Special Investigator), New York City.
1908---Bob Russell (singer/composer: Name That Tune), Passaic, New Jersey.
1909---Dana Andrews (actor: I Was a Communist for the FBI), Collins, Mississippi; Frank Kettering (bassist, with the Hoosier Hot Shots: National Barn Dance), Monmouth, Illinois.
1911---Hank Greenberg (Hall of Fame baseball player: We the People; Philco Radio Time), New York City; Leona Ledoux (actress: Baby Snooks; Blondie), unknown.
1913---Norman Rosten (writer: Cavalcade of America; An American in Russia), unknown.
1915---Irv Orton (musical director: Double of Nothing), unknown; Earl Sheldon (conductor: Drene Time/The Bickersons; The Jack Smith Show), New York City.
1916---Earl Wrightson (singer: Highways in Melody; Getting the Most Out of Life), Baltimore.
1917---Ted Cott (host/announcer: So You Think You Know Music; Music You Want), Poughkeepsie, New York; Shelby Storck (actor: The Air Adventures of Jimmy Allen), Kansas City.
1919---Carole Landis (actress: Command Performance), Fairchild, Wisconsin.
1922---Robert de Cormier (choral director: Christmas in Vermont with Countrypoint), Pinelawn, New York.
1923---Milt Jackson (jazz vibraphonist; various radio remotes, with the Dizzy Gillespie Orchestra and the Modern Jazz Quartet), Detroit.
1928---Helen Westcott (actress: Lux Radio Theater; My Wildest Dream), Los Angeles.
1938---Norma Jean Nilsson (actress: Blondie; Father Knows Best), Hollywood.