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, December 11, 2008

A First, a Last, for a Pioneer: The Way It Was, 11 December

Forty-eight years apart, two of old-time radio pioneer disc jockey Martin Block's signatures say hello and goodbye . . .

1944: ALWAYS BUY CHESTERFIELD---With Block hosting, The Chesterfield Supper Club debuts on NBC as a fifteen-minute music series, to endure five years and feature such performers as Jo Stafford, Perry Como, Peggy Lee, Tex Benecke (leading a posthumous edition of the Glenn Miller Orchestra, whose earlier radio work included a regular slot for Chesterfield), Mitchell Ayres, and Paul Weston.

1992: OUT WITH THE (W)NEW---It's buried alive in a ratings slump for which even a return to its once-popular standards-and-jazz format returned too late to arrest.

Thus does WNEW-AM, the New York station that all but invented the disc jockey---via Block, in 1938, playing records during breaks in the Bruno Hauptmann trial---and gave the region comic legends Klavan and Finch, arguably the first hourly regular radio newscasts, and Radio Hall of Fame disc jockey William B. Williams (that easygoing fellow who championed and nicknamed Frank Sinatra the Chairman of the Board), produce a mammoth farewell, with Mark Simone the day's final host.

At show's end, the station moves to simulcast WNYC. Three days later, after airing an old Perry Como Christmas special, the station signs off for the final time as WNEW.

At this time 1130 WNEW New York will leave the air forever . . . Thanks for your support over the years . . . This is WNEW, New York.

Moments after that brittle sign-off, and under aegis of new owners Bloomberg Radio, the call letters change to WBBR, and the station simulcasts standards station WQEW until 4 January 1993, when it shifts to the business news format it sustains to this day.



"GRIMLY WE PROCEED TO FIGHT THROUGH THE CLUTTERING WRECKAGE BROUGHT BY THE WARLORDS OF AGGRESSION"---CBS News goes live to Congress for the formal declaration of war against Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy.


LUX RADIO THEATER: THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL (CBS, 1938)---Leslie Howard repeats his film role from the 1934 classic about the seemingly effete aristocrat who doubles as an avenger rescuing nobles and others from the Terror in revolutionary France. Lady Blakeney: Olivia de Havilland (in the Merle Oberon film role). Host: Cecil B. DeMille. Adapted from the screenplay by Lajos Biro, based on the novel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy.

BOX 13: THE HAUNTED ARTIST (MUTUAL, 1948)---A disbelieving troubled artist (Alan Reed), who fears his studio is haunted through something he didn't add to one of his paintings, sends Dan (Alan Ladd) on a ghost hunt. Suzy: Sylvia Picker. Kling: Edmund McDonald. Additional cast: Betty Lou Gerson, possibly John Beal. Writer: Russell Hughes.

THE PHIL HARRIS-ALICE FAYE SHOW: THE BABY SITTER (NBC, 1948)---That would be Phil (Harris), with a little (we hate to use a four-letter word) help from Remley (Elliott Lewis)---they can't find sponsor Scott (Gale Gordon) a babysitter, take on the job themselves, and mix it up and then some when they botch the formula recipe Alice (Faye) gave them to feed the Scotts' baby. Julius: Walter Tetley. Music: Walter Sharp, Phil Harris Orchestra. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.

GUNSMOKE: THE CAST (CBS, 1953)---Dillon (William Conrad) has to stop doctor-hating Sheely Tucker (Sam Edwards) from killing Doc (Paul Frees), after Tucker's wife dies during surgery following an accident while he was out of town. Chester: Parley Baer. Kitty: Georgia Ellis. Announcer: Ken Peters. Music: Rex Corey. Writer: John Meston.


1883---Victor McLaglen (actor: Captain Flagg and Sergeant Quirt; Red Trails), Tunbridge Wells, UK.
1894---Eddie Dowling (host: We, The People; Ziegfeld Follies of the Air), Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
1905---Pare Lorentz (writer: Columbia Workshop), Clarksburg, West Virginia.
1911---Beecher Pete Kirby (guitarist/banjoist, The Smokey Mountain Boys: Grand Ole Opry), Sevierville, Tennessee; Sam Levenson (humourist: Arthur Godfrey Time; City Club Forum), New York City.
1914---Marie Windsor (actress: Escape; Suspense; Lux Radio Theater), Marysville, Utah.
1920---Eddie Firestone, Jr. (actor: One Man's Family; That Brewster Boy), San Francisco.


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