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, January 08, 2009

Gone Gambling: The Way It Was, 8 January

2004---The second of three John Gamblings to host the gentle, good-humoured Rambling with Gambling (WOR, New York) morning program, dies at 73 of heart failure in Venice, Florida.

John A. Gambling joined and then (in 1959) succeeded his father (John B., who launched the show as an afternoon entry in 1942) as host of the gentle morning show, shepherding its transition to all-discussion (the elder Gambling mixed discussion with what we'd now call easy listening music), and bringing aboard radio's first known helicopter traffic reports and school closure reports.

John A. also followed his father's footsteps by bringing aboard his son, John R., as a co-host in 1985. They worked as a twosome until John A. retired in 1991. The sad irony: In the same year that John A. Gambling was elected to the Radio Hall of Fame (2000), Rambling with Gambling---whose trademark had long been his style of optimism without saccharine---was ended at long enough last.

The 2003 Guinness Book of World Records is said to have called Rambling with Gambling the longest-running radio show in history, but there's a possibility that this may have transposed the on-air longevity of the three Gambling generations to the show itself. Radio historian Elizabeth McLeod, expanding on John Dunning's research, has noted that Rambling with Gambling moved to mornings as a lead-in to John B. Gambling's original morning show: a kind of "gym class" in which Gambling conducted exercises and bantered wittily, accompanied by the Vincent Sorey orchestra. (Gambling had succeeded publisher Bernarr McFadden hosting the exercise show, whose format was created by Arthur Bagley.)

As Dunning correctly notes, however, Rambling with Gambling was originally a separate show from the morning wake-up program, an afternoon talk feature which began in 1942, and was subsequently transferred to early morning as a lead-in for the regular Gambling show. So Rambling as a series actually only goes back to the early forties---even though WOR's publicity people have long since folded the two series into one for their own official history.---Elizabeth McLeod.


1929: CBS LEARNS ITS ABC---The Columbia Broadcasting System buys New York City station WABC, making it the network flagship in due course. (Old-time radio fans can still hear WABC station identifications following the CBS network identifications during quite a few surviving shows, such as Fred Allen's Texaco Star Theater.)

Relax. You're not seeing things. The WABC with which the world is long familiar was born as WJZ, New Jersey, becoming part of the NBC Blue Network in due course and moving into NBC's Fifth Avenue studios in New York in 1927. In 1948---three years after the Blue Network became the American Broadcasting Company officially, spit off by NBC under FCC antitrust mandate in 1943, and purchased the same year by Life Savers (yes, the candy) chieftain Edward J. Noble---WJZ changed its call letters to the vacated WABC.

As for the original WABC, CBS changed the call letters in 1946---to WCBS.


OUR MISS BROOKS: BOARD OF EDUCATION DAY (CBS, 1950)---A self-serving school paper editorial, a suddenly-useful cannon, and a cut-and-paste mixup between the editorial and Stretch's (Leonard Smith) half-witted biology paper, equal one of Conklin's (Gale Gordon) more explosively memorable among horrible days. Connie: Eve Arden. Mrs. Davis: Jane Morgan. Walter: Richard Crenna. Boynton: Jeff Chandler. Harriet: Gloria McMillan. Announcer: Bob Lamond. Writer: Al Lewis.

THE WHISTLER: RETURN TO RIONDO (CBS, 1950)---A still Mexican midday is a backdrop for the return of a vengeance-seeking miner, his former girl friend, and her new man. Cast and writers: Unknown.

THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR: PAUL, JR.'S ARITHMETIC (CBS, 1958)---Father (Alan Bunce) only thinks he'll have an easy time of it when his wife (Peg Lynch) asks him not to go to his lodge meeting until he can help the neighbour's son with his math homework. Announcer: Warren Sweeney. Writer: Peg Lynch.


1903---Roger Bower (announcer/host: Can You Top This?; Stop Me If You've Heard This One), New York City.
1908---William Hartnell (actor: Doctor Who), London.
1909---Jose Ferrer (as José Vicente Ferrer de Otero y Cintrón; actor: The Adventures of Philo Vance; We Love and Learn; The Big Show), Santurce, Puerto Rico.
1910---Richard Cromwell (actor: Those We Love), Los Angeles.
1911Butterfly McQueen (as Thelma McQueen; actress: Beulah; The Jack Benny Program), Tampa, Florida.
1923---Larry Storch (comedian: Duffy's Tavern0, New York City.
1935---Elvis Presley (singer: Louisiana Hayride; Grand Ole Opry), Tupelo, Mississippi.


Blogger Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

I had occasion to watch the 1970 film Where's Poppa? the other day (dreadful film, by the way) and noted with interest that George Segal's character is listening to Rambling with Gambling in the opening scenes.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Ivan G. Shreve, Jr. said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:10 AM  
Blogger Jeff Kallman said...

Ian---I remember that opening scene well. Though you wonder if John A. Gambling took it as a kind of left-handed compliment to be a sonically senic part of such a dubious film. (The film had its occasional moment but mostly shook out as beneath Segal's ability . . .)---Jeff

2:27 PM  

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