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.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

It's Still a Missed Anniversary: The Way It Is, 4 January

I still find a useful resource for many interests. But their apparent continuing inability to trouble themselves with fact checking, in places enough, continues to annoy. If you're a serious chronicler regarding matters of historical interest, you may yet come to question the true value of their resource when they sit plainly enough as one of the major such clearinghouses and resources in cyberspace.

Look it up under radio history, month by month, then click on the 4 January entry. You'll see an entry saying, "On this day in 1928, the NBC Radio Network premiered The Dodge Brothers Victory Six Radio Hour (the show was named for the Dodge Victory Six automobile), starring Al Jolson, Will Rogers, and Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra." For an old-time radio lover that's a treat. For an old-time radio historian or analyst, that's like expecting to hear Duke Ellington and getting Spike Jones.

I pointed this out a year ago today. Fat lot of good that did.

Because a simple search for The Dodge Brothers Victory Six Radio Hour yields a surviving New York Times advertisement for the show, dated 1 January 1928 and saying the following, rather plainly.

10:30 P.M. TO 11:30 P.M.

Hear the Most Unusual
Radio Program Ever Broadcast

Beneath that headline round come four circles, each introducing, left to right, Rogers ("Master of ceremonies throughout this program, speaking from his home in Beverly Hills, California"), Jolson ("In a series of characteristic Jolson songs, from his hotel in New Orleans"), Whiteman ("With the internationally famous Whiteman band in New York, Mr. Whiteman himself will announce each selection"), and Fred and Dorothy Stone ("In a typical program---Fred talking, Dorothy singing---in Chicago").

The show was transmitted to WEAF, NBC's then-New York flagship, from where the show would be broadcast around the U.S. and the world.

It would have been wonderful to trumpet this show, perhaps one of the first live multiple-remote radio shows on record, for all we know, on its actual (its eightieth when I first noted this, now its eighty-first) anniversary.

But it also would have been wonderful if's fact-checkers, whom you presume to have enough of a handle on such things granted the difficulties in isolating dates tied to old-time radio, had exhausted their search possibilities before trumpeting an anniversary that was three days too late to make a difference for those (there are far more than you might think) who care about these things.

The same 4 January entry notes that, in 1923, WEAF and WNAC conducted history's first known wired radio simulcast; and, in 1935, that Bob Hope made his network radio debut in the cast of The Intimate Revue. I can confirm the Hope debut---the Radio Hall of Fame affirms it---and Radio Magazine further affirms the WEAF/WNAC simulcast.

Surely went likewise to affirm those two historical entries. It would have been exemplary if they'd taken just an extra two or three moments to affirm, likewise, the actual event of something so significant as that Dodge Brothers Victory Six Radio Hour program which probably landed a huge listening audience, considering the performers featured and the apparent singularity of its presentation for its time and place.


THE BOB HOPE SHOW: FROM MARINE AIR CORPS BASE, SANTA BARBARA (NBC, 1944)---Slow-talking, stolid film star Gary Cooper appears fresh from a tour of the South Pacific war front, and murders "Pistol Packin' Mama." Cast: Jerry Colonna, Frances Langford, Vera Vague. Music: Stan Kenton Orchestra, Frances Longford. Writers: Al Josefsberg, Jack Douglas, possibly Hal Block and Larry Marks. (Advisory: The recording cuts off abruptly after 24:57 of playing time.)

DRAGNET: THE BIG HOLDUP (NBC, 1951)---Friday (Jack Webb) and Romero (Burton Yarborough) have a slippery quarry---the Rattlesnake Bandit, a thief who beats his victims senseless, without provocation, after robbing them, moving too swift to be captured, until he adds shooting to his modus operandi. Additional cast: Unknown. Writers: James Mosner, John Robinson, Frank Burt.

FATHER KNOWS BEST: TAKING ON CITY HALL (NBC, 1951)---Haggling with Bud (Ted Donaldson) over an allowance advance is child's play for Jim (Robert Young) compared to teaching Kathy (Norma Jean Nilsson) the hard way about civics, beginning with its lack of a "k" in the spelling. Margaret: June Whitley. Betty: Rhoda Williams. Additional cast: Unknown. Announcer: Bill Forman. Writers: Ed James.

SUSPENSE: ON A COUNTRY ROAD (CBS, 1954)---A couple (Frank Lovejoy, Joan Banks), a madwoman (Jeanette Nolan), and a country road make for a chilling combination. Additional cast: Joseph Kearns, William Woodson. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Writer: Walter Lazar.


1881---Norman Field (actor: One Man's Family; Meet Corliss Archer; The Halls of Ivy), Montreal.
1905---Sterling Holloway (actor: The Railroad Hour; U.S. Steel Hour; Suspense; Lux Radio Theater), Cedartown, Georgia.
1914---Jane Wyman (as Sarah Jane Mayfield; actress: Dreft Star Playhouse), St. Joseph, Missouri.
1916---Lionel Newman (composer/conductor: Hollywood Star Time), New Haven.
1919---Al (Jazzbo) Collins (disc jockey: Collins on a Cloud; Happy Al), New York City.
1925---Johnny Lujack (football player/actor: Johnny Lujack of Notre Dame), Connellsville, Pennsylvania.
1930---Barbara Rush (actress: Lux Radio Theater), Denver.


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