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Showing posts from March, 2012

Old Time Radio Spoofs, Gags, Pranks and April Fools!

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Spoofs are probably as old as language itself, dating from the times when the tribal elder told stories around the campfire. Then, just as now, the best spoofing probably took place when the elder's back was turned! As radio drama established itself into dominant genre forms, the forms became the target of parody and ridicule. Unlike some more modern spoofs, most radio parodies are good natured and have a distinct lack of condescending tone. Soap Operas  were an early money maker for the radio networks, appealing to house wives who would use the stories to keep them company while they were doing their house work (this was a great advantage of Radio Soaps over the later TV Soap Operas- the dishes would pile up and diapers could go unchanged while the house wife was trapped in front of the TV, but with a Soap on the radio, she could let her tears fall directly into the dishwater and not miss any of the story!) The melodramatic elements of Soap Operas made them an easy target

Dragnet and Crime Classics

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At first glance these Detective Dramas seem to have little in common except that they both present crimes for the sake of entertainment. The tone of the shows is completely different. A large portion of Dragnet 's appeal is Sgt Friday's very business like, although not passionless, reporting of the fact of the case. Crime Classics ' "Connoisseur of Murder", Thomas Hyland, played by Lou Merrill, isn't as playful or flippant as Raymond from Inner Sanctum or Paul Frees' The Man in Black, but he does seem to be genuinely amused by the grisly tales he presents. Both programs use supposedly true stories.  Dragnet   famously uses the "only the names have been changed" approach; the stories on Crime Classics , while dramatized, are based on court records and historical reference, and the facts can all be checked by the listener if they so desire. Sgt Friday deals with all sort of crimes, from the spectacular such as murders, missing persons,

Three Dames From Carmel: Radio Stars on California's Central Coat

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The little town of Carmel-By-The-Sea on California's Central Coast can hardly be called a sleepy little place. Not that it has been a hot bed of scandal, but with a thriving artist colony that goes back nearly to the town's founding, well, let's just say that it would be an interesting place to live. A San Francisco newspaper reported in 1910 that 60% of the houses in Carmel were built by persons "devoting their lives to work connected with the aesthetic arts." The early city councils were often dominated by artists elected to the board, and actors have served as mayor on a few occasions, including Clint Eastwood who was elected to a single term from 1986-88. Carmel-By-The-Sea is noteworthy for a number of ordinances that would seem to appeal the the resident's artistic sensibilities. Shoes with high narrow heels can only be worn after a permit has been obtained from city hall, and a highlight of Mr. Eastwood's administration was the lifting of a ban

Cities Service Band Of America and Marching Music

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"Forty-eight states… 48 stars… 48 men marching down the Main Street of everybody's hometown! Here comes the Cities Service Band of America, conducted by Paul Lavalle!" Cities Service Band Of America  formed in 1910 to supply gas and electricity to small public utility companies, and soon branched out into gas pipelines throughout the middle of the continent and the southwest. The company, led by founder Henry Latham Doherty, expanded into oil production, and is responsible for finding the Oklahoma City Field, one of the largest in the world. Like many large businesses, Cities Service found old time radio to be a marvelous tool for advertising and public relations. The Cities Service Concerts were a staple of NBC's weekly lineup beginning in 1925. Through the years several musical formats were used, including orchestral, vocals, and popular. In 1944 marching band music was settled on with the hiring of band leader Paul Lavalle and the