Posts

Showing posts with the label old time radio

Old Time Radio Espionage: German Spies in Mexico!

Image
It is extremely serious business when a nation employs spies in order to gather secrets. Even more important than gathering secrets from other nations is protecting the nation's own secrets. In many ways, counterintelligence is the business of spying on spies. As such, it is the most intriguing and dangerous part of the espionage world. During the Second World War , the services each had their own intelligence service. The Office of Strategic Services was created to coordinate intelligence operations behind enemy lines. All of them went after spies working against the Allies in the various theaters of the war, while domestic counterintelligence came under the jurisdiction of the FBI. While looking for a wartime counterpart to Gangbusters, writer/producer Phillips H. Lord took on the inky world of Counter Intelligence with David Harding, Counterspy . The United States Counterspies were a fictional agency of the Federal Government which combined the roles of the FBI and the O

What’s a Breakfast Program without ‘Cereal’ (Old Time Radio Breakfast Shows)

Image
Programs, such as Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club , would not have lasted very long without their sponsors. breakfast time was a great format for the big name corporations to get their wares out to the listening public. Aunt Jemima slipping out of the bottle onto warm, buttered pancakes. The “snap, crackle and pop” of Rice Krispies. These were samples of the fare being offered to the morning crowd, starting their day off just right with a delicious wake-up meal. Boardrooms all over America were figuring on how to find the perfect fit for their product line to be commercialized. One of the big leaguers in the day was Frosted Flakes. Kelloggs had its name in a few of the popular programs of the time. Many folks today that enjoy the sugar-coated corn flake owe their tastebuds to the old-time radio morning shows. Kelloggs was one of the pioneers of using the morning radio slot to figure in their cereal line. “Tony the Tiger” can still be remembered with his famous, “it’s Great” approach

Portrayal of Autistic Children in Old Time Radio: Pepper Youngs Family Radio Show

Image
In this first part: enjoy this classic radio broadcast from the radio soap opera, Pepper Young's Family Episode #61.  The Pepper Young family are selling their property and Sam has some good news. "I know you're going to be excited about it... they're gonna put up some kind of home or group of cottages for retarded children!" Sams is going to make some good money selling the lumber and was hired to run the home while Edie will invite the children to their home for supper. If you cannot see the audio controls, your browser does not support the audio element

What does it mean for an old time radio show to be "Transcribed"?

Image
"Transcribed" means the entire show is/was written down as recorded and broadcast. To complicate things, in British English, a transcription would probably be a written record of what was said in the show. In America, During the golden age of radio and in the age of heavy censorship, extensive records were required by the government. In addition they needed to be able to demonstrate to advertisers that their copy was read/delivered as paid. For example Johnny Dollar uses the phrasing--"The transcribed adventures of the insurance investigator with the action-packed expense account."

Who was Radio's Sherlock Holmes?

Image
When radio's Sherlock Holmes dug into the case at hand, he was as obsessed as a hound-dog on the trail of the scent and as determined as a shark heading towards its quarry. Holmes stuck to it until all possible avenues had been traced. He was a detective’s detective. So what...or rather who created this paragon of detail and pursuit? As a doctor and writer, Sir Doyle prescribed (like that?) his character of  Sherlock Holmes  to stay committed to the task at hand...and find the answer. The unique aspect of England’s leading private detective was he found answers where no one even noticed...or dained to perceive a clue. Holmes was a complex mind that harbored cliches for clues and eloquence for action. The radio audience became entranced by Holmes ability to locate the thread in the bizarre location and the drop of wine that “should not have been there”. America developed a following for the non-Tarzan who was as quick with the wit as he was the reveal of the potential cold-case

St Patricks Radio Shows: The Wearing of the Grin on the Radio

Image
Maybe Saint Patrick didn't actually banish the serpents from Ireland (there weren't any snakes on the island to banish!) And as it turns out the Irish don't really drink beer that has been dyed green! None the less Americans take time every March 17th to celebrate the Irish; if not the true facts of their homeland, at least we celebrate their marvelous sense of humor! Radio would never have gone anywhere without a sense of humor! Parades are all well and good, but we think a better way to pass the time while we're waiting for the corned beef to boil is to listen to some   free St Patricks radio shows  to enjoy. Remember when SPAM wasn't the bad stuff that got into your computer? SPAM never was a good thing (it isn't all that great boiled with cabbage and potatoes) but Hormel certainly brought us a load of fun with  George Burns and Gracie Allen  on  St Patrick's Day . Most of the episode is dedicated to Gracie's romance with Artie Shaw, but the

Mercedes McCambridge: A Radio Legend

Image
For all the glitter of Stardom and the dreams of making it big in the entertainment world, the streets of Hollywood (and the halls of Radio City, for that matter) are littered with the crumpled dreams of forgotten stars and starlets. It is not our role in these reports to pass judgement on the dreamers and their ambition. We can only hope that despite some of the horrific episodes in their lives, these celebrities found some of the joy that their performances brought to us. Mercedes McCambridge had been called "the world's greatest living radio actress" by Orson Welles , among others. Though far from unattractive, McCambridge didn't seem to have the bombshell good looks required for a Hollywood A-list leading lady. She did find success in character and supporting roles. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in All the King's Men (1949), and was nominated again in the 1956 Liz Taylor/Rock Hudson/James Dean classic Giant . It is easy

Old Time Radio On New Fangled MP3 Players

Image
We genuinely hopes that you have as much fun listening to the great radio shows we bring you as we do in finding and researching them. Most of the us were born well after the golden age of radio. All of us  are "television babies", so the image of sitting down in the living room, waiting for the tubes of the big console radio to warm up is an image we can only imagine. (The Cat did share memories of napping happily over the warm tubes, but he wouldn't say how many of his nine-lives ago that was.) Most listeners enjoys  old time radio shows from MP3 files  played on the computer of through their iPods or other mp3 storage and  mp3 player devices . Smart phones and most Feature phones will have mp3 play-back and storage, so enjoying your radio shows were ever and when ever you want is easier than ever. The problem is just a matter of learning how to load your radio shows into your mp3 player. Actually, the process is a very simple one that a twelve year old can do

End of the World Radio

Image
There are a number of factors pointing toward the End of Time occurring on Dec 21, 2012. The most prominent is the Mayan Long Calendar. The ancient Mayans developed one of the most sophisticated cultures in pre-Columbian America. The Mayans were also the most accurate time-keepers and astronomers of the pre-technological era. One of their greatest achievements was the Long Calendar. The Mayans recognized several different cycles in the Heavens, including the 365.25 day solar year used in the Gregorian calendar and a 260 day Tzolk'in cycle. Another important cycle is the 584 day cycle of the planet Venus. Times when more than one cycle ended at the same time were understandably auspicious. The Solar calendar and the Tzolk'in cycle align every 52 years or 18980 days, for example. The longest of these cycle alignments is the so-called Long Count Calendar, is based on a cycle that began on August 11, 3114 BC. This cycle will end on Dec 21, 2012. In fact, as far as the Mayans a

Dancers On Suspense!

Image
Suspense!  was one of the most well produced, acted, and written dramas on radio, as well as one of the most prolific. There were an estimated 945 episodes broadcast, most of which have survived. During the twenty year run, probably the most exciting times were from the late 40's and early 50's under Autolite Autoparts sponsorship. Pitchman Harlow Wilcox wasn't as big part of the show as he had been on  Fibber McGee and Molly , but his over the top plugs for sparkplugs and car batteries were entertaining and informative. The direction and production by Anton Leader,  Gunsmoke  co-creator Norman Macdonnell, and Elliot Lewis were all of the highest quality. An important feature of the program that all three directors made the most of was the use of famous movie actors and comedians, and playing them "out of type". It is a bit of a shock for audiences to hear  Lucille Ball  or  Bob Hope  as potential murderers, but  Suspense!  made it work very well. In ear

Creeeeak, Welcome to the Inner Sanctum

Image
The now famous sound of the creaking door was first heard January 7, 1941 on the Blue network. Creepy sound effects combined with humor set the show apart from contemporary mystery-thriller programs.  Inner Sanctum  was the creation of Himan Brown. Using creepy, yet comical sound effects and banter,  Inner Sanctum  took its listeners to the other side. The other side included going into the minds of lunatic killers, entering into the realm of the supernatural and encounters with ghostly apparitions. In early broadcasts, host Raymond Johnson accompanied by ghastly organ music, opened each episode with a cheesy joke. Johnson’s sarcastic wit and chilling melodramatic voice kept listeners on the edge of their seat in anticipation of the story that was about to be told. Creator Himan Brown was no stranger to radio and he knew exactly how to enthrall an audience. In 1935, he produced the first radio soap opera ,  Marie, Little French Princess . The same year, he also produced  Flash

Bodies Piling up: Just an Ordinary Day for Mr. and Mrs. North Radio Show

Image
The Norths lived a normal life in Greenwich Village. Everyday, Mr. North went to work as a book publisher, while Mrs. North stayed home and enjoyed her cats. However, when the bodies started appearing in close proximity to the couple, Mrs. North was determined to uncover the truth and catch the killer. Even if this meant she had to drag Mr. North into the web of intrigue. Mr. and Mrs. North  first appeared in print during the 1930’s. Created and written by Richard Lockridge, the couple first debuted in the  New York Sun . Later Lockridge revived the couple in a series of short stories that ran in  The New Yorker . Originally, the Norths were just ordinary people dealing with the difficulties of domestic life, until Lockridge joined forces with his wife, Frances. Together, the couple redefined the Norths and transformed them into amateur sleuths. The novel,  The Norths Meet Murder   published in 1940 was an overnight success. The success of the novel led to a weekly  old time

Paul Frees: You've Heard Him, Do You Know Him?

Image
Paul Frees is one of those talents that is great fun to investigate. Even a short search of Paul Frees will have you saying "Really, that was him?" Frees was born in Chicago and started his acting/radio career in 1942. Like so many, he was interrupted by WWII. Frees was drafted and fought in Normandy during the D-Day Invasion . After being wounded in action he attended college, but cut his education short when his wife became ill. Returning to radio, his versatile voice talents were put to work announcing and sometimes starring on Suspense .  These duties were shared with his friend and fellow talented Voice,  William Conrad . Frees explained in an interview that he would announce when  Conrad  was starring in the episode, or involved with another project, and vice versa.  Both possessing memorable basso profundo voices, they made an effort to sound like one another in the announcements. Frees also did a lot of work on sister program  Escape . Paul Frees as

Charles Bickford and the Voice of an Era

Image
Charles Bickford, a U.S. actor born in 1891, held several jobs at a young age, before entering the world of burlesque on a dare in 1911. Burlesque eventually led Bickford to Broadway, where he starred alongside James Cagney in  Outside Looking In , in 1925. Shortly thereafter, he enjoyed success playing the role of Macready, in the 1928 Broadway production of  Gods of the Lightning . The character Macready was based on the life of anarchist Ferdinando Nicola Sacco, who along with Bartolomeo Vanzetti, were tried and executed for armed robbery. Bickford’s intense, durable and dominating physical features, paired with his stern, authoritarian voice landed him several film, radio and television roles. After he was contacted by Cecil B. DeMille, Charles Bickford accepted a studio contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM.) It was not long before he became dissatisfied with the work and the studio. Reluctantly, MGM executives released the disgruntled Bickford from his contract obligations

Religion in Old Time Radio

Image
A working definition of Christian Missionary work is "One who is to witness across cultures." The term Missionary comes from the Latin term  missionem,  "to send forth". Many churches have sent their representatives out into the world to spread their message and to do good works in the name of the church. Radio has always been a valuable missionary tool. There is anecdotal evidence that radio sets came into the homes of many  Fibber McGee and Molly ,  Buck Rogers , and  Suspense!  fans so that a senior member of the family could enjoy the gospel music and sermons of a favorite radio preacher. And in many cases these religious were very entertaining, although there are cases where the spiritual leaders found themselves embroiled in scandal. It is not the purpose of this article to pass judgment on these scandals, but merely to report where appropriate. Father Coughlin The Catholic Hour  became part of the NBC line-up in 1936 with the cooperation of

Dragnet and Crime Classics

Image
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,

Old Time Radio Comedy: Duffy's Tavern

Image
A rendition of  When Irish Eyes are Smiling  plays in the background and Archie answers the phone with the  show’s trademark signature, “Hello, Duffy’s Tavern, where the elite meet to eat.” The program always opened with a call from the owner of  Duffy’s Tavern . Never seen, the boss would check up on his manager, Archie via phone. Although Archie never had direct supervision, Duffy knew he had to keep tabs on Archie.  Duffy’s Tavern  premiered March 1, 1941 on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) network. Created by Ed Gardner (no relation to Ava Gardner ), the show centered on Archie and his relationships with the local bar customers. Gardner, a veteran radio director had prior success with  Ripley’s Believe it or Not!   and the  Rudy Vallee Hour . Ironically, Gardner professed that he never touched alcohol. Nevertheless, his imaginary bar enjoyed success for just over a decade.  By 1942, the show moved to the National Broadcasting Company (NBC) network, where it remained unt

WWII Post Cards from the Troops

Image
While listening to  Mail Call  the other day I got to thinking about the real Mail Call. When I entered the service, mail call was still a big deal; we would all live for our letters from home. When the mail bags came on board, if we weren't working or on watch we would haunt the passageway until "Stamps", the under-appreciated Postal Clerk, could get the letters and packages sorted. By the time I left the Service, emails and satellite phones had begun be the most important means of keeping in touch with the folks back home. Although these were immediate means of communication, electronics can not replace a letter that your sweetheart has taken the time to write and held in her hand. Finding time to write has always been a problem for the serviceman. That is part of why the picture postcard was so great for G.I.s. The picture of cartoon on the front of the card would help to frame the message that he was trying to send home, which he didn't have the time t

Dennis Day, "Christmas For Carol": Christmas in Suspense!

Image
Young Dennis Day was Jack Benny 's tenor from his radio premier in 1939 until the end of The Jack Benny Program on both Radio and Television. During the 1964-65 TV season, Jack kept delivering lines like "That crazy kid drives me nuts..." Baker was 47 at the time. Dennis Day  as a bright-eyed if somewhat scatter-brained young man was a hard type-cast to shake. Even Suspense! , which was known for casting comedians in horror , took advantage of the fresh-faced persona. In "Christmas for Carol",  Day  lays a young husband who is in a desperate situation. He learns that his wife will require bed rest and a nurse's care for the remainder of her pregnancy. He knows that his small salary from the bank won't cover it. He does learn that an older couple has withdrawn their life's savings that day, but how can that help him? Through some unsavory contacts he passes the information to a local hoodlum. Soon he is in over his head, and having a crisis

"Quiz Kids" Christmas

Image
Quiz Kids  aired on Sundays evenings and had a devoted following of both adults and children on the Blue Network.  Hosted by Joe Kelley of  National Barn Dance , the show featured a panel of youngsters who had been selected for their intelligence and wit. But working with kids is never a sure thing! Kelley however, who claimed to be no intellectual and couldn't have answered the questions if they weren't printed on his flash cards, was expert at putting the kids at ease during the broadcast of the Quiz Kids radio show . On one  Christmas Radio Show   questions included: "What are the best reasons to prove there is a Santa Claus?"Identify these Christmas Belles,""Identify these Character's from Dickens by these quotes," and "Is there a Santa Claus." Read more about radio quiz programs...