17 December: Less can be just right at 79 Wistful Vista

The Jordans in the 1950s. (Photo: NBC.)

The Jordans in the 1950s. (Photo: NBC.)

With the need to ‘write funny’ no longer present because the episodes were pre-recorded in a studio,” Clair Schulz will write in Fibber McGee & Molly On the Air (1935-1959), “too many of the fifteen-minute Fibber McGee & Molly shows seem intent on developing a story that would continue the next day instead of making each episode amusing and rewarding.”

That would be true now and then but not in the larger picture. The shift to the fifteen-minute dailies probably seemed jarring at first to listeners who couldn’t accept the unfamiliarity of new announcer John Wald, the departure of several supporting characters other than Teeny, Dr. Gamble, Wallace Wimpole, and the Old-Timer, or the absence of the long familiar music interludes.

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15 December: The Bill of Rights provides a Corwin triumph

Norman Corwin, while still in CBS's good graces. (Photo: CBS.)

Norman Corwin, while still in CBS’s good graces. (Photo: CBS.)

Norman Corwin’s biographer R. LeRoy Bannermann will recall how Corwin, planning a special commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Bill of Rights, was completing the script when the news of Pearl Harbour reached him. And from the moment it airs tonight, it may become Corwin’s signature composition and presentation.

The timing of We Hold These Truths will give it historic significance enough, airing eight days after Pearl Harbour, its nationalistic but hardly jingoistic theme kindling within its listeners both an indignant patriotism and a renewed dedication. Which is, when all is said and done, a remarkable achievement for a man who’s just been cashiered by CBS—because his work, much heard, heeded, and honoured, has become too “speculative [and] experimental” for a network in need of becoming more “competitive.”

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11 December: The show Henry Luce didn’t really like

Westbrook Van Voorhis, the unforgettable Voice of Time. (Photo: CBS.)

Westbrook Van Voorhis, the unforgettable Voice of Time. (Photo: CBS.)

On the same day as Congress declares war against the Third Reich, in Pearl Harbour’s immediate aftermath and countering the Reich’s and Fascist Italy’s declarations against the United States, one of old-time radio’s most eloquent radio exercises in the aftermath comes from a series launched in Cincinnati more than a decade earlier. A series that became a radio legend despite the apparent disdain of the publishing titan whose signature creation inseminated it.

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10 December: A bump for Fred Allen

Texaco not only moves Allen to a better timeslot around or after Pearl Harbour, but the oil giant will get mileage aplenty featuring him in wartime print advertising. (Photo: Texas Oil Company.)

Texaco not only moves Allen to a better timeslot around or after Pearl Harbour, but the oil giant will get mileage aplenty featuring him in wartime print advertising. (Photo: Texas Oil Company.)

Pearl Harbour will affect Fred Allen as it will all radio entertainers, but in Allen’s case it will provide an inadvertent ratings bump.

The satirist and his Texaco Star Theater hour have struggled against NBC’s Eddie Cantor and Mr. District Attorney on Wednesday nights. But then the Ford Motor Company drops the curtain permanently on its Sunday night CBS mainstay, The Sunday Evening Hour, which featured performances by the Detroit Symphony. “It was wartime,” Jim Harburg would review, in his splendid volume compiling the history of network radio ratings, “and the car maker had nothing to sell.”

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9 December: Pearl’s aftermath continues . . .

 

Johnson Wax threw down the war-support gauntlet to their fellow radio advertisers.

Johnson Wax threw down the war-support gauntlet to their fellow radio advertisers.

The aftermath of Pearl Harbour continues apace. Not just around official America but around old-time radio, aboard which one of the earliest counter-volleys to America’s being yanked at last into World War II comes from and aboard NBC.

The catalyst is Fibber McGee & Molly, now long established as the network’s Tuesday night mainstay and powerhouse. NBC announces it’ll deliver the latest war news before every network program “day and night.” And McGee sponsor S.C. Johnson & Son throws a gauntlet straight down toward all radio advertisers, by way of a message from the wax maker’s president offered in lieu of its usual show-opening commercial:

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