24 September: Birth of a news notion

Douglas Edwards, when he worked for WSB Atlanta prior to World War II . . .(Photo: WSB)

Douglas Edwards, when he worked for WSB Atlanta prior to World War II . . .(Photo: WSB)

CBS European News and CBS News of the World had a baby during World War II, and its name was World News Today.

Anchored customarily by George Bryan or Larry Elliott (European News) and Harry Mottle (News of the World), the original two news programs established what World News Today would solidify: smart pacing, smart spacing, perhaps the best such pace and space of any World War II regular newscasts. For a nation relying far more often upon radio for immediate war news, it was a game plan that worked.

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21 September: Radio ad absurdium

Karl Swenson, at the height of his renown as Lorenzo Jones. (Photo: CBS.)

Karl Swenson, at the height of his renown as Lorenzo Jones. (Photo: CBS.)

Of two charming programs airing tonight in 1948, one is a series premiere. Picking the leadoff between them here is something akin to choosing between lobster fra diavolo and chicken cordon bleu for dinner, so I decided to pick according to age.

There’s no question but that Frank and Anne Hummert are old-time radio’s king and queen of the soaps, with misery, disaster, melodrama, and heartbreak their quadruple specialties. But even they seem to have needed a little relief from the afternoon anxieties to which their usual audiences repaired. They forayed into musical programming now and then (the couple were passionate music lovers, though Anne Hummert won’t have time for further indulgence until she retires upon her husband’s death) and a prime-time crime drama here and there.

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20 September: The great howdunit

Bill Forman, who made a deceptively imposing Whistler. (Photo: CBS.)

Bill Forman, who made a deceptively imposing Whistler. (Photo: CBS.)

Twenty-first century old-time radio lovers may not realise The Whistler was never a truly national phenomenon. The CBS crime drama was almost strictly a western U.S. phenomenon thanks to its sponsor, Signal Oil, doing business in the west alone.

Only twice did The Whistler get a crack at a listenership beyond the west, when Campbell Soup sponsored it in the midwest and the east during the summer of 1946, as a replacement for its moderately successful Jack Carson Show; and, when Household Finance Company (HFC) picked it up from March 1947 through the end of September 1948.

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19 September: Tarawa calling

Newhafer's forgotten best-seller, which addressed Tarawa and other key naval battles.

Newhafer’s forgotten best-seller, which addressed Tarawa and other key naval battles.

In Richard Newhafer’s long lost and perhaps long forgotten novel The Last Tallyho (1964), centered around the coming of age of five young Navy pilots aboard a carrier in the Pacific theater of World War II, their squadron commander—invited to discuss the coming raids against Tarawa—advocated with their commanding admiral for a pre-dawn launch, the better to thwart a possible surprise from Japanese fliers defending the Gilbert Islands.

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18 September: A crisis and a blitz

In 1938, the Sudeten crisis comes to a boil; in 1940, the London Blitz continues apace, with a particularly understated but gripping report from CBS legend Eric Sevareid.

WORLD WAR II: A CRISIS AND A BLITZ

Special Report: Refuting Propaganda (Czech Radio, 1938)

Czechoslovakia’s English-speaking radio station denies Czech pressure against German-born citizens being restricted or under arrest, as Nazi and Hungarian propaganda broadcasts have charged. The broadcast also discusses Il Duce, Benito Mussolini of Italy, calling for a plebiscite to resolve the Sudetenland crisis—a plebiscite the embattled Czech government fears will not resolve the Sudeten crisis or questions about nationality relations within the country itself.

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