31 December: Here’s to the New Year

It could have been better . . . it certainly could have been worse . . .  but now let’s say goodbye to 2015 the auld-time radio way, beginning (perhaps this will become a tradition in this space, too) with a legendary New Year’s Eve music special for American and other troops still scattered ’round in the immediate wake of World War II . . .

 

Various Artists: New Year’s Radio Dancing Party (Armed Forces Radio Service, 31 December 1945)

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24 December: ‘Tis the night before Christmas

Norman Corwin. (Photo: CBS.)

Norman Corwin. (Photo: CBS.)

Columbia Workshop: The Plot to Overthrow Christmas (CBS, 24 December 1942)

One or another way, Christmas Eve broadcasts over classic (1927-62) network radio will survive to be heard by generations who weren’t alive when radio was the world’s primary conductor of home entertainment. These can be considered some of the finest gifts the era bequeathed, even unto generations jaded enough by video and cinematic excess and ubiquity that you fear their inability to appreciate what one radio show’s customary introduction called “the theater of the mind.”

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20 December: From Macy’s to Dickens on the plains

Edmund Gwenn, nonpareil Santa. (Photo: 20th Century Fox.)

Edmund Gwenn, nonpareil Santa. (Photo: 20th Century Fox.)

Lux Radio Theater: Miracle on 34th Street (CBS, 1948)

Darryl F. Zanuck thought releasing Miracle on 34th Street as summer 1947 was born would be a clever idea because, well, he thought more people go to the movies in summer. Lux Radio Theater thinks tonight’s the more appropriate time to present its radio adaptation. In a small piece of poetic justice, the broadcast won’t injure the film at the next Academy Awards, where Edmund Gwenn will win Best Supporting Actor for the role he reprises tonight.

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12 December: Eden rocked

The Chase & Sanborn Hour: Adam and Eve (NBC, 1937)

Mae West (left), Charlie McCarthy, and Edgar Bergen---running more than one temperature up the scale. (Photo: NBC.)

Mae West (left), Charlie McCarthy, and Edgar Bergen—running more than one temperature up the scale. (Photo: NBC.)

What Mr. Chase doesn’t know about comedy, Mr. Sanborn doesn’t know, either. But Standard Brands, NBC, and enough of the country will learn soon enough after tonight’s Chase & Sanborn Hour.

Arch Oboler won’t be a name remembered much for comedy, if at all. He’ll be remembered as the brains that succeeded mastermind Wyllis Cooper in producing and delivering perhaps radio’s most incandescent horror exercise, Lights Out. But when he dips into comedy there are those who wish his lights were out.

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9 December: The aftermath, continued . . .

The Jordans and their sponsor went to war in their unique ways . . . (Photo: NBC.)

The Jordans and their sponsor went to war in their unique ways . . . (Photo: NBC.)

Fibber McGee & Molly: Forty Percent Off (NBC, 1941)

The aftermath of Pearl Harbour continues apace, and aboard old-time radio in particular. And one of the earliest counter-volleys to America now being yanked into the war comes from one of NBC’s biggest successes.

Fibber McGee & Molly is now long established as the network’s  Tuesday night mainstay and powerhouse. The network announces it will deliver the latest war news before every network program, while 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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