27 April: Matters of records . . .

Margaret Whiting. (Photo: CBS.)

Margaret Whiting. (Photo: CBS.)

What I called a “seeming resurgence” of vinyl records last year seems to be swelling considerably this year. So it’s still appropriate to review one of the most interesting pop culture explorations in old-time radio history, scripted in part by one of the medium’s best crime drama leads.



The CBS Radio Workshop: The Record Collectors (CBS, 1956)

Biologist Vincent Arbolgast (Howard McNear) and teratologist Titus McFadridge (Lou Houston) stand firmly on the side of vintage 78 rpm shellac records and the more primitive recording technology of the earliest 20th Century, not to mention the popular performers of that period, such as Margaret Young.

They think nothing of disapproving aloud—and to their faces—radio and television conductor Lyn Murray (Your Hit Parade prominent among his credits) and 1950s singing star Margaret Whiting . . . who just so happens to be Margaret Young’s niece, and who presents her recording of “I’ve Told Every Little Star,” a few years before teenage singer Linda Scott will make it a rock and roll hit.

Arbolgast and McFadridge have none of it so far as this modern technology is concerned. Why, the very thought of a long-playing record seems enough to drive them to the nearest Edison cylinder. Which may be enough to make you wonder what they’d think of Les Paul, whose multitracking techniques have taken firm enough old by the time of this broadcast.

And you think you heard it all during the 1980s and 1990s, when the debates were about the compact disc versus the disappearing vinyl record?

Of course, you may marvel that Arbolgast and McFadridge, proud and unapologetic record Luddites that they are, consented to be presented tonight by way of (drumroll, please) electromagnetic recording.

Former Broadway is My Beat star Larry Thor co-wrote today’s script.

Moderator: John Dehner. Director: William Froug. Writers: William Woodson, Lou Houston, Larry Thor.


Further Channel Surfing . . .


Amos ‘n’ Andy: Reviewing Contracts for Lodge Renovations (NBC, 1929)—Freeman Gosden, Charles Correll. The boys get closer to signing the deal to renovate the Mystic Knights of the Sea Lodge facility, assuming they can unravel the contract details the Kingfish, perhaps unsurprisingly, didn’t much care to discuss. Bear with the scratchy surviving recording.

Fibber McGee & Molly: Black Market Meat (NBC, 1943)—Jim and Marian Jordan, Isabel Randolph, Bill Thompson, Arthur Q. Bryan. The Stooge of 79 Wistful Vista is out of meat ration coupons and horny for a porterhouse, so he’s not exactly unwilling to use hook, crook, or both to get himself some prime beef . . . and he’s certainly not unwilling to share his meaty connections with friends, either, which may worry Molly and others just a tad, in an episode the patriotic couple aimed at discouraging buying black market meat during wartime. Classic.

Duffy’s Tavern: Fish and Fantasy (NBC; AFRS Rebroadcast, 1945)—Ed Gardner, John Garfield, Eddie Green, Charles Cantor, Sandra Gould. Worried that a rival saloon’s floor show is cutting into business, Archie wants to start a repertory company for Duffy’s, with fabled film tough-guy John Garfield as the first star . . . of a play Archie’s written, God help one and all. Savour it.

Adventures of Maisie: Maisie the Professor; a.k.a. Professor Elliot (Syndicated, 1950)—Ann Sothern, Gerald Mohr, Howard McNear, Peter Leeds, Donald Woods, Julius Mathews, Sidney Miller. Nervous enough on her first day on the job, Maisie hires on as secretary to a professor embittered by war, and she finds herself driving him to finish his planned anti-war book despite his frustration over its continuing rejection. Unusually sensitive entry in this series.


Crime Drama

Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons: The Woman Who Married a Murderer (CBS, 1950)—Bennett Kilpack, Jim Kelly, unidentified additional cast. Linda Roberts asks Keen and Clancy to solve the murder of her former love interest, who had remained a good friend but fell out with her jealous husband over financial issues, causing her to fear her husband’s involved in the killing. Considering its radio origin in the Frank and Anne Hummert factory, the understatement of this episode may surprise you.

Dragnet: The Big Lift (NBC; AFRTS Rebroadcast, 1954)—Jack Webb, Ben Alexander, Virginia Gregg, unidentified additional cast. There’s an organised shoplifting ring operating furiously around town, and Friday and Smith finally catch a break when a nervous clerk gives the first description they’ve had of the two men and a woman who lead the ring. Solid.



Gunsmoke: The Squaw (CBS; AFRTS rebroadcast, 1958)—William Conrad, Parley Baer, Georgia Ellis, Howard McNear, unidentified additional cast. Matt and Chester break up a Long Branch brawl instigated over an insult toward usually mild-mannered Culley Tate’s widowed father—who’s taken up with a much younger Arapaho woman he met in Texas. Effective.



Special Broadcast: Allies in the Heart of Germany on the Elbe (NBC, 1945)—A news bulletin on President Truman’s remarks after Allied and Soviet forces meet at last in Germany itself, after crossing the Rhine, signifying the nearing end of the war in Europe and the fall of the Third Reich, with Truman crediting the late President Roosevelt’s steadfastness. Includes reports from the First, Third, Ninth, and Twelfth Armies, and transcription of a statement from U.S. Gen. Omar Bradley. Correspondents: John McVane, David Anderson, Roy Porter.

Special Report: Ravensbruck (Mutual, 1945)—Sigrid Schultz reports women faring no better than men in German concentration camps, specifically the camp at Ravensbruck which has just been liberated by the Allies, where—among other atrocities—female prison guards were liable to stomp on women prisoners who had become enfeebled by their imprisonment and conditions, and other women were subject to some of the notorious Nazi medical experiments.

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