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.


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.


Special Report: “Czechoslovakia Wants to be Seen as a Reliable Negotiator in Peace” (Czech Radio, 1938)

Czech Premier Hodza talks desperately on behalf of securing continuing, serious negotiations to resolve the Sudeten crisis, rebuking the full-tilt Nazi propaganda machinery against the Czech government. Hodza also laments President Edvard Benes’s martial law proclamation, unaware that the Sudeten crisis will be resolved soon enough . . . without direct Czech representation, and to Czechoslovakia’s and Europe’s peril.

CBS European News: More Air Raids in London (1940)

Eric Sevareid. (Photo: CBS.)

Eric Sevareid. (Photo: CBS.)

A report following ten hours of intensive Nazi bombing, the longest thus far during the Blitz. Highlights, if that is the proper term: A report that Third Reich foreign minister von Ribbentrop has departed for Rome; British warplanes sinking an Italian destroyer near Libya; British and Italian competition for Egyptian support; and, a report on the destruction from the previous night’s London bombing that seemed to have no known proper military objective, plus the evacuations of British school children.

Correspondents: Edward Hartridge, Eric Sevareid, Lyndon Wells. Anchor: George Bryan.



The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show: Phil Returns from Vacation (Season premiere; NBC, 1949)

“The writing,” John Dunning (in On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio) wrote of The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show, “was razor sharp; the scripts by Ray Singer and Dick Chevillat were so raucous that four-to-five minute cuts were often necessary to allow for audience laughter. The principle of contagious laughter was maximised in the overhead placement of audience microphones, making it one of the loudest shows on the air. Some of the brilliance went out of the scripts when Singer and Chevillat departed . . .”

And tonight’s season premiere is evidence that every word of the first and last sentences above is true:

The Harris band rounds up to rehearse for the first show of the season. Phil (Harris) is delayed returning from his Canadian fishing trip, giving Alice (Faye), Willie (Robert North), and the girls (Jeanine Roos, Anne Whitfield) a chance to give him the business. And that’s nothing compared to the business Scott (Gale Gordon) gives Phil when the sponsor fears he has nothing with which to premiere.

Remley: Elliott Lewis. Julius: Walter Tetley. Announcer: Bill Forman. Music: Walter Scharf, Phil Harris Orchestra. Director: Paul Phillips. Writers: Ray Singer, Dick Chevillat.


Further Channel Surfing . . .

The Jack Benny Program: Edward, My Son (Comedy; CBS, 1949)
Life with Luigi: Midget Radio Lawsuit (Comedy; CBS, 1949)
Nightbeat: A Full Load of Hate (Crime drama; NBC, 1950)
Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network: A Navy Ship Contest (Improvisational comedy; We’re dredging it up, 1959)

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