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)

With some of the biggest names in jazz and popular music, broadcast live by remote station hookup from their various New Year’s Eve hotel/ballroom engagements, American servicemen still stationed around the world in the aftermath of World War II are the privileged few and the privileged proud to be in on this remarkable hour’s music.

There is hardly a bad or exhausted performance among the lot, of course, but even given that there remain unquestioned highlights which only begin with Harry James, the broadcast’s leadoff hitter, and an exuberant “Sad Sack,” and you may even forgive  the lack of spotlight turn from his then-star sideman, tenor saxophonist Corky Corcoran.

The further highlights:

* Count Basie with a ripping “One O’Clock Jump.”

* Louis Armstrong’s bristling “Ac-cen-tu-ate The Positive.”

* Jimmy Dorsey’s breakneck “I Got Rhythm.”

* Artie Shaw, guest trumpeter Roy Eldridge, and a shivery “Little Jazz.”

* Stan Kenton and June Christy’s irrepressible “Tampico.”

* Benny Goodman’s snappy “Gotta Be This or That.”

* Duke Ellington’s rarity “Let the Zoomers Zoom,” a composition he may never have released, on the assumption the Duke and his merry men ever recorded it at all.

* Guy Lombardo auld langing his customary syne to seal the proverbial deal.

Also featured: Freddy Martin, Les Brown, Woody Herman, Gene Krupa, Tommy Dorsey, Henry King, Carmen Cavallaro (whose introductory announcement suggests his selection, “The Polonnaise,” practically his theme song, has probably been played once or twice elsewhere during his evening’s show), Louis Prima.

Host announcer: Unknown.



World News Today: Bulging Progress (CBS, 31 December 1944)

Battle of the Bulge progress including Allied forces repelling a German push to block a relief corridor to Bastogne, Soviet forces cutting down German army and SS forces in a furious battle for Budapest, the American recapture of Barga on the Italian front, an end to hostilities in Athens, an unconfirmed Belgian report of the death of Germany’s commander along the Italian front, Chiang Kai-shek’s call for a people’s congress to write a new Chinese constitution after the war’s end, and an interview with a Navy Seebees commander in the wake of their successful first three years’ operations and their enthusiastic reception from the Philippines.

Overseas correspondents: Ned Calmer and Charles Collingwood from Paris, reporting French hopes for the war’s end following the liberation from the Vichy regime; Eric Sevareid from London on a New Year’s Eve celebration that is “a bit forced” and questions over likely British influence in the postwar world; Don Pryor from Pearl Harbour on the next phases of the push toward Japan’s mainland and with an interview with Maj. George Dooley, commander of a Marine battle squadron around Guam; Maj. George Fielding Eliot on the Third Army’s northward progress through central Europe.

Other news: a trainwreck near the Great Salt Lake; a thwarted overthrow of Panama’s government.

Anchor: Douglas Edwards, New York.


1944 In Review (Mutual, 31 December 1944)

The network’s annual news review features sound clips from such figures as Gen. Dwight Eisenhower, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, New York Gov. Thomas E. Dewey, and Gen. Douglas A. MacArthur, among others.

With a few brief dramatisations, the major events reviewed include: the first revelation of the Bataan Death March (including an interview with a march survivor); the death of Mutual reporter Raymond Flapper (the sixteenth American correspondent to die during the war); in a plane crash while covering the battle of the Marshall Islands; the battle of Anzio; the opening of the long-called-for second front with the D-Day invasion; reports of German prison camp atrocities; the liberation of France; the Battle of Saipan and the resignation of Prime Minister Hideki Tojo and his entire Cabinet; the U.S. Presidential election; and the Battle of the Bulge.

Also reviewed: a once-thought-unlikely burst of American night life and leisure activities early in the year, perhaps indicating a temporary weariness with the war’s progress and harsh realities; continuing shortages of food and tobacco products;

Moderator: David Bristol, WOR New York.


Further Channel Surfing: New Year’s Eve . . .

The Jell-O Program Starring Jack Benny: What Are Ya Doin’ New Year’s Eve? (comedy; NBC, 1939)
Fibber McGee & Molly: Fibber Finds a Gold Watch (comedy; NBC, 1940)
The Charlie McCarthy Show: New Year’s Eve Play (comedy; NBC, 1944)
The Great Gildersleeve: New Year’s Eve (comedy; NBC, 1944)
Lux Radio Theater: Pride of the Marines (dramatic anthology; CBS, 1945)
Boston Blackie: Carl Brown Cleaning Shop (crime drama; syndicated, 1946)
The Mel Blanc Show: Zebra of the Year (comedy; CBS, 1946)
Escape: Confession (adventure; CBS, 1947)
The Jimmy Durante Show: New Year’s Eve, with Red Skelton (comedy; NBC, 1947)
Matinee with Bob & Ray: New Year’s Eve Day (comedy; WHDH, Boston, 1949)
Richard Diamond, Private Detective: The Thomas Jason Case (crime drama; NBC, 1949)
Our Miss Brooks: Christmas Gift Returns (comedy; CBS, 1950)
The Big Show: Once More with Little Margaret (variety; NBC, 1950)
Bold Venture: The Carlo Ruiz Story; a.k.a. Crazy Old Carlo (adventure; Syndicated, 1951)

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