Category Archives: classic radio

8 December: Immediate aftermath

FDR before Congress, the day after . . . (Photo: National Archives.)

FDR before Congress (and a small crowd of radio microphones), the day after . . . (Photo: National Archives.)


Many Americans have hoped to avoid it, and enough Americans were said to embrace the prospect, but now the United States begins rounding into shape enough to respond to the Pearl Harbour attacks, the reality of the Axis, and the arduous path of international war.

Again, we seek not to judge retroactively but merely to listen and analyse in the context of its own time and place.


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5 December: The mean widdle man-kid

Red Skelton---discredit where credit was due? (Photo: CBS.)

Red Skelton—discredit where credit was due? (Photo: CBS.)

The Red Skelton Show: People Who Brag (CBS, 1951)

Tonight’s installment could be considered a kind of loaded weapon, considering one way in which the star could be called a shameless braggart, in contrast to his on-air persona as a nice guy with a lot of little boy in him.

Richard Bernard Skelton cannot bear to give anyone else credit for whatever success he’s having as one of radio’s least likely successes. Like Milton Berle and Lucille Ball, Skelton is a predominantly visual comedian. Unlike them, Skelton has a secret weapon, a collection of distinct and goofy voices.

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20 November: A twin triumph for Lurene Tuttle

Tuttle as twins, somehow. (Photo: CBS)

Tuttle as twins, somehow. (Photo: CBS)

The Whistler: Death Sees Double (CBS, 1944)

Yes, this is the same as the 6 November 1944 episode known first as “The Twins.” The  original performance was pre-empted, allowing CBS’s national network to carry a speech by Republican presidential aspirant Thomas E. Dewey, the former New York governor challenging Franklin D. Roosevelt, in the first of Dewey’s two failed White House bids.

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4 November: It’s Miller time

Joe Miller's Jests Future collectors of classic network radio will become very familiar with the name Joe Miller. Fred Allen wasn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last to make Miller fodder for fresh jokes in the network radio era. The eighteenth-century British actor inspired a published collection of jokes that became synonymous on radio with old, time-worn, corny jokes.

The irony is that Miller himself wasn’t exactly a laugh-grabber. He’s said to have told extremely few of the jokes gathered in Joe Miller’s Jests. And the volume wasn’t even published in Miller’s lifetime. Dramatist/anthologist John Mottley (don’t tempt me!) collected the original edition in 1739; what does it tell you that he published it pseudonymously? (As Elijah Jenkins, Esq.)

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19 September: Nibbling the Gilberts . . .

Nimitz, one of three admirals who believed taking the Gilberts was critical for advancing the Pacific war against Japan. (U.S. Navy photo.)

Nimitz, one of three admirals who believe taking the Gilberts is critical for the forthcoming, important campaign in the Marshall Islands. (U.S. Navy photo.)

Today in 1943 the Allies have begun pecking away at targets throughout the Gilberts, including Tarawa, in advance of a full-scale operation in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, almost two years after Japan swept in to occupy the islands following the Pearl Harbour attacks.

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