Category Archives: classic radio

17 September: Invading the Netherlands

Murrow never met a bombing mission he couldn't fly, if allowed to. (Photo: CBS/Bettman Archive.)

Murrow never met a bombing mission he couldn’t fly, if allowed to. (Photo: CBS/Bettman Archive.)

The Dutch called 5 September Dolle dingstad, or Mad Tuesday—because the Allies had advanced so far toward their borders in the wake of D-Day that the Dutch believed they were thisclose to liberation. The campaign to liberate the Netherlands from the Nazi grip is in full swing, of course; Operation Market Garden—bidding to move from the Dutch-Belgian border over the Meuse, Waal, and Rhine rivers—proves only a partial success; the Allies can’t capture the Rhine bridge in the Battle of Arnhem.

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12 September: Love, marriage, McGees

The Jordans, early in their Fibber McGee & Molly years. (Photo: NBC.)

The Jordans, early in their Fibber McGee & Molly years. (Photo: NBC.)

Jim and Marian Jordan are actually married 21 years when tonight’s broadcast is delivered. The marriage of these childhood sweethearts probably testifies most to their perseverance, since her parents were far less than thrilled about their daughter’s dreams of life in the theater and her romancing by a farm kid who shared those wild-eyed dreams. To say they came up the hard way is perhaps the understatement of the hour.

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27 June: Two finales, two transitions, for Jack Benny

Benny knew how to handle unexpected transitions. (Photo: NBC.)

Benny knew how to handle unexpected transitions. (Photo: NBC.)

A pair of season enders eleven years apart tonight, shows Jack Benny in two different kinds of transition.

The 1936-37 season has been a transitional one for Benny as it was. The good news is that he was joined by Phil Harris at the season’s beginning and Eddie Anderson as the irrepressible Rochester near season’s end. The bad news is that he lost his main writer, Harry Conn, before the season began. Conn—who later sues Benny but settles out of court—came to believe he was the number one reason for Benny’s radio success and made contract demands accordingly. The net result was Conn’s head on a plate.

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19 May: It isn’t goodnight for Alan Freed; it’s a long, painful goodbye

Alan Freed, near the height of his career, circa 1955-56. (Photo: WINS.)

Alan Freed, near the height of his career, circa 1955-56. (Photo: WINS.)

He coined the term “rock and roll” (perhaps inspired by the use of the phrase in Billy Ward and the Dominos’ suggestive rhythm and blues hit “Sixty Minute Man”) and he was often considered its father. And yet there have been those who have pondered whether Alan Freed came to it at first for love or for the cash register. Nelson George, in his remarkable The Death of Rhythm & Blues (New York: Pantheon, 1988), isolated that thought among others:

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9 May: The world and inner wars of Howard K. Smith

Smith, whose brilliance reporting Berlin's destruction was equaled only by his flair for being his own worst enemy. (Photo: CBS.)

Smith, whose brilliance reporting Berlin’s destruction was equaled only by his flair for being his own worst enemy. (Photo: CBS.)

Edward R. Murrow’s World War II reporting team has earned a reputation for daring, often dangerous reporting. Murrow himself has traipsed the rooftops of London at the height of the Blitz, then accompanied deep bombing runs in the European war theater. Eric Sevareid has found himself lost in the Pacific when a military flight aboard which he flew went down with engine trouble during the Burmese-Chinese phase of the war in the Pacific. And Richard C. Hottelet has spent a few hours in a Nazi concentration camp.

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