Category Archives: classic radio

18 September: A razor sharp season premiere

Alice Faye, Anne Whitfield, Phil Harris, and Jeanine Roos at the mike. (Photo: NBC.)

Alice Faye, Anne Whitfield, Phil Harris, and Jeanine Roos at the mike. (Photo: NBC.)

“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 . . .”

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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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