Category Archives: History/Documentary

21 November: Freed fall

Freed at work. Perhaps coincidentally, the stack of records is topped by a release from Roulette Records---whose corrupt mastermind Morris Levy was Freed's patron in more than one way . . . (Photo: ABC.)

Freed at work. Perhaps coincidentally, the stack of records is topped by a release from Roulette Records—whose corrupt mastermind Morris Levy was Freed’s patron in more than one way . . . (Photo: ABC.)

Alan Freed: The Final Words on ABC (WABC, 1959)

This is not goodbye, it’s just good night. Alan Freed’s customary on-air sign-off carries an ominous tone tonight. He may or may not know it as he says it, but his career as a radio big-timer is about to end, six years before his life itself will.

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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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22 September: Der Fuehrer could not have him

Helion's memoir made a sober radio drama.

Helion’s memoir made a sober radio drama.

Vichy France signed its 1940 armistice with Hitler’s Reich with stipulations that included, formally, French armed forces in German-occupied territory to be moved to unoccupied territory and discharged. The provision proved a dupe to the French soldiers, allowing them to allow the Nazis to surround and herd them into camps, where they only thought they were awaiting their discharges.

Good luck with that.

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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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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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