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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24 September: Two CBS newscasts birth a brainchild

CBS European News and CBS News of the World had a baby during World War II, and its name was World News Today.

Larry LeSeur. (Photo: CBS.)

Larry LeSeur. (Photo: CBS.)

Anchored customarily by George Bryan or Larry Elliott (European News) and Harry Mottle (News of the World), the original two news programs established what World News Today would solidify: smart pacing, smart spacing, perhaps the best such pace and space of any World War II regular newscasts. For a nation relying far more often upon radio for immediate war news, it was a game plan that worked.

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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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20 September: Bookish Myrna Loy

While many Hollywood stars and starlets thought nothing of turning to radio work to make ends meet between pictures, Myrna Loy didn’t take the same attitude. Once she achieved her stardom she rarely had to look back, and she tended for the most part to restrict her radio work to adaptations of her films.

But she did make the occasional exception. And tonight she makes arguably the best such exception of the radio side of her career.


Suspense: The Library Book (Mystery/thriller; CBS, 1945)

Myrna Loy, who knew how to work a radio mystery. (Photo: CBS.)

Myrna Loy, who knew how to work a radio mystery. (Photo: CBS.)

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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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