Tag Archives: Bob & Ray

18 September: A crisis and a blitz

In 1938, the Sudeten crisis comes to a boil; in 1940, the London Blitz continues apace, with a particularly understated but gripping report from CBS legend Eric Sevareid.

WORLD WAR II: A CRISIS AND A BLITZ

Special Report: Refuting Propaganda (Czech Radio, 1938)

Czechoslovakia’s English-speaking radio station denies Czech pressure against German-born citizens being restricted or under arrest, as Nazi and Hungarian propaganda broadcasts have charged. The broadcast also discusses Il Duce, Benito Mussolini of Italy, calling for a plebiscite to resolve the Sudetenland crisis—a plebiscite the embattled Czech government fears will not resolve the Sudeten crisis or questions about nationality relations within the country itself.

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On the threshold: Old-time radio listening, 24 December

Yuletide without Barrymore? Bah! Humbug! (Photo: CBS.)

For all who celebrate, and for anyone sorely in need of extra cheer this and any such season, today’s offerings are dedicated.

Columbia Workshop: The Plot to Overthrow Christmas (CBS, 24 December 1942)

Set in hell, delivered in verse (some of it, admittedly, is a little on the awkward side but the archness of the delivery and the quality of the bulk makes up for it), some of history’s most notorious villains to that point convene to plan Christmas’s demise—as soon as they can quell this little, ahem, family squabble. (Sit down, Haman—for I am Ivan the Terrible! Brother Ivan is a demagogue/with the brain like a fly and the manners of a hog.)

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Space odyssey: Old-time radio listening, 19 November

Dimension X: Competition (NBC, 1950)

Les Tremayne, one of the New York actors involved heavily enough with Dimension X . . . (Photo: NBC)

Suspense and Escape dipped into the genre once in awhile. Quiet, Please was a very occasional dipper but focused, as always (and brilliantly), on the psychological fantasy first. Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers were strictly for the kids and often as not insulted even their intelligence. Not until 1950, when Destination Moon becomes a film hit, does old-time radio find an impetus for a full science fiction series, and the first such show, Dimension X, will prove as well to be the best of its breed.

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Joanie, we barely knew ye: Old-time radio listening, 22 October

Joanie’s Tea Room: Will Andy Russell Make a Movie? (CBS, 1945)

Joan Davis, at the height of her old-time radio career. (Photo: CBS)

In most ways, Joan Davis will be done a disservice, from her coming out as a bona-fide radio comedy lead to her premature death fourteen years later.

Bad enough that Joanie’s Tea Room introduces her, invariably, as “America’s queen of comedy,” a title that sounds just a little too smugly pretentious attached to a woman who hasn’t exactly won it, by acclaim or otherwise. Worse is that the introduction and the show itself are accompanied by a somewhat smarmy publicity campaign not of the ill-fated star’s own making.

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A ghostly princess: Old-time radio listening, 20 October

Quiet, Please: Pavane, the Girl with the Flaxen Hair (Mutual, 1947)

The Princess de Polignac, patron and muse of Ravel, inadvertent inspiration for a classic Quiet, Please . . . and an heiress to the Singer sewing machine fortune. (Photo: Possibly public domain.)

Ravel composed Pavane pour une infante défunte (Pavane for a Dead Princess) in 1899, while studying at the Conservatoire de Paris, and dedicated it to the Princess de Polignac—known otherwise as Winnaretta Singer, a lesbian in a chaste but (in the context of her time) peculiarly loving marriage to the homosexual Prince Edmond de Polignac, who shared her passion for music . . . and an heiress to the Singer sewing machine fortune, who used her portion of it to sponsor serious music, other arts, and sciences for the rest of her life, following her husband’s death in 1901.

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