Tag Archives: Parley Baer

21 February: The hard road out of Dodge

William Conrad, Georgia Ellis (Miss Kitty), Gunsmoke mainstays. (Photo: CBS.)

William Conrad, Georgia Ellis (Miss Kitty), Gunsmoke mainstays. (Photo: CBS.)

With sixty years’ hindsight available, it will be possible to suggest that Gunsmoke came to radio just half a decade late. Written brilliantly for what it is, a horse opera without the cliches and melodramatic flourishes that have turned too many radio Westerns into comic fodder, Gunsmoke proves a hard sell to prospective sponsors in 1952-53.

The reason proves only too simple: network television has now taken stronghold enough that network radio is no longer a primary lure for sponsors no matter how good the show in question. Even if Gunsmoke‘s announcer could sign off truthfully by noting America now listens to 105 million radios, the nation has turned in earnest to television and won’t be turning away.

Posted in Adventure, classic radio, comedy, old-time radio, Western | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

The ballad of Bill Conrad: Old-time radio listening, 10 July

Gunsmoke: Reluctant Violence (CBS, 1960)

William Conrad (right, with director Norman Macdonnell), bringing to original life the "lonely, sad, tragic" Matt Dillon. (Photo: CBS.)

William Conrad (right, with director Norman Macdonnell), bringing to original life the “lonely, sad, tragic” Matt Dillon. (Photo: CBS.)

In person, William Conrad resembles anything but the laconic, rugged, but quietly humane federal marshal he’s played with such jarring realism on radio for almost a decade even as network radio is on life support. The portly actor with the quietly stentorian voice simply doesn’t reek of horse sweat and tapered manliness as a 1950s sensibility seems to prefer, reaching instead for James Arness when the show arrived on television in 1955.

Posted in classic radio, comedy, crime drama, mystery/thriller, old-time radio, quiz show, Western | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

“Three, four, five, six, seven, eight . . .”: Old-time radio listening, 17 September

Edward R. Murrow: Counting the Parachutes (CBS, 1944)

Talk about going where the action was . . . (Photo: CBS)

In one of his classic broadcasts during World War II, Edward R. Murrow—whose habitual flying aboard bombing runs, married to his legendary rooftop reporting of the earlier London Blitz, prompts many at CBS to wonder if their champion news leader has a death wish—flies such a run during the Allied invasion to liberate the Netherlands from the Nazi grip.

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