Tag Archives: The CBS Radio Workshop

24 March: The bloody red harmonica blues

Shep Mencken. (Photo: CBS.)

Shep Mencken. (Photo: CBS.)

It has been almost as much a staple instrument of the blues as the guitar. The earliest records of such rock and roll legends as the Beatles and the Rolling Stones featured it frequently enough. A century earlier, and just a few years after a German clockmaker named Matthias Hohner made his first and began to mass produce it, the first such maker to do so, soldiers in both the Union and Confederate Armies are said to have taken comfort carrying and playing the instrument. So was President Abraham Lincoln.

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27 January: One new, one old brave world

Aldous Huxley in the 1950s. (National Portrait Gallery.)

Aldous Huxley in the 1950s. (National Portrait Gallery.)

Old-time network radio in 1956 may be rounding third and heading for home, in the phrase of baseball player-turned-evangelist Billy Sunday. But it hardly lacks for grand ideas even entering its terminal period—including resurrecting one of its finest hours of the past, launching tonight, and picking up for the most part where that distinguished predecessor program (Columbia Workshop) left off, even raising it a few by way of one of the most challenging adaptations in the history of the art.

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3 August: The unusual underground

The book from the article, well after tonight's broadcast. (Signet Publishing.)

The book from the article, well after tonight’s broadcast. (Signet Publishing.)

“[A] humorous, pathetic and extremely interesting excursion into ways of life as strange to most gainfully employed citizens as those of Papuan head-hunters.” So wrote Orville Prescott in The New York Times of Edmund G. Love’s Subways are for Sleeping, a book he expanded from a staggering Harpers articlein March 1956, just months before perhaps the last of the great old-time radio dramatic anthologies brought it to the air.

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The war effort launches: Old-time radio listening, 9 December

Fibber McGee & Molly: Forty Percent Off (NBC, 1941)

The First Couple of 79 Wistful Vista and their sponsor wasted no time getting behind the World War II effort after Pearl Harbour was bombed . . . (Photo: NBC; S.C. Johnson.)

That’s what a post card offers at the Wistful Vista Wholesale Outlet, a natural lure for a sucker like our man McGee (Jim Jordan). But it’s the program beginning which makes this program particularly significant, especially in light of what this show and its performers will come to mean throughout the war.

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Twelve children and an iron will: Old-time radio listening, 19 October

The CBS Radio Workshop: The Legend of Annie Christmas (CBS, 1956)

Amanda Randolph brings the mythological Annie Christmas to staggering life . . . (Photo: CBS)

A New Orleans legend of a tall tale that once inspired generations of black children, and possibly no few white children, is given an unforgettable radio treatment tonight.

Picking up where the legendary Columbia Workshop left off several years earlier, The CBS Radio Workshop may be destined for a single season. If it may have arrived too late to rescue network radio from its irrevocable fadeaway, its transcendent bicoastal efforts—the series alternates weeks between East Coast and West Coast productions—produce numerous highlights including and especially “The Legend of Annie Christmas.”

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