Tag Archives: The Whistler

13 September: Character counts

Dragnet: The Big Waiter (NBC, 1951)

Jack Webb (lowest right) preparing for a Dragnet transcription. Co-announcer Hal Gibney, upper right. (Photo: NBC.)

Jack Webb (lowest right) preparing for a Dragnet transcription. Co-announcer Hal Gibney, upper right. (Photo: NBC.)

No less than The Commonweal, the lay Catholic intellectual journal of opinion, is impressed that Dragnet leaves a number of heretofore intractable radio crime drama stereotypes behind:

[N]o stereotypical hoodlums with congenital inability to voice the tongue-point dental fricative; no dem’s and dose’s. If intelligence can be measured as the number of shades visible between black and white, Dragnet is an intelligent program. Character is not subordinated to the arbitrary requirements of an action-packed script.

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Prayer and Pacific: Old-time radio listening, 13 May

World News Today: Celebrating in Europe, Pressing On in the Pacific (CBS, 1945)

Robert Trout. (Photo: CBS.)

Robert Trout. (Photo: CBS.)

President Truman in Washington and the King and Queen of England attend services on a mutually declared Day of Prayer commemorating the end of the European war; a carrier attack on Japan and Japanese air forces trying to answer; Marines continuing their plunge toward the Okinawan capital; Australian troops closing in on liberating New Guinea from Japanese forces; rumours of former S.S. Commander-in-chief Heinrich Himmler being seized.

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If horses were wishes: Old-time radio listening, 14 April

Fibber (left) horsing around? (Photo: NBC)

Fibber (left) horsing around? (Photo: NBC)

We’ll lead off today with a man who definitely lacks horse sense but doesn’t lack for a horse in a crucial parade . . .

 

CHANNEL SURFING . . .

Comedy

Fibber McGee & Molly: Spring Festival Parade (NBC, 1942)—Almost by default, since he’s (Jim Jordan) the only one in town with access to a white horse, guess who thinks he’s going to be grand marshal? Molly/Teeny: Marian Jordan. Mrs. Uppington: Isabel Randolph. The Old-Timer/Wimpole: Bill Thompson. La Trivia: Gale Gordon. Announcer: Harlow Wilcox. Music: Billy Mills Orchestra, the King’s Men. Writer: Don Quinn.

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Oh, Goody! Old-time radio listening, 15 January

The easiest Ace. (Photo: CBS.)

The easiest Ace. (Photo: CBS.)

This son of Latvian immigrants was born 114 years ago today. He became a newspaper reporter, abbreviated his given surname (Aiskowitz), and caught his big radio break when—doing two spots of criticism and mild humour a week—he had to ad-lib fifteen minutes worth of air time when a scheduled show feed fails the Kansas City station where he worked, prompting him to invite his wife to join an impromptu chat on bridge (a passion of theirs) and a local murder. (“Would you like to shoot a game of bridge, dear?” his loving wife would ask on microphone).

The unexpected segment became such a surprise success that he was invited to create a regular show, making it work well enough to be invited first to Chicago and, in due course, New York, where his creation—a serialised comic eavesdropping in on conversations, situations, and absurdities between a malapropping wife and her tart, harried, but loving husband, their boarding best friend and her newspapering paramour, and a small round of revolving support characters—became a consistent and admired radio presence for fifteen years. Or, as Time will put it on 2 November 1942:

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Whistle three times: Old-time radio listening, 14 January

Today’s a triple-header for fans of The Whistler . . . and a dramatic reimagination for those who maintain interest in one of America’s most notorious murder cases.

THREE WALKS BY NIGHT . . .

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