January 1, 1950 Hopalong Cassidy

   Trotting into Mutual on this day in 1950, Hopalong Cassidy came to radio by way of television and film. The irony in the whole Hopalong Cassidy enterprise was that the character as originally created by Clarence Mulford for print was a hard drinking, belching and tough man of the west. However, the image was altered by Harry Sherman who had acquired the rights for the talkies. Under Sherman, Hoppy became a hero in a white hat who didn't smoke or drink. We rarely, if at all, ever saw Hoppy kiss a woman. The actor Sherman hired to play Cassidy was William Boyd, who was the direct opposite of Sherman's western hero. Boyd was a known gambler, drinker and womanizer. But all of that was to change.
   Early in Boyd's rising career another actor with the same name was arrested for possession of gambling equipment and whiskey. Though it was not the film actor, the media posted Boyd's photo along with the stories. The film actor was never able to recover his good name and his career began to nosedive. The experience changed Boyd and he gave up all of his vices and truly became Hopalong Cassidy. In addition to acquiring the rights for television and radio, he began to live the life.
   Sponsored by General Mills, the series lasted two years on radio, but continued on television in a very successful and lucrative run for William Boyd.
For more on Hopalong Cassidy, visit Cowboy Pals.

January 1, 1952 The Black Museum

   Though most American radio programs were created at home, occasionally one was created by an outside source. Such was the case with The Black Museum. Produced by the BBC and hosted by Orson Welles, this series came to Mutual on this day. The series was based upon Scotland Yard's Black Museum, housing many artifacts from its own history. Welles could be heard leading the listener through the museum as he pointed out various artifacts. At some point he would focus on one item and begin telling a story based on the item's reason for being in the museum. The idea of the series was great as was Welles, but the series never really took off and left the air by December of the same year.

January 4, 1935 The Intimate Revue - Bob Hope

   On this day, one of radio and entertainment's most famous and longest lasting comedic performer, Bob Hope, made his radio debut. The Intimate Revue had been a radio series sponsored by Bromo Seltzer and as this year began, it had a new Master of Ceremonies.
   Acting as host was not new to Hope; he often performed in that role on Vaudeville as well as telling jokes, singing and dancing. By the end of the 1920's he began appearing on Broadway in several musicals. Radio was not a stranger to him, but this was his first stint hosting a network radio series. Unfortunately, the marriage wasn't meant to be and he left the Intimate Revue after 13 weeks.
  Radio historian called Hope's appearance as host of this series as "notable as establishing Hope's practice of always having a stooge on hand who was crazier than" he was. Copies of the series are rare and this clip is from his initial appearance. It is notable that without an audience, Hope seems a bit lost in his jokes. His MO was working an audience and without one, he sounds a bit flat.

January 6, 1945 The Saint

   It might be said that Leslie Charteris was bitten by the radio bug when he worked with Edith Meiser (under the pseudonym Bruce Taylor) on the Sherlock Holmes series. That aside, Charteris was primarily a novelist and short story writer. The idea for Simon Templar, aka the Saint, was all his. It was a successful print character when he brought it to radio on this day in 1945.
   The Saint would appear on radio in three incarnations: the first starring Edgar Barrier, whose voice can be heard in many episodes of Escape, Dimension X, On Stage and other radio series. Templar was essentially a crook, but a good crook nonetheless. He spent more time solving murders than doing ill harm to anyone. The series was sponsored over NBC by Bromo Seltzer.
   The second incarnation opened on CBS that same year when the summer session began. This series starred Brian Aherne, whose screen career was already established. The series was sponsored by Campbell who also sponsored the Jack Carson Show, which The Saint replaced for the summer. At the end of the summer, it was gone.
   The final and longest run of this fine series starred Vincent Price. This is the series many remember. It lasted longer than the others and many more episodes are still available. Price first portrayed Templar as a summer replacement over CBS. He returned in 1949 sponsored by Ford over Mutual. Price added a new dimension to the character by increasing the sarcastic wit built into the Charteris character. He had a lot of fun in the role. After two years, however, the show ended, a victim of television.

January 7, 1941 Melody Ranch

   In late 1940, the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency was looking for a personality for a series for their sponsor Wrigley Chewing Gum. Gene Autry's Melody RanchThey approached Gene Autry who had already been making western movies, about the idea of having a dramatic/variety show in which Autry, the singing cowboy, would not only sing, but also appear in light dramas. The series was proposed to fill in during the Children's Hour between 5 and 6 PM. Autry agreed and Gene Autry's Melody Ranch was put together to begin over CBS Radio Network.
Also appearing on the series were various people with whom Autry appeared in film especially, his film Melody Ranch after which this series took its name. Especially on the series was his ever present sidekick, Pat Buttram, who got his own start on Chicago's National Barn Dance. The series was a hit lasting 16 years on radio ending in 1956.

January 7, 1941 Inner Sanctum Mysteries

   Inner Sanctum Mysteries premiered on this day in 1941 over the Blue Network. This show, like the later CBS Radio Mystery Theatre, was produced by Himan Brown. Well known for its creaking door opening, and the humorous voice of Raymond portrayed initially by Raymond Edward Johnson. Brown was quoted as saying to an assistant, "I'm gonna make that door a star." Soundman Terry Ross once told a story that the squeak was obtained by burying hinges in dirt then watering the dirt. After a couple of weeks, the hinges were dug up nice and rusty. No sooner had they set the door up with a great squeak than a setup boy indicated he had oiled the hinges to fix the squeak.
   The show's themes centered around the horrific. Though most were very improbable, the scripts were well-written and combined with the sound effects, the show was an instant hit. Sponsored initially by Carter's Little Liver Pills, the series was never without sponsorship. One other sponsor of note was Lipton's Tea, which featured stranger banter between the bad horror puns of Raymond and the simpleness of Mary, the Lipton Tea lady. It was almost like having Frankenstein in for English tea!
   In 1943 the show moved to CBS and remained there until the end of its run in 1952. Gradually, the series ran out of steam as listeners were becoming more sophisticated and television was intruding into radio's old territory. But for all of its silliness, at times, this was still one of the best horror radio dramas. This featured episode is a rare one from December 7, 1941. Quality is less than good, but it is one that is little circulated.

January 9, 1944 CBS World News Today

   World News Today was a weekly round robin of news over CBS Radio. Today's war news is that the Allied 5th Army has thrown back German counterattacks. The Allies have also cut deeper into enemy defense attacks near the town of Cassino in Italy. Remote reports from Larry Lesseur in London, Bill Slocum Jr. from Wright Field near Dayton, OH, and Glenn Stadler in Madrid. Webley Edwards reports from Pearl Harbor.
It was via the radio news that many began getting up-to-date reports on war news.

January 12, 1926 Sam 'n' Henry

   Radio in it's infancy was mostly, as Eric Barnouw refers to it, "potted palm presentations." That is, polite music and speeches one might hear at the turn of the century in polite conservatories of the upper-middle class. Gradually, as radio looked to other types of entertainment, especially humor, it began to turn to vaudeville. Many of the early comedians of radio were former vaudevillians. Much of the humor on the vaudeville stage was low humor based upon Negro and immigrant dialects. In a white-dominated society, this type of humor was popular as can be seen in many of the films from the early thirties.
   Two vaudevillians who would make historic marks in radio made their debut on this day in 1926 as Sam 'n' Henry. Those men of the stage were Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll. Gosden was born in the south and grew up in a household where he was cared for by a Negro mammy. Correll was born in Peoria, Illinois but hung out in the ragtime clubs of the area. Both had separate careers in vaudeville but while rooming together decided to create a blackface act. Moving to Chicago, they were able to try out their act over the new radio industry via WEBH located at the Edgewater Beach Hotel. For their weekly appearances they received free dinners.
   Meanwhile, someone at the Chicago Tribune suggested the now-popular duo create a radio comedy along the lines of the comic strip Andy Gump. Rather than use the strip characters, they developed their own characters they called Sam and Henry and broadcast them over the Tribune's radio station, WGN. The show became wildly popular. According to Eric Barnouw in his book Tower of Babel, when the show came up for renewal, they could not find anyone to deal with them. Expecting a raise and looking to syndicate the show nationally, this led to their leaving and moving the characters to WMAQ at the Chicago Daily News. However, because WGN owned the rights to the characters' names, the new show was re-named Amos 'n' Andy. One of the conditions that Gosden and Correll insisted on, which was denied them at WGN, was the right to make recordings and syndicate the series. As one of the pioneering radio syndications, the show became a national hit and was radio's first true superstar show.

January 16, 1944 CBS World News Today

   World News Today was a weekly round robin of news over CBS Radio sponsored by Admiral Radio. Today's war news is that Gen. Eisenhower has arrived safely in England to take control of the Allied Command in anticipation of D-Day. Prime Minister Churchill has completely recovered in Algiers and conferred with Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French forces. Remote reports from Don Pryer in Washington DC, Winston Burdett in Algiers reporting on the fighting in Italy. Webley Edwards reports from Pearl Harbor and Larry Lesseur reports from London.
World News Today was sponsored by Admiral Radio who reminded listeners of the future record players and radios they would be making when the war was over.

January 16, 1944 Life of Riley

   From April to September in 1941, there was a radio program called Life of Riley starring Lionel Stander as a J. Riley Farnsworth. William BendixThis program, however, was short-lived and bore no similarity to the series which premiered on this day in 1944 over the Blue Network/ABC. It too was called Life of Riley but starred William Bendix as Chester A. Riley a sort of Shakespearean fool who worked in a factory and along with his family found himself getting in and out of various troubles usually of his own making. The character was created by producer Irving Brecher and according to radio historian John Dunning was borne out of a failed audition program called The Flotsam Family which was to star Groucho Marx in a straight role. When Brecher saw William Bendix in a film called The McGuerins of Brooklyn, he knew he had his leading man for his proposed series.
  Like any good situation comedy on radio, Life of Riley had its memorable characters including Riley. Others fondly remembered from that series were portrayed by the versatile John Brown including Digby O'Dell, the Friendly Undertaker, and Gillis, Riley's co-worker and neighbor. In 1945, the series moved to NBC.
  The popularity of the radio show propelled it into television in 1949 starring Jackie Gleason as Riley and even a film (with Bendix). Like other series that had a television version of its radio series, the radio version died in 1951 but not before the TV version which just wasn't the same without Bendix.

January 21, 1946 The Fat Man

   After his success with Sam Spade in fiction, Dashiell Hammett was convinced he could make some money offering his work and new ideas for radio. He began developing an idea of a large man who unlike his famous large man, Caspar Gutman, was like Sam Spade, a private detective. J. Scott Smart & Amzie StricklandThe idea was of a large man who many might think would be ineffective as a PI was in fact quick and bright. The detective he created was Brad Runyon and was characterized as very large. He was in real life played by actor J. Scott Smart, who himself was a fat man. (In the photo on the right, he appears before the microphone with Amzie Strickland who is best known on television but played ingenue Cathy Evans on this show).
  While Hammett's name is not associated with the show other than "taken from the Dashiell Hammett private-eye character," he did write some initial script outlines. The scripts themselves were written by Robert Sloane, who also wrote the one film made from the radio series. It premiered on this day over the ABC network.

January 22, 1956 Fort Laramie

   Raymond Burr had been kicking around the radio dial appearing on various series but always in supporting roles. He portrayed the Chief of Detectives in Jack Webb's radio Dragnet as well as appearing on a number of West Coast radio series. Raymond Burr and Vic PerrinHis big break came when producer Norman MacDonnell cast him in the lead of a new western series as Lee Quince, captain of the calvary at Fort Laramie, Wyoming. MacDonnell called his radio series "a monument to ordinary men who lived in extraordinary times." As with its cousin, Gunsmoke, Fort Laramie was an adult-oriented western and gained popularity almost immediately. Burr's sidekick in the series was his Sergeant Gorce, portrayed by west coast actor, Vic Perrin. Unlike Gunsmoke, this series focused more on the atmospherics of the times though it had its share of violence. Burr was perfect for the role and it propelled him to television to star in a new series about a Public Defender called Perry Mason. Because of the quick lift to Burr's career, the series Fort Laramie was itself short-lived ending in September of the same year.
  Burr continued to appear in films including a famous but somewhat unsung role as the bad guy in Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window. Television was where he spent most of his career later appearing on Ironside.

January 28, 1940 Beat the Band

   Premiering on this day was a musical quiz show that aired from Chicago with Garry Moore as host, Ted Weems Orchestra and Perry Como. Perry ComoThese type of programs became very popular in the forties especially during the war years as something to take one's mind off world events. The idea of the program is that listeners would send in questions or riddles which alluded to popular tunes. The members of the orchestra were supposed to try to figure out the answer of the song and to be able to perform a piece of it. If they were wrong, they would throw fifty cents onto a bass drum. The early show was sponsored by Kix Cereal and continued over NBC for a little over a year.
  A second version of the show revived the concept and was based out of New York City sponsored by Raleigh Cigarettes beginning in 1943 again lasting a little over a year. Garry Moore was gone but singer and femcee, Hildegarde, took over the duties.

January 31, 1936 The Green Hornet

   "He hunts the biggest of all game, public enemies that even the G-Men cannot reach." This nocturnal crimefighter was first heard on WXYZ, Detroit, 72 years ago starring Al Hodge as Britt Reid and the Hornet, Raymond Hayashi as Kato and Lee Allman as Lenore (Casey) Case. Created under the auspices of XYZ owner, George W. Trendle, by Fran Striker who was the chief architect of another XYZ creation - The Lone Ranger. Striker tied the two series together by Britt Reid being the great-nephew of John Reid, the Lone Ranger.
Eventually, the Hornet was heard over Mutual, NBC Blue and ABC radio networks. It remained on the air until the 1950s with various actors in the lead role over the whole run.

February 2, 1958 Frontier Gentleman

Though coming late in the life of American dramatic radio, Frontier Gentleman was one of the best series produced for radio during the decade. John DehnerIt premiered in 1958 when all dramatic radio would end four years later. Yet it managed to be wry, humorous, yet suspenseful at times. The plot involved an English journalist coming to the American West in the mid-1800s to write "his colorful and unusual accounts." Like other adult-themed Westerns during this decade, it had its share of violence representative of a somewhat lawless period in American history.
  The series was created and written by Antony Ellis, who was English himself, but whose writing credentials guaranteed a quality series having been involved in radio's Suspense for a period. The actors were all veteran West Coast radio actors led by the excellent John Dehner, who would spend a lot of his acting time later on television westerns. The run was short given the declining listenership of dramatic radio as television continued to evolve ending a short nine months later.

February 5, 1977 The General Mills Adventure Theatre

In the seventies radio drama had a revival of sorts. A number of networks began to broadcast radio drama nationally. Several were reruns from an earlier time such as NBC's brief revival of X Minus One. One person probably more than any other was responsible for helping revive radio drama at this time. He was a person whose roots are in the golden age of radio through his own productions of Inner Sanctum Mysteries. Himan Brown, through his CBS Radio Mystery Theater, introduced radio drama to a new generation of listeners. And though this series was probably his best known, another series he produced was sponsored by General Mills, mainly directed toward a younger audience. That series was called The General Mills Radio Adventure Theater. On this day, the first broadcast was heard over CBS Radio. Hosted by Tom Bosley and airing only on Saturdays and Sundays, this series lasted until General Mills withdrew its support.
Get a complete log of thise series!

February 5, 1977 The Sears Radio Theatre

Also premiering on this same day, but two years later was another CBS entry, sponsored by Sears. The series was called the Sears Radio Theater and it was produced by Elliot Lewis, another former radio drama star. The series was broadcast weeknights with a different theme each night. Mondays were for Westerns; Tuesdays for Comedy; Wednesdays were reserved for Mysteries while Thursdays were Love and Hate; Fridays aired Adventures. In 1980 Sears withdrew support and the series was picked up by Mutual and changed to the Mutual Radio Theater. It was sustained and eventually cancelled.

February 11, 1949 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar

The opening is familiar among fans of Old Time Radio: "the man with the action-packed expense account...America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator." And if we still weren't sure, he always told us himself: "Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar."
Opening on a Friday night, February 11, 1949 (The Paricoff Policy Matter), right at the start of television's golden age, this radio show brought us a high-powered insurance investigator who worked chiefly for the Universal Adjustment Bureau, a clearinghouse for the many insurance companies. The series starred Charles Russell as Johnny Dollar, the smart and tough detective, whose trademark it was to toss silver dollars as tips to busboys and bellhops.
In 1955, radio actor Bob Bailey, fresh from his long run as George Valentine in Let George Do It stepped into the role as the fourth Johnny Dollar (there was an audition show with Dick Powell in 1948 that is not counted). Changing to a 15-minute format five times a week, and under the sharp eye of the new producer/director, Jack Johnstone, the scripts got much deeper into characterization and plot. And Bailey's depiction of Dollar had shades of a gritty street fighter, yet bright and sensitive. With a strong cast (many of the same veteran radio actors appearing in different roles) and excellent directing, the portrayals were much more real. And exciting; listen to such serials as "The Open Town Matter" or "The MacCormack Matter." Even while radio drama was already declining, this was radio acting at its best. The sound effects, some of which were canned, fit into the scripts so well as to produce some very exciting adventure/mystery.
For more on radio's Private Eyes, click here.

February 12, 1940 The Adventures of Superman

In 1938, two Cleveland boys, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, were able to convince a comic book syndicate to allow them to produce a comic book about a man who comes from another planet with super-human abilities as a baby and is raised among persons of Earth. Clayton CollyerAs an adult he took on a disguise as a reporter for the fictional city, Metropolis, beginning to rescue people from life-threatening situations while continuing to act as a reporter for The Daily Planet.The storyline took off and Superman became an instant hit.
  On this day in 1940, the comic book was turned into a radio series for young people and called Superman initially (later it would be called The Adventures of Superman). It was recorded in the studios of WOR radio, transscribed and distributed to its Mutual stations or any local station willing to pay the distribution costs. Chosen to play the role of Superman was a young man known mostly as a radio announcer, but who had the uncanny ability to alter his voice pitch from his normal lower range to a higher one. Clark Kent would be the higher pitched voice with Superman in the normal range for the young man, Clayton "Bud" Collyer. While he was happy to have the role, he wasn't proud of it in terms of an ongoing career wanting to get into more serious adult material. Yet he was convinced to stay on in the role.
  In 1942 it was distributed exclusively over the Mutual Broadcasting System. The series in its later run took on serious material when it spoke out on racism and city corruption through various runs of storylines. It was so effective against the Ku Klux Klan, though it never mentioned them by name, that a story exists that the Klan would listen in to see if some of its plans might be given away.
  It was ultimately a juvenile series and offered a number of premiums over its years as it took on sponsor Kellogg's who continued to support the series through much of its run. The series remained on the air until 1951 with Bud Collyer continuing in his role throughout the complete run.

February 20, 1944 CBS World News Today

   Sponsored by Admiral Radio: American Planes carried out the greatest daylight attack of Germany. Webley Edwards reports from Pearl Harbor; John Daly in Naples on Italian front; Charles Shaw in London and George Moorad in Cairo, which is cut short due to atmospheric conditions.

February 23, 1942 FDR Fireside Chat

Only two months had passed since America joined the now-World War FDRthanks to the destruction of Pearl Harbor by Imperial Japan in December, 1941. Franklin Roosevelt had been getting America ready for possible war for sometime. Now, in one of his famous Fireside Chats(NOTE: File is large due to length - 26 meg file), FDR gently explains, like the protective father, where the various theatres of war are by having millions of Americans look over a map as he explains America's role. Roosevelt provided American listeners with reassuring words that this country's might would win over the tyranny that was enveloping the world.

February 23, 1950 Beyond This World

NBC at the start of the fifties was in the hunt to get onto radio their adult science fiction series titled Dimension X. Hoping to be the first, they were beat out by a few weeks by a series over Mutual called 2000 Plus. This came as a surprise because NBC executives were looking to competition from CBS, not Mutual. The science fiction series that CBS had been working on was to be called Beyond Tomorrow. They produced three programs for the series. Many collectors believe this series was never broadcast; that only auditions were created. George Lefferts, one of the primary writers on the NBC SF series told me that it was broadcast. An audition was made with the title Beyond This World, which had a narrator called Astrator. The New York Times reported in 1950 that CBS was working on the series and referred to it as Beyond Tomorrow.

Mitchell Grayson has been selected by CBS to produce and direct a new science fiction series entitled Beyond Tomorrow.

The audition date for one of the shows, The Outer Limit, was on this day. Whether it was broadcast is not known. It was included in the three Beyond Tomorrow shows that were made. But the inner workings of this series are clouded by time.

February 27, 1944 CBS World News Today

   Sponsored by Admiral Radio: Soviet Bombers are dropping bombs on Helsinki as they continue their invasion into Finland. [At this time the USSR was on the side of the Axis powers.] American Bombers are pounding remote islands in the Pacific. John Daly reports from Naples, but is cut short due to shortwave atmospheric conditions; Don Pryer in Washington, DC; Webley Edwards on the Pacific war from Pearl Harbor; Hugh Jenks from Buenos Aires; Larry Lesseur from London and Bill Slocum Jr interviews a WAC on tour in the USA. Remote reports were at the mercy of shortwave reception.

February 27, 1949 Broadway Is My Beat

Riding the mid-forties wave of detective themed shows, CBS premiered a new on right at the end of the decade called Broadway Is My Beat, which starred a somewhat obscure actor named Anthony Ross as Danny Clover, Larry Thorthe head of a police detective region around Broadway in New York City. The series was produced and directed by John Dietz and written by Peter Lyon. The episodes were rather static and the sound effects considering it was a major city were generally weak. The New York run was only 3 months.
  CBS decided to take a slightly different approach to the series and handed it over to Elliott Lewis (Remley on the Phil Harris/Alice Faye Show), who is considered a Renaissance man in radio. He was from New York and felt that the city did not sound alive in the first run. He hired two veteran scripters - Morton Fine and David Friedkin to not only put poetry into the dialogue, but to bring events alive and create a more humanized detective. Former announcer Larry Thor was hired to play Danny Clover and several regulars were added as additional police. Perhaps the biggest change was how the city came alive with the sound of vehicles, honking, wind and people that make up a city like New York. This new run proved a hit and the series continued until 1954. The poetic images created by Fine and Friedkin elevated the series. Opening lines like from the first West Coast episode: "Broadway, where a pale and hungry girl walks like a queen because Broadway's a dream street. Where a fat man stands with begging eyes because he knows his dreams will never come true..."

March 1, 1941 Duffy's Tavern

It was where the "Elite Meet to Eat." Historian John Dunning called it a "state of mind" but it was produced by its star, Ed Gardner, who was the manager of the tavern, not Duffy himself. He was Archie and Duffy never was heard on the program though through a one-sided conversation, Ed GardnerArchie would talk to him at the start of every show for the most part. The Tavern was a working class place with a stable of regulars including Shirley Booth (later Florence Halop) as Miss Duffy, the daughter of the proprietor, Charlie Cantor as Finnegan, the regular dimwit, Eddie Green as Eddie the waiter who was always quick with the wit, Alan Reed as Clancy the cop. Often there were guest visits by famous personalities.
  The concept of the show was first heard on a CBS trial series called Forecast in 1940 where one-off episodes of potential series were heard. But on this day it premiered over CBS where it continued until 1942 when it shifted to the Blue Network with a new sponsor, then finally to NBC where it finally closed its radio doors in 1952.
  Gardner had total control of the show which experienced high ratings. At one point he moved the show to Puerto Rico to avoid excessive taxes. In its premier the show was hailed by critics as the most original new comedy of 1941. Gardner had so much developed the character that people could hear his voice when talking about the show. Those who knew Gardner from early years felt he had submerged his real personality over time from playing Duffy for so long.
  No copies are in circulation until the 1943 period except for the audition that was heard over Forecast

March 6, 1931 The March of Time

In the early thirties, advertising agencies had a virtual stranglehold on radio programming. Within the world created over the radio by the advertisers there was no room for current problems of the day. With few exceptions, the networks were devoid of any news-related programs. NBC-Red had none, but the Blue Network had Lowell Thomas. CBS retained Boake Carter and Edward Hill's The Human Side of the News which scarcely was newsworthy. This changed when CBS premiered The March of Time this day. Though it was a dramatic presentation of current events, it was, nonetheless, what was happening now. Appearing at the end of week on Fridays it was sponsored by Time Magazine, which gave it its name. The announcer, the "voice of time," presented fast-paced news introductions which were played out by a cadre of veteran radio actors many who were chosen by their ability to sound like their newsworthy subjects.
   The earliest announcers were Ted Husing and Harry Von Zell, but it was Westbrook Van Voorhis who was on the longest. It is his phrasing that many remember with his "Time...Marches on!"as the show moved to new subjects. Here was a program that brought news into the homes of its listeners. It was an auspicious beginning, one that would lead CBS on to becoming the dominant news organization. An organization that would set the rules for news broadcast for years beyond.

March 7, 1943 CBS World News Today

   News from 1943. The British beat off two German attacks in North Africa. In the East, the Japanese air attacks are diminishing. Remotes from Charles Collingwood in Algiers reporting on Rommel-led attack in North Africa. John Daly reports from London and Bill Slocum Jr is in a B-29 five miles above Tennessee. Lee White reports from Washington, DC.

March 12, 1933 First Fireside Chat from FDR

Nowadays we get our information from the White House via news conferences, direct television addresses, the internet, twitter and more. FDR's Fireside ChatIn 1933 America was still primarily an agricultural nation and there were many people who lived remotely from the bigger cities where regular newspapers published and people could talk in restaurants and on the street. The country was in the midst of a depression and had just elected a new President who promised to help life America from its misery. One thing most Americans shared was radio. The isolated farmer deep on a Nebraska plain could still keep up with some news and entertainment. It was through that medium that the President chose to speak to us. Radio was a personal medium and one felt as if each person was being spoken to directly.
  With the Stock Market crash in 1929, the American public and financial institutions were nervous; rumors abounded about potential bank failures. In order to prevent panic runs on the banks, FDR decided to close the banks for an extended holiday. He needed Americans to support this decision and so he took to radio to explain to them why he closed the banks and what he hoped would result. Some saw this as government interference, but the President felt it was necessary to prevent bank failure and plunge the country into an even deeper depression. These direct talks to the American people were called Fireside Chats dubbed so by one journalist who felt it was like a cozy chat by a fire with the President consoling the American public.

March 14, 1943 CBS World News Today

   News from 1943. On the Russian front, the Battle of Karkov is nearing a climax; Germans claim the city is in their hands. In the Pacific B-29s report direct hits on enemy cargo vessels. Rommel presses attacks in North Africa. Charles Collingwood from Algiers; John Adams from Rio de Janeiro; George Moorad in Australia; Bob Trout in London; Bill Slocum Jr. in Washington State reports on a captured Japanese Zero [note: this report reflects the racist hatred of the Japanese at this time]. Lee White reports from Washington, DC.

March 14, 1937 Jack Benny/Fred Allen feud

   The Fred Allen & Jack Benny feud, which was a concoction by the two comedians who were close friends in real life broke Jack Benny/Fred Allen feudinto the airwaves with this program from the Jack Benny Show while he was on the road on stage from the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Pierre. Allen appeared on Benny's show as the simmering feud broke wide open in this episode called the Battle of the Century. The fake feud expanded the ratings of the two programs as the feud was carried even outside the confines of the radio programs and into the public space. People lapped it up as the pair created hilarious situations in which to spar.

March 15, 1950 2000 Plus

Premiering as the first truly adult science fiction series, Two Thousand Plus barely beat Dimension X to the air. The series, the brainchild of Sherman H. Dryer, who gave us Exploring the Unknown in the late forties and wrote for a later series Theatre 5 in the sixties, got its life on the Mutual Broadcasting Network. Along with Robert Weenolsen, their production company Dryer * Weenolsen convinced Mutual to carry a purely science fiction series on a weeknight. The series featured original scripts all with a science fiction theme and launched a decade of science fiction series on the different networks. America had dropped already dropped two atom bombs and the U.S.S.R. also had produced one in the late forties. The world was coming into the age of science and the networks wanted to offer dramas which reflected the concerns of the country. Two Thousand Plus was one of those series. The series had no focused star and used radio actors as needed to achieve their desired results: to offer a true adult science fiction series that was intended to appeal to children in any way. The series premiered on this day and lasted at least another year.

March 18, 1945 The Sealed Book

Written by the talented mystery/suspense team of David Kogan and Robert Arthur, The Sealed Book was a series that dealt with murder. Like the Mysterious Traveler and the Strange Dr. Weird (both also written by this team), the series had a narrator affecting a weird voice who introduced the anthology series. It premiered on this day over the Mutual Broadcasting System. The series was a summer replacement that lasted until September of the same year. There were a total of twenty-six episodes broadcast.

March 21, 1943 CBS World News Today

   Sponsored by Admiral radio; Reports via shortwave but first the headlines: Field dispatches from the Tunisian front indicate the American forces are occupying the town of Sened; Russians have new gains in their drive toward Smolensk; Hitler admits in a speech that Germany is now in a war zone with Allied bombings. Remote reports from Winston Burdett in Algiers; Bill Downs in Moscow; Bill Slocum Jr. reports from a B-29 near Bolling Field (now Bolling Air Force base) near Washington DC; attempts to contact George Moorad in Australia; Maj George Fielding Elliott in New York; John Daly in London and Lee White in Washington, DC.

March 25, 1939 Arch Oboler's Plays

Beginning when Arch Oboler was in school at the University of Chicago he wanted to write for radio so strongly that he churned out over fifty plays. Arch ObolerOne he submitted to NBC was accepted, but many of his others were not. He was hoping to be able to produce a series exploiting the experimental side of radio, but again was rebuffed when he was offered Lights Out. He eventually became dismayed that his work was being confined to horror and so he approached Lewis Titterton the script head presenting to him a demo recording of his play, "The Ugliest Man in the World." Titterton became excited and offered Oboler a contract to write and produce a series of radio plays. The series was to be called
Arch Oboler's Plays, quite an honor for this relative new-comer.
   The series ran opposite Jack Benny, but that failed to deter Oboler. He wrote plays using new ideas never heard in radio: stream-of-consciousness, audio collage. He wrote tragedy, comedy and even more horror. Top stars were appearing on his show. But the audience was not craving this kind of drama and the show ended in March, 1940 after its beginning on this day. It re-appeared again on the Mutual network in 1945 as a summer series. It was re-done as re-issues into the early seventies with a much older Oboler introducing each episode.


Copyright © James F. Widner 2004
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