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What Was The Last Radio Program You Heard?

Discussion in 'Radio' started by LizzieMaine, Mar 22, 2015.

  1. 3fingers

    3fingers One Too Many

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    I've done a bit of looking online for a source where I might hear Morris give some insurance advice. No luck thus far.
     
  2. Julian Shellhammer

    Julian Shellhammer A-List Customer

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    A couple of Jack Benny broadcasts, from early- to mid-fifties era, from a podcast called Today in Jack Benny. The host gives a frame of reference to the story-line and jokes, often with clips from other radio programs and movie dialogue.
    These two shows feel like they were using canned laughter, but I may be mis-hearing. Still laugh out loud funny for the commute home.
     
  3. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Some of those late Benny shows were cut and paste jobs -- budget cuts made such tactics necessary, plus the fact that Mary's mic fright got so severe she refused to appear with the cast in the studio. Her bits were recorded at home and then spliced into the master.
     
  4. Julian Shellhammer

    Julian Shellhammer A-List Customer

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    Uh-oh, I miswrote myself: the title of the Jack Benny podcast referenced above is This Day in Jack Benny. mea culpa...
    To continue the observation by LizzieMaine, radio budgets (by the mid-50s -ish) were shrinking and the tv money was top dog. Noticeable was Benny's plugs for his tv show worked into the radio scripts.
    Not only was the Jack Benny program subject to cost-cutting, but even Bob Hope's show was in repeats for about four years until its demise in 1958 (so says John Dunning).
     
  5. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Yep. It all started to go south really fast when the FCC lifted the freeze on new television licenses in 1952. Within two years, radio had lost more than half its nighttime audience, and the bottom pretty much fell out by the end of the 1954-55 season. Of all the big-name radio stars, only Edgar Bergen was still doing new shows by 1956, and he packed it in at the end of the 55-56 season.

    Benny also got hit hard by the American Tobacco Company channeling its radio budget away from network programming and into regional sports instead. The disappearance of Phil Harris was the first result of that cut, and the budget continued to squeeze until the radio show ended production in May 1955. As with Hope, Benny's show continued in reruns for a couple years beyond that, but that was the end for new shows.

    Of course, there's some of us trying to bring it all back, but it's an uphill battle....
     
  6. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Meanwhile, I tuned in last night on part of a "Lux Radio Theatre" presentation of "The Littlest Rebel," starring you-know-who in one of her rare radio appearances. She's a pretty fair young radio actress, but the material is even more cloying and obnoxious on the air than it was on the screen. One thing that took me by surprise, though, was hearing the distinguished African-American stage actor Leigh Whipper in the Bill Robinson role. There are no musical numbers in the Lux production, and Whipper does not tap dance. He would go on to far more substantial roles -- around the same time as this broadcast he was filming a key role in the Hal Roach production of "Of Mice And Men," and he would continue doing impressive work on film and the stage thru the 1940s. Clarence Muse was the usual go-to actor for "digniified elderly black man" radio roles in 1940, so it was interesting to hear another performer get a chance.

    I'm not really that much of a "Lux Radio Theatre" fan, truth be told, mainly because Cecil B. DeMille's on-air persona gets on my nerves with his excessive geniality and saponacity. But every once in a while they do something unusual or interesting.
     
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  7. ChiTownScion

    ChiTownScion One Too Many

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    Saturday last I chanced upon a 1950 broadcast of, "The Great Gildersleeve:" the first broadcast of the show with Willard Waterman as Gildy, replacing Harold Peary.

    First serious listen on my part to our feature local old time radio program ("Those Were the Days" on WDCB at 90.9, Glen Ellyn, IL) in a while. I should listen to the program more often: very entertaining. I remember taking my oldest to equestrian lessons and him howling with laughter at the antics of Baby Snooks and Daddy when they'd feature it. I remember thinking how, in a day of home computers and VCRs, this material could still entertain an eight year old kid.
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2019
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  8. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    My mother still quotes Baby Snooks. "Daaaaaaaaaa-dy!"
     
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  9. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Every once in a while you tune in on something so utterly sublime that the moment you hear it you know it's going to stick in your mind as a fond memory for the rest of your life. Such was the case just now, as I listen to the 10/31/41 broadcast of "Information Please," featuring guest panelist Groucho Marx. Responding to a question concerning captains in musical literature, Groucho and John Kieran offered an extraordinary acapella performance -- in two-part harmony, yet -- of "The Captain of the Pinafore."

    "What, never? No, never!"
     
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  10. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    Listening right now to the October 10, 1938 broadcast of the "General Electric Hour of Charm," featuring the musical stylings of Phil Spitalny and his All Girl Orchestra.

    All-female bands were not entirely unheard of in the Era -- there were several that had toured in vaudeville, and at least two -- Ina Ray Hutton's band, and the "International Sweethearts of Rhythm" -- played full-on uncompromising swing. The Spitalny ladies, alas, did not. Here, the band comes across as an uneasy cross between the Hal Kemp orchestra -- triplet trumpets in full evidence -- and Fred Waring's later glee-club oriented Pennsylvanians. The arrangements, while tending to be a bit too lush for the material, aren't bad for the type of music it's trying to be, and the musicianship itself is fine. "Evelyn (Klein) and her Magic Violin" stand front and center, and she can give Rubinoff a run for his rosin with various flashy solos, and vocalist Maxine Moore (the women only use their given names on the air) has a remarkably rich contralto that verges on the upper edge of baritone -- she's got a deeper voice than Kenny Baker, and I bet Jack Benny could have had some fun with that.

    But there is absolutely no humor to be found in this program. Not the slightest hint of a joke is cracked, and the song lyrics are even altered here and there to ensure that no frivolity ensues: it's a bit bizarre to hear a lush, slow glee-club arrangement of "A Tisket A Tasket" in which the protagonist is no longer peck-peck-peckin' all around but rather is look-look-lookin' all around. Yikes.

    But the program is certainly Charming and it is Dignified, and it is there to relax you and put you in the mood to stare at that off-brand dime store light bulb in the lamp by your chair and decide that you will, as soon as the program is over, run out and get a genuine GE Mazda Lamp to replace it.

    And then, in the midst of all this Charm comes an interlude with news commentator Dorothy Thompson -- then riding high as one of the most prominent and influential women in the American media, the "Leading Lady of Journalism," here to offer her thoughts on the post-Munich European scene, in which the props that have held the world together for the past five years have been suddenly kicked away, and the rest of the Continent must march to Hitler's tune. "Hitlah" -- love that slick Mid-Atlantic Upper Class accent, Dottie -- is viewed by his people not merely as a "leadah" but as a prophet and a warrior, uniting German blood and soil, with the leading corporations of German business marching fully in support of the regime. Thompson warns that Nazi agents are active on the North American continent, working to tie such blood-and-soil ideas to notions of American patriotism and -- hey, wait, what year is this again?

    It's a pretty grim and depressing interlude, followed up immediately by a ponderous choral performance of "The Lost Chord," with Maxine singing a deep, lugubrious lead and Evelyn offering a rather elegant violin obbligato. If there was a theme song for the world in October 1938, "The Lost Chord" would have to be it. And hey, GE Mazda Lamps cost but fifteen cents each at your favorite dealer. "Better light, means better sight, to bring you happiness each day and night," trills the vocal trio. "A bulb that's bright, a lamp that's new, means less eye-strain and headaches tooooooooo. Better light for better sight, mmmm-mmmmmmmmmmm...."

    "Hour of Charm" ran for fourteen years, and Spitalny and Evelyn finally retired, got married, and lived in quiet dignity for the next three decades. But I bet Maxine had more fun....
     
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  11. Miss Moonlight

    Miss Moonlight A-List Customer

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    I listen to Halloween radio shows every night, I know them so well they work better than white noise to help my mind let go of activity and go to sleep. So last night was Our Miss Brooks 'Halloween Party' from 10/30/1949. It's a pretty fun one, though this one's actually not ideal for what I use it for... since on occasion, Mr. Conklin's screaming/yelling has woke me up... lol
     
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  12. vitanola

    vitanola I'll Lock Up

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  13. vitanola

    vitanola I'll Lock Up

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    Fibber McGee and Molly
     
  14. LizzieMaine

    LizzieMaine Bartender

    The October 19, 1942 broadcast of "The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre," featuring James Cagney in a rooty-toot-toot adaptation of "Yankee Doodle Dandy."

    You can't really expect a whole lot from these half-hour movie adaptation shows, but if you take them for what they are -- extended air trailers that encapsulate the high points of the film in question -- they can be enjoyable listening. The half-hour format -- closer to twenty-four minutes or so once you cut thru the commercials and assorted palaver -- doesn't give the performers a whole lot to work with, but sometimes they do rise to the occasion. Mr. Cagney -- as he is in the film upon which this broadcast is based -- is really the only reason for this broadcast to exist, and he rises fully to the occasion, vocally prancing before the microphone in top form. All the big highlights of the film are here, and though you don't get the miracle that is Cagney's dancing, you can pretty much picture it just from the brio with which he sings the songs.

    The hokey plot of the movie isn't any less hokey for being crushed down to a half-hour package, but the framing device of having Cagney as George M. Cohan telling his life story to President Roosevelt himself comes over as especially ripe. FDR is of course not present for the broadcast -- he's impersonated by, of all people, the popular freelance announcer Art Gilmore, who comes across like all those "I hate wah, Eleanah hates wah, my little dog Fala hates wah" joke impersonations that were all the rage down at the Rotary Club.

    Cagney, however, proves once again what a fine radio actor he is. While this isn't in the league, obviously, of his finest piece of microphone acting -- the Arch Oboler production of "Johnny Got His Gun" from 1939 might be the most searing thing Cagney ever did in any medium -- it's still very deftly done. It's unfortunate that nobody ever came up with a format that could have convinced Cagney to take on a radio show of his own -- I'd have listened the hell out of "Jimmy Cagney Playhouse" or whatever they wanted to have him do. As in film, the radio Cagney commands every moment of your attention, whether or not the material warrants.
     
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  15. Julian Shellhammer

    Julian Shellhammer A-List Customer

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    A couple more Jack Benny programs, jumping from the The Jell-o Program to The Lucky Strike Show.
    There was an especially enjoyable broadcast parodying It's a Wonderful Life, with a guest shot by Frank Capra himself. Jack dreams the plot, with Victor Moore's unmistakeable voice subbing for Henry Travers. The jokes riff on the plot quite well and the JB persona is blended with the film's message to humorous effect. The fate of Phil Harris without the Benny program is not-to-be-missed.
    I must tear myself away from Jack and his gang for all the other OTR podcasts building up on the phone...
     
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  16. Julian Shellhammer

    Julian Shellhammer A-List Customer

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    ...and, following through on the previous post, yesterday and today it was The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes with The Case of the Iron Box (Dec. 31, 1945) in which leap year birthdays are a crucial plot point; and The Adventures of Philip Marlow, The Seaside Sabbatical (July 7, 1951). Sherlock is courtesy of Petri Wines (try the muscatel) and Philip is sustained, so we get PSAs about systematic savings and what-not.
     

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