CHEERS TO DUFFY’S TAVERN
Duffy’s Tavern was to Network Radio what Cheers was to television - a friendly neighborhood bar where audiences gathered every week for a couple rounds of laughs.*
Although Cheers remains in re-runs to enjoy on MeTV every weeknight, Duffy’s Tavern hasn’t been heard regularly for 62 years. The creation of Ed Gardner in 1940, Duffy’s Tavern began its eleven year multi-network run in March, 1941.
It died after a series of blunders that began at the peak of the show’s popularity in the 1948-49 season when it was Wednesday night’s most popular program.
Then, within one season it lost half of its sizable audience and plummeted from less than a rating point away from America’s Top Ten programs to out of the Annual Top 50 altogether. The story in text and audio is told at the new post, Duffy Ain’t Here. The history of Duffy’s Tavern may have an unhappy ending but the programs that accompany it remain as funny as ever.
* Coincidentally, Cheers’ co-creator, James Burrows, is the son of Duffy’s Tavern’s head writer from 1941 to 1945, Abe Burrows.
What a week this last week in January was in broadcasting history. Need proof? Here are just a few of the events listed in This Week In The Golden Age on this site. Can you identify the years when they happened?
January 26, ----: The Greatest Story Ever Told begins its nine season run on ABC.
January 27, ----: CBS debuts 45 Minutes In Hollywood, one of the first network shows to originate on the West Coast.
January 28, ----: CBS announces the signing of NBC stars Edgar Bergen and Red Skelton.
January 29, ----: Mutual commentator Raymond Clapper, 51, is killed in a plane crash in the Marshall Islands.
January 30, ----: The Lone Ranger is first broadcast from WXYZ/Detroit.
These events and dozens more are recorded - with their full dates - at This Week In The Golden Age, one of the most popular posts on this site. Some items are important and some are downright laughable - but all are true.
This site is about to enter its third year or researching and reporting some of the lesser known facts about the people and programs of Network Radio’s Golden Age, 1932-1953. It began with the publication of my book that defined the era and provided the first complete prime time monthly audience ratings for all 21 years. Last year this site peaked at over 60,000 page hits from broadcast historians, students of radio history and people interested in “old time” radio.
A common question from those who have written to me at email@example.com asks, “What are your favorite otr websites?” That’s simple.
For information of the era as it happened no source is better than David Gleason’s exceptional on-line library at www.americanradiohistory.com. For historic radio logs from the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, I refer to www.jjonz.us/RadioLogs/. There are many other fine sites and books, of course, however these are the two sites that have become almost my daily companions - particularly in the preparation of This Week In The Golden Age which is updated every Sunday morning.
To give you an idea of the general thesis of my book and this site, below is my audio reading of the forward to my book. The premise that I put forth is still true and I continue to report it in the most interesting and entertaining fashion that I can.