Spike Jones broke into the recording and Network Radio worlds in the fall of 1942 with a novelty song from a Donald Duck cartoon, Der Feuher‘s Face. Within two months, over 500,000 copies of Spike’s anti-Hitler song were sold and his new City Slickers band was on its way to a decade that included two Number One records and four network programs.
It’s all covered in our profile of this studio drummer turned musical entrepreneur who broke box-office records, Spike Jones.
It wasn’t an easy journey for Spike - especially finding the right radio format for his skilled musicians who were equally adept to playing pots and pans in zany novelties as they were to strings and saxophones in soft, lush arrangements. He knew what brought the fans out by the thousands for his personal appearances - but where should he draw the line on radio? If you think there was an easy answer, think again. Then read what the critics said and listen to his programs yourself in our entertaining post, Spike Jones.
THIS WEEK IN THE GOLDEN AGE continues our journey into the month of April with its 780 events from broadcasting history. Check out the list of events below and see if you can guess the exact years they happened. Then check your answers with our newly expanded and edited April In The Golden Age.
April 5, 195_: Drew Pearson, cancelled by ABC a week earlier, begins 15 years of successfully syndicating his program via tape with an initial client list of 151 stations.
April 6, 194_: Former CBS news commentator H.V. Kaltenborn, 61, begins his 15 year career of 15 minute news commentaries on NBC. (See H. V. Kaltenborn and Multiple Runs All Time Top Ten.)
April 7, 193_: American Tobacco concludes its yearlong sponsorship of Metropolitan Opera broadcasts for Lucky Strike cigarettes on the combined NBC Red and Blue networks. (See Smoke Gets In Your Ears.)
April 8, 194_: Radio’s Lone Ranger for eight years, Earle Graser, 32, Is killed in an auto accident. (See The Lone Ranger and Multiple Runs All Time Top Ten.)
April 9, 194_: CBS-TV signs affiliation contracts with CBS affiliated radio stations holding television construction permits in Dallas, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis, Charlotte, Louisville, Binghamton, New York and Stockton, California.
April 10, 194_: Five weeks into its 13 week nationwide tour, Ralph Edwards’ Truth Or Consequences, reaches the tour’s total goal of $20 Million in War Bond sales. (See Truth Or Consequences and Saturday‘s All Time Top Ten.)
April 11, 194_: My Friend Irma starring Marie Wilson begins its seven year run on CBS, five in Annual Top Ten. (See CBS Packages Unwrapped and Monday’s All Time Top Ten.)
JOHN NESBITT HAD THE LOOKS OF A MOVIE STAR - he actually starred in 71 MGM releases. Yet, we never saw John Nesbitt, we only heard his voice - his magnificent voice and captivating delivery narrating his popular, ten minute Passing Parade series of "short subjects" that were seen in American theaters from 1937 to 1949. Most all of Nesbitt's stories were historical, celebrating individual initiative and patriotism at a time when the country really needed it.
Network Radio discovered Nesbitt in 1938 and although his broadcasting career never reached the height of his movie achievements, there were periods in the mid-40's when Nesbitt's Passing Parade was featured on two different series over competing networks - and nobody complained. You'll understand why when you read John Nesbitt's Passing Parade and hear samples of his fascinating strories now posted at GOld Time Radio.
IT TOOK NETWORK RADIO AND A MAJOR SPONSOR. Colgate-Palmolive-Peet), nearly a decade to recognize a star that Rudy Vallee and Paul Whiteman had discovered in the mid-1930's. Yet, when network and advertising executives looked at the movie box office records recorded by Judy Canova films in the heartlands of America, it was obvious that she was long overdue for a network debut in 1943.
GOld Time Radio's salute to this often forgotten star begins with her appearances on the Chase & Sanborn Hour in the 1930's and follows through with a number of examples of why The Judy Canova Show was among Saturday night's top shows for a decade. Of special interest are her opening, mid-show and closing vocals per show, often displaying unexpected range and outstanding vocal gymnastics. These solos are noted in the post Judy Canova. It's well worth reading and listening.
NBC WAS IN A SAD STATE WHEN the 1949-50 season began. Its perennial Top Ten star, Jack Benny, had defected to CBS six months earlier, taking with him the high ratings and Lucky Strike sponsorship money which angered its affiliates who demanded a reaction. (See The 1948-49 Season.)
The network responded with Hollywood Calling, combining the big money elements of popular givaway shows with the appeal of popular movie stars and host George Murphy talking directly to their contestants, called at random. What appeared to be a sure-fire winning format backfired into NBC's first regrettable attempt to bring down Jack Benny. The universally panned fiasco is described in GOld Time Radio's post, Hollywood Calling.
GOLD TIME RADIO BEGINS ITS EIGHTH YEAR with a long look at weekday dramas, (aka Soap Operas), the 15 minute serials that proliferated Network Radio from the mid 1930's until 1960, peaking in 1938 when 48 separate quarter-hour serials were broadcast every Monday through Friday. We look at this field in our post, Soft Soap & Hard Sell.
Our report covers 89 separate programs and the impressive numbers they amassed. For example, Virginia Payne appeared as Ma Perkins on NBC, CBS, Mutual and combinations of the three networks for 1,408 consecutive weeks from 1933 to 1960! That amounted to approximatey, (ready for this?), 9,390 broadcasts, give or take a few for pre-emptions.
Think that's something? Consider this: The four networks combined to broacast a total of 37,890 weeks of serials over those 27 years. Obviously, soap operas had their fans in the listening and advertising communities but they had their critics, too. We cover them all in Soft Soap & Hard Sell. Be aware that this is a lengthy post, made even longer by the inclusion of 44 broadcasts of sample episodes. So settle back and enjoy this trip into a major subculture of Network Radio.
TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES RELATED TO RADIO. As our post Radio Goes To The Movies relates, many ties existed between the broadcasting and motion picture industries from their early days in the 1930's. Some of the movies involving radio, its programs and/or their stars were box office hits and others were best forgotten. Turner Classic Movies continues to feature both which gives us the opportunity to get a more complete understanding of this association. Here’s the upcoming schedule of radio themed movies on TCM, (note seven of them on April 10th), plus films related to the programs or featuring the personalities of Network Radio’s Golden Age. All times listed are Eastern.
Mon Apr 6 5:00 a.m. Hollywood, My Hometown - Ken Murray - 1965
Mon Apr 6 10:15 p.m. The Paleface - Bob Hope - 1948
Tue Apr 7 12:00 a.m. Double Dynamite - Frank Sinatra, Groucho Marx - 1951
Tue Apr 7 6:30 p.m. Creature From The Black Lagoon - Richard Carlson,Richard Denning - 1954
Tue Apr 7 10:00 p.m. The Lady From Shanghai - Orson Welles - 1948
Wed Apr 8 1:15 a.m. Key Largo - H.Bogart, L. Bacall, L. Barrymore, E.G. Robinson - 1948
Wed Apr 8 5:00 a.m The Naked City - Howard Duff, Barry Fitzgerald - 1948
Wed Apr 8 7:00 a.m. The Big Store - The Marx Brothers - 1941
Wed Apr 8 8:30 a.m. Lady Be Good - Lionel Barrymore, Red Skelton - 1941
Wed Apr 8 10:30 a.m. Hullabaloo - Frank Morgan - 1940
Wed Apr 8 12:00 p.m. The Great Morgan - Frank Morgan - 1941
Wed Apr 8 1:00 p.m. Merton of The Movies - Red Skelton - 1947
Wed Apr 8 2:30 p.m. Meet The People - Lucille Ball, Dick Powell, V. Monroe, S. Jones - 1944
Wed Apr 8 4;15 p.m. Ship Ahoy - Red Skelton, T. Dorsey, F. Sinatra, J. Stafford - 1942
Wed Apr 8 6:00 p.m. Martin Block's Merry Go Round - Martin Block - 1948
Wed Apr 8 6:15 p.m. DuBarry Was A Lady - Red Skelton, L. Ball, T. Dorsey, F; Sinatra - 1943
Fri Apr 10 7:30 a.m. Are You Listening? - William Haines - 1932
Fri Apr 10 9:00 a.m. Here Comes Carter - Glenda Farrell - 1936
Fri Apr 10 10:15 a.m. The Next Voice You Hear - James Whitmore - 1950
Fri Apr 10 1:30 p.m. One Fatal Hour - Humphrey Bogart - 1936
Fri Apr 10 2:30 p.m. Mr. Dodd Takes The Air - Kenny Baker - 1937
Fri Apr 10 4:00 p.m. Genius At Work - Wally Brown, Alan Carney - 1947
Fri Apr 10 5:15 p.m. The Unsuspected - Claude Rains - 1947
Fri Apr 10 8:00 p.m. The Wizard of Oz - Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Jack Haley - 1939
Mon Apr 13 1:00 a.m. The Jazz Singer - Al Jolson - 1927
Tue Apr 14 11:45 p.m. Laura - Dana Andrews, Vincent Price - 1944
Wed Apr 15 3:15 a.m. A Bachelor In Paradise - Bob Hope - 1961
Wed Apr 15 8:00 a.m. Follow The Fleet - Fred Astaire, Harriet Hilliard - 1936
Thu Apr 16 2:00 a.m. Young Dr. Kildare - Lionel Barrymore, Lew Ayres - 1938
Thu Apr 16 6:30 p.m. The Devil Doll - Lionel Barrymore - 1936
Fri Apr 17 5:00 a.m. Neptune's Daughter - Red Skelton - 1949
Sat Apr 18 12:00 a.m. Creature From The Black Lagoon - Richard Carlson, Richard Dennig - 1954
Sat Apr 18 6:00 a.m. The Man With The Golden Arm - Frank Sinatra - 1956
Sat Apr 18 10:30 a.m. Baby Rose Marie, The Child Wonder - Rose Marie Mazetta - 1929
Sat Apr 18 10:38 a.m. Lambchops - George Burns & Gracie Allen - 1929
Sat Apr 18 8:00 p.m. Casablanca - Humphrey Bogart - 1942
Mon Apr 2012:15 p.m. Laura - Dana Andrews, Vincent Price - 1944
Mon Apr 20 3:45 p.m. To Have and Have Not - Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall- 1944
Wed Apr 22 5:00 p.m. Excuse My Dust - Red Skelton - 1951
Wed Apr 22 6:30 p.m. The Yellow Cab Man - Red Skelton - 1950
Thu Apr 23 10:00 p.m. The Sunshine Boys - George Burns - 1975
Fri Apr 24 7:00 p.m. Hollywood Without Makeup - Ken Murray - 1966
Fri Apr 24 8:00 p.m. Double Indemnity - Fred MacMurray, Edward G. Robinson - 1944
Fri Apr 24 10:00 p.m. There's Always Tomorrow - Fred MacMurray - 1956
Fri Apr 24 11:45 p.m. The Moonlighter - Fred MacMurray - 1953
Sat Apr 25 6:00 a.m. A Date With Judy - Jane Powell, Wallace Beery - 1948
Sun Apr 26 11:30 a.m. Casalanca - Humphrey Bogart - 1942
Sun Apr 26 8:00 p.m. Tokyo Joe - Humphrey Bogart - 1949
Mon Apr 27 5:00 a.m. Hollywood, My Hometown - Ken Murray - 1965
Mon Apr 27 6:00 a.m. The Passionate Plumber - Jimmy Durante, Buster Keaton - 1932
Mon Apr 27 7:30 a.m. You're In The Army Now - Jimmy Durante, Phil Silvers - 1941
Mon Apr 27 1:00 p.m. The Cuban Love Song - Lawrence Tibbett - 1931
Mon Apr 27 2:30 p.m. Meet The Baron - Jack Pearl, Jimmy Durante - 1933
Mon Apr 27 3:45 p.m. Hollywood Party - Jimmy Durante, Jack Pearl - 1934
Mon Apr 27 5:00 p.m. Student Tour - Jimmy Durante, Nelson Eddy - 1934
Mon Apr 27 6:30 p.m. Speak Easily - Jimmy Durante, Buster Keaton - 1932
Tue Apr 28 11:30 a.m. The Horn Blows At Midnight - Jack Benny - 1945
Tue Apr 28 1:00 p.m. Angels In The Outfield - Paul Douglas - 1951
Thu Apr 30 4:00 a.m. This Is The Army - Kate Smith, Frances Langford, George Murphy - 1943
Thu Apr 30 12:00 p.m.One For The Book - Ronald Reagan, Eve Arden - 1948
Thu Apr 30 3:45 p.m. Mildred Pierce - Jack Carson, Eve Arden - 1945
Thu Apr 30 6:00 p.m. Our Miss Brooks - Eve Arden, Gale Gordon, Richard Crenna - 1956
Fri May 1 8:00 pm Cocoon - Don Ameche - 1985
S t May 2 9:30 am Terry & The Pirates - Twelve chapter serial - 1940
Sat May 2 11:30 am Paree, Paree - Bob Hope - 1934
Sun May 3 2:00 am Horsefeathers - The Marx Brothers - 1932
Sun May 3 3:30 am A Day At The Races - The Marx Brothers - 1937
Sun May 3 12:00 pm Hollywood Canteen - E, Cantor, J. Benny, J. Carson, Andews Sis - 1944
Sun May 3 2:15 pm Stars In My Crown - Joel McCrea - 1950
Mon May 4 6:00 a . Millionaire Playboy - Joe Penner - 1940
Mon May 4 12:45 pm Carefree - Fred Astaire, Jack Carson - 1938
Tue May 5 11:30 am The Fugative - J. Carrol Naish - 1947
Wed May 6 1:15 pm Fast & Furious - Ann Sothern - 1939
Wed May 6 2:30 pm Page Miss Glory - Dick Powell - 1935
Wed May 6 5:45 pm Strike Up The Band - Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland, Paul Whiteman - 1940
Thu May 7 2:00 am The Letter - Herbert Marshall - 1940
Thu May 7 4:00 am. Night Song - Dana Andrews, Hoagy Carmichael - 1947
Thu May 7 8:00 pm Little Caesar - Edward G; Robinson - 1930
Thu May 7 9:30 pm Tiger Shark - Edward G; Robinson - 1932
Thu May 7 11:00 pm The Sea Wolf - Edward G. Robinson - 1941
Fri May 8 12:30 am Key Largo - E.G. Robinson, L. Barrymore, H. Bogart, L. Bacall - 1948
Fri May 8 2:30 am Bullets Or Ballots - Edward G. Robinson - 1936
Fri May 8 4:00 am The Little Giant - Edward G. Robinson - 1933
Fri May 8 5:30 am Two Seconds - Edward G. Robinson - 1932
Fri May 8 6:45 am The Hatchet Man - Edward G. Robinson - 1932
Fri May 8 3:00 pm Stan Kenton & His Orchestra - 1947
Sat May 9 8:25 am Vacation In Reno - Jack Haley - 1946
Sat May 9 9:30 am Terry & The Pirates - 12 Chapter Serial - 1940
Sat May 9 11:30 am Double Exposure - Bob Hope - 1935
Sat May 9 12:00 pm The Third Man - Orson Welles - 1949
DANCE BANDS WERE AS MUCH a part of Network Radio as comedy shows, mysteries or any other genre - judging from the amount of time filled every day by daily by regional and big name recording orchestras. But how about those vocalists who sang with the bands - those handsome baritones dressed in dinner jackets and those pert girl singers in cocktail dresses who accompanied the bands? What ever happened to them?
Most of them retired to private business or other pursuits when the Big Band Era ended. A few - a select few of little more than a dozen - became stars in their own right. It's 20 of those stars who are the focus of GOld Time Radio's post, Crooners & Chirps. We'll ask you to identify the big bands with which the 20 of them got their early start. It's easier than you think. Or is it? Check out Crooners & Chirps and judge for yourself
FRED ALLEN SAID IT: “After leaving radio I was able to live on the money I saved on aspirins.” The comedian/writer was reputed to edit and worry over every routine and phrase his writers handed him each week for his highly rated shows since 1932. Allen’s constant obsession for perfection and his regular battles with network censors and sponsors, led to a nervous condition and hypertension that forced doctors to order to the 50 year old comedian to take the year off from Network Radio in 1944.
He did - only to co-write and star in a 1945 movie, It’s In The Bag. The Paramount film also included a group of his fellow stars from NBC Radio, including Jack Benny. In case you’ve ever wondered how cheap Jack Benny was, GOld Time Radio gives you some idea in a key scene from that film at Mr. Allen Meets Mr. Benny. - (aka The Feud - Round Three). In addition to this hilarious sequence on video, we’ve also posted new audio clips of the two great comedians trading barbs begun in our posts The Feud - Round One and The Feud - Round Two.
HERE'S A CLASSIC CASE of being in the right place at the right time. When Amos & Andy jumped from NBC to CBS in 1939, collaborators Phillips H. Lord, (Gangbusters), and Ed Byron, (Famous Jury Trials), were ready to fill the 15 minute weeknight void on NBC with a new kind of crime fighter who didn’t wear a uniform - or for that matter, he didn’t have a name, either. He was simply Mr. District Attorney.
Their new hero's 13 week job was followed by another - now in half-hour form - as the summer replacement for Bob Hope on NBC, then a 26 week run on the Blue Network. When that assignment ended. Bristol-Myers picked up the melodrama and eventually put it into its NBC home on Wednesday nights where it enjoyed a decade among Network Radio’s top rated programs including three seasons in the Annual Top Ten. Mr. District Attorney is an interesting GOld Time Radio story of good timing and loaded with over a dozen audio clips that display its solid writing, acting and production.
IF YOU'RE LOOKING for a program, a personality or anything related to broadcasting history during Network Radio's Golden Age, use the Search box found at the top of all of of GOld Time Radio's pages. It provides a quick scan of our 192 posts to locate the item that you want found.
A TRIP TO MINNEAPOLIS last year provided the opportunity to visit the newly remodeled Pavek Museum in suburban St. Louis Park. The 12,000 sq. ft. Pavek houses the country's largest collection of radio and television equipment - a treat for the broadcasting historian and GOld Time Radio fan alike. The museum first opened in October, 1988, the culmination of efforts by collector Joe Pavek, regional broadcaster Paul Hedberg and Medtronic co-founder, Earl Bakken. It has grown in size and stature ever since. With its fascinating audio and video displays the Pavek Museum is worth a visit as its website promises at www.pavekmuseum.org
MENTION THE NAME KAY KYSER to many broadcast historinans and the automatic, (and correct), response will be The College of Musical Knowledge and that will be that. But the story of the soft-spoken North Carolinian who completely changed character on stage or before NBC microphones on one of Wednesday night's highest rated programs goes much deeper. And his successes run much further than leading America's most popular orchestra during Network Radio's Golden Age. His remarkable story is told in text, audio and film clips in GOld Time Radio's post, Kay Kyser- The Ol Professor of Swing.
THE BIG BROADCAST OF 1938 was just another in a string of the annual revues produced by motion picture studios for the ever-growing Network Radio audience. The 1938 edition was designed to be W.C. Fields' comeback film in which he played tycoon brothers racing their massive cruise ships across the Atlantic. (See W.C. Fields.)
Tucked away in a small scene without fanfare, Bob Hope & Shirley Ross sang and spoke the tender, bittersweet, Thanks For The Memory. GOld Time Radio's post, About A Song, tells in text, audio and video how the song almost wasn't written or performed by Hope & Ross. Yet, Thanks For The Memory won an Academy Award and became Bob Hope's theme song for over half a century. About A Song is a great story about a great song.
GOLD TIME RADIO IS NOW IN ITS NINTH YEAR of researching and reporting some of the lesser known facts about the people and programs of Network Radio’s Golden Age. It began with the publication of my book, Network Radio Ratings, 1932-1953, which defined the era in a time frame determined by ratings and revenue, and provided the first complete prime time audience ratings for all 21 years. The premise of the book and this site are summarized in my reading of the book's forward.
Copyright © 2020, Jim Ramsburg, Estero FL Email: firstname.lastname@example.org