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James Petrillo
This Month in the Golden Age

GOld Time Radio

This week's notes from Jim Ramsburg, the Publisher
(The links go to the highlighted GOld Time Radio articles)
GOld Time Radio chronicles each of the 21 broadcast seasons, (Running from September through June), from Network Radio’s Golden Age, 1932 to 1953.  
The lengthy and informative profiles of each season are concluded with an exclusive review of their Top 50 Prime Time Programs, as determined by Crossly, Hooper or Nielsen rating services.
Each synopsis presented here links to the complete detailed article.
Every Month GOld Time Radio features a calender of events that occured on each day in that calendar month during the Golden Age of Radio... that's 1932 to 1953.

It took radio and a major sponsor, (Colgate-Palmolive-Peet), nearly a decade to recognize a Network Radio 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 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 three solos per show, often displaying unexpected and outstanding vocal gymnastics.  Many of these highlights are indicated in the post
Judy Canova It's well worth listening. 

THIS WEEK IN THE GOLDEN AGE is one of those rare seven day periods when most of its events from Network Radio's Golden Age took place or related to the 1930's.  So, test your knowledge of broadcasting history with our seven puzzlers, fill-in the correct dates and then check your answers with the 759 events in the newly expanded and edited March In The Golden Age

March 8, 193_:  CBS buys back 49% of its stock from Paramount Pictures and obtains total ownership of the network. (See Radio Goes To The Movies.)
March 9, 193_:  Warner Brothers celebrates the 10th anniversary of its KFWB/Los Angeles with a film star packed two-hour show, during which Harry Warner credits the call sign to his father for representing, “Keep Fighting, Warner Brothers.“  (See
Radio Goes To The Movies.)
March 10, 193_:  Don Lee’s experimental W6XS(TV)/Los Angeles transmits Pathe Newsreel clips of the Long Beach earthquake several hours after it occurred. 
March 11, 195_: Jim & Marian Jordan celebrate their 20th anniversary as Fibber McGee & Molly on NBC.  (See
Fibber McGee Minus Molly.)
March 12, 193_: NBC reporter Max Jordan scores a scoop with his shortwave reports from Vienna of Germany’s move to annex Austria. 
March 13, 194_:  Ralph Edwards takes his Truth Or Consequences on a three-month, cross-country tour with War Bonds required for admission to his shows.  The first two weeks result in $1.5 Million in sales.  (See
Truth Or Consequences.)
March 14, 194_:  Producer Louis Cowan holds an “out of town tryout” for his new ABC giveaway show Stop The Music! with a one time feed from New York City for broadcast only on WAGE/Syracuse. (See
Stop The Music!)  
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.