The Golden Years of Radio 1936-1937
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(There are many more fascinating facts and stories beyond these headlines)
The Seasons
GOld Time Radio chronicles each of the 21 broadcast seasons, (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 links to the full and detailed article.

1936-1937 Season
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  THE 1936-37 SEASON
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Major Bowes joined Eddie Cantor  and jumped from NBC to CBS while Jack Benny moved from Blue to NBC and produced 1936-37's top program for General Foods' Jello
  • Despite the Depression, the number of automobiles with radios jumped 75% to 3.5 Million.  The broadcasting industry was  given millions of new listeners  - plus additional advertisers who appealed to the driving public  … One of those advertisers, automaker Chrysler, made headlines by stealing the Number One program from its sponsor and network.  Major Bowes’ Original Amateur Hour won September for General Foods and NBC.  It was Bowes’ twelfth consecutive month as the country’s most popular program. Then, like Eddie Cantor two years earlier, Bowes jumped to CBS in October.  Chrysler assumed Bowes’ sponsorship and moved The Original Amateur Hour to Thursday nights - and forever out of first place in the rankings.  Bowes remained with CBS for the next nine seasons until his retirement.

    NBC plucked General Foods’ Jack Benny from Blue for an October debut.   With a new production contract worth $390,000 per season. Benny and his growing troupe - including wife Mary Livingston, announcer Don Wilson, band leader Phil Harris and romantic tenor Kenny Baker - took solid possession of Sundays at 7:00 and gave NBC the season’s Number One program to replace Major Bowes’ amateurs. 

    CBS had a big problem behind the scenes. Its West Coast group of affiliated stations, the Don Lee Network, was presenting intolerable clearance difficulties for CBS programs.  So, when powerful KNX/Los Angeles became available for $1.25 million in September, 1936, CBS snapped it up and became the first network to own a station in California’s largest city and America’s film capital … The writing was on the wall for Don Lee’s KHJ and its affiliation with CBS in Los Angeles. What’s more, CBS openly negotiated with KSFO to replace Lee’s KFRC as its San Francisco affiliate.  The split between the two chains became effective on December 31st and Lee joined Mutual ...  When Don Lee’s new Mutual affiliation began on January 1, 1937, MBS became a coast to coast network, boasting a roster of 39 affiliates and a Los Angeles base in KHJ. It was just the beginning of growth for what would eventually become the largest network.  

    American Tobacco’s Lucky Strike cigarettes and its Lord & Thomas ad agency, kicked off a summer long  promotion linked to Your Hit Parade in June that ran into late September.  During those weeks, listeners who could predict the show’s Top Ten songs in order were awarded free cartons of cigarettes. Your Hit Parade was broadcast simultaneously over both the NBC and Blue networks on Wednesdays and then repeated Saturdays on CBS at a weekly combined cost of $40,000 plus thousands of cigarettes  … Blue was dropped from the Lucky lineup in October but the weekly countdown of hits continued in its NBC and CBS editions and both finished among the season’s Top 25 rated programs.  

    Competitor R.J. Reynolds' Camels countered with Russ Morgan’s popular band on NBC’s Tuesday schedule and CBS’s Saturday night lineup.  Ford Motors briefly joined the double-play trend with Fred Waring’s musical troupe, The Pennsylvanians. The automaker plugged Waring into CBS on Tuesday and Blue on Friday.

    But Lady Esther remained the queen of repetitive musical programming.  The Chicago cosmetics maker placed all three of its weekly Wayne King Lady Esther Serenades in the season’s Top 50.  King‘s Monday half hour on CBS placed 27th and his NBC show on Tuesday and Wednesday finished in 46th and 49th place.  It was the first and only time a Top 50 hat-trick was scored.

    The most famous shortwave broadcast of the pre-war era took place on December 12th when England’s King Edward VIII delivered his famous “Woman I Love” abdication speech. NBC continued to follow the royal soap opera by shortwave, climaxing five months later when it broadcast the coronation of his brother, King George VI - all seven consecutive hours of it.

    The most famous remote broadcast of the period - and arguably of all time - happened by accident on May 6, 1937, when Herb Morrison of WLS/Chicago was helping to test the potential uses of portable recording equipment at Lakehurst, New Jersey, awaiting the arrival and mooring of the massive German dirigible Hindenburg.   Morrison’s report of the airship’s sudden explosion and his emotional reaction, (“Oh, the humanity!”), were recorded for the ages and deemed important enough that NBC suspended its ban against recorded programming to broadcast Morrison's transcription disc later that day. 

    Because of ties, 51 programs qualified for the 1936-37's Top 50 rankings.  CBS again led the pack with 22 shows.  NBC was close behind with 21 and Blue trailed with eight.