The Golden Years of Radio 1937-1938
Read This Season's Synopsis Here!
Then Click the Link to the Left to Read the Whole Article!
(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.

1937-1938 Season
Read Full Article

THE 1937-38 SEASON
Click to Read Full Article

A ventriloquist on radio? "Yes! " said millions of listeners when Edgar Bergen and his Charlie McCarthy came from nightclubs and debuted to make
The Chase & Sanborn Hour the season's most popular program. The pair is seen here with Charlie's nemesis, W. C. Fields.

  • Standard Brands’ Chase & Sanborn Coffee installed ventriloquist Edgar Bergen & his Charlie McCarthy into the 8:00 Sunday night slot on NBCThe prime time period once again proved to be prime radio real estate for Bergen just as it had been for Eddie Cantor and Major Bowes before him.  He began a string of 16 consecutive seasons among the Annual Top Ten - never finishing below seventh place … On Sunday, January 16th the soft-spoken ventriloquist and his brash Charlie scored a 41.1 rating.  These numbers were generated after the notorious "Mae West Incident" in December when the program was denounced in the press and pulpits across the country which called for a boycott of the show.

    Three giant consumer products manufacturers - General Foods, Standard Brands and Lever Brothers - each sponsored two of the season’s Top Ten programs.  Standard had Bergen & McCarthy’s top rated Chase & Sanborn Hour plus Rudy Vallee’s variety hour in ninth place. General Foods’ Jello sponsored Jack Benny’s second place program and Grape Nuts had Burns & Allen who finished the season in eighth.  Lever’s Lux Radio Theater rated third and Al Jolson hosted Lifebuoy Soap’s tenth place show. 

    The networks were flush with money and the big name stars were making thousands per broadcast. Yet, not everyone involved was getting rich.  The studio talent - the men and women who worked the shows as announcers and actors, often without name credit - received as little as $2.50 a program.  Led by  Eddie Cantor, radio performers banded together and formed the American Federation of Radio Artists six weeks before the 1937-38 season began. Wage negotiations began in 1938 resulting in a minimum talent fee of $25 per program.

    Mutual introduced Lamont Cranston as The Shadow with his ability to, “…cloud men‘s minds so they cannot see him”,  at 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 26, 1937.  It would remain a Sunday afternoon feature on Mutual for the next 15 years and became one of the most popular mystery melodramas on Network Radio.  Twenty-two year old Orson Welles was first to play the title role.

    Over 40% of the season’s prime time programs were based in music of all varieties. Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey brought swing to network radio with their own series.  They were joined by the show bands of Paul Whiteman, Ozzie Nelson, Ben Bernie and Kay Kyser.  The “sweet” bands of Wayne King and Russ Morgan got the most exposure. Morgan’s  orchestra headlined The Camel Caravan on both CBS and NBC every week while King was heard three times a week until January, then twice a week with a prime time Lady Esther Serenades on both networks. 

    NBC regained its dominance with 26 of the season's Top 50 programs.   CBS followed with 19 and Blue trailed with five of the most popular series ... But the season’s ratings winner involved two men - Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis and the former champion who had knocked him out two years earlier, Max Schmeling.  Their June 22nd rematch was broadcast on both NBC and Blue - all two minutes and four seconds of it.  Louis pummeled Schmeling in the first round. Crossley’s CAB survey the following day deter-mined that the bout had a knockout 63.6 rating.