Saturday, June 25, 2005


(Originally run 1/11/04 on our old site; revised since)

Harold Gene Sullivan

I really enjoyed your discussion about radio history. After finishing Hendrix College, I went to Columbia University to Engineering School. The memory of the Sarnoff-Armstrong battle was recent enough that several of the professors there knew Armstrong. He had done much of his work at Columbia. In fact, the student radio station still used one of his transmitters. Also, I was very active in the Amateur Radio Club and we had some equipment that he had built.

This talk about old radio has made me think about all the old radio shows that we use to listen to at night. I remember going to bed on cold winter nights, covering up, and laying there listening to my Philco radio, trying to keep up with my favorite shows as they faded in and out.

I still enjoy old radio shows. There is a newsgroup devoted to them where one can download old shows, Alt. Some of the old shows that have been uploaded to the newsgroup are, all of which I remember:

Hopalong Cassidy
The Life of Riley
Jungle Jim
Information Please
X Minus One
I Love Adventure
Duffy’s Tavern
I Love a Mystery
The Whistler
The Shadow
That Hammer Guy
The Danny Kaye Show
Amos and Andy
Jack Benny Show
Firestone Hour
Band of America Gunsmoke
Have Gun Will Travel
Jack London
Lum and Abner
Sergeant Preston of the Yukon
The Lone Ranger
Our Miss Brooks
Nick Carter, Master Detective
Groucho Marx
The Green Hornet
Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
Charlie Chan
Burns and Allen
Richard Diamond, Private Detective
Father Knows Best
Martin and Lewis Show
Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy
My Friend Irma
Challenge of the Yukon
Ripley’s Believe It or Not
March of Time
The Radio Guild
Texaco Star Theater
The Aldrich Family
Red Ryder
Perry Mason
Radio Guild (actually, I think, it was "The Theatre Guild of the Air" -tlp-)
Father Knows Best
Big Town
FBI in Peace and War
The Green Hornet
The Big Story

I wonder if TV shows are making such an impression on today’s kids where, 50+ years later, they will have such vivid memories of them? On Sunday nights we always went to church, First Methodist, and would sit in the parking lot listening to the end of Amos and Andy. As soon as it was over, you would see a stream of people getting out of their cars heading into church. I have forgotten what came on next, but remember I always wished I could hear it.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Lord, I could do an entire column of just notes on those shows. For instance, the “Band of America” was, actually, the Cities Service Band of America, under the baton of Paul Lavalle. Cities Service eventually, I think, became CITGO, and Lavalle moved on to form the annual McDonald’s Marching Band, made up of outstanding high school musicians from across the country.

"The Lone Ranger" came out of Detroit.

"My Friend Irma," with Marie Wilson, was one of the most popular programs on radio; so popular was it, that a major motion picture was made out of it. The studio also had in hand contracts on two young guys that they didn't know what to do with, so they had the script re-written to include them as supporting characters. Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis stole the movie and Marie Wilson sank without a trace.

“Duffy’s Tavern” always began the same way: a phone ringing, and a New York-accented voice answering it by saying “Duffy’s Tavern, where the elite meet to eat. Archie the Manager speaking; Duffy ain’t here.” Duffy was NEVER there … but Mrs. Duffy was and, I swear, you could smell the peroxide in her hair over the radio. She was the #2 radio dingbat, right after Gracie Allen.

“Lum ‘n’ Abner” were originally from the Hot Springs area.

“Amos and Andy” was something remarkable. Two white guys (Lou Gosden and Charles Correll, who developed the show) playing two black guys .. but NEVER demeaningly, which was quite remarkable for the 30s and 40s. So universal was the appeal of this program that, in many cities, the only way movie theatres could get people into the seats on Sunday night was to stop the film at Amos ‘n’ Andy time, turn on radios all over the auditorium, play the program, then resume the movie when the program was over.

Later, when they decided to make a TV series out of A&A, the problem was finding two black guys who could act, while sounding like two white guys who were trying (successfully) to sound like two black guys.

The REAL Amos 'n' Andy Posted by Hello
Lou Gosden & Charlie Correll

And it was a cultural phenomena, too. As one writer said, “Misperceptions and misinterpretations have been picked up by writer after writer, and incorrect conclusions are repeatedly drawn by commentators who know virtually nothing about the original series. To form an assessment of "Amos 'n' Andy" based on the 426 episodes aired in a half-hour situation comedy format between 1943 and 1955 or on the 78 episodes of the television series filmed between 1951 and 1953 is to reach a judgment based on only a small sampling of what the series actually was -- ignoring the 4,091 episodes of the series which aired in the nightly fifteen-minute serial format between March 1928 and February 1943.”

This complete, and fascinating, piece may be found at .

I don’t think TV will ever duplicate radio’s memory-making ability. Back in the 50’s, one kid was asked why he preferred radio to TV, and his reply may’ve have summed it all up: “’Cause the pictures are prettier.”

Think about that. –tlp-


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