Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December 6, 1900 Agnes Moorehead was born


On this day in 1900, Agnes Moorehead was born.

Monday, November 21, 2016

How to Load MP3 files on iPad using Voice Dream Reader

Here's a useful step by step tutorial from a blind old time radio listener on how to load MP3 old time radio shows onto an iPad:

I have a number of old time radio show series on my ipad mini 4.  I like voice dream reader because it will remember where I left off in each series I listen to.
  1. If not in a ZIP archive format. You should compress the directory holding the mp3's files into a ZIP file.
  2. Connect the iOS device to your computer with a USB cable.
  3. Open the iTunes application and select the iOS device button at the right of the main window. 
  4. Select the "Apps" radio button on the main screen.
  5. At the bottom of the Apps screen is a section titled "File Sharing" with a column list of apps. One of those will be Voice Dream Reader app select it.
  6. Press the "Add…" button located in the bottom right of the screen. This will give you a dialog to select the ZIP file from step one. The zip will then be added to the app.
  7. Go to Voice Dream Reader, now you'll find some thing like: This Is Your FBI DISK 1. . forty-four hours, nineteen minutes, thirteen seconds2% READ. Zipped Audio Format.


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

September 18: Happy Birthday Eddie Anderson


Join us in celebrating the nativity of one of Old Time Radio's most beloved and recognizable character actors, Mr. Eddie Anderson. The actor so many of us love as Jack Benny's sidekick Rochester was born on September 18, 1905.

In a less enlightened time,  we might say that Eddie Anderson did very well for one of his races. It might even be said that Eddie would never have gone as far if not for his association with Jack Benny. To a certain extend both of these sentiments were true, but when we look at Eddie Anderson's achievements it becomes pretty obvious that Eddie would have found the opportunities and resources to do great things no matter what.

Eddie was born into a show business family in Oakland. “Big Ed” Anderson was a minstrel performer and his wife Ella Mae was a tight rope performer until a fall put an end to her career. As a boy Eddie sold newspapers on the street corner. The newspaper boys believed that whoever would yell the loudest would get the most customers, but as a result, Eddie ruptured his vocal chords. This gave him the distinctive gravel voice which will always be associated with the Rochester character.

The genius of Jack Benny's comedy is that everyone could get the best of Jack, but Anderson managed to bring the best out of Jack. Anderson first appeared on the Jack Benny program as a railway porter in 1937. The chemistry between Jack and the Red Cap got enough laughs that he was brought back a month later (this time as a waiter, but Jack was sure to ask him if he had worked for the railroad). During this appearance, Anderson made himself at home with the cast, joining in the Jello commercial which was not usually expected of the guests. The response was so positive that Jack had the writers create the character of Rochester Van Jones to be Jack's valet.

Having an African American in such a subservient role seems offensive to modern sensibilities, but it was a very common situation at the time. Although both Anderson and Benny took some flack about it, listeners realize that Rochester was anything but subservient to his boss! The character's race could not be completely ignored, but it was rarely an issue on the air. When there was a reference to it, it can from Rochester himself (like the time the gang went skiing in Yosemite, Jack told them he did not want to lose them in the snow and Rochester pipes in “Who? Me?”).

Although Rochester's race was a non-issue on the air, The same could not be said when Jack took the show on the road. During the War, the Jack Benny Program was broadcast from military camps and hospitals around the country, but military segregation rules made it difficult for Anderson to appear on stage. On many of these occasions,  he would interact with the cast over the telephone. There were times when he traveled with the show only to find that the hotel where the company was staying did not allow blacks. On more than one occasion,  Jack had to threaten to change hotels if the policy was not changed. He made better on the threat more than once.

Anderson built on his radio success with some sound (and not so sound) investments. He owned the Pacific Parachute Company which made lifesaving equipment for Army and Navy pilots during WWII. He owned a string of racehorses, including the first black-owned thoroughbred to run in the Kentucky Derby in 1947. Anderson had a lifelong interest in things mechanical, and had a custom sports car build with a one-off low slung chassis and a Cadillac engine.

A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 6513 Hollywood Blvd honors Eddie “Rochester” Anderson.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Friday, July 29, 2016

June 29, 1947: Controversial game show 'Strike It Rich' debuted on CBS

June 29, 1947: Radio game show Strike It Rich went on air for the first time, and it quickly became one of the most loved programs on CBS. The show was first presented by Todd Russell, followed by Warren Hull.

Strike It Rich was a radio game show that featured less-fortunate people as the contestants. The show's format involved requiring the contestants to answer very easy questions in exchange for a money prize. When the question was answered incorrectly, the so-called "Heart Line" was opened, allowing one viewer on the phone to make donations for the contestant's family.

However, the show's 11-year run was showered with controversy. Some people thought that the less-fortunate contestants were being exploited by the sponsors. They also pointed out that out of 5,000 people who send their stories every week, only a small percentage of them were given the chance to appear on the show. Viewers argued that they were picked based on who had the most interesting story to tell.

Friday, July 22, 2016

July 22, 1936: A Feud that was Loved

 
July 22, 1936: On this day a famous debate between Jack Benny and Fred Allen began. Mr. Allen commented on the performance of a 10 year old violinist who performed on his show. He said older violinists should be shamed by this young violinist because his violin play was better than his elders.

Mr. Benny then replied to what Mr. Allen said. That debate continued and lasted until Mr. Allen's death.

This debate was unknown after the second show for the west coast, since this conversation was not recorded and the argument was unscripted.

Jack Benny and Fred Allen Feud was actually a show featuring two people who were friends in real life. The idea to have the show started in the program The Lint Bath Club Revue wherein Benny, a very witty comedian, teased Fred Allen to hide in shame because 10-year old Stewart Canin was a very good violinist, implying that Allen was not.

Needless to say, the bantering was loved by the audience. Thus, the feud was continued and lasted for the next decade. The feud ended when Fred Allen stole the pants of Jack Benny.