Monday, June 18, 2018

June 18, 1961: Gunsmoke' makes a last appearance.

June 18, 1961: Gunsmoke makes a last appearance.

After nine years of transmission, William Conrad starred Gunsmoke made its last appearance on CBS. It was termed as the first adult radio Western.

This western dramatization was actually compared to the Iliad and Odyessy and was hailed as one of the best of all time shows. It ran on television for 20 seasons after its final radio broadcast.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

June 14: Cal Stewart (Uncle Josh)

What does one say about someone that knew two of the of countries most notable wit and wisdom characters of the late 1800’s and into the Twentieth Century? Well one would be best to ask Uncle Josh Weathersby of Punkin Center. Uncle Josh aka Cal Stewart was a grand gentleman of the early sound recordings put out by Thomas Edison and Mr Stewart portrayed him with folksy excellence. Born June 14, 1856, Mr. Stewart was the voice for Uncle Josh and his early on characterizations lent an enviable touch to demonstrating to the public of home-spun yarn and tale.
As mentioned, Cal Stewart made the acquaintance and friendship of two American icons of mirth and story, Mark Twain and Will Rogers. He met this gentleman while travelling the country presenting his Uncle Josh persona in vaudeville and medicine shows. Due in large part to their similar love of comedy, these masters of their craft aided Cal Stewart in his growing popularity and appreciation. It was because of America’s love of the Punkin Center resident that Thomas Edison invited Stewart, in 1897, to make permanent a number of the Uncle Josh monologues on his newly invented recording device. People could instantly identify the voice of Stewart’s by the pronounced laughter that was unique to him. “Uncle Josh’s Arrival in New York” (1898) and “Uncle Josh’s Huskin’ Bee Dance” (1901) are just two of the many Uncle Josh recordings made by Cal Stewart. These recordings, along with other favorites made people laugh and cry as they listened to the Will Rogers of PunKin Center commiserate about slow country life. His style of ‘yokum’ endeared him to many of his radio audience. Sadly, America lost this gentleman’s storytelling in 1919 but his recordings continued to resonate for a long time after and can still be found today.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

May 29: Happy Birthday, John F. Kennedy

John F. Kennedy developed a theory of electromagnetism in 1802, paving the way for radio communication. All right, maybe he wasn't born until today in 1917, but this is a radio blog! He must've been some radio pioneer of something. Did he host a show with George Burns?

We all know Kennedy was one of the most noted presidents, uncommonly charismatic, controversial, and bold. Kennedy's speeches are some of the most memorable in American history: he was a quote machine.

The medium of radio carried to us the unveiling of the goal to place a man on the moon; the establishment of the Peace Corps; a word on the bussing controversy in Birmingham; and of course grave addresses on (and in) the Cuban Missile Crises. Over radio, Kennedy intoned "ich bin ein Berliner" and "ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country."

JFK's strident, nearly staccato delivery and his New England accent made his voice unmistakable and iconoclastic. Of the many birthday salutes today, here's one from the world of radio, which was a big part of the JFK presidency.

Friday, April 27, 2018

April 27, 1932: The First Recorded News Coast to Coast Broadcast

 
April 27, 1932: The unforgettable moment on this day was the explosion of the Hindenburg airship at Lakehurst, NJ. The disaster was reported by NBC's broadcaster Herbert Morrison and became the first recorded coast-to-coast broadcast.

The Hindenburg disaster occurred on Thursday, May 6, 1937. The German passenger airship LZ 129 Hindenburg burst into flames during its attempt to dock with its mooring mast at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station. Lakehurst Naval Air Station was located adjacent to the borough of Lakehurst, New Jersey. 97 people on board lost their lives to the disaster, and there were 35 fatalities as well as one death among the ground crew.

The disaster became spectacular newsreel footage, as well as the subject of some spectacular photographs. Herbert Morrison made radio recordings of eyewitness reports from the landing field, which were then broadcast the next day on NBC. The actual cause of the fire remains unknown, although a variety of hypotheses have been put forward for both the cause of ignition and the initial fuel for the ensuing fire. The incident shattered public confidence in the giant, passenger-carrying rigid airships and marked the end of the zeppelin era.

This and many other memorable moments in radio history can be heard in Old Time Radio's Great Moments in Radio History Collection.