Monday, November 25, 2013

November 25, 1960: CBS Cuts Radio Soap Operas

November 25, 1960: CBS turned the knob on radio soap operas, scaling down their five radio soap operas.

The serials cancelled included Right to Happiness (21 years on air), Ma Perkins (27 years on air), The Second Mrs. Burton (14 years on air) Whispering Streets, and Young Doctor Malone (8 years on air). 1940 saw their greatest success, when up to forty-five programs were broadcast daily.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 23: Happy Birthday, Harpo Marx

According to his memoir, Harpo Marx was thrown out of school in the second grade.  But not how you might think.  Literally thrown out.  In Harpo Marx, the blonde-maned, second-oldest Marx brother says that Irish bullies in his New York City elementary school would convey him out the window of his learning institution.

No, the school didn't throw Harpo (born Adolph Marx) out: he quit.

From there, it was comedy on stage, screen, and airwaves.  Fans of harp solos should check out Mr. Marx's appearances on Command Performance, and The Burns and Allen Show.  We salute today's birthday boy, Harpo Marx.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

November 21, 1938: WBOE radio went On-Air

November 21, 1938: The first school-operated radio station, WBOE, started their operation on this day. They aired their program as the 500-watt AM radio station, having a license from the FCC to do so. Later on they evolved into an FM station.

WBOE was also the first school radio to be converted into an FM station in 1941. Starting in 1984, the station became known as WCPN (90.3 FM).

Saturday, November 16, 2013

November 16: Happy Birthday, Jim Jordan

Jim Jordan, one of the great--and pioneering--comedy minds of all time, was born on this day in  1896.

In his early days in radio, being able to perform as many voices as possible was important, and a way for a comic actor to maximize his earnings.  One of the first voices Jordan nailed down was an old man's, and from that he developed the character Luke Grey.  Radio aficionados and historians know that Luke Grey was the star of the 15-minute WMAQ program called "Smackout."  Grey was a corner store owner and teller of tall tales who would excuse his not having what the customer was looking for by saying he was "smack out."

Fibber McGee grew out of Luke Grey a few years later.  Phrases like "Tain't funny, McGee," and "You're a hard man, McGee" began to resound throughout the land, and the popular show ran from 1935-'59.  In addition to Jordan's title character and his wife Molly, the show gave us endearing characters such as Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, Mayor LaTrivia, Beulah, Dr. George Gamble, Foggy Williams, and of course, Wallace Wimple.

Popular features of the show include Fibber's loaded and dangerous closet, his penchant for remembering a supposedly-glorious past, a longtime grudge against Otis Cadwallader, and all of the unfunny ("tain't funny, McGee") moments.

Happy birthday, Fib--uh, that is, Jim Jordan!