Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May 14, 1945: The kids show 'The Sparrow and the Hawk' airs on CBS for the First time

May 14, 1945: CBS radio first broadcast The Sparrow and the Hawk, a series for kids.

The show centered around aviation, starring Young Barney Mallory and his uncle, Hawk Mallory. The show is so rare that only one episode is still in existence.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

May 11, 1946: Juvenile Jury airs on Mutual

May 11, 1946: Juvenile Jury was hosted by Jack Barry on WOR radio in New York City. It debuted on the Mutual Broadcasting System's 'Coast-to-Coast' after becoming a huge hit through only five weeks on air.

This radio show was actually for children, featuring children trying to help others with their problems and was a big hit.

Friday, May 9, 2014

May 9: Happy Birthday, Mike Wallace

While Massachusetts was Mike Wallace's 1918 birthplace, Michigan was the birthplace of his broadcasting career. Wallace was a writer and newscaster at WOOD in Grand Rapids, and then an announcer at Detroit's WXYZ. After his tour of duty in the Navy during the WWII, Wallace returned stateside and found employ as radio announcer in Chicago, doing the emcee duties for such shows as Sky King and Curtain Time. He got a higher-profile gig announcing for Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life.

It was then on to broadcast journalism with an interview show called Night Beat. Mike Wallace radio life was concluding as he would go on to television super-stardom, with his claim to fame being 60 Minutes. Wallace died in 2012.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

May 6: Happy Birthday, Orson Welles

While standing out in the memories of most as being "the director of Citizen Kane," Orson Welles was a polymath and a practitioner of all mass media. As a filmmaker, Welles had a very keen visual sense, but he is also well-known for his deep and booming voice. This made him a natural for radio.

He entered the medium relatively early in a career that had been, at that point, one centered around drama. He'd established a theatre troupe called The Mercury Theatre, and before long he decided to expand this to an iteration for radio called Mercury Theatre on the Air. This 1938 series mostly adapted classic and contemporary dramatic works, but it was also the show on which the "War of the Worlds" blowup occurred. The attention from that got new sponsorship and a new iteration of the program, Campbell Playhouse. This series adapted such works as "Our Town," "The Count of Monte Cristo," "The Magnificent Ambersons" and "Mutiny on the Bounty," and ran from December of '38 to March of '40.

During the late 30's and early 40's, even though Welles was not a big film star, and hadn't yet become famous as the director of Kane  his talent and iconic voice were recognized enough for him to be asked to make appearances on The Fred Allen Show and The Charlie McCarthy Show.

Other radio series Welles masterminded were Black Museum, This is My Best, Orson Welles' Almanac, and Ceiling Unlimited. He was born on this day in 1915.

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 5, 1935: The debut of Ethel Merman's 'Rhythm at Eight'

May 5, 1935: The first debut of the "Rhythm at Eightradio program. This program starred the 24 years old actress Ethel Merman. Unfortunately,  Merman's broadcast only lasted for 13 weeks before Miss Merman went back to Broadway. But in later years she would become a legend.

Known as the musical comedy stage's first lady, Ethel Merman, born Ethel Agnes Zimmerman, was an American singer famous for her powerful voice. Compared to her contemporaries, Merman had a great advantage over them despite never taking singing lessons. In fact, she was told that she didn't need any at all.

Due to her popularity, she was mentioned in many movies, Broadway plays, songs, etc.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

May 3: Happy Birthday, Bing Crosby

A stirrer of the imagination, a soother of souls, a gentle and loyal companion, Bing Crosby is a crooner for all-time, a superstar of the twentieth century. Known for his songs "White Christmas," "Surrender Dear," and "Sweet Leilani," the baritone was called "the most admired man alive" by Yank magazine.

From 1935-'43, Crosby appeared regularly on Kraft Music Hall. He also made many appearances on Command Performance and Philco Radio Time. These performances, in addition to showcasing his now-legendary vocal skills, allowed him to work with the biggest names of the day, including Peggy Lee, Boris Karloff, Al Jolson, Groucho Marx, and Fred Astaire.

The story has it that his nickname Bing (he was born Harry) came from his infatuation with the comic strip Bingville Bugle.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

May 1: Happy Birthday, Kate Smith

Kate Smith was born on this day in 1907, and it's not every day we get to celebrate the birth of the First Lady of Radio. The Kate Smith Show featured not only Smith's rich voice but comedy skits, musical performances, even drama. Guests included Gene Kelley, Al Jolson, Dorothy Lamour, and Ed Sullivan. What's more, Henny Youngman served as regulars, delivering their now legendary radio comedy.

Some of you may remember a lesser-known program, Kate Smith Speaks, on which "The Songbird of the South" gave her opinions on current events issues.

One thing you may not know about her was that it was she who introduced the public to Irving Berlin's rousing anthem "God Bless America" in 1938. Happy Birthday, first lady!