rand’s esoteric otr

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W2XAD and W2XAF Sign On Discs - Circa 1938

August 9th, 2017

In this post, a couple of like unique discs from an overlooked part of Old Time Radio history - international shortwave broadcasting.

These are the recordings used to sign on General Electric's shortwave broadcasting stations W2XAD and W2XAF in Schenectady, New York in the late 1930s.

The discs, single-sided, 12" and running at 78 rpm, were pressed by RCA and the typewritten labels that read "FILM W2XAD RERECORDING FOR G.E", matrix number CS 0548-1, and "FILM W2XAF RECORDING FOR G.E." matrix number CS 0549-1.

Based on the matrix numbers, Michael Biel thinks these date to about 1938.  In early 1935, the stations became known as "The Voice of Electricity" and used a recording of a crash of ten million volts of electricity as their id.  The FCC requested all shortwave broadcasters to discontinue using experimental callsigns in September 1939; W2XAD had become WGEA and W2XAF had become WGEO a few weeks before.  So, these discs may have only been used at the station for about a year.

Each single-sided disc has two bands and the sign-on recording is repeated in each.  The discs were probably used when the station was used for shortwave broadcasting so that a "live" sign on wouldn't have to be done with each transmission.  The track is repeated, I presume, in case of damage to the disc.

According to miSci, a museum devoted to GE's work in Schenectady, the company had created a device they called the "film phonograph", which recorded 90 minutes of audio on a ten minute 35mm loop, in the early 30s.  These discs may have been mastered from that format or something similar.  There's mention of "film" on the labels and, if you listen closely, you can hear "pops" where the different pieces of the sign-on announcements were apparently edited together.

I initially thought these might be related to early television, since these call letters were associated with GE's television work in the 1930s.  It's still a fascinating find - I don't know of any other sign-on discs or recordings of early US shortwave broadcasters from this period.

Wavescan published a feature on GE's shortwave efforts in 2012.  At Radio World, you can see a photo of "Big Bertha", the 100 kw transmitter GE fired up in 1939 to broadcast to South America.  One Tube Radio has links to vintage articles about GE's shortwave station in San Francisco.

These discs were obtained from an eBay seller in August 2017 in Olean, New York.  Her grandfather worked for General Electric in Schenectady.  Our mp3 transfer is direct from the discs, with both station ids - I only included one version of each since the tracks on each disc are repeated.

By the way, you can hear an aircheck of a 1946 sign-off from KGEI, General Electric's shortwave station in San Francisco, in a previous post on the blog.

 

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Interview on Yesterday USA

June 22nd, 2017

On Wednesday evening, I was interviewd by Larry Gassman and Walden Hughes of Yesterday USA.  We had a great time talking about the old time radio hobby, collecting transcriptions and my blog.

The one-hour interview was broadcast on Yesterday USA Friday, June 23rd at 11:15 pm Eastern time.  It will be repeated ten days later, on Monday, July 3rd on the "Blue" network on the site.

If you missed it, here's an mp3 version you can hear.

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Thank you and goodnight

June 15th, 2017

Well, we’ve reached the end of the shows for this run of posts in the blog.  We’re going on hiatus again as I search for new discs.

I’ll spend the next few months looking for new esoteric shows of interest to the discerning Old Time Raido Collector and start some new posts when new discs start rolling in.  It’s getting harder to find material for the blog.  I scout auctions, eBay and other sources for discs and I’m not seeing the selection of programs available when I started the posts about my collection a few years ago.  We’ll see what turns up!

Thanks so much for your support - I hope you’ve enjoyed the shows I’ve posted or at least found them useful to fill in some of the blanks in Old Time Radio history.

Until I start posting again, explore some of the older posts to hear some summer reruns!

Canary Pet Show - Pgm E2

June 15th, 2017

Now, my final episode of the Hartz Mountain pet products program, “The Canary Pet Show”.  Once again, the announcer is Mike Wallace, later famous for his work as a reporter for CBS News.  We heard another episode from the other side of the disc in our last post.

The first song on program E2 is the Gershwin classic, “S’Wonderful”.  Once again, we enjoy Ernie Neff on the console and David Baum “with his romantic violin”.  Mike pitches Master Canary Seed - strengthens throat muscles for brighter songs! - and there’s another little sketch commercial for Hartz Mountain Condition Food for Birds.  Mike also does the commercial for the full range of Hartz Mountain foods and Doggie Yummies with a special singing and yodeling jingle.

Our program was transferred from an original 16” bright red vinyl United Broadcasting Co., 301 East Erie St, Chicago, transcription.  In the runoff area, there’s a notation for “Hartz Mountain Canary - 4E” and the matrix number, UB-50-952-xx.  (Once again, the label has the wrong show number on it.)  The program was produced by George H. Hartman Co, Chicago.

Again, I want to express my deepest appreciate to Jerry Heandiges and David Lennick for their gift of these previously lost discs to my collection.

Original transcriptions of the “Canary Pet Show” have been a holy grail for me since I started collecting discs many years ago.  I guess I can stop collecting now, since there’s absolutely nothing that could top this!

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Canary Pet Show - Pgm E1

June 15th, 2017

This week, we hear two previously lost episodes of "The Canary Pet Show".  I mentioned they were special - you won’t believe your ears as you hear Mike Wallace hosting the program.

Yes, _that_ Mike Wallace - the CBS reporter that was a fixture on “60 Minutes” for so many years and who made a name for himself with the controversial “Mike Wallace Interview”.  I’m guessing this show dates from the mid to late 1940s when Mike Wallace was working in Chicago, since the program was recorded there.  Several radio shows survive from Wallace’s early radio work.  Now, we can add this previously lost episode to the list.

The first song on program E1 is “The Night is Young and You’re So Beautiful”.  We hear Ernie Neff on organ and David Baum “with his romantic violin”.  Mike introduces a little sketch commercial for Hartz Mountain Food for Birds and does a pitch for Hartz Dog Yummies.  They’re made without sugar!

In our next post, the next episode in the series, once again featuring Mike Wallace as host.

Our mp3 was transferred from an original 16” bright red vinyl United Broadcasting Co., 301 East Erie St, Chicago, transcription.  In the runoff area, there’s a notation for “Hartz Mountain Canary - 3E” and the matrix number, UB-50-951-xx.  (I guess they put the wrong show number on the label.)  The program was produced by George H. Hartman Co, Chicago.

Again, I want to give my deepest thanks to Jerry Heandiges and David Lennick for their gift of these previously lost shows to my collection.

 

 

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The Adventures of Jungle Jim - Pgm 63

June 15th, 2017

Last week we heard an episode of “Front Page Drama”.  Now, we flip the disc over to check out what’s going on with “The Adventures of Jungle Jim”.

Program 63 was syndicated for airing January 10, 1937 and produced by Langlois & Wentworth, 420 Madison Avenue, New York City.  Jungle Jim is in searching for Peter Hawkins’s son in Mandalay.  Meanwhile, Shanghai Lil is on Jim’s trail.

The program was transferred from an original 16” Hearst Newspapers transcription disc pressed by RCA on Victrolac, matrix number 03670.

I know this series is available in excellent condition, but it happens to be a favorite and I’ve always like these great sounding 1930s RCA pressings.

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Monday Morning Headlines - December 28, 1947

June 15th, 2017

And here’s a final disc of time-shifted network programming from a collection of “throwaway” transcriptions from WHBC in Akron, Ohio.

“Monday Morning Headlines” was an ABC radio network program, touting itself as giving you the headlines you would be reading about in the next morning’s papers.  The program was sponsored by Airwick, “the little bottle with the magic wick”.

Truman will sign the Republican sponsored anti-inflation bill tomorrow, despite his reservations about the bill.  Maine senator encourages cooperation by Republicans and Democrats on legislation to fight inflation.  British government has confirmed a trade agreement with the Russian government.  An update on the Friendship Train.  Italy’s former king, in exile in Egypt, has died in Egypt.  The Manila typhoon is the worst in forty-two years.  Flyers hope to rescue survivors from a B29 that crashed in Alaska.  Burma is becoming independent from Britain.  The editor of the “New Republic” has resigned because of the political ambitions of Henry Wallace.

The program was transferred from an original sixteen inch Audiodisc lacquer recorded at WHBC, Akron.  I haven't found any other examples of this series, but some may be floating around out there.

My apologies for the rough sound on this disc.

 

 

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American Radio Newsreel - Pgm 8

June 15th, 2017

Now we kick off the final posts on the blog before we go on hiatus again.

Here’s our final episode of the obscure pre-War Ayers-Prescott syndicated news series, “American Radio Newsreel”.  Program 8 in the series probably dates from January or February 1940 and appears to be previously lost.

The head of the French Bureau of Information gives his opinion on the war in Europe, the Russian-German pact, and the mistakes of 1918.  A former Nazi propaganda official, Hitler’s press secretary, is interviewed about Hitler. Benny Friedman, coach at New York City College, gives tips to football hopefuls and gives his opinion on schools funding football players. Paul Robeson is interviewed about a new play about folk hero John Henry that is headed for Broadway.  The “Woman’s Page” talks with twin women about returning from a sheik’s harem in Iraq.

Our program was transferred from an original sixteen inch Ayers-Prescott shellac transcription.

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Front Page Drama - Pgm 194

June 10th, 2017

Our last post this week is another entry in the series “Front Page Drama”, syndicated by Hearst Newspapers to promote their “American Weekly” newspaper supplement and produced by Langlois & Wentworth, New York.

Program 195 in the series was originally heard January 16, 1937.  “The Field of Honor” tells the story of what happens to a young man after a father doesn’t allow him to marry the man’s daughter.

“Front Page Drama” was usually distributed with another Hearst program, “Jungle Jim”.  We’ll have the flip-side of this disc with that show next week.

Our mp3 was transferred from an original sixteen inch Victrolac transcription pressed by RCA, matrix number MS 03673.

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Canary Pet Show - Pgm 10D

June 10th, 2017

Back again on the blog this week are the charming singing birds in the “Canary Pet Show”, sponsored by Hartz Mountain pet foods.

The first song on episode 10D is “Shine On, Harvest Moon.”  The organ accompaniment is by Porter Heath and David Baum on violin.  We hear short dramatic commercials for the Hartz Mountain Balanced Diet for Birds and Doggie Yummies treats.  Your announcer is Harry Birch.

Our show was transferred from an original sixteen inch red vinyl United Broadcasting Company, Chicago, transcription.  The program appears to be previously lost.

I want to again give my deepest thanks to Jerry Heandiges and David Lennick for their gift of these previously lost discs to my collection.  I’ve been looking for original transcriptions of the “Canary Pet Show” ever since I started collecting.

Next week, we’ll hear two very special episodes of the series.  Stay tuned!

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