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Southland Echoes - Pgm 49-24

May 14th, 2008 · Comments

Note: The contents of the program may be offensive to some listeners due to racial stereotyping themes.

Continuing from our previous post, here's another episode of "Southland Echoes", program 49-30, sponsored by Black Draught Laxative and Cardui.

In this episode, the Homeland Harmony Quartette sing "A Little More" and "He Keeps My Soul"; the Jones Sisters perform "Tulee Oolee Doolee" (a cute Swiss yodeling tune) and "Cactus Bill". Jam-Up and Honey do sketches about dogs and wives.

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Tags: music · comedy · Southland Echoes

Southland Echoes - Pgm 49-23

May 14th, 2008 · Comments

Note: The contents of the program may be offensive to some listeners due to racial stereotyping themes.

Here's an oddity I can't find much information on. "Southland Echoes" was a syndicated 15 minute program of music and comic routines, probably dating from the late 1940s, that was produced by the Nelson Chesman Company, Chattanooga. The show is sponsored by the Chattanooga Medicine Company and includes ads for the patent medicines Black Draught, a laxative, and Cardui, a tonic for women. Likely, it had limited distribution and is a typical example of the many regional country music shows of the period. The program features the Homeland Harmony Quartette, performing Southern Gospel songs with piano, the Jones Sisters and blackface comics Jam-Up and Honey.

I couldn't turn up any info on the Jones Sisters, but the Homeland Harmony Quartet, formed in the 1935, was a major influence on Southern Gospel with many "firsts" to their name, creating the more modern gospel quartet sound that used more complex harmonies and rhythms influenced by jazz and blues. (Read more about them here).

Honey Wilds, half of the comedy team of Jam-Up and Honey, was a major figure in the history of the Grand Old Opry, signing up as an act with the organization in 1932 and staying with them for over two decades. He was the main driver behind the highly successful touring Opry tent shows of the 1940s and was close friends with Opry figures like Hank Williams, Roy Acuff and Ernest Tubb. Wilds is mostly forgotten today, spending most of his efforts on live performances and leaving very few recordings. You can find out more about Wilds in an interesting interview with his son located here.

"Southland Echoes" appears to have been recorded at the studios of WGST in Atlanta (at least that's a handwritten notation etched into the wax on each disc). WGST had a rather odd history, operating as a commercial station and owned by Georgia Tech for much of its history, btw. The school has a brief history of the station that highlights their archival collection from WGST.

In this program in the series, the Homeland Harmony Quartette perform "Do Your Best, Then Wear a Smile" and "At Peace with Jesus Now"; the Jones Sisters sing "My Happiness" and "The Man on the Carousel". Jam-Up and Honey do a routine about a men's club and another about a job with a carnival.

Updated 5/17/08: Corrected the name of the Jones Sisters.

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Tags: music · comedy · Southland Echoes

Night Beat - May 19, 1949 - Ted Carter Murder Case - Audition No. 1

May 6th, 2008 · Comments

Here's another program that should be an upgrade in sound quality for many otr enthusiasts. It's the first audition program created for the series "Night Beat", transferred directly from an original NBC reference acetate. My apologies for the skip on side two, but I couldn't figure out a way to play through that one.

This was the first pilot for the series. Rather than Frank Lovejoy playing a character named Randy Stone, the audition features Edmond O'Brien as Hank Mitchell. Episodic logs for "Night Beat" I've seen date this audition to September 15, 1949, but the label is dated May 19, 1949. (Was it recorded in May and aired in September?) In the show, titled "The Ted Carter Murder Case", an old friend of Mitchell's who is mixed up with a gangster is killed and Mitchell, feeling responsible, goes after the killer.

Many thanks to collector and otr fan Paul in Montreal who was kind enough to trade me this rare disc for another in my own collection.

Fans of "Night Beat" that are curious about the origins of the show can also see a special 45 rpm set that NBC created for potential advertisers that contains the episode "Zero" from the series in this older post from my personal blog. The blog entry contains a sound clip of the opening of the show from the set that includes a commercial announcement, inviting advertisers to sponsor the program.

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Tags: drama · rand's favorites · Night Beat

Suspense - The Lost Special, Sept 30, 1943, AFRS Pgm 24

May 3rd, 2008 · Comments

Update, August 8, 2009: I've posted a new version of the mp3 file for this notable broadcast.  David Kiner graciously agreed to run CEDAR sound reduction software on the original .wav file of my transfer, so the original unaltered mp3 file has been retired.  In addition, a full quality version of the CEDAR restored mp3 has been made available through the Old Time Radio Researchers Group distribution of "Suspense" at archive.org.

On this blog and podcast, I've focused on presenting original transcription discs from my collection, most all of programs that are not in circulation among collectors or are very uncommon. Thanks to an estate auction on ebay, I'm pleased to offer a "world premiere" of sorts for the Web of an elusive and highly sought-after program.

Unheard publicly since September 30, 1943, we bring you Orson Welles starring in "The Lost Special" a "tale well calculated to keep you in ... Suspense!". Originally broadcast on the CBS radio network, but now lost, the version heard here was distributed by the Armed Forces Radio Service as program 24 in the "Suspense" series.

"The Lost Special" is based on a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle story and concerns a train that mysteriously disappears. The story was also used on the series "Escape" on February 12, 1949, so it may seem familiar. (You can give it a listen here.) However, in the "Suspense" version, the story is told by the main character and framed as a broadcast by a condemned man that will reveal the identity of persons responsible for certain crimes.

The opening of the show is rather odd.  It sounds like Howard Duff, who was a staff announcer at AFRS at the time and would do custom openings and closings for some shows like this.  However, Duff sounds a bit "out of it", either bored after reading so many show openings one day or thinking this was a rehearsal instead of a real "take".*

On the disc itself, someone made grease pencil marks just after the opening and just before the close of the show and there's a typewritten note glued to the original sleeve:

29'30" Programme 24 Pt. 1 & 2 SUSPENSE The Lost Special Pt. 1 Open at mark on yellow line and play to end. Pt. 2 Fade quickly at line after words "... tale of Suspense." The Lost Special by Arthur Conan Doyle starring Orson Welles

The grease pencil mark near the opening is on the music cue just after the "Suspense" announcer says "... anything, however strange, that will hold our listeners in ... Suspense!" Strange, since this cuts out the entire opening that sets up the "show within the show" format.

Orson Welles appeared in the series "Suspense" eight times between 1942 and 1944 in such classics as "The Hitchiker and "Donovan's Brain". One of Welles's performances, "The Lost Special", was thought to be one of about thirty-five "Suspense" programs missing out of over 900 broadcast during the run of the series.

Welles appeared on "Suspense" in a run of four episodes during September and October 1943. The others, including "The Most Dangerous Game", "Philomel Cottage" and "Lazarus Walks" are available for download from archive.org, which has a collection of all of Welles's other existing appearances on the show. (Included in this collection is a funny parody Welles did of "Donovan's Brain" on his program "Orson Welles Radio Almanac".)

If you're a member of the otr mailing list, you've heard about my finding "The Lost Special" in an ebay auction a few days ago. If you're wondering if I'm going to be selling the disc, I'm not. I collect for the enjoyment of the shows and discovering something new. The disc is a unique find that needs to find its way to an archives someday.

I'm offering "The Lost Special" as part of my podcast in an unrestored medium-quality MP3 that's optimized for downloading or listening on the website. I'm investigating the best way to offer it to the OTR community on a CD or high quality .WAV file and to get the sound restored with more advanced tools than I have, so stayed tuned for more info.

Hope you enjoy the show. In the mean time, if you know of some old transcriptions scurried away somewhere, send me an email. You never know what might turn up in an old stack of records!

*Entry corrected, 6 May 08 - Inserted corrected info on Howard Duff.

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Tags: drama · Suspense · AFRS · rand's favorites

Suspense - Sorry, Wrong Number, Feb 24, 1944, AFRS Pgm 41

May 3rd, 2008 · Comments

In this post, "Suspense" from February 24, 1944, broadcast on AFRS as program 41, "Sorry, Wrong Number" starring Agnes Moorehead. "Sorry" has been circulated by OTR fans for years and is one of the all-time classic episodes of the series and, indeed, of old time radio in general. This episode circulates in a CBS network version; here, you can give a listen to how the show was presented to troops overseas, including a preview of next week's show to fill out the time at the end.

This particular episode was the third performance of "Sorry" on "Suspense". Moorehead performed the story eight times during the run of the series, the first on May 25, 1943 and the last on February 14, 1960.

Some listeners really dislike "Sorry, Wrong Number", finding Agnes Moorehead's performance "shrill" and "over top" and the show unpleasant to listen to. I really think that's the beauty of the script and a facet of the character that Moorehead understands that made the show so popular that it was repeated many times over the run of the "Suspense" series - Mrs. Stevenson is utterly unlikable and the script plays with our sympathies (or animosity) towards her.

I read somewhere that Lucille Fletcher got the idea for the show after hearing an obnoxious woman in line at a store, demanding service and indignant that she was being treated improperly. Fletcher sets up the character as demanding, whiny and shrill - the type of person that would test the patience of any telephone operator and, even more, the patience of her husband.

As the program progresses and the potential murder story becomes more clear, we have either one of two reactions. We either feel more sympathy for Mrs. Stevenson, realizing the situation she is in and the frustration she feels. Or, as in my case when sometimes listening to the show, you think, "Man, I wish she was the one being killed - she's annoying!" Of course, if you feel for Mrs. Stevenson and understand her terror, the ending is frightening and disturbing. If you can't stand Mrs. Stevenson, the ending is satisfying and exhilarating.

If it hasn't been done already, someone could do a fun parody of "Sorry, Wrong Number", where the telephone operator storms in to murder her for being such a nuisance and not looking up and dialing her own damn telephone numbers.

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Tags: drama · Suspense · AFRS

The Two Daffodils - Program 3075A

May 3rd, 2008 · Comments

Another entry in our 1930-31 comedy series, "The Two Daffodils", featuring Duke Atterbury and Ken Gillum, syndicated by the Continental Broadcasting Corporation. The songs on this show include one about a hula dancer and the "Doll Dance", as well as a visit from poet Eeweyscray and Professor Ignatz and a door to door salesman routine.

I have five more programs I'll be posting in this series in the coming weeks.

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Tags: music · comedy · Two Daffodils · Continental Broadcasting Corp

The Marine Story - Program #4

May 3rd, 2008 · Comments

Another show in our series of Marine Corps adventures starring William Bendix from 1947-48.  This episode looks at Francis De Bellevue, a hero of the Battle of New Orleans.  Doesn't Bendix sound like a New Orleans native in this one?

The original disc has a warp that affects the sound for the first couple of minutes.  An Orthacoustic disc produced by NBC's Radio Recording Division and pressed by RCA, matrix HD7-MM-11941  There's a pencil notation on the label that is was played on WMIN on 2-1-48.

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Tags: drama · historical · public service · US Marines

The Marine Story - Program #3

May 3rd, 2008 · Comments

Another dramatic series designed for Marine Corps recruitment, this one produced in 1947-48, and using a different storytelling style than the earlier "Leatherneck Legends" in previous blog posts. "The Marine Story" presented stories from the Corp's history like "Leatherneck Legends" in the blog last week, but focused on individual tales of heroism and Marine know-how.  The series featured William Bendix as star.

Program #3 tells the story of Captain James Willing and how he assembled a ragtag ship and crew during the Continental era.  This is an Orthacoustic disc produced by NBC's Radio Recording Division and pressed by RCA, matrix HD7-MM-11942.  Pencil notation on the label notes it was played on WMIN on 1-25-48.

Oddly, the RadioGOLDindex lists this series with a different cast and stories, but dating to the same time period.  I'm not sure if there's some mix-up with the title of the series of if this show was done as a parallel to another with the same title.  (This one promotes the Marine Corps Reserve, so the other may have been aimed at recruiting for the Marine Corps itself.)

Apologies for the "thumps" during the first few minutes of the show - the disc is warped.

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Tags: drama · historical · public service · US Marines