Night Beat - February 6, 1950 (45 promo set version)

Note: The following post originally appeared on my general personal blog on December 28, 2007.  I'm posting it here to put all my OTR material in one place and to offer up a complete dub of the show.  Please note that I no longer own this 45 set, having traded it to a collector in Canada for the NBC acetate of the audition for Night Beat, previously posted here.  The MP3 attached to this post was dubbed directly from the 45 rpm set.

On a recent trip to Goodwill, I found a curious little 45 rpm record set.

After RCA developed the 45 rpm record, they promoted the format as a replacement for 78 rpm album sets and singles. In the late 40s and through the early 50s, they issued album sets in various genres and promoted RCA record changers for 45s that could be hooked up as auxiliary devices to radio sets.

At Goodwill, there were a few of these sets by artists like Wayne King and Vaughn Monroe, but one caught my eye. It was called "Night Beat" and featured an NBC record label. I've heard an old NBC radio drama series by that name, but had never seen a radio show issued on 45s like this. Curious, I picked up the set and checked it out.

The set consists of one complete episode of the show with an announcement aimed at advertisers inserted just after the opening, inviting potential sponsors to buy time on the program. So, this appears to be a promotional set put out by NBC.

record set labels record set box cover

I'm guessing that someone at NBC saw it as a chance to promote the series to advertisers in the face of competition from television. Indeed, "Night Beat" was sustained, without a sponsor, for the first few months of its run.

I posted about the set on the OTR mailing list and Michael Biel helpfully provided some additional information about the set. The label and matrix numbers are EO-CX-342 through 347 and the label runoff area includes an "I" notation near the matrix number. According to Biel, "EO" is a date code indicating 1950. The "C" indicates "Custom", pressed by RCA for a special purpose (a "K" would be used if the records were custom pressed for an outside customer). Biel estimates that the master numbers were done early in the year, perhaps mid-January to early February.

The "X" in the matrix number is a problem - usually a "W" was used in this position at the time. Biel thinks this might be a holdover from the "X" used in this position during secret development of the 45 rpm system between 1940 and 1948. The "I" indication is a code for pressings done in the Indianapolis plant.

The source of the recording sounds to my ears like a 16" transcription - halfway through the show, you can hear a side change where the audio quality changes, similar to what might be heard when going from the end of one side of a transcription to the beginning of a second side.

Despite no episode title in the program or on the label, the episode on the records appears to be "Zero", the first show of the series broadcast on February 6, 1950, according to a log of the series.

Anyone have any additional info on the set or seen others like it? Was there other material, like a press kit, also released? Was it sent to ad agencies or advertising departments at some companies?

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  • Kliph

    That is amazing - is it on blue vinyl?

    I haven’t listened to it yet - is it a half hour on one thing - or a half hour on three 45s, six sides?

    Dec 13, 2008 at 3:30 am
  • randsesotericotr

    Yes, it’s on lovely blue vinyl.

    It’s the full half-hour show that’s in circulation with a special “commercial” inserted after the opening of the program inviting advertisers to buy time on the series. The show is spread over six sides of the set - in the MP3, I transferred all six sides and joined them back together.

    So, although the episode “Zero” is already out there, this is a slightly different version since it includes the promo announcement for advertisers.

    Dec 13, 2008 at 8:43 am
  • Jim Widner

    Hey Randy, I’m curious as to why you save your mp3 files available for download at the 22,050 kHz rate instead of 44,100? I haven’t checked others, but I noticed this one is at that rate. Since you are digitizing them from original transcriptions, wouldn’t it be better to use the higher rate as they make their way into circulation. For years, I have been opposed to people putting mp3’s of otr into circulation at lower rates considering they become defacto copies in circulation.

    I appreciate your efforts and perhaps it is space costs, but it seems to me to be averse with offering something for general circulation when mp3 archival copies could (and in my opinion, should) be at an optimal rate. I have never been a believer that just because it is old time radio, we should use a lower rate. Especially, by the 1950’s the quality of the transcriptions would have had improved quality recordings. I can partly understand 1930s recordings which had mics with lower frequency response, though I still think even those should be put into circulation at the higher response rate.

    Feb 15, 2009 at 1:01 pm
  • randsesotericotr

    Jim –

    I get this question once in a while.

    Yes, I’d love to offer the full quality versions, but, when I set up the blog, I wanted to make sure that all of the shows I put up would stay there as an info resource. So I’m trying to keep them at a quality that sounds good for general listening and maintains the server space at a level that doesn’t get outrageous for me to pay for out of my own pocket. If this were a commercial site, I could probably afford to do it.

    I keep 16-bit, 44.1 kHz .wav files of every show and the OTRR group gets a copy of each one. So the high bitrate versions work their way into OTRR’s distributions at archive.org. The group (and myself) also trade with otr vendors that offer the shows in higher quality. (I don’t trade much, since I don’t collect digital files, but do work out trades for more transcriptions.)

    I did consider just posting material directly to archive.org, but, quite honestly, found the way material is organized there quite maddening - for me, it’s about more than the show, but also about the contextual material around the show, including the disc labels. There’s just not an easy way to present that info there.

    Randy

    Feb 15, 2009 at 8:03 pm
  • Thomas

    Wanna sell it? I’d be happy to pay double what you paid for it. :-)

    I should confess that the illustration on the front is by Warhol, though. A similar one he illustrated called “The Nation’s Nightmare” is on eBay right now for $1,500. The auction hasn’t ended. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that one gone go for over three grand. Yours is probably worth the same.

    You can read about your record in ANDY WARHOL The Record Covers, by Paul Maréchal.

    Nice find at Goodwill.

    Feb 9, 2011 at 11:46 pm