Archive for the 'AFRS' Category

Words with Music - Pgm 28

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

If you were a GI on an island in the Pacific or fighting the War in Europe in the 1940s, wouldn't it have been nice to hear a romantic voice from home?  Well, that's the idea behind the series "Words with Music", produced by the Armed Forces Radio Network.

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Program 28 features love sonnets read by Jane Wyatt, accompanied by organist Milton Charles.

Poetry reading programs were quite common in old time radio and popular on the networks in the early 30s; they continued to be heard on many local stations around the country into the 1950s.  Ernie Kovack's did his own parody of the style with his famous Percy Dovetonsils character.

Our program was transferred direct from an undated original vinyl AFRS transcription.

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Words with Music - Pgm 13

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Some time ago, I posted an episode of "Words with Music", a program of organ music with poetry read by various starlets heard on the Armed Forces Radio Service.  I found out recently that one of the blog listeners enjoys poetry shows like this, so here's another show in the series.

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Program 13 features poems of Rupert Brook read by Maureen O'Sullivan accompanied by organist Milton Charles.  The show was transferred from an original AFRS vinyl transcription and is previously uncirculated.

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VA Hospital Christmas Show 1955

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

Did you know that VA hospitals were a part of the Armed Forces Radio Service?  Those with AFRS referred to it as "The Bedpan Network" and the facilities received the full AFRS distribution of music library and radio show discs - many of the AFRS discs we have today were salvaged after being thrown away by VA hospitals.

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In this post, we have a program that was distributed just to VA hospitals for Christmas Eve, 1955.  The show features holiday greetings from  Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Dinah Shore, along with the director of the Veteran's Administration.  It's not a radio broadcast, per se, since it was probably played over a closed circuit pa system, but it's close enough to include on the blog.

The show was transferred from an original one-sided Allied Record vinyl transcription, matrix number 57533.

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GI Journal - Pgm 100

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

For those of you who may be more interested in the profane, rather than the profound, during this holiday season, I offer up one of the more unusual Armed Forces Radio Service programs I've run into.

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Program 100 in the series "GI Journal" is hosted by Herbert Marshall and includes Mel Blanc, the King Sisters and Rags Ragland.  What makes the show unusual is that it's a bit more bawdy than most - the topic of the show is burlesque.  We even get to hear the tune "Strip Tease Dancer", which was released on some "under the counter" party records at the time.  (I have a 78 version by Larry Vincent and the Pearl Trio.)

Based on logs of the series, it was probably recorded on June 22, 1945.  It was transferred from an original AFRS vinyl transcription and comes from the collection of a listener in Plano, Texas.

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At Ease - Pgm 55

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

Sometimes it's curious just to listen to something completely mundane from radio history.  In this post, a seldom heard Armed Forces Radio program of light music assembled especially for the troops, giving us a glimpse at what AFRS sounded like when the GIs weren't listening to GI Jill, "Command Performance" or Jack Benny.

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"At East" was a quarter hour of songs by the Armed Forces Radio Orchestra, likely a moniker for a studio band.  The first song on Program 55 is "The Way You Look Tonight".

The show was transferred from original War Department AFRS vinyl transcription, probably pressed by RCA, matrix number HD4-MM-7827-1.

Sorry for the skip and groove damage on this one - it was one of those "throw away" transcriptions that had been tossed around through the years.

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Command Performance - Pgm 146

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

I've got a special fondness for the Armed Forces Radio Network's variety programming they put together for the troops.  They're a little more loose and raucous than the network shows and you never know who might turn up or what they may come up with on the program.

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In this post, we hear "Command Performance", program 146.  The show is hosted by Fred Waring and the opening tune is a wonderfully goofy version of "Old Rockin' Chair" performed by Waring's orchestra and chorus.  The show includes a tour of the sounds of New York with the city's columnists including Dorothy Kilgaren.

The show was transferred from original Navy Department AFRS vinyl transcription, probably pressed by RCA.  Matrix numbers ND4-MM-9463 and ND4-MM-9464.

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Mail Call - Unknown pgm number

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

In this post, a bit of a mystery - an unnumbered and undated episode of the Armed Forces Radio series "Mail Call".

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The host of the program is Jane Nye.  The King Sisters kick off the show with "Candy".  Betty Grable, Bob Hope, Humphrey Bogart and Bing Crosby appear in a sketch that parodies "The Princess and the Pirate".  The program also includes appearances by Dick Haymes, Ken Murray, Marilyn Maxell.  It sounds like it's probably an "assembled" show, with Nye's segments recorded to introduce segments from other Armed Forces Radio programming.

The show was transferred from a unusual 14" microgroove lacquer that sounds like a dub of an original AFRS disc and appears to date from the 1960s.  Christopher McPherson donated the disc to the blog and, believe it or not, the disc came from the estate of Mae West.

Goldin lists his particular "Mail Call" episode, but I couldn't find any other references to the show.  Is the original vinyl disc still out there somewhere?

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Mail Call - Pgm 93

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

Now let's turn back the clock to World War II with another entry in the Armed Forces Radio Network variety series, "Mail Call", that brought the top stars from movies and radio to perform for the troops.

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This is a pretty amazing little half-hour program.  Program 93 features hostess Paulette Goddard introducing W.C. Fields, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd with Edgar Bergen, Virginia O'Brien, Borrah Minnevitch and the Harmonica Rascals and the King Sisters.  The announcer for the show is Don Wilson.

The program is dedicated to armed forces personnel from the State of Kentucky, so there's something of a Kentucky Derby theme going on, at least in the program's opening and first number by the orchestra, "Kentucky".  The King Sisters sing the War themed tune, "Milkman, Keep Those Bottles Quiet" and the Harmonica Rascals do a wonderful arrangement of "Brazil".  (I'm a fan of the Harmonicats, so this was a real treat.)

The highlight of the show is the sketch with W.C. Fields and Edgar Bergen.  They're in rare form, with Fields and Bergen tossing in adlibs as Fields gets lost in the script.

The show was transferred from an original AFRS vinyl transcription.  According to the log of the series at otrsite.com, it was recorded May 24, 1944.

By the way - do you recognize the theme the orchestra plays after the intro of Paulette Goddard?  It would turn up years later as a main theme used on "The Big Show".  Was this some kind of stock cue in the music score library at NBC?

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Mail Call - Pgm 58

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

I'm in a rather lighthearted mood this week, so here's some more comedy, this time with a World War II theme.

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"Mail Call" was one of the comedy-variety series produced by Armed Forces Radio and featuring some of the top talent from Hollywood and radio.  Program 58 in the series, recorded September 30, 1943 and released in November of that year, is hosted by actor Lionel Barrymore and features Harlow Wilcox with the announcing duties, taking a break from shilling Johnson's Wax on "Fibber McGee and Molly".  Skinnay Ennis and the OTC Band kick off the show with "This is the Army, Mr. Jones" and Georgia Gibbs sings "Shoo Shoo Baby".  Dennis Day offers a seldom-heard War-themed tune and then we hear  Fanny Brice and Hanley Stafford in a "Baby Snooks" sketch.

The program was transferred from an original War Department Armed Forces Radio vinyl transcription.  Apologies for the digital artifacts in the file - the click reduction had to work overtime on this very scratched disc.

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Melody Round-Up - Pgm 533

Friday, August 7th, 2009

For you Lum and Abner fans out there, here's a bit of an oddity.

"Melody Round-Up" was a fifteen minute country music series that took different forms in its run on the Armed Forces Radio Network.  Some programs in the series were reduced versions of regional country music programs or shows by personalities like Gene Autry.  Others, such as the one you're about to hear, were more like dee-jay shows.

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Program 533 in the series is hosted by Chester Lauck and Norris Goff, radio's "Lum n' Abner", spinning tunes by the Riders of the Purple Sage and reading dedications to Armed Forces personnel.  The first song on the show is "Following the Sun All Day".

This previously lost episode of the series was transferred from an original AFRS vinyl transcription.

Again, my thanks to listener Michael Utz for his donation of the disc to my collection!

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