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Entries Tagged as 'drama'

This Is Your FBI - August 15, 1952 - syndication version

March 25th, 2017 · Comments

Here’s another in our series of a half-dozen programs in the series “This Is Your FBI”, dubbed from early 1970s syndication masters.  Normally, later syndication versions of old time radio programs wouldn’t be of much interest to collectors, but I’m posting these because of the incredible sound.  When producing the syndicated version, the producers took out the original 50s era master tapes and dubbed them to create the dubbing master heard in this post.  The commercials are omitted, but the program is otherwise as it was originally broadcast.

Our episode this week is “The Dime-A-Dance Stick-Up”, originally broadcast August 15, 1952.  The story concerns a woman, working in a dance hall, who gets mixed up with a man injured in a bank job.

I think this might be a program in the series not circulating among collectors.

Our mp3 was transferred from an original full-track quarter-inch reel to reel tape running at 15 inches per second, captured at 24 bit/96 kHz from a ten inch reel.  The programs were edited for this 1970s syndication run at Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles.

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Tags: drama · This is Your FBI

This Is Your FBI - September 28, 1951 - syndication version

February 9th, 2017 · Comments

Here’s another episode of “This Is Your FBI”, taken from a group of tape syndication masters I obtained a few months ago.  For more information on the series and this set of tapes, see my original post that started off this series of posts.

Our program this week is “The Harvest”, originally broadcast September 28, 1951 on ABC and sponsored by the Equitable Life Assurance Society.  Two drifters hold up a bank messenger and hide to among a group of migrant farm workers.  Your narrator is William Woodson and the cast features Stacy Harris, Alice Backes, Tony Barrett, Ted de Corsia, Sam Edwards, Wally Maher, Victor Rodman, and Harry Rosenthal, according to Goldin.  In this syndication version, the commercials are omitted.

Our mp3 was transferred from a 10” reel to reel tape dubbing master running at 15 inches per second.  The sound, as other shows in this group of tapes, is quite remarkable, dubbed from the original 50s tape masters of the series for this 1970s syndication run of the show.

 

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Tags: drama · This is Your FBI

This is Your FBI - August 10, 1951 - Syndication version

January 26th, 2017 · Comments

Several old time radio programs were syndicated to local stations in the 1970s as part of the “nostalgia boom” that included the revival of nightly radio drama on the “CBS Radio Mystery Theater” and a similar series on Mutual, along with commercial releases of original old time radio shows on lp records, cassettes, and even 8-tracks.

Usually, these syndication versions, with the commercials removed and other alterations, aren’t much interest to collectors, but I’m posting a half-dozen episodes of “This Is Your FBI” that I obtained a few months ago.

What sets these apart is that they’re the actual 15 inches per second master tapes used to create vinyl discs or 7 1/2 inches per second tapes for syndication to local stations - they were dubbed from the original broadcast masters and have absolutely remarkable sound.

In this post, you’ll hear “The Adopted Thief”, originally broadcast on August 10, 1951 on ABC and sponsored by the Equitable Life Assurance Society.  The commercials are omitted and generic openings and closings are heard in this version of the program.  The episode deals with a man running a scam on a woman, convincing her that he is the son she gave up for adoption many years ago. Stacy Harris played FBI agent Jim Taylor; the announcer is Larry Keating and the narrator is William Woodson.

Over 400 episodes of “This is Your FBI” were produced between 1945 and 1953; producer Jerry Devine was given cooperation for the show by J. Edgar Hoover and the dramas were based on actual case files.  Several familiar radio regulars from this period, like William Conrad, pop up in roles in various episodes.

This group of six tapes were something of a mystery when I first got them a few months ago, based just on the labeling.  After I listened to them, I figured out these were versions of the programs prepared for syndication, likely in the early 1970s.

The engineer probably made a dub of each master tape, then spliced on a generic opening and closing to each show.  Oddly, each opening and closing was done with a tape stock different from the body of the program - when I dubbed them to digital, the opening and closing segments of the tapes suffered from sticky shed, while the body of the program was just fine.

It would have been too complicated to remove the openings and closings and bake them since the segments were fairly short, so I just let it ride, carefully cleaning the tape machine after each segment.  There was also a thin paper leader spliced before and after each opening and closing, and for a commercial break in the middle of the show - of course, all these splices came loose, so I had to prep each tape by reworking the splices.

In other words, these tapes were a good reminder of why I usually don’t deal with tapes.

These syndicated versions of “This is Your FBI” were prepared at the famous Gold Star Studios in Los Angeles where some of the major rock groups of the sixties and seventies, such as the Beach Boys, recorded their hits and classic albums.

The sound is pretty amazing, far better than what a listener would have even heard on FM when the shows were originally broadcast.  For example, if you listen carefully, you can hear things like room reverberation in the studio when they set off prop guns and other loud live sound effects during the show.  At times, the use of sound effects is layered to create atmosphere, similar to “Gunsmoke” - the sound quality adds much to the enjoyment of these programs.

I haven’t found any definite information about this 70s syndicated run of the series.  I’m not sure if these were used as masters to press the show up on vinyl or for dubbing to 7 1/2 ips tape for distribution to local stations.  Has anyone run into the tapes or disc used to syndicate the show

Our program was transferred from an original full-track quarter-inch reel to reel tape running at 15 inches per second, captured at 24 bit/96 kHz from a ten inch reel.  The labels indicate the tape is a "Dubbing Master".  I believe this may be a program in the series not commonly in circulation among collectors.  I have five other episodes from this set of tapes I’ll be posting in the coming weeks.

 

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Tags: drama · This is Your FBI

War of the Worlds - An Update on the Paul Stewart lacquer set

October 27th, 2013 · Comments

Note:  The mp3 attached to this post is the same transfer I put up earlier in the summer; it is included here as a convenience.


At the end of July, I posted a lacquer 78 rpm lacquer set of the famous Mercury Theatre on the Air broadcast of "War of the Worlds" on my blog.  I transferred the discs and posted the audio file thinking it was likely a "dub" - the fact that the disc set might be an original surviving master copy was just something I just couldn't believe.

Since my original post, I've dived into researching the background on the set, surviving copies of the broadcast, and have concluded this set is, indeed, a "live" master, probably ordered up by Mercury actor and associate producer Paul Stewart.

In this post, I'll share some details on my research into the set, highlighting what we know and don't know about how the show was recorded and preserved over the years.


(more...)

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Tags: drama · updates

Resettlement Administration - Pgm 3

March 24th, 2013 · Comments

During the New Deal era, the Roosevelt administration used the new medium of radio to get the word out about new programs through syndicated shows.  Some, like programs featuring WPA musicians, was more subtle in their advertising approach.  Others were more direct in explaining New Deal programs to the public.

Resettlement Administration transcription label

Program 3 in the "Resettlement Administration" series presents a drama about the plight of tenant farmers, taking the listener through the development of tenant farming after slavery was abolished in the South after the Civil War, how tenant farmers wound up in perpetual debt and poverty, and how the Resettlement Administration could help them.

Conservatives, of course, were outraged at this type of radio "propaganda" - this is the type of program that the National Industrial Council (aka the National Association of Manufacturers) was combatting when they developed the radio serial "American Family Robinson".

What's curious about this particular show is that it features an Old Time Radio and classic Hollywood film voice you might recognize - Joseph Cotten.  The Resettlement Administration was only active in 1935-36, so the show probably from those years  and Cotten, at this point in his career, was appearing on-stage in New York with the Federal Theatre Project.  This is one of the earliest recording of Joseph Cotten on the air - the Goldin database lists a November 14, 1936 "Columbia Workshop" production of "Hamlet" with Cotten and he doesn't pop up on radio again until a September 1938 episode of CBS's "Mercury Theater".  Welles and others involved in the Federal Theatre Project, of course, picked up odd jobs on radio, most famously with Orson Welles appearing in "The Shadow" and "The March of Time".

The show was transferred from an original one-sided shellac Radio and Film Methods Corporation transcription, matrix number 288-A.  The label notes "Dyer Process Recording", "Use Filmmatic Needles" and address of company as 101 Park Avenue, New York City, CAledonia 5-7530-1.  The company probably also produced 16" transcription discs for use with filmstrips.  The show appears to be previously lost.

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Tags: drama · Depression-era · early radio

Eno Crime Clues - March 28, 1934 - Pt 1

March 24th, 2013 · Comments

Note:  This program contains racial stereotyping themes that may be offensive to some listeners.

"Eno Crime Clues" is a rare 1930s radio series heard on the NBC Blue Network from 1933 to 1936.  The program had different incarnations, heard on Columbia in the early 1930s and later on Mutual as "Crime Clues", with the series connected to detective and mystery novels put out by publishers like Doubleday.

Emo Crime Clues label

Goldin only lists eight programs existing in the Blue Network series, so this is a nice find.  What we have in this post is part 1 of the broadcast of March 28, 1934, Episode 2 of the story "The Talking Skull", a murder mystery that takes place on an island, with the detective grilling the assembled group of suspects to come to a solution to the crime.  The program is sponsored by Emo Effervescent Salts.

Each story was broadcast in two half-hour installments, so we're hearing only 15 minutes of the second half of the story.  Even without the solution to the mystery, it's a nice example of this early type of radio drama.

The show was transferred from an original one-sided Victrolac transcription pressed by RCA, matrix number 82259-1.  The advertising agency is N.W. Ayer and Son, New York.

This show appears to be previously lost.  Anyone have the other disc containing the other half of the show in their attic?

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Tags: drama · early radio

Boulevard of Make Believe - Pgm 12

July 10th, 2012 · Comments

Here's the only other episode in my collection of "Boulevard of Make Believe", a syndicated serial drama about Hollywood stars featuring Anna Q. Nelson and Viola Dana.  In program 12, Wally talks to the police about how he might be mixed up in the kidnapping of his wife.

boulevard-of-make-bel_12.jpg

The end theme plays through and we hear a male vocalist crooning the lyrics to "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" - he sounds a bit like Bing Crosby.  Anyone have an idea who it might be?  It wasn't uncommon for these early 30s syndicated shows to use cues from commercial records, so it might be from a commercially released 78.

Dave Goldin, by the way, lists program 1 in the series in his database, a show which ran in my blog a few months ago.  He conjectures that one of the performers playing a Mexican sounds like Bela Lugosi.  What do you think?

The show was digitized direct from an original shellac Radio Release Productions transcription disc, matrix number A-1055.  Radio Release Productions, you might recall, also produced the "Police Reporter" series I ran on the blog awhile back.

I wish I could run into the full run of the series, which I'm guessing was just 13 or 26 episodes - this sounds like a fun serial.

My special thanks to the Old Time Radio Researchers Group for adding this disc to my collection!

Tags: drama · soap opera · early radio

Best Plays - Pgm 6

July 10th, 2012 · Comments

For your drama fans, here's the last episode I have in my collection of "Best Plays", an hour-long anthology series of plays from the New York stage.  The other programs in the series in my collection are here and here.

best-plays_6-1.jpg

Program 6 in the series, as it was heard on the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service on June 5, 1953, is "Autumn Crocus" with Carmen Matthews and Walter Slezak; the announcer is Fred Collins.  "Autumn Crocus", according to Wikipedia, was first staged at London's Lyric Theatre in 1931 with Fay Compton and was adapted into a film in 1934.  The drama concerns a schoolteacher who goes on holiday and falls in love with the owner of the hotel where she is staying.

Carmen Matthews had a long career on stage, film and television and appeared in episodes of the "CBS Radio Mystery Theater" in the 1970s.  The show is hosted by John Chapman, drama critic for the New York Daily News.  As I mentioned in a previous post, many of the radio scripts for "Best Plays" were written by Earl Hamner, years before he found fame creating "The Waltons".

Our program was transferred to digital direct from an original vinyl AFRTS transcription set.

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Tags: drama

Five Minute Mysteries - Pgm 28

July 10th, 2012 · Comments

Well, I must have a short attention span today.  Up next on the blog, an episode of that great little syndicated dramatic filler program, "Five Minute Mysteries".

5-minute-mysteries_28.jpg

Program 28 is "The Tell Tale Knife" and concerns murder on a southern plantation.  The show was transferred from an original RCA Syndicated Program vinyl transcription, matrix number ND5-MM-3244-7.

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Tags: drama · Five Minute Mysteries

Weird Tales - Program 2, Part 2 - The Curse of Nagana

May 3rd, 2012 · Comments

In this post, a real rarity.  "Weird Tales" was a series (or perhaps a proposed series) recorded in Hollywood in 1932 and based on stories in the famous horror anthology magazine.  So far, discs from the series haven't turned up - until now.

weird-tales_nagana-p2.jpg

I obtained this disc from Jim Blackson and would like to thank him for the transfer you're listening to here - the disc is almost 17" across and just too large for my transcription player.  Jim had two of these discs, both with blank Columbia labels like this and both part 2 of "The Curse of Nagana".  However, they seem to be different takes.  He saved a copy of both so we could compare the discs.

I'd also like to send a shout-out to Stephen Haffner for help with this post.  Haffner is the proprieter of the Haffner Press, a publisher of mystery fiction that was offering a limited edition set of stories by a "Weird Tales" author - the set included, as a bonus, a reproduction of the flyer sent to radio stations promoting the series.  He was generous enough to forward a digital copy of the flyer to give some background on what you're hearing.

The series (or proposed series) was produced by Hollywood Radio Attractions, 4376 Sunset Drive, Hollywood.  In a promotional flyer for the program, they advertise three episodes that had been produced - the company was planning to record a total of 52 half-hour shows.  Similar to "The Witch's Tale", the show was created in such a way that they could be played as one half-hour program each week or split into two fifteen minute shows, completing one story each week.  So, what you're hearing is part two of "The Mystery of Nagara", which, if run on-air, could be run as a self-contained fifteen minute show, likely with an introduction and commercial by a local announcer.

This disc, along with the other take of part 2 of this episode, seem to be the only discs that survive from the series.  The other shows would have been a fascinating listen - they got some top Hollywood acting talent for the programs.  Here's a rundown of the episodes listed as being available in the flyer:

  • Program 1 - "The Living Dead", based on Kirk Mashburn's Novellete, "De Brignac's Lady" with Jason Robards, William Farnum, Viola Dana, Richard Tucker, John Ince, Wally Reid, Jr. and featuring music by the "Mata Hari Orchestra direct from Grauman's Chinese Theatre, Hollywood, California"
  • Program 2 - "The Curse of Nagana", from Hugh B. Cave's short story "The Ghoul Gallery" with Richard Carle, Johnny Harron, Florence Britton, Cyrill Delavante, John Ince, Pierre White, Lucille Amaya with music by an "Arabian Orchestra".
  • Program 3 - "The Three from the Tomb", from a novel by Edmund Hamilton with William Farnum, Bert Roach, Prisicilla Dean, Pat O'Malley, John Ince, Frank Glendon and Robert Hoover.

The actors on the shows were experienced in Hollywood films.  Jason Robards, featured on the first program, is actually Jason Robards, Sr., the father of the actor you might be more familiar with.  The elder Robards appeared in silent and sound films and television through the 1950s.  Richard Carle and the other actors featured in "Nagana" were all experienced character actors in films.

All of the shows were adapted by Oliver Drake and produced by Irving Fogel, a producer and recording executive that had a long career in Los Angeles.  Fogel, according to Christopher Sterling's "Encyclopedia of Radio", acted as a producer on some early Armed Forces Radio programming.  Drake was a writer and director in Hollywood, primarily with Westerns, from the silent era through the 1950s and worked on television shows such as "The Adventures of Superman", "Laramie" and "Lassie".

Scholars looking at the history of "Weird Tales" magazine have heard about the series for years, but no recordings of the shows themselves or much detail about the series have surfaced.  After considerable searching through Google and subscription newspaper databases, I can't any reference to the series or these particular shows actually being broadcast.  My guess is that the three shows were recorded and promoted to stations, but that it just didn't sell.

Horror was a bit of a tough genre to sell to sponsors.  At a time when sponsors were identified closely with the programs they advertised on, it would be difficult to find a local or regional advertiser that was a good fit.  Combine that with some likely belt-tightening with the Depression going full-swing and the glut of transcription programming available and it likely doomed the project.  The other programs in the series probably weren't produced and, with no or few airings of the three shows that were made, that would explain why discs from the series just haven't turned up.

Again, I would like to thank Jim Blackson and Stephen Haffner for their help with this post.

The mp3 you're hearing was transferred directly from the Columbia one-sided laminated shellac transcription, matrix number I-1511 with notations of "IA" and "HRA2".  The disc features a blank Columbia Sound-on-Disc Division label, so it is likely a test pressing.

If you have any additional info or thoughts on the "Weird Tales" series, please leave a comment or drop me a line.

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Tags: drama · early radio