Archive for the 'Radio Spirits removals' Category

Holiday greetings - last posts of the year, comments, copyright

Sunday, December 19th, 2010

I'm putting up the last set of posts before Christmas - a new set of shows will go up sometime around New Year's.  Thanks to everyone for your kind words of support, donations and corrections to the listings over the past year.

Some comments received in the past week are worth mentioning.  Tom identified the quartet singing the jingles in the Life of Riley tv production discs as the Sportsmen, who, of course, worked on the "Jack Benny Show".  David, in the comments for "The Eddy Duchin Show - Pgm 12", noted he couldn't find program 1 of the series that I had posted on the blog some time ago; the show wasn't tagged properly, so it should show up now if you click on the category for "Eddy Duchin" on the right of the screen.  Finally, I'll say I'm amazed that a post I put up in 2008 is still getting comments - many people seem to remember "The Great Crepitation Contest" from their childhood.

Around the web, people are still talking about the Radio Spirits takedown notices to archive.org earlier this year.  Folks are still talking about the notices on the archives.org OTR message boards and there are still several shows not part of the takedown notices that have been removed by the people who uploaded them, fearful they might be a notice.  There's also an interesting blog post I ran into recently that gives another overview of the notices and the problems with otr copyright questions.

Have a safe holiday, everyone - see you in 2011.

Copyright and sound archiving, a comment on Suspense

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

I'd like to bring your attention to some wonderful comments from blog listener James who recalls hearing "Suspense" on Armed Forces Radio and a bit about how the BBC created their own series that was similar to "Suspense".

If you haven't read it yet, I recommend checking out a recent report from the Library of Congress on how copyright and ownership issues are causing difficulties for libraries and archives in preserving audio recordings.  (Boingboing and other blogs have featured posts about the report the past few days.)  Of particular interest is the section on old time radio, where they outline issues with how original recordings are so widespread and dispersed among institutions and private collectors.  They also outline the many copyright and intellectual property issues faced by institutions and collectors when dealing with the material.

You can download the entire pdf document (1 mb) here - the old time radio section starts on page 29.  The report is free for download or $30 for a printed copy.

Lum and Abner - Two previously lost shows

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I have in my collection the following two discs, which I won't be posting on the blog.  However, I do want "Lum and Abner" fans to be aware of them.

The first disc is a special broadcast by Lum and Abner heard in 1939 for that year's Christmas Seals campaign.  In the quarter hour show, Lum decides he's going to fight tuberculosis by selling Christmas Seals and tries explaining the whole thing to Abner.  The announcer on the show is Lou Crosby.  The disc is an original Radio Recorders one-sided vinyl transcription pressed by Columbia, matrix number RR-4421.  (The back side has Columbia's standard patterned blank side from the period.)

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The other was a special ten minute show recorded by Lum and Abner to promote the March of Dimes and was released the week of January 22, 1940.  The format is similar, though this time Lum uses the Pine Ridge party line to let everyone know about the good work their dimes can do to fight polio.  Lou Crosby is the announcer again and Sybil Chisum is identified as the organist.  This disc is a maroon vinyl transcription distributed by C.P. MacGregor and pressed by Allied Recording, matrix number AM 01261-1A.  It's recorded with an Orthacoustic curve.

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Neither show is previously known or circulated to Lum and Abner collectors.  In fact, there are only two "Lum and Abner" shows surviving from 1939, a big gap in their body of work from the period.

These discs came in a big batch of circa 1939 discs from one source - the others in the group included the "Monticello Party Line" transcriptions, along with several "Front Page Story" and "Jungle Jim" discs from the period, along with some curious frequency test discs and documents.

Some were pretty scuffed and all were covered with many years of dust, so they look like that might have been stuffed in some attic or storage area all at the same time.

I had scheduled these two transcriptions to go up in my posts in December and January.  (Yes, I do work that far in advance sometimes on the blog.)  With the Radio Spirits take-down notices to archive.org, I'll just have to keep the discs and transfers in my private collection.

Click below to read why I'm deciding not to post them.

They're a good example of the murky questions surrounding rights to otr material.

In this case, the shows were syndicated by two non-profits - the National Tuberculosis Association and the March of Dimes, which still exist.  It's likely that they contracted either with Lum and Abner, their sponsor and/or the network to produce these special programs.  The charities probably would have more interest in having them circulate now as promotion of their history and work.

Since the rights holder - Chester Lauck's estate - through their exclusive agent, Radio Spirits, have issued a take-down order to archive.org claiming ownership of their entire body of radio work, there's a broad precedent for interest in the rights to anything produced by Lum and Abner on radio.

Leaning towards caution, I'm keep them off the blog.

In a practical sense, posting might only result in a cease and desist letter.  But, as a blogger of this type of material, I have an obligation to demonstrate, as a general practice, that I'm trying to play the rules and assess potential damage to the market of copyright owner's works by the shows I post just in case someone down the line decides to actually sue.  Some of the research you see here is part of my process done with the blog from the very beginning, figuring out what I do and don't place on the blog and trying to balance harm to a potential rights holder versus discussion and sharing of rare and unusual programs for the otr community.

These shows are  the type of thing that could be used as a special "extra" on a cd set of Lum and Abner shows and would be particular interest to fans.  Lum and Abner shows have circulated for years and it's rare that something new turns up.  Downloading here could potentially harm a commercial market for these particular shows or sales of a couple of sets that included them as extras.

Before the take-down notices last week, this would have been a good candidate for posting on the blog.  Lum and Abner's copyright holders did assert rights to the series through syndicating it to radio stations long after the programs were originally on the air, but their different series have been at archive.org and several other sites for many years.

With these particular programs, it does beg the question of who the real copyright owner (or owners) might be.  Is it Lum and Abner?  The Red Cross or March of Dimes?  The network?  The sponsor?  All or some of the above?  Or is the underlying intellectual material actually public domain, with the script being registered for copyright at the time and term expiring before it was renewed?

The same questions might be asked about the different sponsors and networks the guys worked for during their long career on the air.

The radio networks generally had a model of providing airtime to sponsors, so most sponsored shows were owned by the ad agency and/or sponsor that produced them, with performers providing services to the networks on a "work for hire" basis.  It wasn't until the television era that this model was upended, with networks and performers owning programs - the old model didn't make sense anymore because expensive tv shows ultimately had to have multiple sponsors to pay for them.

By sending out a non-specific take-down notice to archive.org, and not asserting rights to specific series that Lum and Abner worked on through the years, it gives the impression the rights holder would frown on posting and sharing of emphemira like this, along with series where they had clear, iron-clad and enforceable contracts with networks and sponsors.

The only way to answer our "Information Please" question to the panel and make this one available online would be to dig out the original contracts and subsequent legal documents from an archives or family collection somewhere and that could begin to straighten things out.

Or, as with many things legal, it might be even murkier than before.

If you need a Lum and Abner "fix" today, you can check out a program I posted a few months ago they produced for a governmental agency, which I think is fairly safe to post since there's a legal precedent for films and radio programs produced by the Feds to be in the realm of public domain.  (However, I've talked with someone who disagrees and thinks Command Performance and similar programs should get pulled from archive.org, so the debate continues.)

DavidinBerkley asked in a comment on one of the posts recently how this would affect what I might post in the future.  To be a good net citizen, I need to avoid posting anything that Radio Spirits or other rights holders might lay claim to or be exploiting commercially.

With Radio Spirits, that will be a bit difficult.  There's the list of known take-downs given to archive.org, but they have thousands of shows in their collections that they exploit through web streaming, cd sales, broadcasting on syndicated radio programs and Sirius-XM satellite radio.  And they license material to other commercial interests as well.

What agreements they might have, I can only conjecture, based on the programs I see them run on a regular basis in their streams or broadcasts and sell on cd.  Their licensing agreements and rights they hold they say are proprietary information - they'll respond about the status of particular programs if asked.

My posts will be more limited in the future, based on what I see them commercially exploiting at any point in time.  As a practical matter, with the range of series I post, I just can't run every single one by them.

And, with some of what I've been thinking about these "Lum and Abner" discs, how can I challenge their claim if I have to rummage in an archive to find an original contract or legal trail for a particular series?  I just don't have the resources to do so.

Charlie McCarthy - Pgm 85

Saturday, April 3rd, 2010

Note:  This program has been removed from my site, as of August 21, 2010.  Recently, Radio Spirits has issued take-down notices to archive.org and other sites concerning claims they have on particular series and shows.  These claims not only include exclusive license for particular series, but also claims on images, likenesses and recordings of particular personalities.  Since Radio Spirits doesn't publicly provide a list of shows they license or estates they represent, I'm taking preventive action and removing some programs from my site, based on forum posts and archived news articles I've seen on their claims and the estates they say they represent. - rand

I never really understood the point of a ventriloquist on the radio, especially with one like Charlie McCarthy - a little boy in a tuxedo, constantly in trouble like a little kid, but skirt-chasing like a late-teen with overactive hormones.  Creepy!

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In this post we give a spin to the broadcast of December 10, 1944 from NBC, rebroadcast as program 85 in the series on the Armed Forces Radio Service.  Charlie tries sell his pet porcupine and also answers a lonely hearts ad for Bergen.

The guest on the show is Signe Hasso.  You probably don't remember her today, but RKO signed her for a contract and promoted her as the "next Garbo".  Her career stalled a bit, but she did get some nice roles in "Heaven Can Wait" and "A Double Life".  Wikipedia notes that she won acclaim in later life for her writing and poetry, including translations of Swedish folk songs into English.

The show was transferred from an original AFRS Navy Department vinyl transcription and the date is in the disc matrix.

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

Fibber McGee and Molly - Pgm 85

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

Note:  This program has been removed from my site, as of August 21, 2010.  Recently, Radio Spirits has issued take-down notices to archive.org and other sites concerning claims they have on particular series and shows.  These claims not only include exclusive license for particular series, but also claims on images, likenesses and recordings of particular personalities.  Since Radio Spirits doesn't publicly provide a list of shows they license or estates they represent, I'm taking preventive action and removing some programs from my site, based on forum posts and archived news articles I've seen on their claims and the estates they say they represent. - rand

Do you have a problem with your temper?

Perhaps you can pick up a few tips from Fibber McGee in program 85 of the "Fibber McGee and Molly" series from the Armed Forces Radio Service, originally broadcast December 26, 1944 on NBC.

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The show features Jim and Marian Jordan, Arthur Q. Bryan, Billy Mills and His Orchestra, Harlow Wilcox, the King's Men.  Our transfer is directly from a vinyl AFRS Navy Department transcription.  The program date is from the matrix and was verified by Goldin and a log of the series of otrsite.com.

A very special thanks to listener Michael Utz for donating this disc to my collection.

Burns and Allen - Pgm 62

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

Note:  This program has been removed from my site, as of August 21, 2010.  Recently, Radio Spirits has issued take-down notices to archive.org and other sites concerning claims they have on particular series and shows.  These claims not only include exclusive license for particular series, but also claims on images, likenesses and recordings of particular personalities.  Since Radio Spirits doesn't publicly provide a list of shows they license or estates they represent, I'm taking preventive action and removing some programs from my site, based on forum posts and archived news articles I've seen on their claims and the estates they say they represent. - rand

Now, let's turn to some classic old time radio comedy with the "George Burns and Gracie Allen Show" in a program originally broadcast December 26, 1944 on CBS and distributed as program 62 in the series by the Armed Forces Radio Network.

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In this episode, Gracie's concerned because their show is moving to Mondays - the night that "high class" dramas like "Lux Radio Theater" are broadcast.  So, of course, she has to hire an acting coach for George and convince him to take up drama.  The show features Bill Goodwin, Jimmy Cash, Mel Blanc and Felix Mills and his Orchestra.  According to Goldin, this was the last show of the series with Goodwin and Cash.

The program was transferred from an original AFRS Navy Department transcription and appears to be uncommon among otr collectors.  The program date is from the transcription matrix.

A special tip of the hat to blog listener Michael Utz who donated the disc to my collection.

Bing Crosby Show - February 12, 1953

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Note:  This program has been removed from my site, as of August 21, 2010.  Recently, Radio Spirits has issued take-down notices to archive.org and other sites concerning claims they have on particular series and shows.  These claims not only include exclusive license for particular series, but also claims on images, likenesses and recordings of particular personalities.  Since Radio Spirits doesn't publicly provide a list of shows they license or estates they represent, I'm taking preventive action and removing some programs from my site, based on forum posts and archived news articles I've seen on their claims and the estates they say they represent. - rand

Before I started collecting radio transcriptions, I really wasn't that interested in Bing Crosby.  I enjoyed his early 30s recordings, especially with Paul Whiteman, but didn't pay much attention to his later work.

Now that I'm hearing what Bing could do on a weekly basis in high quality sound, I'm beginning to understand what made him such a remarkable performer and a steady presence on radio for so many years.

Take, for example, the February 12, 1953 episode of "The Bing Crosby Show", sponsored General Electric, originally broadcast on CBS.  It's a prime example of Bing's voice, smooth and cool, and his laid back style with guests sounding almost effortless and improvised.  Bing isn't so much entertaining us as he is inviting the audience in for some relaxed fun.

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In the show, it's guest Jack Benny's birthday and we finally discover Jack's real age when Bing gives him a cake in an extended comedy sketch that takes up most of the show.  Bing sings "Glow Worm", with special lyrics in praise of GE light bulbs, and Joe Venuti plays "Body and Soul" in the music segements of the program.  Ken Carpenter is our faithful announcer, giving us the pitch for GE ranges and engaging in banter with Bing about a series running in the "Saturday Evening Post" about Bing's life.

The mp3 is a direct transfer from a rather odd disc I picked up recently.  It's from a set of airchecks made of Bing's show on KCBS/KCBS-FM in San Francisco.  They bear Radio Recorders labels and there are a couple of things about them that are strange.  Two are recycled parts from NBC reference acetates that have a blank side used for the Crosby show.  They're cut with a microgroove stylus, rather than the usual 78 stylus, and have trail-off grooves at the end of each side that look like they were done by manually moving the cutting head.

Of course, Bing's show was recorded on tape at the time - at the show opening, you can hear something go badly wrong with the tape.  (I'm sure that made some network and ad agency execs and Ampex employees cringe.)

In the recording, there's also a brief incorrectly cut section of the transcription that skips over a line of Jack's dialogue at the beginning of the second side - I never could get it to track right, so I just left it in "as is".

More of this series of Bing's shows will be posted in the blog in the coming weeks.

Christmas Seals 1951 - Fibber McGee and Molly

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

Note:  This program has been removed from my site, as of August 21, 2010.  Recently, Radio Spirits has issued take-down notices to archive.org and other sites concerning claims they have on particular series and shows.  These claims not only include exclusive license for particular series, but also claims on images, likenesses and recordings of particular personalities.  Since Radio Spirits doesn't publicly provide a list of shows they license or estates they represent, I'm taking preventive action and removing some programs from my site, based on forum posts and archived news articles I've seen on their claims and the estates they say they represent. - rand

Last week, we heard the Jack Smith-Margaret Whiting Show for Christmas Seals.  Now, let's flip over the disc and pay a visit to Wistful Vista with a Christmas themed "Fibber McGee and Molly".

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In this episode, Fibber tries to get out of shoveling snow and gets a visit from Doc Gamble, the Old Timer, and a traveling salesman.  In checking a log at otrsite.com, I found an episode called "Shoveling Snow" broadcast December 26, 1950 and the program is available at archive.org.  It sounds like the same recording, skillfully edited for a 15 minute format.  And you thought they didn't have reruns in the days of live radio.

As I mentioned in the Margaret Whiting post, the "Style A" on the label indicates this is a 15 minute show; I've seen Christmas Seals programs where "Style A" was a fifteen minute show and "Style B" was a thirty minute show by the same artist.  Anyone have a "Style B" version of this show?

The program was transferred from an original vinyl transcription pressed by RCA, matrix number NE1-MM-8137.

Dennis Day Show - January 8, 1947

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2008

Note:  This program has been removed from my site, as of August 21, 2010.  Recently, Radio Spirits has issued take-down notices to archive.org and other sites concerning claims they have on particular series and shows.  These claims not only include exclusive license for particular series, but also claims on images, likenesses and recordings of particular personalities.  Since Radio Spirits doesn't publicly provide a list of shows they license or estates they represent, I'm taking preventive action and removing some programs from my site, based on forum posts and archived news articles I've seen on their claims and the estates they say they represent. - rand

The "Dennis Day Show" was broadcast in the late 1940s on NBC and sponsored by Colgate.  Day, a singer and comedian that was a regular on "The Jack Benny Show", got his own sitcom where he played a down on his luck clerk in a drugstore.  The show is sometimes referred to as "A Day in the Life of Dennis Day".

There are several episodes of this series that are lost, but I've been lucky enough to dig up one that hasn't been publicly heard since it originally aired.  In this episode, broadcast January 8, 1947 from 9:00 to 9:30 pm, the government accidentally sends Dennis a tax refund of $100,000.  Dennis sings "My Pretty Girl" and "The Anniversary Song".

There's also a very special guest cameo about half-way through the show - I won't spoil the surprise and just let you listen to find out who it is.

The program was transferred from an original NBC reference acetate numbered R-28131.