rand’s esoteric otr

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Entries Tagged as 'updates'

Some changes on the blog

January 10th, 2011 · Comments

I hope everyone had a safe holiday break.  We're back with new shows for 2011.

You'll notice some changes on the blog in the next few months.  With family and work commitments, and some other projects I'm concentrating on, I'm probably going to cut down on the number of shows I post each week and the schedule may get a big irregular at times.  In some cases, rather than running a series of discs over a few weeks, I might post the series at once to archive.org and put a link here to the collection there.

I'm seeing is that there are less transcription discs out there for sale.  I'm not sure if this is one of those "lulls", or if people are selling them in other ways than ebay or similar outlets.  What I've tried to do each week is present discs in a series, with a post of a show in better sound that might be in circulation, and something that's previously uncirculated or "lost".  I'm just picking up on less network and major syndicated series that are uncirculated for the collection, so you'll start seeing some more esoteric shows pop up from local stations and some ephemera and fewer of the major drama and comedy shows from the networks.  I'm also getting a bit more picky about what I pick up for the collection, since I've got over 500 discs and I am running out of space to store them properly.

So, the otr blog isn't going away - just going through a few changes over the next few months.

Tags: updates

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

December 19th, 2010 · Comments

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.

Tags: updates · Radio Spirits removals

Thanks and an update

December 7th, 2010 · Comments

A big tip of the hat goes out to Harlan for his generous donation to the blog this week - hope you continue enjoying the shows!

You might notice that the schedule's gotten a little erratic in recent weeks.  Besides work and family, I've been working on transferring a number of discs, both for private collectors and the Old Time Radio Researchers Group.

But, my own collection isn't being neglected.  I'm getting a big group of discs containing some intriguing material from stations in Los Angeles and Ohio and some odd 30's syndication discs you might find interesting.

There'll be some curious material popping up on the blog in the new year, including a brief run from a 1930s soap that appears to be previously lost - we'll start that one up after "Monticello Party Line" finishes up in a couple of months.

Tags: updates

Special thanks!

November 19th, 2010 · Comments

A tip of the hat this week goes out to David in California and listener Terrance for their generous donations to the blog.  Many thanks!

The funds will help - I just arranged to get a group of discs of local radio shows and some obscure syndicated shows from stations in Ohio and California.  Stay tuned...

Tags: updates

Having some issues…

October 19th, 2010 · Comments

If you've visited the blog in the past few days, you might have noticed that some or all of the files aren't working.  Well, Podbean fixed that this morning, but it appears I can't upload new shows for the moment.

Some new programs as soon as things are worked out.  Please stand by....

Update - Things seemed to be fixed, but I'm having to re-post everything from last week...

Tags: updates

Copyright and sound archiving, a comment on Suspense

October 12th, 2010 · Comments

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.

Tags: updates · Radio Spirits removals · copyright and otr

Thanks and catching up …

September 28th, 2010 · Comments

A special thanks goes out this week to Melanie A. for her generous donation to the blog - hope you're enjoying the shows!

It's been a busy few weeks in my "day job" with the start of school at Duke.  I'm still running behind a bit on my old time radio work, but hope to have the blog back on schedule later this weekend.

I did find the time to transfer a new series for the blog - eighteen shows featuring Hollywood gossip from 1945, unheard since they originally aired.  We'll probably start them when one of our current series finishes up.

Tags: updates

Recent comments

September 19th, 2010 · Comments

Since the blog is, unfortunately, using an older version of WordPress, one of the sidebar widgits I don't have is something that collates recent comments.  There's been several interesting comments on older entries posted, so here's a manually assembled round up of some of them:

  • A listener from Australia points out that "The Man with the Story" is listed at the National Library of Austrailia and no where else.
  • A sharp listener noticed that two of the tracks in "Skinner's Romancers" are commercial Columbia releases featuring Benny Goodman and Tommy Dorsey, among others.
  • Some digging by another listener turned up some info on the Mutual run of "The Mad Hatterfields"'s Mutual run.
  • Mike Biel weighed in on the origins of "The Great Crepetation Contest".
  • Another listener pointed out some errors in my bio of Gracie Fields.

Tags: updates

This week’s thank you and more

September 9th, 2010 · Comments

A gracious tip of the hat goes out to Steve this week for his very generous donation to the blog - thanks!

Some new transcriptions are rolling in.  I just finished transferring episodes of an apparently lost soap opera that originated at WLW in Cincinnati, "The Mad Hatterfields" - anyone ever see anything about the program?

Stay tuned!

Tags: updates

Lum and Abner - Two previously lost shows

August 25th, 2010 · Comments

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.)

transcription label

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.

transcription label

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.

Tags: Lum and Abner · updates · Radio Spirits removals