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Entries Tagged as '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

Special thanks, update

August 25th, 2010 · Comments

A tip of the hat goes out to Joe this week for his generous donation to blog - hope you keep enjoying what you hear here!

School's starting up at Duke where I work, so I'm posting this weeks programs a bit early in the week as I prepare for a busy weekend.

Tags: updates

Action in the Afternoon - Secret Agent Five

August 25th, 2010 · Comments

A few years back, I read about a most unusual series and have been wanting to take a peek at it ever since.

"Action in the Afternoon" was broadcast live on CBS for about a year, from 1953 to 1954.  Originating at WCAU-TV in Philadelphia, the program was a five day a week Western, staged on an outdoor set behind the tv station.  Come rain or shine, the show was on the air.

Usually when we think about the "Golden Age" of live television, it's the big prestigious dramas, comedies and variety shows that we recall with misty-eyed fondness about the "good old days".  "Action in the Afternoon" is a wonderful reminder about how experimental - and awkward - early tv could be.

If you want to see a rare episode of the show, go to http://www.tvswestern.com/tv.cfm - scroll down on the page a bit and you should see it listed as the first program in the list.  Apologies for the annoying ad at the beginning of the video.

For something a bit more modern on that new-fangled tv set, you might check out a show on PBS called "History Detectives".  Old time radio researcher Elizabeth McCloud was featured in a recent episode, which you can watch online, with a segment on a script that someone found for the 1932 radio series "Secret Agent Five" - it's an intriguing little story about the FBI's involvement in early radio as a tool to promote its image.  The segment starts at 36:00.  You even get to see and hear played a unique Victor Home Recording from one of the shows.  You can also view a pdf of the script.

Tags: updates

Update on the missing shows

August 22nd, 2010 · Comments

Yesterday, because of the recent take-down notices handed out to archive.org by Radio Spirits, I pulled several shows from the blog.  I've put some back up since they were produced by government agencies and would appear to be beyond any rights claims.  If you're browsing the archival entries, you'll run into around 45 programs that I'm still keeping down as a preventative measure.  Note that no one has sent me a cease and desist on any programs - I'm just being careful in light of the current situation. - rand

Tags: updates

A bit of a break, but for a good cause….

July 24th, 2010 · Comments

Well, my apologies for the lack of posts last weekend.  It's been a really busy couple of weeks.

I've been spending quite some time cleaning transcriptions and transferring discs for some great shows that will be appearing on the blog over the next few months.  Most of the work has been on a set of 43 episodes of "Monticello Party Line" that ran in 1938, with only two of the shows currently circulating.  There's enough episodes so you can get an idea of what this syndicated soap opera was really like from week to week.  These came from a set of transcriptions from the same seller and I think the discs may have been scurried away for many years in some closet - there's been quite a few layers of dust to remove off these to get them playable again.

I'll probably start running "Monticello Party Line" as soon as one of our regular series - "Family Robinson" or "Grantland Rice" has run its course.  I've also done some research on this little documented series and turned up some surprising info about it.  I've also been lucky enough to pick up a couple of pieces of memorabilia to post along with the show.

Stay tuned!

Tags: updates

Update on The Police Reporter - Pgm 7

July 10th, 2010 · Comments

An intrepid blog listener did some digging and found an article about the true crime case heard a couple of weeks ago in Program 7 of the series.  It's from the Sunday, January 9, 1927 edition of Heart's American Weekly by way of the San Antonio Texas Light.


icon for podbean

Tags: updates · Police Reporter

This week’s thanks and an update

July 3rd, 2010 · Comments

A big "thank you" goes out to Scott for his donation to the blog this week.

Several discs have been rolling in to the collection recently that you'll hear in coming months.  I've got a couple of shows from a pioneering Hawaiian singer, a demo for a curious 1938 show hosted by Richard Funk (of Funk and Wagnall's fame), and some episodes of a previously lost public affairs documentary series that's a great deal of fun - "The Ways of Mankind".

Also on the way is a fairly large run (around 40 shows) of "The Monticello Party Line", syndicated in the 1930s.  There's only around six or eight shows in this series floating around right now.

Keep listening and have a great holiday weekend!

Tags: updates

The Investigator from the CBC

June 21st, 2010 · Comments

The CBC, in its podcast "Rewind", broadcast the influential May 1954 radio satire "The Investigator" back in March. The program was produced at the height of Senator McCarthy's accusations of Communists working in high levels of the United States government. After the program aired, recordings of it circulated here in the States, denounced by the right and embraced by the left. Even Ed Sullivan denounced the radio play.

You can download the mp3 podcast at this link and read about the program at its Wikipedia entry and a 2000 National Post piece about the program.

Tags: updates

Early radio shows retreived from films

June 18th, 2010 · Comments

I would be amiss if I didn't direct your attention to a fascinating article that's just appeared in the Albany "Times Union".

An archivist, working with a tinkerer, has retreived twenty hours of radio programs broadcast over WGY in the 1929 to 1931 period.  The broadcasts were recorded by an early sound-on-film process. The archives website is here, but there's no mention of the find that I can see.

update, 6.19.2010

Mike Biel posted a couple of YouTube videos to the OTRR mailing list on the device used to play the recordings. You can view them here and here. He noted that the museum is looking for funding to improve or rebuild the device since the recordings have a great deal of wow and flutter, making the musical segments very difficult to listen to.

Tags: updates

Thanks and more on Police Reporter

June 13th, 2010 · Comments

A big "thank you" goes out to some very generous folks who donated to the blog this week - Charles in the UK, Barbara, and an anonymous donor.

Hope you continue enjoying the programs!

More info keeps popping up on "The Police Reporter".  Dee from Digital Deli logged the series from the Los Angeles Times.  The show started on February 10, 1936 at 8:15 pm and ran five days a week through March 2nd - only 18 episodes.

Tags: updates · Police Reporter