Finally this week, we kick off a series of about twenty consecutive episodes of a previously uncirculated early radio series, “Louie’s Hungry Five”.
The series is a continuing comedy series, similar to “Amos n’ Andy”, about a “Little German Band”. After Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll left WGN because they wanted to syndicate “Sam and Henry” on records to stations and had such a success with their newly titled “Amos n’ Andy” series, WGN developed this program to jump on the lucrative syndication bandwagon.
After some WGN broadcasts, perhaps in 1929, the series was first distributed in 1930 and was initially pressed on the Marsh Laboratories Electra label and later on Columbia. At its peak, the show was heard on at least sixty-five stations in 17 states from coast to coast and even in Canada. Louie’s Hungry Five were making personal appearances around the Chicago area into the 1940s.
Doug Hopkinson and Ryan Ellett produced a detailed and illustrated article about the series that tells the story much better than I can. Briefly, the show looks at the misadventures of Herr Louie Hasenpfeffer (Henry “Hank” Moeller), the Weasel (Harold “Hal” J. Giles), and Emil, Yohannis and Fritz (all played by unknown actors).
The gimmick on the show, besides the funny continuing stories, were one or two numbers played by the band in each show, usually German “oompah” versions of songs by popular artists like Eddie Cantor. (I haven’t been able to identify most of the tunes - perhaps listeners here can figure out what they are.)
At its peak, the show was heard on at least sixty-five stations in 17 states from coast to coast and even in Canada.
In this first show in our collection, episode 300 broadcast Tuesday, September 29, 1931, the band is preparing to auction off their belongings to buy tickets for a trip to South America. The first song they perform is “Springtime in the Rockies”. You can see the original cue sheet used by the local announcer for the episode by downloading this jpeg. (And, while I don’t have the actual program, you can view the cue sheet for the previous episode here.)
This group of discs representing around twenty consecutive episodes turned up on eBay and appears to be a different stash of discs discovered by Hopkinson and Ellett a few years ago, even though the episode numbers overlap. All of my discs include the cue sheet for each episode.
This show was transferred from two 12” Columbia Sound-On-Disc shellac transcriptions, matrix numbers 233253 and 233254. The discs in my collection are in wonderful shape and were a pleasure to transfer.
We’ll hear what happens to the "Little German Band" next week as the story continues. I understand Michael Biel has some of the early Marsh Laboratories discs of early episodes in the series and can’t stand them - I enjoy the ones that I’ve got and think it has a certain “early radio” charm.