rand’s esoteric otr

rand’s esoteric otr header image 1

Entries Tagged as 'documentary'

The People Act - May 18, 1952

February 8th, 2019 · Comments

Here’s the last episode I have of the unusual CBS documentary series, “The People Act”.  Using then-new portable tape recording technology, the series looks at efforts for cultural understanding in small communities around the US.

Program 20 in the series, originally heard May 18, 1952, is titled “Displaced Persons Are Welcomed As New Americans”.  Robert Trout narrates as the people of Owatonna, Minnesota welcome European refugees to their local community.


The program was digitized from an original 12” microgroove lp issued by the People Act Center in State College, Pennsylvania.  It was pressed by Columbia and XTY-17203 is the matrix number.

Tags: documentary

The People Act - May 11, 1952

December 1st, 2018 · Comments

Now, a relatively obscure documentary radio show.  “The People Act”, produced by CBS and done in cooperation with the People Act Center, State College, Pennsylvania, was one of the first documentary series recorded in the field on tape.  Each episode looks at how a local community deals with a particular problem in their area.

The 19th show in the series was heard May 11, 1952.  Robert Trout narrates the story of a young farmer from India visiting Carroll County, Georgia as part of an exchange program.  It’s fascinating to hear the clash of cultures and attempts at understanding between the local residents and the visitor, especially when it comes to food.

The program was transferred from an original 12” microgroove vinyl record, matrix number XTV-17202, probably pressed by Columbia.  The disc was either used to syndicate the program to radio stations at a later date or to distribute it to educational institutions.

I have another episode from the series coming up in the blog soon.

Tags: documentary · news

Ways of Mankind - Pgm 1

August 8th, 2010 · Comments

Next up this week, the first program in a new series I'll drop in on occasion over the next few months.

"Ways of Mankind" is a previously uncirculated show among otr collectors and has an unusual history.  It was produced in 1953 by the National Association of Educational Broadcasters for two 13-episode series. It was one of the first programs produced by the NAEB with a $300,000 grant from the Ford Foundation.

The NAEB was an early attempt at a public radio network similar to today's National Public Radio.  After  "Ways of Mankind" was recorded at the CBC studios in Toronto, the shows were duplicated on reel to reel tape and sent to stations around the country, mostly non-profit broadcasters associated with colleges and universities.  (This online article looks "behind the scenes" at how the network operated.)

transcription label

Written by Walter Goldschmidt, an anthropologist at UCLA, "Ways of Mankind" was a dramatized documentary series that looked at different aspects of human cultures.  It used actors in vignettes and the style might remind you some of Norman Corwin's documentaries produced in the 30s and 40s.  The series was well received and circulated up into the early 1960s - in 1963, two episodes were released on Folkways records.  I found a blog post reproducing a 1963 article with an appreciation of "Ways of Mankind" and other NAEB series.

The entire run of the two "Ways of Mankind" series - 26 shows - was released by the NAEB on lp records for libraries sometime in the 1950s.  The NAEB dissolved in 1981 and their records at located at the University of Maryland's National Public Broadcasting Archives.  However, I'm not aware of any archival effort to preserve shows that were produced by the network.

So, premiering on the blog this week and unheard since it was originally syndicated in the 50s and 60s, we hear the first program in the series, "A Word in Your Ear", a piece that looks at the ways language reflects cultures and societies and changes over time.

The show was transferred from an original AFRTS vinyl microgroove transcription dating from around 1961.  My thanks to Michael Utz, whose assistance helped me obtain this set of discs for my collection.

I've got about a half-dozen programs in the series that I'll post in the coming months.

The NAEB would seem like an untapped area for an enterprising old time radio researcher since their syndicated series aren't well documented.  Walter Goldschmidt is still around - how about someone calling him up to see if he'd participate in an interview about his work with NAEB?

Tags: educational · documentary · Ways of Mankind

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App