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The Hour of Charm - Thesaurus Audition Program 5

September 18th, 2009

In this post and next, we step "behind the mike" for a piece of memorabilia that demonstrates how local stations could carry inexpensive, quality programming.

transcription label

You may have heard of RCA's Thesaurus discs.  First released in the 1930s and continuing well into the fifties and sixties, stations could subscribe to a music library that included songs, generic singing commercials and other material recorded especially for broadcast.  Collectors of jazz and country music have mined music library transcriptions for years for recordings by well-known artists that were never released in any other form.  Stations would use music from the discs for several purposes - theme songs or background music on local shows, filler when programs turned up short, or even to assemble a custom program of music.

In this mp3, we hear "The Hour of Charm - Audition Program #5", a fifteen minute demonstration program aimed at local potential sponsors for a program based on a Thesaurus-based music series that demonstrates how the show could be assembled from the recordings.  The demo features, as hostess, "Evelyn and Her Magic Violin" and we hear the music of Phil Spitalny's All-Girl "Hour of Charm" Orchestra.

The next post is the flip side of the disc - a set of announcements by Evelyn promoting the show.

The program was transferred from an original vinyl RCA Thesaurus transcription, matrix number E1-MM-1730.

Many thanks to listener Michael Utz for donating the disc to my collection.

update, 9/20/2009

A listener asked for some more information on the show in the comments, so here's some additional background on the disc and "The Hour of Charm".

RCA's matrix numbers at the time used a code, with the first two figures indicating the date. So, I'd make a guess that the "E1" would date this disc to 1951. There's a "Night Beat" 45 rpm promo set I posted on the blog a few months ago with the matrix code "E0" from 1950.

Dunning's "Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio" has a fascinating entry on Spitalny's All-Girl Orchestra. "The Hour of Charm" ran on CBS and NBC from 1934 to 1948. "Evelyn" later described life in the group as being in a kind of very strict sorority - Spitalny enforced a code of behavior and the girls even had to get approval to go on dates from a committee. The girls had to weigh less than 122 pounds when they auditioned and their costumes and hairstyles were very carefully planned.

But, all of the women in the group were immensely talented musicians; many had to play multiple instruments and sing - one played 24 instruments and took up tuba when Spitalny couldn't find a suitable tuba player in a nationwide search.

Evelyn must have been pretty happy in the group. Dunning notes that she married Spitalny in June 1946 and they lived together in Miami until Spitalny's death in 1970.

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