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KARM, Fresno home recorded War broadcasts

October 13th, 2018

A few weeks ago, I picked up a small collection of ten inch home recorded lacquers on eBay.  They contained excerpts of CBS News broadcasts dating from early 1941 about the War in Europe.

The seller, who picked them up several years ago at a local estate sale, had dozens of these discs and said he had trouble finding anyone interested in them.  (He actually threw some away and donated others to someone making an art project of some type.). There’s an archival collection of CBS News programming from this period, primarily “The World Today”, and they said they already had the material.

However, if you look at the labels of the discs, most seem to have originated with five minute news updates broadcast on CBS at 8:00 pm Eastern time and aren’t preserved in any other format.

We have no idea why a home enthusiast recorded these.  A writer for a local paper or college researcher assembling background material?  A news fan hoping to document the US entry into the War?  A Nazi spy monitoring what the networks were saying about Germany?  We have no way of knowing.

Since there are so many of the shows, and each is only a three minute excerpt, I decided not to post them individually on the blog.  Instead, click here to see a folder where you can download an mp3 of each excerpt and a couple of sample labels.

I’m hoping someone more familiar with these Wartime broadcasts can verify if they’re, indeed, the only copies left and figure out where some with voices I did recognize, might have originated.  I think at least one or two might be local broadcasts.  (All of the info available on the labels is what you see in the filenames.)

If you’re reading this post months from now, please note that the link to the shared folder may not work - it will only be available for a limited time.

When a Girl Marries - May 4, 1954

October 13th, 2018

When a Girl Marries”, a continuing drama about young married life and “dedicated to everyone who has been in love”, was a constant presence on daytime radio from 1939 to 1957, running at one time or another on all three networks.  It was created by Elaine Carrington, who was also responsible for “Pepper Young’s Family” and “Rosemary”.

The episode of May 4, 1954, numbered 742F in the series, involves some mysterious goings-on with Joan Davis’s mother.  The show was sponsored by Friskie’s dog food.  Featured in the cast is Mary Jane Higby, author of a wonderful memoir about her work in radio.  The director is Warren Somerville.  The announcer is Wendell Niles.  Despite the long run of the show, it appears that only fourteen episodes of the series are circulating and this appears to be a previously lost program in the series.

The program was transferred to digital from an original ABC radio network lacquer.

Our thanks to blog listener William Harris for the disc - check the blog next week to hear the episode on the other side of the disc.


Guest Star - Pgm 9

October 13th, 2018

“Guest Star” is, of course, the long-running United State Treasury syndicated series created to promote the sale of Savings Bonds.  If you’re collecting transcriptions, it’s probably the most commonly-found series, so I really only get the discs if they’re unusual.  And any comedy or drama presentation is unusual in this series usually devoted to musical guests.

Program 9 in the series features a fifteen minute comedy show with guests Jimmy Durante and Garry Moore that plays similarly to their popular CBS program.  Dennis Agay leading the orchestra and chorus opens the show with “California”.  The sketch in the show features Jimmy Durante and Garry Moore running a real estate business and finding themselves with a haunted house.  The announcer is Howard Petrie.

The show was transferred from an original vinyl transcription disc, matrix number ND7-MM-5428.  The date April 3, 1947 is in the matrix.


Waltz Time Pgm 69, January 26, 1945

October 13th, 2018

Waltz Time” was a popular radio program created and produced by Frank and Anne Hummert, more well known for their work in soap operas.  The series was on the air for fifteen years and presented popular light orchestral music.

Program 69 in the series as heard on Armed Forces Radio was originally broadcast on NBC on January 26, 1945.  It was sponsored by Phillips Milk of Magnesia on NBC, but the commercials are omitted here.  The first tune is “I Dream of You”, sung by Frank Munn.  The program features Frank Munn, Evelyn MacGregor, Abe Lyman and His Orchestra, and the Amsterdam Chorus.  Howard Duff is the announcer for AFRS.  This appears to be a previously lost/uncirculated episode of the series.

Our program was transferred to digital from an original vinyl Armed Forces Radio transcription disc.

My thanks to blog listener William Harris for his donation of the disc to the blog.  We’ll be hearing more episodes of “Waltz Time” in the coming weeks.


Concert Hall - Pgm 34

October 13th, 2018

With this post, we start a series of several AFRS transcriptions dating from around 1945 and some other transcriptions of primarily more obscure music programs.  They were donated to the blog by listener William Harris.  My thanks to blog listener William for sending the discs my way!

“Concert Hall” was a program of classical music created especially for Armed Forces Radio.  Using material from a variety of sources - likely different radio broadcasts - the show featured the top classical and light classical performers of the day and was hosted by Lionel Barrymore.

Program 34 in the series features pianist Jose Iturbe performing first movement of the Concerto in B-Flat Minor by Tchaikovsky.  Soprano Rose Bampton sings a song in Spanish by Padilla.  Barrymore relates a story about Iturbe recently appearing in a Hollywood film.

Our program was transferred from an original vinyl Armed Forces Radio transcription disc.


Welcome back and update on “Nightbeat”

October 13th, 2018

Well, the blog is back for a run for a run through the a few weeks.  I’ve spent some time obtaining new discs and have gotten a large donation of discs from listener William Harris in New York state, so we’re back for a new run of more obscure and esoteric old time radio programs.

I’d like to thank blog listener Don Ramlow for forwarding me an article from the February 8, 1950 issue of “Variety” that mentions the “Nighbeat” promotional 45 rpm record set I found a few years ago.  At the time, I wondered if there were other similar box sets sent out to agencies and potential advertisers.

According to the article, NBC produced 45 rpm box sets promoting the “Henry Morgan Show”, the “Mindy Carson Show”, “Dangerous Assignment” with Brian Donlevy, “Christopher London”, “Archie Andrews”, “Voices and Events” and “Trouble with the Truitts”.

“NBC and its parent RCA company are effecting a unique tie-in to window-dress network shows being peddled to agencies for potential clients.

The web is currently in the process of whipping together a flock of house-built programs and personalities in the form of 45 rpm package presentations.  Thus the small disks can be carried about at will, taken home by agency men, etc.”

Anyone else ever see one of these 45 rpm radio promotional sets?



How Not to Ship a Transcription

December 3rd, 2017

Today's sad arrival in the mail and the packaging it came in. Please shed a tear for my broken invitation to the NY World's Fair.

Believe it or not, after several years of receiving radio transcriptions and records by mail, this is only the second one I've received that was broken or damaged in transit.

If you're wanting to ship a transcription, keep in mind that many of these discs are both larger than modern vinyl records (and more suseptable to bending when placed in shipping bins) and made of composite plastics that break when they are bent.

The best way to ship a transcription is to place the disc between two or four pieces of cardboard, as this seller did, but to take the additional step of putting that "sandwich" in a larger box, surrounded by packing material.

This particular broadcast is listed at Goldin's website, but I haven't seen a transfer circulating among collectors.  Here's hoping the one listed at Goldin still exists, unbroken, and can be transferred in the future.


W2XAD and W2XAF Sign On Discs - Circa 1938

August 9th, 2017

In this post, a couple of like unique discs from an overlooked part of Old Time Radio history - international shortwave broadcasting.

These are the recordings used to sign on General Electric's shortwave broadcasting stations W2XAD and W2XAF in Schenectady, New York in the late 1930s.

The discs, single-sided, 12" and running at 78 rpm, were pressed by RCA and the typewritten labels that read "FILM W2XAD RERECORDING FOR G.E", matrix number CS 0548-1, and "FILM W2XAF RECORDING FOR G.E." matrix number CS 0549-1.

Based on the matrix numbers, Michael Biel thinks these date to about 1938.  In early 1935, the stations became known as "The Voice of Electricity" and used a recording of a crash of ten million volts of electricity as their id.  The FCC requested all shortwave broadcasters to discontinue using experimental callsigns in September 1939; W2XAD had become WGEA and W2XAF had become WGEO a few weeks before.  So, these discs may have only been used at the station for about a year.

Each single-sided disc has two bands and the sign-on recording is repeated in each.  The discs were probably used when the station was used for shortwave broadcasting so that a "live" sign on wouldn't have to be done with each transmission.  The track is repeated, I presume, in case of damage to the disc.

According to miSci, a museum devoted to GE's work in Schenectady, the company had created a device they called the "film phonograph", which recorded 90 minutes of audio on a ten minute 35mm loop, in the early 30s.  These discs may have been mastered from that format or something similar.  There's mention of "film" on the labels and, if you listen closely, you can hear "pops" where the different pieces of the sign-on announcements were apparently edited together.

I initially thought these might be related to early television, since these call letters were associated with GE's television work in the 1930s.  It's still a fascinating find - I don't know of any other sign-on discs or recordings of early US shortwave broadcasters from this period.

Wavescan published a feature on GE's shortwave efforts in 2012.  At Radio World, you can see a photo of "Big Bertha", the 100 kw transmitter GE fired up in 1939 to broadcast to South America.  One Tube Radio has links to vintage articles about GE's shortwave station in San Francisco.

These discs were obtained from an eBay seller in August 2017 in Olean, New York.  Her grandfather worked for General Electric in Schenectady.  Our mp3 transfer is direct from the discs, with both station ids - I only included one version of each since the tracks on each disc are repeated.

By the way, you can hear an aircheck of a 1946 sign-off from KGEI, General Electric's shortwave station in San Francisco, in a previous post on the blog.



Interview on Yesterday USA

June 22nd, 2017

On Wednesday evening, I was interviewd by Larry Gassman and Walden Hughes of Yesterday USA.  We had a great time talking about the old time radio hobby, collecting transcriptions and my blog.

The one-hour interview was broadcast on Yesterday USA Friday, June 23rd at 11:15 pm Eastern time.  It will be repeated ten days later, on Monday, July 3rd on the "Blue" network on the site.

If you missed it, here's an mp3 version you can hear.


Thank you and goodnight

June 15th, 2017

Well, we’ve reached the end of the shows for this run of posts in the blog.  We’re going on hiatus again as I search for new discs.

I’ll spend the next few months looking for new esoteric shows of interest to the discerning Old Time Raido Collector and start some new posts when new discs start rolling in.  It’s getting harder to find material for the blog.  I scout auctions, eBay and other sources for discs and I’m not seeing the selection of programs available when I started the posts about my collection a few years ago.  We’ll see what turns up!

Thanks so much for your support - I hope you’ve enjoyed the shows I’ve posted or at least found them useful to fill in some of the blanks in Old Time Radio history.

Until I start posting again, explore some of the older posts to hear some summer reruns!