Monday, November 21, 2011

Surprised audience: D'oh! Beulah's a man!

In the episode before Beulah (Marlin Hurt) became a regular on Fibber McGee and Molly in 1944, listen to the delayed reaction to the audience as they figure out that maid/cook Beulah is played by a man!

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Random fun moment

There are so many fun moments from Vic and Sade. I thought I'd share one with you Vic and Sade haters :)

This is edited...

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Why NBC didn't compete with CBS to sign stars in '49

Consider the Jack Benny Show lasted until 1955.  Amos 'n' Andy changed formats a bit and lasted until the late 1950's.  Burns and Allen lasted until 1950.  All of these shows also went to television and so did most of the other shows and stars that went to CBS (Edgar Bergen and Harold Peary just to name two.)

By 1950, radio was all but dead anyway, as television took over the heartbeat of America anyway. 

But it's safe to say the Benny show made a lot of money during that time compared to other shows on the air and these "old people" probably did quite well for themselves at CBS.

Until JBenny moved to CBS Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show belonged to JBenny?

Re-thinking Broadway is My Beat

Back in February, I did a review of Broadway is My Beat.

This is a show I did not really like then and haven't really since I was 10 years old, when I first started listening to OTR during the 1970's revival.

Until last week, I really hadn't listened to it at all since I did the review; I figured this just "isn't the show for me."

But a funny thing happened as I started listening to it again last week.  And you know what?  I don't hate it anymore.  While it's not my favorite show, it's so different that it's hard not to enjoy it a little.

It's done so well.  The writing, while very different from anything out there, lends itself to the slightest hint of noir.  I actually feel the show would be much more enjoyable without (what I feel) are the silly, needless soliloquies but avoiding them would be like avoiding Ransom Sherman on the Fibber McGee and Molly show; it may not be the best part but it's part of the show.

The show's nowhere in my Top 50 at the moment but after almost two weeks of listening, I'm wondering why I disliked the show so much.

I'll keep you informed.

Your comments about the show are welcomed.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Surprise! Who wrote the theme to 'The Shadow?'

Here's something a lot of you will find very interesting... This from Bill Stern's Sports Newsreel, May 20, 1949:

Ida Lupino

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Digby "Digger" O'Dell (John Brown) talks about John Brown

How's this for a weird conversation?

Life of Riley's John Brown (Digby O'Dell) talks about John Brown - but no, not that John Brown! And no, not that other John Brown either!


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A look at my updated Top 20 OTR list

20  Nightbeat - A show I've been listening to since childhood; I recently uncovered 8 shows I hadn't heard before.

19  Frontier Gentleman - Always a favorite; I have been spacing these out over time and still have 11 shows to go before I am finished.   I like this show so much that I am careful to only listen about twice a month or so.

18  Damon Runyon Theatre - A show that always satisfies.   The stories are wonderful.

17  Halls of Ivy - I appreciate this show more and more as time goes on.  It's no means my favorite but there are deep meanings here.

16  New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - I happen to like both Basil Rathbone and Tom Conway and am happy to hear either play Holmes.  There isn't a bad show in either bunch.

15  Black Museum - Here's another show that I am careful how much I listen to because it's too good to lose.  I might listen bi-weekly.  Tremendous crime drama.

14  Great Gildersleeve - Not too far from finishing my second run through the show.  It never gets boring.

13  You Bet Your Life - Unless you've heard the shows, you just never know what's coming next.  Always funny, even after repeated listenings.

12  Information Please - Trivia is never boring to me.   The panel on the show is not only classy but funny.

11  Dragnet - I haven't found an episode yet that wasn't a gem.

10  Fibber McGee and Molly - I will be listening to Fibber and Molly until the day I die, I suppose.

9  Suspense - A show which keeps climbing my charts as there are very few shows in the series that I don't like.  If you haven't checked out the OTRR's recent release, you should as the shows sound FANTASTIC!   They really did a super job on them.

8  Baby Snooks - Snooks is always funny!

7  Words at War - War anthology series keeps climbing my list; this show is very unappreciated... this is one of the best series I have found.

6  I Was a Communist for the FBI - Another show that I haven't gotten all the way through yet; taking my time with it and enjoying each episode.

5  21st Precinct - This show keeps climbing my list - not only because it's good but I recently found about 50 shows I didn't have before.  Superb drama, very well acted.

4  Six Shooter - I recently finished the series and it was a joy the whole way through; looking forward to another listen through the series soon.

3  Adventures of Superman - I'll grant you, some of the story arcs are not great but there's so many to begin with that you can't go wrong.  Superman on radio isn't just for kids!

2  Gunsmoke - Still working my way through the series; haven't found a thing not to like about a matter of fact, it gets better and better.

1  Vic and Sade - I'll let my 3 blogs dedicated to this series speak for me.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The infamous Gunsmoke sex sound file

A long time ago, I told you people there was a sound file of Gunsmoke's Matt Dillon and Kitty "having sex."

Well, I finally found it. Be forewarned, it's graphic. Not really THAT graphic but graphic enough for me to warn you so you won't come complaining to me in case you are offended...


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Can OTR make you cry?

Here's part of an episode of Truth or Consequences, with Ralph Edwards as the host. It's a Christmas episode and a good majority of the show is spent on a teenaged veteran who has just returned stateside after being paralyzed from the neck down.

The clip lasts 19 minutes but if you have never heard it before, I implore you to listen to this as this is something special. It may even make you cry.


Johnny Dollar using Fort Laramie Theme

I've already shown you Yours Truly Johnny Dollar using the Six Shooter Theme song.

Here's the show using the Fort Laramie Theme. (The YTJD sequence will be followed by the Fort Laramie Theme.)


Sunday, November 6, 2011

Radio's Revenge!

The super cool folks at Radio's Revenge recorded a very nice promo piece for the OTR Buffet.  Have a listen!

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Hodge-podging about "Squad Cars" and other things

Thanks to, I have been introduced to Squad Cars, a South African series that came out in the mid-1960's.

I haven't listened to that many episodes so I'm not reviewing the show but I do want to tell you it's Dragneteque combined with that British feel (yes, I know South Africa is nowhere near the United Kingdom.)

If you like police drama on radio, this is a series I'm pretty sure you will enjoy.   The accents are not hard to understand.

Later, after I have listened to more episodes, I will try and write a review.

Meanwhile, there literally is nothing much going on that I can post.  A lot of my time is spent with my three Vic and Sade blogs (you non-Vic and Sade fans probably only know of the one but there are actually three of them now!)

This stems from the fact that I am a tremendous fan of the series and I suppose I will never understand why you people who do not listen to Vic and Sade haven't given it a better try.

I honestly am looking for things to post but I am just not finding much.

©Jimbo 2010/2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Interview with Barry about 'The Adventures of Superman'

I'm very happy to have my friend Barry join me at the OTR Buffet today to talk about one of my favorite radio series, The Adventures of Superman.

Barry runs the very interesting Mr. Blog's Tepid Ride blog, which covers all kinds of nostaligic things.  His love for comics and old-time radio, of course, lends itself to the enjoyment of the Superman radio serial.

OTR BUFFET: Tell me a little about yourself and how you got into OTR.

Barry: It’s all my parent’s fault. My Dad listened to OTR when he was young and sometimes just fooling around he’d snicker this evil kind of laugh and he’d say things like “The Shadow Knows!” Of course when I was a kid I had no idea what he was talking about but it sounded cool and it stuck with me. I had a lot of trouble falling asleep when I was young and Mom would put on the radio to bore me to sleep, usually the all-news station. This was the 1970’s and one night just flipping around the dial I found the CBS Radio Mystery Theater and I was hooked. I told Dad about this great show I found where they told stories on the radio and he told me all about the shows he grew up with. This was long before the internet and somewhere along the line I found a catalogue where I could order cassettes of old shows and that was it. I was hooked.

I remember waking up early one Saturday morning and Dad was fixing an old transistor radio in the kitchen. It was playing NPR’s Star Wars, every episode back to back. I helped him fix the radio and then I took it wherever I went the rest of the day. I didn’t want to miss a second. That showed me that radio drama was still relevant even if it wasn’t popular anymore.

I was a teacher for ten years, high school English in Brooklyn New York. One thing that was clear was that my students had no real conception of what the world was like outside of their interests. I know that describes almost everyone you know but these were kids who couldn’t imagine a world where their grandparents didn’t grow up with cell phones. I took it upon myself to work things into the curriculum that might never have been exposed to or given a second thought. If I was connecting a movie to a book and I had a choice of something modern or old and black and white, I picked the old and black and white. When we did a unit on drama or playwriting we’d not only read Lucille Fletcher’s Sorry, Wrong Number, we’d listen to Suspense’s version with Agnes Moorehead. I firmly believe that audio shows and OTR involve the mind in ways that the constant images and sounds of today do not.

OTR BUFFET: Tell me how you got into The Adventures of Superman (TAoS) radio series.

Barry: That was a straight leap from the comics. Superman has been published non-stop since 1938 and with all the movies, TV shows, cartoons, and serials I devoured it wasn’t long before my interest in OTR and my interest in Superman collided. In fact, one of my favorite comics came out in 1981, World’s Finest #271. Besides having a great George Perez cover, it claimed to present the secret origin of the Superman-Batman team. The interesting thing about that issue is that it attempts to tie in the old radio stories to the comic book canon. It even features Atom Man. I’ve still got that issue, all beat up and worn.

Probably around that time I had found some obscure college station playing OTR and one night they were going to play the first episode of The Adventures of Superman, which I never heard but I just had to listen to. The problem was my family was going out to dinner with some friends. I had this great watch that had a radio built in (hey, it was the eighties) and I spent the evening listening to the show through a pair of clunky headphones plugged into my tiny watch. I looked pretty silly, and my parents weren’t too happy with me, but I heard the show.

I guess in retrospect that was my version of Jimmy Olsen’s signal watch!

OTR BUFFET: Why are we as adults hooked on TAoS?

Barry: It is more than just nostalgia; I believe it is because the show is well-written and fun, pure and simple. I know that you can say that about shows from Jack Benny to The Great Gildersleeve to Archie Andrews, but there is a reason that the character of Superman has endured. The story of Superman is a classic American immigrant tale, and who doesn’t dream of being the hero who saves the day, gets the girl, and is humble enough to fly off before his picture can be taken?

The Adventures of Superman hits all the right notes. Nostalgia, escapism, patriotism, fantasy, and fun, and all appropriate for the whole family. The show comes from a time when Superman wasn’t afraid to stand for the American Way. In today’s comics and films Superman is sometimes a conflicted character, but the radio show’s Superman knew right from wrong and wasn’t afraid to say so. It’s a shame that so many of the episodes are lost.

OTR BUFFET: The first 2 years of Superman are much different than the remaining years. The first 2 years are dark, serious and not as jovial. Is this a good thing or a bad thing?

Barry: It is not only good, but necessary. Of course this is all in retrospect, but those adventures set up who Superman is, what he can do, and sets him in “reality.” To swipe a line from the movies, if you listen to those shows “you will believe a man can fly.” Once you believe Superman and buy into that world, you can go along with anything, including sillier and lighthearted stories. I am a big fan of that era of the show and I love the serial format the series had for most of the run.

The Adventures of Superman always had a variety of menaces, from crooked politicians to aliens. It was a great feat that the program could do a series of shows about space men, then gangsters, then Kryptonite, and then Nazi’s and still be the same show week in and week out. The early years built that believability and you bought into it and went for the ride with whatever came along into the next arc. There was never a point when you’d say “this is just silly.” You’ve already suspended your disbelief for a man from space who flies around in a cape, was a dinosaur too far-fetched?

OTR BUFFET: What's your opinion of Bud Collyer as Superman/Clark Kent?

Barry: With no disrespect to anyone else’s favorite actor, Bud Collyer was the definitive Superman. Period. In any visual medium, the joke was always why can’t Lois see that Superman is just Clark without his glasses? No matter how much Christopher Reeve slouched or looked nerdy (and I think Christopher Reeve did an amazing job in that role) you could still look at him and see Superman’s face.

The magic of radio is that you decide in your imagination what people look like. Bud Collyer did such an amazing job of not only changing the tone of his voice but his entire vocal range and intonations that you visualize Superman completely differently than you do Clark Kent. It would not have worked if they had different actors for Clark and Superman. Despite the differences, it was still recognizably the same voice and you believed that it was the same man, which of course it was, but you saw each character very differently in your mind. No other actor ever got the separation between the two as perfectly as Bud Collyer. And of course he just had that powerful, deep, heroic Superman voice.

OTR BUFFET: What's your opinion of announcer and bit part player Jackson Beck?

Barry: He is very much responsible for the show’s popularity and the fact that it endures today. Like theme songs, announcers set the tone and feel of a show. They were usually the only ones to directly talk to the listeners, during the commercials, so they had a chance to bond with the audience. Jackson Beck was just great. Not only did he have a great voice, he knew how to use it. Who doesn’t love the way he growls “The Adventures of Superman!”? While he may not have written that intro, that whole opening narration is still the way Superman is known to millions of people. And thanks to him, I want a collection of Kellogg’s Pep buttons.

OTR BUFFET: Do you like Batman and Robin in the radio series or are they "in the way?"

Barry: It was a lot of fun when Batman and Robin were on the show. Even in the comics back then it was a big deal when characters crossed over, not like it is today with huge events every other month. I can only imagine the thrill it must have been when a young boy unconscious in a rowboat turned out to be Robin. The problem was that while the writers had taken great pains to create their version of Superman over the years it seemed like they had no idea how to write Batman. They didn’t have the luxury of developing him. So while they had gone to great lengths to make Superman and Clark Kent distinct, it was never clear who did or didn’t know that Batman was Bruce Wayne. At one time Batman said that the police had his fingerprints on file. Goodbye secret identity! And of course there is the little fact that Batman wore gloves. And while Batman and Superman knew each other’s identities, and Superman knew Robin’s, it was never clear if Robin knew Superman’s.

Then there was the time Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson changed into Batman and Robin in the back of a police car while an officer in the front seat was driving them home. Some master detective! Batman and Robin didn’t fare nearly as well as Superman did in the transition to radio.

OTR BUFFET: Do you have a "favorite enemy" in the radio series?

Barry: Probably Der Teuful, the cliché mad Nazi scientist. He was a part of many of the best stories and he was the force behind Atom Man, likely the most famous Superman radio villain. Der Teuful was an over the top evil genius. He created atomic ray guns, stole Kryptonite from other villains, and planned to take over the world. He’d give Lex Luthor a run for his money. And his voice?  He just sounded evil.

Apart from Der Teuful, the show managed to make even normal gangsters or smugglers a challenge. The smugglers of Lighthouse Point or The Wolf were as much of a challenge to Superman as Atom Man in their own way.

OTR BUFFET: What are a few of your favorite story arcs in the series?

Barry: I love the early era where Superman still tried to hide his existence. He somehow managed to save Lois from fires and other assorted perils yet no one had a clue that there was a superhero around. Clark would usually make up an excuse- totally unbelievable- about how he accidentally knocked over a convenient bucket of water and put out the fire, or a passing motorist rescued Lois while she was unconscious and no one ever quite bought it.

Superman wasn’t yet as powerful as he’d later become and things he’d normally do without effort, like stopping a train, wore him out and caused him to exert himself. He was still super but not the Superman we’d come to know later.

And I have to credit the show’s writers. It is impossible to simply say that the Atom Man vs. Superman arc is my favorite without recognizing all the stories that came before and directly influenced it. You have to go back to the Black Widow arc where she was auctioning off pieces of Kryptonite and Der Teuful stole them for his plan to create an Atom Man, and then back a few more stories before that to see all the plot lines that culminated in the Atom Man arc. In how many shows, especially ones that get mislabeled as juvenile shows, can you see that level of writing?

A lot of people confuse all-ages or family friendly for juvenile or kid’s programing. Superman is not simply kid’s programming, even though some arcs were unabashedly aimed at children.

OTR BUFFET: If you could change one thing about the show, what would it be?

Barry: I would change the final years of the show. They dropped the serial format and became a standard ½ hour show. It was too formulaic. Clark would investigate a mystery, he or Lois would get into a jam, and Superman would show up and save the day. You could more or less tell when Clark would change into Superman just by looking at the clock. When the show was a serial it was less predictable. Stories went as many parts as needed, and Superman might not even appear at all in a particular episode. The ½ hour format took away some of the magic.

 OTR BUFFET: Thanks so much for your time in doing this interview!

©Jimbo 2010/2011
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