Musical Old Time Radio

First Commercial Broadcast “Voice of Firestone” aired on 3-22-1928

Firestone Rubber PlantToday in radio history, the first commercial broadcast The Voice of Firestone was aired. Sponsored by the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company on the NBC network. ABC aired the show on the same day and time starting 1954 after a dispute over the time slot when NBC wanted to change the time. The television and radio show were simulcast and when NBC wouldn’t back down Firestone took the show to ABC until it went off the air in 1955. Show had one of the longest runs in the history of radio being on the air for twenty-seven years.

This is one of the few remaining recordings of the musical series from 1953.

In this NBC network/NBC-TV net simulcast the program celebrating the completion of the program’s twenty-fifth year on the air. The first selection is, “Strike Up The Band” by George Gershwin. The first half hour was heard on radio and television, the second half hour was heard on television only.

19 replies on “First Commercial Broadcast “Voice of Firestone” aired on 3-22-1928”

I am 81 years old and it was with much feeling that I listened to this program in the Voice of Firestone. It seems incredible that there was a time when good music on the radio or tv was a given, not much but there was something to counter the inane trash that even then was making such inroads iinto our musical lives. Now, garbage is passed off as art, celebrity has replaced artistry and uniformity has replaced individuality.
I won’t be purchasing this material I am sorry to say but I do not have acess to the equipment neccessary and I no longer collect anything.
I appreciate, more than I can say, the chance to hear this old piece of history, even the sound system on this computer is sub par I can use my imagination to fil in any gaps and it comes out very lovely. Thank you again for this chance to remember something good from long ago.

Beginning in the late 1930s The Voice of Firestone brought the best of music into our home via small, AM radios

Beginning in the late 1930s, The Voice Of Firestone brought the best of music into our home via small, AM radios with very little audio fidelity. By the end of WW II, I had listened to many many of the weekly live radio broadcasts of VOF and The Metropolitan Opera. I never saw Robert Rounseville, Richard Crooks, Rise Stevens, Richard Tauber, Howard Barlow, Eleanor Steber, Thomas L. Thomas nor any of the many wonderful and gifted musicians. During the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s I was occupied by other educational and career pursuits. However, around the mid ’70s I began collecting “Vintage Phonograph records” (Only the 78 RPM pressings to play back on hand-crank Victrtolas.) My earlier interests in the old radio music broadcasts/artists were rekindled. Although my hearing has deteriorated, I enjoy all except the higher notes. For seventy years the theme song from VOF, “If I Could Tell You”, written by Idabelle Firestone, has been in my head. I set about searching the web for everything I could find regarding VOF and performances of that theme.

Tonight I found YOUR recording of the 25th anniversary broadcast. Such a wonderful discovery and it plays well through my audio enhanced computer. I fully agree with Richard Mullaney who wrote a note of HIS appreciation in May of last year. Thank you for bringing back those “Good old days” and sounds.

The sound of the Firestone Hour on radio is one of the abiding ones of my youth. Matron of the family, Idabelle Firestone, wrote the memorable theme song, and she deserves attention on her own as a musician. This program was the peak of the Monday evening listening experience in the pre-FM years, sharing broadcast attention with the Telephone Hour and the Railroad Hour. I write on these subjects from the past, and welcome hearing from any who wish to share their memories with me.

I to am an 81 year young VOF lover. Remember listening on my Dad’s
Atwater Kent console radio with an electromagnet speaker that weighed a ton, and my what sweet tones and lovely voices. My favorite among so many is Richard Crooks. His beautiful tenor was beyond description and I have a CD of many of his songs and arias. How does one adequately say ‘thank you’ for an experience so thrilling that stays with you for a lifetime of memories and soothes the soul? I send my love and blessings to everyone that made the Voice of Firestone a Historical reality in our civilization and lifetime, especially to our creator GOD from whom all belssings flow.

I was looking for a rendition of, “If I Could Tell You” for some time. If I recall correctly, the theme was occasionally sung by Lauritz Melchior. I was just a young boy when I first heard these programs just after WWII, and some-how the content still occasionally comes back to my mind more than 60 years later. The times were slower, and families more settled. My family would listen to these programs together, and then watch them on TV when such device came on the scene. I’m not sure exactly why the Firstone Hour made such a positive impact upon me, but I have enjoyed reliving a bit of my youth again while remembering sitting before the radio with my parents and brother. Thanks.

I was 14 just out of an orphanage in 1950, living with my grandmother, when I discovered the Voice of Firestone on TV. I fell in love with it — especially the opening and closing themes — right away. If memory serves me — and it often doesn’t — it was not heavy with opera (thank heaven) but also offered music from operettas and an occasional song from the Broadway stage.
I have a VHS that I treasure featuring Jeannette MacDonald and a clip from the ARTS Channel that features Jane Froman.
Wonderful music. I feel that MTV should stuff a little bit of this down the throats of its viewers just to show them what it was like. Maybe 30 minutes once a week. I’ll bet some of the kids will fall in love with it, especially those opening and closing numbers by Mrs. Firestone. Thanks for preserving these treasures.

In 1951 I was a 17 year old high school student working evenings full time as an announcer at NBC affiliate WISE Asheville, NC. Late afternoons as the soaps wound down, locally we became busy with some record shows, news & sports. But at 7:30 activity for me settled down and I was able to work on my school homework between station breaks as the station went into the NBC evening lineup. Monday night was my favorite. The Railroad Hour, the Telephone Hour, and my favorite of the shows…The Voice of Firestone. The evening ended with the NBC Symphony Orchestra.
Hearing announcer Hugh James’ opening and Idabelle Firestone’s “If I could tell you” theme brings back a lot of great memories. After passing through another half dozen radio and two TV stations I changed careers to an Air Force and airline pilot. But I still do air work for an non-commercial Connecticut classically formatted FM network. Sometimes I play a recording I have of “If I could tell you.” It never fails in response to bring phone calls from people who either remember it or want to know what it is.

Oh, thank you! This is something I remember listening to with my father, who also sang on the radio. He exposed me to Richard Crooks. My mother had just died, and it was only my father and me. The existence of this gives me such pleasure and peace.

Thank you again. And if these is more, please tell me where to find it.

My loving husband had the song, If I could tell you ,sung at our wedding in 1954,I was so taken by his choice, and so was the singer, that she sang at it at many more weddings. I am so happy to have found it on the internet. Thank You

My search has been for the recording of my Father’s choir, The Church of the Aunnunciation, in Minneapolis Minnesota, recorded in the early 1940’s! The program was then known as “The Firestone Hour, Church of the Air! Any assistance is greatly appreciated!
Sincerely, John L. Ostrowski

I am preparing my PhD on a musician called Agustin Borguno who played at the Firestone Hour with Howard Barlow, and I would like to obtain more information about him. Thanks for any assistance.

It may be a little late but I am the son of Agustin Borguno. I am now 90yrs old but I remember, vividly in my childhood, listening to my father work through the night in his studio. He was a wonderful father and many friends loved him. He died in Barcelona, Spain at too young of an age. I gave most of his saved material to my son and daughter.

i have listened to the Frestone Houra a number of times. I would love to be able to pick up the opening and closing songs aired each week; “If I could tell you” and “In my garden.”

Does anyone heve the Firestone Video Commercial with Sammy Davis.
I’ve been looking for it for ages.

The Firestone Hour; an emotional tour de force for me hearing those theme songs. My parents loved the show; I’m 93 years old.

I echo all of the above comments. I began listening to The Firestone Hour as a child in Miami, Florida and have the words of “If I could Tell You” resounding in my ears to this day after a long career plus a Fulbright Scholarship and singing opera, oratorio and madrigal music. I am still singing at 81 years and plan to do so until the end.

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