Breakfast Club Old Time Radio

March Around the Breakfast Table, It’s Time for “The Breakfast Club”

The Breakfast Club initially aired as The Pepper Pot in the early 1930’s. The 8 a.m. National Broadcasting Company (NBC) Blue Network variety show did not have a sponsor and its ratings were less than desirable. By 1933, Don McNeill was asked to take over the floundering show. McNeill rearranged the programming, dividing it into four 15-minute segments, which he named the “four calls to breakfast.” Thus, The Breakfast Club premiered on its NBC network on June 23, 1933.

In addition to the comedy, talk and musical line-ups, the show became known for its moment of silent prayer instituted by McNeill. McNeill was a strong advocate of public prayer and his show often featured inspirational verse, in addition to the moment of prayer. Nevertheless, the fledgling show became a success and quickly picked up Swift and Company as a sponsor.

The Breakfast Club featured Captain Stubby and the Buccaneers, Annette King (future congresswoman Charlotte Thompson Reid), Fran Allison and Sam Cowling, who provided a fact or fiction segment based on his personal almanac. The program became famous for its “four calls to breakfast,” which included a march around the breakfast table every 15 minutes. A cavalcade of celebrities appeared on the show during its 35 plus years run on radio.

Airing from June 1933 to December 27, 1968, The Breakfast Club retains the record for the longest hosting emcee on radio or television. McNeill is also considered the pioneer of morning talk radio show, setting a standard for formats still used today in the talk radio industry.

During its long run, the show was broadcast from several locations. Initially, it was broadcast from the NBC Chicago studios in the Merchandise Mart; however, it also broadcast from the Morrison Hotel, Allerton Hotel and from various other locations in Chicago and around the U.S.

A televised version of the show aired briefly on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) television network during the 1951-52 season, but it could not compete against other shows in the prime-time slot. However, The Breakfast Club continued to enjoy an additional 16 years of success on radio.

Enjoy an episode of The Breakfast Club at:

4 replies on “March Around the Breakfast Table, It’s Time for “The Breakfast Club””

Fond memories. I used to really enjoy the Breakfast Club. So did other family members apparently, when I was cleaning out a great uncles house after he passed away 35 years ago, I found a Breakfast Club membership card that he had apparently sent away for. He never put his name on, so if Breakfast Club cards ever become a fad collectable, I have a mint card!

Think I’ll go march around the table, and get another cup of coffee.

My parents took my brother and me to see the show 2X in the early 50’s. My mother even got into a tongue twister contest with Mr. McNeil one time and the other time, “Gorgeous George” was sitting behind us in the audience.

Oh, we loved the Breakfast Club. I remember every morning all of us kids running around the (breakfast) table before school as fast as we could. It must have been quite a sight with the 4 or 5 of us. How much fun! And it reminds me of what a great mother we had who, looking back, I think had wanted to be a teacher or a lawyer.

Trying to find out if my late mother law, an amateur guitar player and singer was ever on Mr. McNeills show. Her name then was Rosemary Ann Radilyak and she sang, Remember Me I’m the One Who Loves You. It would/could be in the 1938 to 1945 time frame. She lived in Schererville, IN at the time with her parents. If not, could you point me a direction that I could research this further as she definitely sang this song on a Chicago Radio station in that time frame.

Thank you, Richard

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