Obituary Old Time Radio Suspense Yours Truly Johnny Dollar

Sept 30, 2012: 50th Anniversary of the End of Old Time Radio

Fifty Years ago on this date, old time radio symbolically ended its reign as the primary source of entertainment in American homes.

On September 30, 1962 the final broadcast of Suspense and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar went over the air for the final time.  Click here to learn more about the end of the old time radio shows and listen to the final broadcasts of Suspense and Yours Truly Johnny Dollar.

Click here for a compilation of
“Final Broadcasts of Old Time Radio”

Childrens Radio Shows Let's Pretend Old Time Radio

Listen Children, “Let’s Pretend”

The history of the Let’s Pretend children’s radio show began several years prior to its premier in 1934. Let’s Pretend followed a format that was developed in 1928 for Aunt Jymmie and Her Tots in Tottyville. The radio program first aired on the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) radio network on October 27, 1928. Each week, a group of young children entered a magical kingdom, where the fairly tale kings, queens, princes and princesses lived. Additional characters, such as witches, trolls, wizards and evil stepmothers appeared as necessary, in particular stories. Aunt Jymmie and Her Tots in Tottyville ended on February 28, 1929, when it was replaced with The Children’s Club Hour.

The Children’s Club Hour, actually a weekly series of 30-minute episodes was first broadcast on March 2, 1929. Hosted by Howard Merrill, the format continued to focus on fairy tales; however, adolescents and preteens took over the roles that were previously played by the younger cast members of Aunt Jymmie and Her Tots in Tottyville. Lasting only a little over a year, The Children’s Club Hour ended with its last broadcast on Jun 22, 1929. Host, Howard Merrill went on to find success as a writer for Abbott Mysteries, Secret Missions and Sherlock Holmes, among others.

The time slot was passed on to Estelle Levy and Patricia Ryan, who with writer, Yolanda Langworthy created The Adventures of Helen and Mary. This children’s show aired June 22, 1929. In December of 1931, the program was changed once again and Levy and Ryan took on the acting roles of the newly created Land O’Make Believe, until it ended on March 17, 1934.

In 1934, CBS approached former vaudeville performer, pianist and actress, Nila Mack. After the sudden death of her husband, who was on business in California, Mack left New York to return to her childhood home in Arkansas City, Kansas to take care of her ailing mother. She became program director for the CBS Arkansas City radio station, where she was put in charge of a children’s show.

Let’s Pretend was born the same year, under the direction of Nila Mack. Each episode began with a tune or word from its sponsor, Cream of Wheat. Following the advertisement, Uncle Bill Adams would greet the audience with “Hello Pretenders.” Mack created a show that would present one complete story in an episode. She did not believe children should wait a week to hear the conclusion. Along with announcers George Bryan and Jackson Wheeler, the show employed a group of young actors to portray the storybook characters. Some of the regular child actors included Sybil Trent, Arthur Anderson, Jack Grimes, Miriam Wolfe, Gwen Davies and Michael O’Day. Arthur Anderson stayed with the show until it ended. He also wrote Let’s Pretend and the Golden Age of Radio, which was published in 2004.

During its long run, Let’s Pretend garnered two Peabody Awards, the Women’s National Radio Committee Award and five Radio Daily Awards. In 1953, Nila Mack suffered a fatal heart attack and Jean Hight took over as director.  After broadcasting for nearly 20 years, Let’s Pretend aired for the last time on October 23, 1954.

Enjoy this episode compliments of Old Time Radio:

Horror Show Inner Sanctum Mysteries Insomnia Old Time Radio

Inner Sanctum Mysteries

Himan Brown produced many different programs during the age of radio drama. One of his most successful, and best remembered, was The Inner Sanctum Mysteries. The The Inner Sanctum Mysteries took great advantage of radio’s ability to be even scarier than movies or television.

Of course it is all good fun, really little more than a Halloween prank. And that is part of the charm of the Inner Sanctum; the stories are very creepy, but there is a charm to them that can’t be denied.

Inner Sanctum

One of the somewhat whimsical features of the Inner Sanctum was the Host. In the first years of the show the host was Raymond, played by Raymond Edward Johnson. Raymond plays a sort of Crypt Keeper character. He enjoys his bad jokes and puns, even though many of them are almost bad enough to make the listener change the station. Raymond also mocks the listener, like the barker in a circus side show. This mocking is a challenge to the listener, and he has to test his bravery by sitting close by the radio for the whole program. Johnson left the program in 1945, and was replaced by Paul McGrath. McGrath dropped the “Raymond” title, but his jokes and mocking challenge remained the same.

Playing against the host was the “Tea Lady”, Mary Bennett, representing the sponsor, Lipton Tea. The Tea Lady provides sunny counterpoint to the host’s dark mocking, and actually chides him for his creepy humor and  macabre manner. She works in her pitch for tea in a subtle manner, not unlike Harlow Wilcox did for Johnson Wax on Fibber McGee and Molly, but on Inner Sanctum the sunny ads make the terror of the stories just that much scarier.

Brown took many of the elements of Inner Sanctum to his later project, CBS Radio Mystery Theater. Some of these elements included the Creaking Door which opened and closed each episode, and the host’s mocking wish for the listener to have “Pleasant… dreams, Hmmm?”

The hosts were very different, however. Instead of Raymond’s mocking challenge, host E.G. Marshall (Tammy Grimes in the was content to simply introduce the story, and return during the commercial breaks to bridge between the commercial and the story. This may be a reflection of the scope of the two shows. While Inner Sanctum was a horror show, and took great delight in that role, CBSRMT went further afield, presenting adaptations of great literary works, stories of historical figures, even comedies. There were episodes of CBSRMT where no one even died.

That would have been a great disappointment to Raymond’s ghoulish tastes.

Corwin Obituary Pearl Harbor Sept 11

Sept 11, 2001 Attacks: Tribute and Audio Excerpts

The Eleventh Anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States by the al-Qaeda Terrorist Organization is approaching. These attacks one the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington were successful in the eyes of the perpetrators; America was terrorized and shaken to her very core. However, just as the Japanese Empire found after their attack on Pearl Harbor, America responds to an attack with retribution. 

We also ask that you say at least a small prayer for the victims of the Attack; the passengers in the four hi-jacked airliners, the First Responders at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and those whom they were trying to save, and the brave Service men and women who have given so much in the ten years since the attack.

Sitting around drinking coffee was how that terrible morning started for a lot of us; two were separately on the West Coast. I remember the freeways of Los Angeles feeling deserted driving to graduate school. The other was stationed aboard a ship undergoing repairs in the Puget Sound Naval Ship Yard. He remembers the lonely feeling as every ship that could get underway did, and the only aircraft in the sky were the occasional fighters on patrol from McChord Airbase. The sailor was helping to coordinate the day’s scheduled maintenance when he got word of the first Tower being struck, and only got to sit in front of a TV about three minutes before the Tower fell.

At Old Time Radio we have a lot of fun with the dramas and comedies from the Golden Age of Radio, but we also feel that we also have a role as keepers of History. Earlier this year we put together a collection of broadcasts from WWII, and we have been struck by the similarities between the response to 9-11 and Dec 7, 1942. As amateur historians we have enjoyed listening to recordings of Operational transmissions from NASA’s Mercury Missions and the Apollo Flights. The excitement of hearing these missions, even knowing of their eventual success, is a direct contrast to the chills of listening to the first responders to the World Trade Center.

The first recording is taken from the NYFD Manhattan dispatch. The cassette recording begins at 8:46, EDT, soon after American Airlines Flight 11 impacted the North Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC1). As the tape continues we hear the Firemen bravely and professionally responding to the emergency. As further alarms are called, lists of the responding units are read, and the listener, from his perspective these years in the future, wonders which of these units are among those in which the entire company gave the ultimate sacrifice that day. There is some break down when the South Tower (WTC2) is hit by United Airlines Flight 175 at 9:03 AM. But we are still struck by the Firemen doing all they can to overcome confusion and complete their mission for the next 56 minutes.

After the South Tower collapses at 9:59 confusion and panic begin to overwhelm. We hear a “civilian” who is panicked and trapped in a firetruck and a Firefighter calling for help from the military. There is ghostly silence as the dispatcher attempts to contact “Any Unit operating in Number 2 World Trade Center.” At 10:28 we hear that the second tower collapsed, followed by reports if Firefighters in trouble, and growing frustration as the Dispatcher tries to establish communication with his people.

The Attack on the United States would not go unnoticed by our Friends, just as the Attack on Dec 7, 1941, was. Here we present the initial British Reports of both events.

Report of the Attack on Pearl Harbor:  

Report of the 9/11 Attack: 911 report

The response to both Attacks was to put the United States on an immediate War Footing. When the American Military is aroused, life isn’t very good on the opposite side. Just like 9/11, Dec 7 grabbed the attention of New York immediately, as demonstrated by this broadcast by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.

The early stages of WWII were not the best for the United States Fighting Forces, but America could not be kept down. The March of Time gave us a look at the first week of hostilities

Perhaps the best lesson from the aftermath of both Dec 7 and 9/11 is the virtue of the American Way of Life. One of the best tributes to America and her Patriots come from prolific radio producer Norman Corwin. Corwin had planned his tribute to the Bill of Rights for the evening of Dec 15, 1941, the 150th anniversary of its ratification. He initially thought that the broadcast would be canceled in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, but it was decided that America needed to hear this particular message more than ever. The broadcast featured Edward Arnold, Lionel Barrymore, Bob Burns, Walter Brennan, Walter Huston, Marjorie Main, Edward G. Robinson, Jimmy Stewart, Rudy Vallee, and Orson Welles. President Roosevelt provided closing remarks and the show was simultaneously broadcast on all four major networks.

Corwinwas called upon again as the War drew to a close. On a Note of Triumph was declared “the single greatest… radio program we ever heard” by Billboard magazine. Poet Carl Sandburg said it was “one of the all-time great American poems.

The first decade of this century is a far different world that it was in the fourth decade of the last. We had to be dragged into that world wide conflict because of our commitment to isolationism. We emerged from the War as a Leader of the World. Voice of America is one of the ways we seek to deliver the message of America to the rest of the World. This recent broadcast from VoA discusses the attacks and the decade that followed.

Thank you for taking the time to read our thoughts. We hope that you will find a moment to remember all of the victims of the September 11, 2001 Attacks, and for all of our brave men and woman who proudly wear the uniform of their country. Please enjoy the broadcasts listed above, as well as these other Patriotic Broadcasts.

Thank you for taking the time to read our thoughts. We hope that you will find a moment to remember all of the victims of the September 11, 2001 Attacks, and for all of our brave men and woman who proudly wear the uniform of their country. Please enjoy the broadcasts listed above, as well as these other Patriotic Broadcasts.

May God Bless America.

Doolittle Raid Historic Historical Speech Old Time Radio Patriotic Propaganda WWII

Return From Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo: Doolittle Fliers

The ability or Radio to capture history is a continual source of amazement. Some moments are somewhat obscure, but meaningful nonetheless.

For our consideration today we have an episode of Your AAF, Doolittle Fliers. The program was a weekly presentation of the Army, formerly titled Fighting AFF (evidently the name change came about as a reflection of the Service’s changing peacetime mission.) The Sept 6, 1945 broadcast, one of the first after VJ day, features the first interviews with the last three of the Doolittle fliers to return. The airman had only recently been released from a Japanese POW camp, and there thoughts were recorded on an Army wire recording device when they landed in Chungking. 

The Doolittle Raid on Tokyo was one of America’s earliest victories in the Pacific. The genesis of the raid took place at a White House meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Dec 21, 1941. President Roosevelt insisted that a plan be devised to bomb Japan as soon as possible in response to the Pearl Harbor attack two weeks previous. An audacious plan was devised to launch land-based Army B-25 bombers from the deck of an aircraft carrier. The fliers for the mission were selected by Lt Col Jimmy Doolittle, who would also lead the mission.

Training and preparation for the mission was conducted in great secrecy. Although relatively little damage was done on the ground in Japan, and all of the aircraft were lost (for which Doolittle expected to face a court-martial), the mission was a success. The Imperial Japanese Navy, which had been steaming with impunity in the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean, was forced to reduce its reach so that it could better protect the home islands, and Admiral Yamamoto became resolved to attack Midway Island. The Japanese defeat at Midway would be the turning point of the war.

The wire recording on the runway in Chungking breaks “radio rules” by letting the newly released POWs send personal messages to their loved ones. One of the fliers, Sgt Jake DeShazer of Madras, OR, had been sentenced to death for his participation in the raid. His sentence had been commuted by the Emperor Hirohito.

After the war DeShazer returned to Japan where he remained as a missionary for many years. While in Nagoya, the city his aircraft had bombed, he became close friends with Capt Mitsuo Fuchida, the Japanese pilot who lead the attack on Pearl Harbor. The two airmen preached together on a number of occasions.

Enjoy this rare recording from Your Fighting AAF from Sept 6, 1945: