Tuesday, May 24, 2005

CBSRMT Database

If you're a CBS Radio Mystery Theater fan you'll want to check out this great website by an dedicated OTR fan. It's a labor of love from Walter and Co. and a fantastic reference source for any fan of the series. It's just recently been unveiled so you may be able to help work any kinds that may remain. Walter assures us that similar databases are in the works for other OTR programs.


I just listened to a file titled 1945-02-25 Preshow. It's a really interesting piece, about seven minutes long, recorded before the Great Gildersleeve episode of that day went on the air. Most of it consists of Hal Peary telling a comical story to the studio audience. It's interesting how similar his regular voice and laugh are to those of the Gildersleeve character. I believe I've read that Peary didn't do much non-Gildersleeve work (I think this was due to a contractural clause at first) because his voice was so recognizable as Throckmorton. Obviously he did the Harold Peary Show (AKA Honest Harold) after leaving Gildersleeve but as far as I know that was not popular at the time nor is it especially popular with OTR fans today.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Bea Benaderet

I don't need to tell you old-time radio fans just how skilled many of the old performers were. I was reminded of this the other day while listening to episodes of Dennis Day and Great Gildersleeve in the same afternoon. I realized that Bea Benaderet happened to be in both episodes, though you'd never know it by listening to the characters she played. In the Dennis Day program Bea played the overbearing Mrs. Anderson, mother of Dennis' girlfriend Mildred. On the Gildersleeve program, however, she played the sultry Eve Goodwin, principal of the local school and sometimes-object of Gildersleeve's affection. The contrast in the roles is stark but masterful. Bea's talent ensured that both characters - primary roles in each series - would only strengthen the programs. Bea died in 1968 after succesfully moving into television.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

REPS Showcase 2005

If you live in the Pacific northwest you will not want to miss Showcase 2005, presented by Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound. Fifteen newly circulated Archie Andrews shows will be released, as well as one Aldrich Family show. This is good news even if you're not a big fan of either program. For those that can make it you'll get to see an Archie Andrews recreation featuring three of the original cast members (Hal Stone, Bob Hastings, and Rosemary Price). What a treat! This opportunity likely will never come along again. Visit the REPS site for details.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Metro to Retro

Now that the "metro-sexual" phenomenon is old news, it's time for a new fashion trend, and I think we OTR fans - and nostalgia folks in general - are just the ones to lead it. I'm calling it the "retro-sexual" look. I haven't decided exactly what the look should be, but it must include fedoras and a liberal sprinkling of the terms "dames" in one's speech. Smokers are in luck because a smoldering cigarette clenched in an iron jaw is a sure sign of a retro-sexual. Really, anything that makes a guy look more like Humphrey Bogart is a sure sign of retro-sexuality (like metro-sexual, retro-sexual is a term used primarily with males). For your own reference: Fibber McGee is not a model for retro-sexuality; Gildersleeve is (sans the laugh). Jack Benny is not a model for retro-sexuality; Gerald Mohr is (at least as long as he sounds like tough-guy Phillip Marlowe). I suppose Lamont Cranston - wealthy young man about town - might qualify as the retro-sexual ideal.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Johnny Dollar Lives?

Courtesy a sharp-eyed OTR Digester:

"From the Sunday Lubbock (Texas) Avalanche-Journal, regarding theconstruction of a $1.5 million house in a middle class neighborhood:
'Three weeks ago, the house had a flash fire that did an estimated $250,000in property and content damage. Bob Bailey, an investigator for the Lubbock Fire Marshal's Office, said twoworkers were treated for burns after some lacquer they were spraying ignited.'"

Bob Bailey, of course, played insurance investigator Johnny Dollar for a couple years. Many fans consider Bailey the definitive Johnny $. I've never been able to get into the show but I've never listened to Bailey's run. I'll have to give it a whirl.

Hope Springs Eternal

Writing for enjoyment is one thing. Writing with the hope of getting published is quite another thing; a quite monstrous thing. I've had three publishers request to see my first manuscript only to take a pass. A fourth has asked for it as well as a marketing plan. I'm still waiting for word from them. But that book's not OTR-related so I won't dwell on it. My second manuscript (actually fourth, I guess), however, is OTR-related and has piqued the interest of three presses so far. I've got several unanswered queries still out. In any case, it's a children's book about - of course - old-time radio. Would you believe that only one such book has ever been published? Though good, mine will be better.

On the one hand it's great that so little has been published on OTR for the kids' market. It means I can cover the whole gamut. For that reason, though, it's problematic. There's far too much material to cover in a single book. Jim Cox, one of my favorite OTR authors, has 2-300 pages to talk about one aspect of OTR (the Hummerts, soaps, etc). I'll have - if I'm lucky - 30-40 pages to cover the whole darn kaboodle. I'm going to have to leave out so much great stuff. I hope to include script excerpts and performer biographies (in addition to the primary text) but I'll be only able to do a fraction of those that are worthy of inclusion.

What's a writer to do? Well, assuming a press picks this book up and it sells well enough, I'll write more on the topic. I can be the Martin Grams, Jr.-Jim Cox-John Dunning-Jay Hickerson of children's OTR books. But you OTR fans will have to get out and buy copies for your kids or grandkids.

I'm getting ahead of myself. Seriousl, drop me a line if there's a program or performer that you feel must be included in such a book. Stay posted for details on this little gem of a project (but don't stay too posted; publishers work in timeframes of weeks and months, even years. I won't have any news on this tomorrow).


The International Brotherhood of Old-Time Radio Afficianados Local 129 met at my house on Saturday for a scrumptious taco dinner. After being in the hobby for nearly five years now, it was refreshing to meet other OTR fans in the flesh. They're actually normal people, too, not freaked-out creeps who live in secluded basements spending every waking hour obsessing over OTR. Of course we talked some shop but refrained from ridiculing each other's favorite shows. The women present overwhelmingly favored mystery programs which is consistent with the preferences of many female fans I've met. I wonder if it's genetic.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Kick Me

A Day in the Life of Dennis Day has been one my favorite shows for some time. I've listened to every existing episode a couple times. And I just now realized the humor in the show's title. Duh. I feel very, very small. I got Spinal Tap's classic anthem Tonight I'm Gonna Rock Ya Tonight the first time I heard it, but Dennis Day never clicked. Apparently this old hoss' brain doesn't churn like it used to.

New Female Detective

Thanks for OTR sleuth Stewart Wright for bringing to my attention to the forth-coming debut of new radio detective Hillary Caine. She'll make her debut on Imagination Theater May 29. I've mentioned this program on my old blog site but if you want contemporary radio drama, this is one of the few American-produced programs available. It's been airing for several years now.

New Suspense Ep?

Suspense fans might want to check their collection for the June 1, 1944 episode entitled "Fugue in C Minor" starring Vincent Price. A fan from Canuck-land claims that a new version has been discovered and put into circulation. Supposedly the version that has been around all these years is a rehearsal, while the new discovery is that which actuallyaired. I haven't heard either so I can't make a judgement. Usually rehearsals are fairly easy to spot because they don't have background music. Also, commercials are usually omitted. It's like the cast just stops and waits an appropirate number of beats; the audio quality doesn't change. When commercials have deliberately been cut from an episode there is usually a break in audio continuity, making the deletion apparent.

Jim Cox's New Book

Famed OTR author Jim Cox has a new book coming out in late May called Music Radio: The Great Performers and Programs of the1920s through Early 1960s. Trust me, his writing is much more captivating than the title suggests. Be warned: it's a fat 360 pages. But you can bet it'll be meticulously researched and very accurate. McFarland & Co., which has a reputation for putting out high-quality books on old-time radio, is the publisher. At $55 however, I'll have to wait for our library to get a copy. Then, in a few months I can start looking for used copies on ebay.

Moving On Up

Okay, after posting my musings on a homemade blog for the past year or so it's time to move up to the real deal. It will make feedback easier and hopefully increase views. Of course, it's not hard to improve on one to two hits a day.

I blog only about old-time radio. I don't do nostalgia in general. No comments on old movies, serials, books, pulps, toys, etc., unless I have a thought to connect it to radio. If the names Jack Benny, Gildersleeve, and Frank Lovejoy don't get your heart pounding then this won't be the place for you.

You'll find general musings on OTR, thoughts on specific episodes to which I listen, reviews of obscure shows, and breaking news from hobbyists and OTR historians. Visit http://www.geocities.com/ozradio1/MyTwoCents.html to get a feel for my groove.

Unfortunately, I'm sporadic. My wistful vistas often get interrupted by real-life. Oh well. The shows have waited sixty years for my comments; they can wait a few more weeks (or even months). Enjoy.