Friday, July 27, 2012

The Weird Circle

The Weird Circle premise is noteworthy: an anthology of classic, supernatural mystery thrillers from the pens of the world's best known and respected supernatural fiction authors. The scripts--with rare few exceptions--acquit themselves well for the genre. 

The supernatural thriller genre was highly popular throughout the mid-1930s, right on through the mid-1950s over Radio.

 The Weird Circle was an RCA-syndicated feature from RCA Recorded Program Services, the independent programming production division of RCA Victor. Its sound quality, voice talent, and production values meet traditionally high RCA standards. As a consequence of those standards, the resulting recordings have stood the test of time--a huge bonus for Golden Age Radio transcriptionists, preservationists and collectors.

 The program was reportedly recorded out of RCA's New York Studios, and almost immediately licensed to both NBC-Red/RCA [WEAF] and the Mutual Broadcasting System [WOR and W-G-N], consisting of two, 39-script seasons of 25-minute productions, for local sponsors and networks alike. As illustrated in the Provenances section, NBC [RCA] created their own set of transcription disks as well, as did the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS).

 Sponsors varied as the series was picked up throughout affiliate stations across the U.S. One incarnation of note was Ogden Fine Cut Tobacco's sponsorship of The Weird Circle, packaged as the Odgen's Playhouse. Ogden's Playhouse didn't air the run in transcription order over U.S. stations. It aired other features under the Ogden's Playhouse banner as well. In Canada however, Ogden's Playhouse aired The Weird Circle series weekly without other intervening productions. Other sponsors of note were the Farr Ice Cream Company [West Coast], 7-Up [Arizona], and Remar's Bread [West Coast].

 The Weird Circle's earliest airing appears to have been over Chicago's W-G-N, a founding Mutual Broadcasting System station, as a sustaining program for its first season (the program aired as two syndicated seasons of productions). Previous difficulty in nailing down the program's episode sequence and earliest broadcast run are probably contributing factors in the poor results of past efforts to document this otherwise highly collectable program.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dimension X

Dimension X was an NBC radio program broadcast on an unsponsored, sustaining basis from April 8, 1950 to September 29, 1951. The first 13 episodes were broadcast live, and the remainder were pre-recorded. Fred Wiehe and Edward King were the directors, and Norman Rose was heard as both announcer and narrator (his famous opening: "Adventures in time and space- told in future tense...").

 Preceded by Mutual's 2000 Plus (1950–52), Dimension X was not the first adult science fiction series on radio, but the acquisition of previously published stories immediately gave it a strong standing with the science fiction community, as did the choice of well established, respected writers in the field: Isaac Asimov, Robert Bloch, Ray Bradbury, Fredric Brown, Robert A. Heinlein, Murray Leinster, H. Beam Piper, Frank M. Robinson, Clifford D. Simak, William Tenn, Jack Vance, Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Williamson and Donald A. Wollheim. Ernest Kinoy and George Lefferts adapted most of the stories and also provided original scripts. In Science Fiction Television (2004), M. Keith Booker wrote: It was not until the 1950s that science fiction radio really hit its stride, even as science fiction was beginning to appear on television as well. Radio programs such as Mutual's 2000 Plus and NBC's Dimension X were anthology series that offered a variety of exciting tales of future technology, with a special focus on space exploration (including alien invasion), though both series also often reflected contemporary anxieties about the dangers of technology. The series opened with "The Outer Limit," an Ernest Kinoy adaptation of Graham Doar's short story from The Saturday Evening Post (December 24, 1949), about alien contact. A week later (April 15, 1950), the program presented Jack Williamson's most famous story, "With Folded Hands," first published in the July 1947 issue of Astounding Science Fiction. With a five-month hiatus from January 1951 to June 1951, the series spanned 17 months. All 50 episodes of the series survived and can be heard today. Later, NBC's X Minus One (1955–58) utilized many of the same actors and scripts.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Six Shooter

  The Six Shooter was a weekly old-time radio program in the United States. It was created by Frank Burt, who also wrote many of the episodes, and lasted only one season of 39 episodes on NBC (Sept. 20, 1953-June 24, 1954). Through March 21, 1954 it was broadcast Sundays at 8 p.m. Beginning April 1, 1954 through the final episode it was on Thursdays at 8 p.m.

James Stewart starred as Britt Ponset, a drifting cowboy in the final years of the wild west. Episodes ranged from straight western drama to whimsical comedy. A trademark of the show was Stewart's use of whispered narration during tense scenes that created a heightened sense of drama and relief when the situation was resolved. Some of the more prominent actors to perform on the program included Parley Baer, Virginia Gregg, Harry Bartell, Howard McNear, Jeanette Nolan, Dan O'Herlihy, Alan Reed, Marvin Miller and William Conrad (often credited as "Julius Krelboyne" because he was also the star of CBS' Gunsmoke at the time). Some did multiple episodes playing different characters.

Each episode opened with the announcer (Hal Gibney; John Wald in later episodes) stating: The man in the saddle is angular and long-legged. His skin is sun-dyed brown. The gun in his holster is gray steel and rainbow mother-of-pearl, its handle unmarked. People call them both "the Six Shooter". The haunting theme music was "Highland Lament" by series composer Basil Adlam. Jack Johnstone was the producer-director for NBC Radio, in association with Revue Productions.

 The final episode, "Myra Barker", provided a satisfying (if melancholy) finale to the series: Ponset falls in love with Myra, and proposes marriage. Myra, after thinking it over, appears to accept -- but then tells Britt she's heard that Sheriff Jennings of Eagle Falls has asked for his help, and Britt admits that he feels obligated to go. Myra tells Britt to go and not come back -- telling him some adventure will always call him, and he'll always go, or regret not going. Britt goes, resuming his wanderings, but not before revealing to the audience that he knows he was not needed in Eagle Falls -- and knows Myra knows that too. The moment comes across of a moment of supreme self-realization by Britt that he always will be a wanderer.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lux Radio Theater

Lux Radio Theater, a long-run classic radio anthology series, was broadcast on the NBC Blue Network (1934-35); CBS (1935-54) and NBC (1954-55). Initially, the series adapted Broadway plays during its first two seasons before it began adapting films. These hour-long radio programs were performed live before studio audiences. It became the most popular dramatic anthology series on radio, broadcast for more than 20 years and continued on television as the Lux Video Theatre through most of the 1950s.

Broadcasting from New York, the series premiered at 2:30pm, October 14, 1934, on the NBC Blue Network with a production of Seventh Heaven starring Miriam Hopkins and John Boles in a full-hour adaptation of the 1922–24 Broadway production by Austin Strong. 

Lux Radio Theater strove to feature as many of the original stars of the original stage and film productions as possible, usually paying them $5,000 an appearance. In 1936, when sponsor Lever Brothers (who made Lux soap and detergent) moved the show from New York City to Hollywood, the program began to emphasize adaptations of films rather than plays. The first Lux film adaptation was The Legionnaire and the Lady, with Marlene Dietrich and Clark Gable, based on the film Morocco. That was followed by a Lux adaptation of The Thin Man, featuring the movie's stars, Myrna Loy and William Powell. Many of leading names in stage and film appeared in the series, most in the roles they made famous on the screen.

 During its years on CBS in Hollywood, Lux Radio Theater was broadcast from the Lux Radio Playhouse located at 1615 North Vine Street in Hollywood, one block south of the intersection of Hollywood and Vine. The theater was owned by Howard Hughes in the early 1930's then later renamed the Huntington Hartford Theater when purchased in 1954 by philanthropist Huntington Hartford, the Doolittle Theater and is now the Ricardo Montalban Theater.

 The Lux Video Theatre began as a live 30-minute Monday evening CBS series October 2, 1950, switching to Thursday nights during August 1951. In September 1953, the show relocated from New York to Hollywood. In August 1954, it jumped to NBC as an hour-long show on Thursday nights, telecast until September 12, 1957.

OTR Network Library: Lux Radio Theater (276 1936-55 episodes)
Lux Radio Theater (1936-52) in The Internet Archive's Old-Time Radio Collection

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

You Are There: Philadelphia, July 4, 1776

You Are There, created by Goodman Ace for CBS Radio, it blended history with modern technology, taking an entire network newsroom on a figurative time warp each week reporting the great events of the past. Reporters included John Charles Daly, Don Hollenbeck and Richard C. Hottelet. The series was first heard on July 7, 1947 under the title CBS Is There. Its final broadcast was on March 19, 1950 under the title You Are There.

This episode is entitled, Philadelphia, July 4,1776.

More intriguing episodes of You Are There, can be found here... 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Remembering Andy Griffith

"Andy Griffith, an actor whose folksy Southern manner charmed audiences for more than 50 years on Broadway, in movies, on records and especially on television — most notably as the small-town sheriff on the long-running situation comedy that bore his name — died on Tuesday at his home on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. He was 86." —The New York Times

Though not a radio personality per se, Andy Griffith left a formidable footprint in the entertainment industry. A part of my childhood died today. Andy's home-spun, congenial way was warm and inviting and a true reflection of the quality of the man himself. He will be truly missed by many.

Below are a number of recorded audio bits of comedy monologues performed by Andy Griffith. My hope is that you find comfort and enjoyment in them, as I have.

RIP Mr. Griffith.

"What it Was, Was Football" is a monologue by comedian Andy Griffith. It was recorded in Raleigh, NC for the Colonial label in 1953. Soon, Colonial had sold nearly 50,000 copies of the record and then sold the masters to Capitol Records. Capitol released the record in the same year, which soon had sold nearly 800,000 copies and was instrumental in launching Griffith's career in television, stage, and film. The record is still one of the biggest selling comedy records of all time. On the original single, the monologue is credited to "Deacon Andy Griffith."