Breaking Walls

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Breaking Walls: The Podcast on the History of American Dramatic Radio.

The WallBreakers


    • Dec 3, 2021 LATEST EPISODE
    • weekdays NEW EPISODES
    • 23m AVG DURATION
    • 817 EPISODES

    Listeners of Breaking Walls that love the show mention: fred allen, otr, radio shows, love history, generation, sound effects, put together, james, well researched, podcasting, real life, interviews, inspiring, music, share, entertaining, lot, wonderful, informative, stories.



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    Latest episodes from Breaking Walls

    This Is Your FBI: The Return of St. Nick—12/24/1948

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 3, 2021 29:23

    This is Your FBI debuted over ABC in New York in April of 1945. It ran stories from official Federal case files and was sponsored by the Equitable Life Assurance Society. After it cracked radio's top-twenty-five in 1947, ABC moved the series to the west coast. Now recording from KECA in Hollywood, famed radio character actor Stacy Harris took the lead of Special Agent Jim Taylor. In December of 1948, This is Your FBI gave ABC something it lacked on any other evening: the highest rated show on the air. That month, the show's rating was 16.2, while Jimmy Durante fell to a 14.3 for NBC and Easy Aces pulled a 13.4 on CBS. On Christmas Eve 1948, This Is Your FBI broadcast an episode entitled “The Return of Saint Nick” about a pageant Santa who inexplicably runs away from his favorite holiday event. This is Your FBI proved that even G-men celebrate Christmas.

    Radio Stories From Christmas Eve 1947

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 2, 2021 28:49

    This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 98: Christmas Week 1947 with Radio's Biggest Stars ———————————— President Truman spent only two Christmas' at the White House during his tenure. The first was in 1947. It preceded the extensive renovations the Presidential Mansion would undergo during Truman's second term. On Christmas Eve, at 5PM eastern time, live from The White House, all four networks broadcast the annual Christmas Tree ceremony. President Truman and his daughter Margaret lit the main tree on the South Grounds before heading back inside to celebrate the Holiday. The President spent his Christmas Morning visiting with patients at the Naval Medical Center and the Walter Reed Hospital. The General Mills sponsored Lone Ranger from WXYZ in Detroit first began airing on January 31st, 1933. The next year it became one of the cornerstone programs which led to the formation of the Mutual Broadcasting System. The show moved to the Blue Network in 1942 and would remain on the network after it became ABC. In the fall of 1947, after 15 years in the same Monday-Wednesday-Friday time slots, The Lone Ranger nearly doubled its previous season's rating. It was the only program airing multiple times per-week to crack the season's top fifty, climbing all the way to 35th with a rating of 16.4. It would remain the number one multiple run program for the next three seasons. On Christmas Eve, 1947 at 7:30PM Eastern Time while families gathered around the table, kids everywhere snuck away to hear The Lone Ranger's broadcast of “The Mission Bells.”

    Jack Benny And Fred Allen Count Down To Christmas 1947

    Play Episode Listen Later Dec 1, 2021 26:06


    This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 98: Christmas Week 1947 with Radio's Biggest Stars ———————————— Sunday nights at 7PM was appointment radio from the mid 1930s through the end of the 1940s. Why? Because of one man: Jack Benny. It was the monumental success of Jack Benny's 1945-46 season which led to solo shows for Phil Harris, Mel Blanc, and Dennis Day. In the fall of 1947, Sunday night ratings were dominated by NBC. Their seven to nine PM programming block of Jack Benny, Harris & Faye, Fred Allen, and Bergen & McCarthy all had ratings over 20 points. Jack Benny, and his program, was the network's linchpin. Meanwhile, at 8:30PM from New York, Fred Allen signed on NBC. The comedian was enjoying the best season of his career. His Sunday night rating was 27.4, third-highest on the air.


    COMING January 2022: Breaking Walls Programming Structure Change

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2021 1:04

    There will be a programming format change coming to Breaking Walls beginning on January 1st, 2022. Going forward, I'll be releasing each episode in parts. These parts will be available on Sundays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. Once all parts of an episode are released, I'll release the full-length episode for those who want to listen to it in the traditional format. It's an easier way to break down content, to get content up onto Youtube, which requires all files uploaded to be a movie file, and to make the parts of each episode more easily digestible for you, the audience. If you want to listen to new episodes in the traditional full-length format immediately, as of January 1st, you'll be able to do so at Patreon.com/TheWallBreakers for as little as $1 per month. If you have any questions, email me: James@TheWallBreakers.com

    James Stewart On His Love of Lux Radio Theater and Westerns Like The Six Shooter

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 30, 2021 1:30


    On April 16th, 1986 Jimmy Stewart was a guest of Larry King's for a wide ranging interview about his life and career. During the course of the interview Mr. Stewart spoke about his love for radio and acting on radio.


    Have You Been Enjoying Breaking Walls? Give the Show a Rating!

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 28, 2021 0:14

    Have you been enjoying Breaking Walls? If so, give the show a quick rating on whatever platform you listen, especially iTunes.

    BW - EP122: December With The Six Shooter (1953 - 1954)

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 27, 2021 170:14


    In Breaking Walls episode 122 we spend the holidays in the old west with Jimmy Stewart, director Jack Johnstone, and The Six Shooter. —————————— Highlights: • Jack Johnstone's Early Radio Career • The State of Network Radio in December of 1953 • James Stewart on the Hollywood Star Playhouse • The Six Shooter Launches • A Pressing Engagement • The Radio Industry - More Than Kin • Britt Ponsett's Christmas Carol • Britt Ponsett Rides Off Into the Sunset • Looking Ahead of January 1954 —————————— The WallBreakers: http://thewallbreakers.com Subscribe to Breaking Walls everywhere you get your podcasts. To support the show: http://patreon.com/TheWallBreakers —————————— The reading material used in today's episode was: • On the Air - By John Dunning • Radio Rides The Range: A Reference Guide to Western Drama on the Air — by Jack French and David S. Siegel • Network Radio Ratings — By Jim Ramsburg As well as articles from • The Los Angeles Times —————————— On the interview front: • Dick Beals, Virginia Gregg, and Herb Vigran spoke to Chuck Schaden. Hear their full chats at SpeakingOfRadio.com. • Parley Baer, Harry Bartell, Sam Edwards, Jack Johnstone, Marvin Miller and Vic Perrin were with SPERDVAC. For more information, go to SPERDVAC.com. • Art Linkletter spoke with John Gassman. • Jimmy Stewart was with Larry King and Johnny Carson. —————————— Selected music featured in today's episode was: • Somewhere in My Memory and Star of Bethlehem — By John Williams • The Klezmer's Wedding — By André Moisan • Highland Lament — By The Corries • Sonata No. 1 for Violin, Opus 13: I. Molto Moderato — Played by Michael Davis —————————— A special thank you to Ted Davenport, Jerry Haendiges, and Gordon Skene. For Ted go to RadioMemories.com, for Jerry, visit OTRSite.com, and for Gordon, please go to PastDaily.com. —————————— Thank you to: Tony Adams Steven Allmon Orson Orsen Chandler Phil Erickson Briana Isaac Thomas M. Joyce Ryan Kramer Gary Mollica Barry Nadler Christian Neuhaus Aimee Pavy Chris Pilkington —————————— WallBreakers Links: Patreon - patreon.com/thewallbreakers Social Media - @TheWallBreakers


    Duffy's Tavern: French Singer Jean Sablon Guest Stars—12/03/1947

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 26, 2021 30:27

    On Wednesday, December 3rd, 1947, Jean Sablon guest-starred on Duffy's Tavern. The hilarious episode features Eddie Green and stars Ed Gardner.

    Dennis Day On His First TV Experience—Jack Benny Transitioning to TV

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 24, 2021 1:49


    On Easter Sunday in 1982, Dennis Day was a guest of John Dunning's radio show for 71KNUS in Denver. The two spoke about Day's life and career, which naturally led to his association with Jack Benny. In this clip, Dennis Day talks about his first experience performing for TV in late 1946 and Benny's transition from radio to the small screen.


    A CBC Discussion on The New Look In Fashion—Winter 1947-48

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 22, 2021 3:12

    On October 12th, 1947 from Montreal over Canada's CBC airwaves, famed British fashion designer Sir Edwin Hardy Amies, KCVO spoke with Ms. Rita Greer about that winter's changes to that season's ready-made women's styles.

    Thanksgiving 1947 With George Washington And Van Heflin

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 21, 2021 23:29


    This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 97: Thanksgiving 1947—The Most Popular Season in Radio History ___________ At 10PM eastern time on Thanksgiving Day 1947, as families put their young children to bed, ABC broadcast Mr. President from its Los Angeles KECA affiliate, starring Edward Arnold and Betty Lou Gerson. Mr. President first signed on June 26th, 1947. Producers picked Arnold to star because his voice had the “aggressiveness of Teddy Roosevelt, the humility of Abraham Lincoln, and the tenacity of Andrew Jackson.” Listeners were challenged to guess the president's identity before it was revealed at the end. Fittingly the 1947 Thanksgiving episode featured a tale from the life of George Washington. Opposite Mr. President, live from Hollywood over all CBS stations Radio Reader's Digest signed on, guest-starring Van Heflin. 1947 was a good year for the thirty-eight year-old actor. That summer he co-starred with Joan Crawford in Possessed and brought Philip Marlowe to radio as a summer replacement for Bob Hope. His latest film, Green Dolphin Street, just hit theaters. It co-starred Lana Turner and was that year's biggest MGM hit. Radio Reader's Digest debuted on September 13th, 1942 on CBS. The famed magazine actually didn't sponsor the show. They provided the material. Hallmark Greeting Cards was sponsor. In 1947 Les Tremayne was the host.


    Have You Been Enjoying Breaking Walls? Give the Show a Rating!

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 20, 2021 0:14

    Have you been enjoying Breaking Walls? If so, give the show a quick rating on whatever platform you listen, especially iTunes.

    Hold Em Yale With The Damon Runyon Theater

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 18, 2021 34:50


    There are few homecoming traditions bigger than a football game. Harvard and Yale have been playing an annual game since 1875. It's so steeped in our culture that American icon Damon Runyon incorporated Yale football into a story. This story, “Hold Em Yale” made it into a syndicated episode of The Damon Runyon Theatre airing out of NBC's KFI in Los Angeles on Sunday, March 27th, 1949. The show starred character actor John Brown as Broadway. Brown was born on April 4th, 1904 in Yorkshire, England. He emigrated to New York and began finding work on the stage. His first radio credit was in 1932. By 1949 he was an esteemed veteran. The Damon Runyon Theatre was one of Alan Ladd's Mayfair productions. Ladd was an admirer of the late-Runyon's long-running “Brighter Side” newspaper column. Damon Runyon had passed away on December 10th, 1946. He'd spun fascinating, tongue-in cheek tales of gamblers, actors, gangsters, and beautiful women. He gave his characters colorful names like “Harry the Horse Thief,” “Good Time Charlie,” and “The Lemon Drop Kid.” Ladd tapped John Brown to play Broadway. Brown was already playing a similar character on My Friend Irma. The transcribed Damon Runyon Theatre first aired over the independent station KSEL, in Lubbock, Texas. Because it was a syndicated show, it wasn't beholden to network lines. It aired over NBC's KFI Los Angeles beginning in January of 1949. The following June, it began airing over Mutual's WOR in New York. Supporting Brown were Hollywood's radio regulars like Herb Vigran, Jack Moyles, William Conrad, Gerald Mohr, and Anne Whitfield. Richard Sanville directed. Fifty-two shows were produced on records. Unfortunately for John Brown, just as television was coming in and his career was cresting, trouble was around the corner.


    Newsreel from the New York Macy's Thanksgiving Parade - 1947

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 17, 2021 0:53

    This is movietone newsreel audio from the 1947 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Although the annual parade first began in 1924, it became world famous thanks to the 1947 release of Miracle on 34th Street, which used footage from the 1946 parade in the film. Who will be watching or going to this year's parade?

    John Dehner Recalls Playing JB Kendall on Frontier Gentleman

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 15, 2021 0:37

    In August of 1982 SPERDVAC (www.sperdvac.com) hosted a CBS panel at the Thousand Oaks Library in California. The panel featured some of the best known radio character actors of the 1940s and 1950s. When the panel was asked about their recollections of Frontier Gentleman and Antony Ellis, Frontier Gentleman star John Dehner had this to say.

    Thanksgiving 1947 With Al Jolson And Casey Crime Photographer

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 14, 2021 20:43

    This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 97: Thanksgiving 1947—The Most Popular Season in Radio History ___________ Earlier in 1947 Bing Crosby and ABC signed Al Jolson to a $50,000 contract for ten Philco Radio Time guest appearances. Jolson showed up for just one Philco Radio Time appearance when Jolson signed another contract—to host Crosby's former NBC show, The Kraft Music Hall. Crosby was forced to rely on a mix of movie star guests and drop-ins from other ABC shows. In a season of inflated ratings Crosby lost 20% of his audience, falling out of the season's Top 50 for the first and only time. The Kraft people weren't complaining. In the three seasons since Crosby's acrimonious departure from NBC, Kraft had seen its Music Hall rating cut in half. Meanwhile, Al Jolson was hot again after the success of his filmed biography, The Jolson Story, which earned six Academy Award nominations and won two Oscars. It proved to be a good investment. The 60-year-old singer pushed the show's rating back into first place on Thursday and a return into the season's Top 20 with a rating of 18.9. At 9:30PM, opposite the Sealtest Village Store on NBC, Casey, Crime Photographer took to the air, live, coast-to-coast over all CBS stations. Casey was a newspaper photographer, which made for a decidedly unique kind of gumshoe. By the late 1940s, the show had established itself as a primetime hit. During the 1947-48 season, it had a rating of 15.6. It starred Staats Cotsworth as Casey and was then sponsored by Anchor Hocking. Although by 1947 Staats was entrenched as a prime-time star, he also retained the male lead in the daytime melodrama Front Page Farrell.

    NBC News of The World At the Famed Hollywood Santa Parade—11/26/1947

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 12, 2021 1:49

    On Wednesday November 26th, 1947, the annual Hollywood Christmas parade was taking place in Los Angeles. Each November beginning in 1928, extravagant holiday decorations adorned a one-mile stretch of Hollywood Boulevard between Vine and La Brea. The brainchild of businessman Harry Blaine and the Hollywood Boulevard Association, they promoted the thoroughfare as the "world's largest department store." Complete with lights, a reindeer-drawn sleigh, and brightly decorated Christmas trees. NBC News of The World was there on Sunset and Vine reporting. It was an event that connected average Americans with celebrities. It reminded people that together we are better than we are alone.

    National Farm Report: Discussions In Washington On Rationing—Winter 1947

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 11, 2021 9:52

    On the morning of Thanksgiving, November 27th, 1947 40% of the US was still rural. For the country's farmers who often lived miles from the nearest city, radio's morning reports were an important piece of information. With inflation soaring, farmers needed to eke out every cent of profit they could. Americans were organizing. In the year after VJ Day, more than five million struck for better wages and benefits. This debilitated key sectors of the economy and stifled production. Consumer goods in high-demand were slow to appear on shelves and in showrooms, frustrating Americans who desperately wanted to purchase items they had forsaken during the war. It caused the largest inflation rise in the country's modern history, and the Taft-Hartley Act, limiting the power of Labor Unions. President Truman was seemingly at odds with Congress over every domestic policy and his approval rating sank to 32%. The U.S. War Debt had topped $240 Billion. Because the nation emerged as one of the world's leaders, America was expected to have the largest hand in rebuilding Europe. On the eve of Thanksgiving, news outlets reported that, in order to stabilize Europe, Americans should to be ready to resume sacrifices they made during the war. The fear was that by not agreeing to do so, Americans would help create a situation where political enemies would take over Europe and Asia.

    Thanksgiving With The Answer Man on WOR

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 10, 2021 5:46

    This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 97: Thanksgiving 1947—The Most Popular Season in Radio History ___________ At 12:45PM on Thanksgiving Day 1947, while CBS was broadcasting Our Gal Sunday, and NBC a Thanksgiving Food Conservation Program, The Answer Man took to the air over WOR in New York. Each quarter-hour installment was filled with all kinds of information. New York's answer man was Albert Mitchell. The series was sold as a concept and developed in individual markets. Joe Mansfield was the Answer Man in Los Angeles. As many as 2,500 questions per day came in. Co-creator Bruce Chapman and his staff answered almost a million pieces of mail a year.

    The Jack Benny Program: 1947 Thanksgiving Show—11/23/1947

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 9, 2021 29:30

    On the Sunday, November 23rd, 1947 episode of The Jack Benny Program, the gang celebrates Thanksgiving with a movie of Jack's life. This episode aired live over all NBC stations at 7PM Eastern Time, with an additional repeat for Pacific time listeners at 9:30 PM Pacific Time. Its rating was 22.0, heard by roughly 20 million listeners.

    NBC News Of The World Breaks Down the Marshall Plan—11/26/1947

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 8, 2021 3:32

    Hosted by Morgan Beatty, NBC's News of the World was broadcast twice per evening. On the eve of Thanksgiving in 1947, The Marshall Plan (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan) was the most important piece of international news. Officially called the European Recovery Program, it was to help Europe rebuilt after World War II at a cost of over twelve billion dollars. News of the World dissected the proposed terms.

    Jan Miner On The Significance of Frank and Anne Hummert

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 5, 2021 0:53

    In August of 1970, prolific New York stage, radio, TV, and commercial actress Jan Miner sat down with Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran for their WTIC Golden Age of Radio program (Full interview here - https://www.goldenage-wtic.org/gaor-05.html). During the course of their conversation about her career, Jan explained how significant the Frank and Anne Hummert production company was. In 1947 the couple produced eighteen shows and owned a 4.5 hour block of mid-day programming, coast-to-coast.

    Walter Winchell Jergen's Journal — 11/9/1947

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 3, 2021 14:30

    On the November 9th, 1947 edition of Walter WInchell's Jergen's Journal on ABC, the outspoken journalist commented on the famine in Europe, Anti-communist fears, the latest James C. Petrillo Musician's Union strike, and other hard-hitting topics.

    Have You Been Enjoying Breaking Walls? Give the Show a Rating!

    Play Episode Listen Later Nov 2, 2021 0:14

    Have you been enjoying Breaking Walls? If so, give the show a quick rating on whatever platform you listen, especially iTunes.

    BW - EP121: Radio and The Homecoming (1942 - 1972)

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 29, 2021 192:14


    In Breaking Walls episode 121, we finish our Americana mini-series by coming home for November's festivities. We'll cheer for the home team, taste the best turkey dressing, and remember what's most important with some of radio's best. —————————— Highlights: • What Can We Be Thankful For? • Thanksgiving with The Answer Man and Radio's Origin • Ken Carpenter and One Man's Family • The Columbia Workshop Relaunches • Hearts in Harmony • Damon Runyon's Football Homecoming • John Brown's Communist Troubles • Thanksgiving with Miss Brooks • Bob Bailey and Let George Do It • Thanksgiving with Ozzie and Harriet • Checking in With Bob and Ray • Have Gun Will Travel • Ending with Jean Shepherd • Looking ahead to December —————————— The WallBreakers: http://thewallbreakers.com Subscribe to Breaking Walls everywhere you get your podcasts. To support the show: http://patreon.com/TheWallBreakers —————————— The reading material used in today's episode was: • On the Air - By John Dunning • Network Radio Ratings — By Jim Ramsburg —————————— On the interview front: • Eve Arden, Ken Carpenter, Norman Corwin, Gale Gordon, Virginia Gregg, Gloria McMillan, Carlton E. Morse and Janet Waldo spoke to Chuck Schaden. Hear their full chats at SpeakingOfRadio.com. • Eve Arden, Roberta Bailey-Goodwin and Dick Joy, spoke with John Dunning for his 71KNUS program from Denver. • John Dehner spoke to SPERDVAC. For more information, go to SPERDVAC.com. • John Dehner also spoke with Neil Ross for KMPC and John Hickman of WAMU. • Ozzie Nelson spoke with Johnny Carson and James Day. • Frank Stanton spoke with CBS for their 50th Anniversary in 1977 • William Paley spoke while receiving an award on November 20th, 1958. —————————— Selected music featured in today's episode was: • Thanksgiving and Joy — By George Winston • The Holly and the Ivy — By Velvet & Voices • Simple Gifts, Pachelbel's Canon, and Autumn Stars — By Michael Silverman • The Pavane — By Steve Erquiaga —————————— Special thanks to: The Fireside Mystery Theatre https://www.firesidemysterytheatre.com/ The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society https://www.ghoulishdelights.com/ Twelve Chimes, It's Midnight https://www.twelvechimesradio.com/ —————————— Subscribe to Burning Gotham—the new audio drama set in 1835 New York City. It's available everywhere you get your podcasts and at BurningGotham.com. —————————— A special thank you to Ted Davenport, Jerry Haendiges, and Gordon Skene. For Ted go to RadioMemories.com, for Jerry, visit OTRSite.com, and for Gordon, please go to PastDaily.com. —————————— Thank you to: Tony Adams Steven Allmon Orson Orsen Chandler Phil Erickson Briana Isaac Thomas M. Joyce Ryan Kramer Gary Mollica Barry Nadler Christian Neuhaus Aimee Pavy Chris Pilkington —————————— WallBreakers Links: Patreon - patreon.com/thewallbreakers Social Media - @TheWallBreakers


    Eve Arden On Jack Benny Considering Offering Her Mary Livingston's Role

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 28, 2021 0:32


    On January 31st, 1975 Eve Arden was a guest of Chuck Schaden's backstage at the Drury Lane Theater in Evergreen Park, Illinois (full chat here - http://www.speakingofradio.com/interviews/eve-arden/). They spoke about her life and professional career, touching on many subjects. During the chat, Chuck asked Ms. Arden if she'd ever worked with Jack Benny, to which she had a very interesting revelation. Do you think Eve could have pulled it off?


    Have You Been Enjoying Breaking Walls? Give the Show a Rating!

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 25, 2021 0:14

    Have you been enjoying Breaking Walls? If so, give the show a quick rating on whatever platform you listen, especially iTunes.

    Radio Actor John Gibson on When He Knew TV was Going To Kill Radio Drama

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 23, 2021 0:56


    Radio actor John Gibson of Casey, Crime Photographer and Terry and the Pirates (seen here, far left, with Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran) was a guest of the pair for their WTIC Golden Age of Radio Program in September of 1970 (full episode here https://www.goldenage-wtic.org/gaor-06.html). During the course of their interview he told a story of when he sensed, during a moment in the late 1940s, that television would displace radio. This early realization helped John get a head start on breaking into television after World War II.


    WJZ's New York Tonight With Allen Prescott — 10/15/1947

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 23, 2021 14:08

    On Wednesday October 15th, 1947 at 6:30PM over ABC's New York City flagship station WJZ (today WABC), New York Tonight signed on with emcee Allen Prescott. Prescott was born in St. Louis in 1904. By the post-war years he was an ABC panel host and radio commentator. This evening program featured news, his personal reflections, and music. It mentions Bing Crosby's Wednesday evening Philco Radio Time program and the new Lana Turner/Van Heflin film Green Dolphin Street which opened that day. This recording only features the first half of the show. It's one of the only surviving of the series.

    When James Earl Jones Guest-Starred on ABC Radio's Theater Five

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 21, 2021 27:15

    This is a snipper from Breaking Walls Episode 119: Radio and The Diner (1937 - 1965) ___________ The American Broadcasting Company never overtook NBC or CBS in ratings or revenue during the Golden Age of Radio. But by 1964, the only network drama airing was part of vignettes on NBC's Monitor. That spring, ABC announced they were launching a new show. They hired former NBC writer Jack Wilson as story editor and assigned the series to directors Warren Sommerville and Frederick Bell. Edward Byron, creator of Mr. District Attorney was brought in to advise. Fred Foy, longtime Lone Ranger announcer, joined the production. The new series would be a weekday half-hour anthology called Theater Five in honor of its broadcast time in the New York market. Theater Five premiered on August 3rd with a play called “Hit and Run.” A month after its launch, sixty-one stations were carrying the transcribed series. ABC President Robert Pauley announced they were hiring a dedicated salesman to pitch Theater Five in the country's top markets. The kinds of stories produced ran the gamut. Many plots were taken from contemporary newspapers. A funny thing happened along the way: As young actors turned to TV in the 1950s, radio child actors became extinct. In November of 1964, Broadcasting Magazine announced that ABC Radio was setting up a Children's Acting Workshop to teach kids how to perform for radio. Classes were ninety minutes long and students would work with director Ted Bell. In January of 1965 ABC's radio department reported a sixteen percent gross billing increase. That same month actor Lee Bowman joined the team as an executive producer. On May 4th, Theater Five broadcast “Incident on U.S. One.” It guest-starred James Earl Jones.

    The Story Behind The Birth of Fibber McGee and Molly

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 19, 2021 21:44


    This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 120: Radio and The Harvest (1936 - 1954) ____________________ Jim Jordan was born on a farm near Peoria, Illinois on November 16th, 1896. He met Marian Driscoll, a coal miner's daughter, at choir practice. She was born on April 15th, 1898. Both wanted a life in the theater. He studied voice and she played the piano. They were married on August 31st, 1918. By the 1920s Jim and Marion were performing together on stage, playing in small-town movie houses and lodge halls throughout the midwest. Their two children, Kathryn, and Jim Jr. were born at the end of Vaudeville tours. Vaudeville wasn't paying off. They went broke in 1923 and Jim went to work in a department store, but the Jordans couldn't stay away from the stage. Jim soon went to Chicago for a traveling musical show. In 1924 the couple debuted on the radio. Under that first contract, they were heard on WIBO as The O'Henry Twins for twenty-six weeks. From 1925 until 1927, they played over Chicago's WENR, gradually making the transition to comedy. They were heard in a children's show, The Air Scouts until December 31st, 1929 and both Jim's Grab Bag and Luke and Mirandy until 1931. Over this early period they developed dozens of on-air voices. In 1929 the Jordans met Don Quinn on The Farmer Rusk Hour. They became friends, with Quinn penning occasional gags for the couple. Their loose partnership led to success. On Luke and Mirandy, Jordan played a character named Uncle Luke, a fibber of sorts, and Marian was Aunt Mirandy, his wife. They starred in skits on The National Farm and Home Hour over NBC's WMAQ. This would last until 1935. They simultaneously were featured players in a soap opera, The Smith Family. It was this partnership that eventually led to Smackout.


    Jim Jordan on the Origin of Fibber McGee and Molly

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 18, 2021 2:39


    In 1971 Jim Jordan, better known as Fibber McGee, sat down with Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran for WTIC's the Golden Age of Radio to talk about his career (full interview here - https://goldenage-wtic.org/gaor-14.html). In this clip Jim explains how Fibber McGee and Molly came to be in the mid 1930s.


    Hans Conried Explains Why NBC, CBS, and ABC Killed Radio Drama in the 1950s

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 17, 2021 1:23

    In August of 1971, radio, television, and cartoon character actor Hans Conried sat for an interview with Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran for their WTIC Golden Age of Radio program (full interview here - https://goldenage-wtic.org/gaor-17.html). During the interview Hans explained what/who killed radio drama in the 1950s.

    Jack Benny Program: Listening To The World Series On Radio—10/10/1948

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 15, 2021 29:30

    On the October 10th, 1948 episode of the Jack Benny Program Rochester reads Jack's diary recounting his summer trip to Europe, and the gang listens to the 1948 World Series featuring the Cleveland Indians and the Boston Braves.

    Have You Been Enjoying Breaking Walls? Give the Show a Rating!

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 13, 2021 0:14

    Have you been enjoying Breaking Walls? If so, give the show a quick rating on whatever platform you listen, especially iTunes.

    The Story Behind The Great Gildersleeve Transitioning from Harold Peary to Willard Waterman

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 11, 2021 32:15


    This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 120: Radio and The Harvest (1936 - 1954) ____________________ Hal Peary spent the 1940s starring on radio and in films as Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve. Gildersleeve began as a character on Fibber McGee and Molly. Peary joined the cast in 1937, first playing every kind of bit part imaginable. In the late 1930s, he approached Don Quinn with an idea for a recurring role. He wanted to play a pompous windbag who himself ran the biggest bluff in Wistful Vista. He thought it the perfect foil for McGee. Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve's first appearance was on September 26th, 1939. The Great Gildersleeve became radio's first major spinoff series, debuting on NBC on August 31st, 1941. In Summerfield, he was guardian to niece and nephew, Marjorie and Leroy Forrester. Marjorie was studious and curious and seldom gave Gildy trouble. Leroy, age 12, was the wiseguy. The household also had a voice for common sense, Birdie Lee Coggins, introduced in September. By the autumn of 1943 Peary had become a film star. The radio show's rating peaked with a 16.3 in 1944. It was notable because the program served as a Sunday lead-in to The Jack Benny Program. A 16.3 was the highest rating ever for a program airing at 6:30PM. Peary played the character through the rest of the decade, but in 1949 and 1950, Jack Benny, Amos N' Andy, Red Skelton, Bing Crosby, and Burns and Allen all jumped to CBS. Peary jumped with them. There were two problems, he didn't own the Gildersleeve character, and Kraft foods wasn't interested in making the jump.


    Jack Benny Struggles with Daylight Savings Time—09/30/1945

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 7, 2021 6:01


    Jack Benny's historic 1945-46 season began on the Sunday evening after Daylight Savings Time's expiration in 1945. In story, Benny needs to get ready for his program, but is unsure of what the time is. Hilarity ensues. This season's open included the debuting telephone operators Mabel and Gertrude, voiced by Bea Benaderet and Sara Berner.


    When Vincent Price Starred In The Saint

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 6, 2021 19:39


    This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 112: Drama At NBC (1949 - 1950) ____________________ The last series we'll examine from the 1949-50 season made it's NBC debut on Sunday June 11th, 1950 at 7:30PM. It had begun on CBS in 1945, but like many shows launched by NBC this year, it was most recently airing on The Mutual Broadcasting System. It starred radio, film, stage, and TV legend Vincent Price. The series we're speaking about is Price's only continuous starring role: as Simon Templar in The Saint. Leslie Charteris created the character as a suave private eye. He was a dapper dresser, equally at home at the wheel of a fast car, in an airplane, or on horseback. Sometimes the Saint simply broke the law, if the result justified it. This episode “The Corpse Said Ouch” aired on Sunday August 6th opposite The Amazing Mr. Malone on ABC, and Hit The Jackpot on CBS. Shirley Mitchell was Francis Blake and Lawrence Dobkin was Louie the Cabbie.


    Vincent Price On Why He Loves Radio Drama

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 5, 2021 1:33

    In November of 1972 Vincent Price appeared on WTIC's The Golden Age of Radio with Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran (full interview here - https://goldenage-wtic.org/gaor-32.html). During the interview he spoke about why he loved radio drama so much and why he feels the networks made a big mistake in forgoing the medium for television.

    The Story Behind Bing Crosby's NBC Strike, Departure, and The Birth of Transcription on ABC

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 4, 2021 14:13

    This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 96: Halloween On The Air (1943 - 1953) ___________ In 1945 Bing Crosby decided that he wanted to pre-record his NBC Kraft Music Hall program. Although transcription had existed since the late 1920s, NBC and CBS forbade their use for prime-time network shows. NBC and Kraft refused to budge. Crosby walked out. In the fall of 1945 The Kraft Music Hall went back on with comic Frank Morgan, pianist Eddy Duchin, and the Charioteers. Crosby declared his contract null and void. Kraft insisted they had options which ran until 1950. The sponsor took Bing and agency J. Walter Thompson to court. The walkout would last seven months. A settlement brought Crosby back for the final thirteen weeks of the season. In the midst of this Walgreen Drugs Stores sponsored a transcribed 45th Anniversary special on CBS at 10pm on June 18th, 1946. The program was one of the network's first transcribed shows to be heard from coast to coast. It starred Bob Hope with talents including The Andrews Sisters, Frank Morgan, Harry Von Zell, Rochester, and Ginny Simms. The program cost $62,000 to produce. The Walgreen's special was proof that transcription could be viable if the networks would allow it. With Bing finishing his Kraft obligation he was now a free agent. The American Broadcasting Company quickly signed the star, announcing that they had no qualms with pre-recorded shows. They announced a to-be-titled musical program with a weekly budget of $35,000. Now they just had to find a sponsor.

    Frank Sinatra Tells A Joke About What Misery Is

    Play Episode Listen Later Oct 1, 2021 0:47


    In 1965, CBS cameras followed Frank Sinatra around with unprecedented access to the performer's personal life. In this clip, seated at Jilly Rizzo's restaurant, he retells a joke to a group of friends and family, which included Sammy Davis Jr. and daughter Nancy Sinatra. After Nancy Sinatra explains that she wished her father caroused less, and stayed home more.


    Radio Announcer Tony Marvin on the Importance of Announcer Flexibility

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 29, 2021 1:14

    In the spring of 1973, longtime radio announcer Tony Marvin sat down with Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran for WTIC's The Golden Age of Radio to discuss his life and career (full interview here - https://www.goldenage-wtic.org/gaor-39.html). During the course of the interview Marvin explained why it was so important for a staff announcer to be able to handle a wide variety of news, sports, and product hawking.

    Have You Been Enjoying Breaking Walls? Give the Show a Rating!

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 28, 2021 0:14

    Have you been enjoying Breaking Walls? If so, give the show a quick rating on whatever platform you listen, especially iTunes.

    BW - EP120: Radio and The Harvest (1936 - 1954)

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 26, 2021 185:35


    In Breaking Walls episode 120, we continue our Americana mini-series in autumn with a host of harvest-centered radio programing. We'll warm by the fire and listen in on stories from some of the medium's most prominent. —————————— Highlights: • Welcome to October, Welcome to Harvest Season • Fibber and Molly Launches • Feast from Cavalcade's Harvest • Mel and Dennis Get Their Own Shows • Gale Gordon's Green Acres • How Mild Can Richard Diamond on ABC Be? • From Peary to Waterman as Gildy Changes Leads • Escape From the Death of Network Dramatic Radio • Looking Ahead to the Homecoming —————————— The WallBreakers: http://thewallbreakers.com Subscribe to Breaking Walls everywhere you get your podcasts. To support the show: http://patreon.com/TheWallBreakers —————————— The reading material used in today's episode was: • On the Air - By John Dunning • Network Radio Ratings — By Jim Ramsburg —————————— On the interview front: • Mel Blanc, Dennis Day, Gale Gordon, Phil Harris, Jim Jordan, Jim Jordan Jr., Harold Peary, and Willard Waterman spoke to Chuck Schaden. Hear their full chats and many others from Chuck's forty year career at SpeakingOfRadio.com. • Mel Blanc, Jim Jordan, and William N. Robson spoke with Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran for WTIC's The Golden Age of Radio. Hear these full interviews at Goldenage-WTIC.org. • Harry Bartell and Virginia Gregg spoke to SPERDVAC. For more information, go to SPERDVAC.com. • Don Quinn was interviewed by Owen Cunningham in 1951. • Ozzie Nelson was a guest of Johnny Carson's in 1969. • Mel Blanc also spoke with Jack Carney. • Dennis Day also spoke with John Dunning for his 71KNUS program from Denver. —————————— Selected music featured in today's episode was: • Autumn — By Michael Silverman • Ghost Bus Tours — By George Fenton for High Spirits • Moon — By George Winston • Shine On Harvest Moon — By Joan Morris and William Bolcom —————————— Special thanks to: The Fireside Mystery Theatre https://www.firesidemysterytheatre.com/ The Mysterious Old Radio Listening Society https://www.ghoulishdelights.com/ Twelve Chimes, It's Midnight https://www.twelvechimesradio.com/ —————————— Subscribe to Burning Gotham—the new audio drama set in 1835 New York City. It's available everywhere you get your podcasts and at BurningGotham.com. —————————— A special thank you to Ted Davenport, Jerry Haendiges, and Gordon Skene. For Ted go to RadioMemories.com, for Jerry, visit OTRSite.com, and for Gordon, please go to PastDaily.com. —————————— Thank you to: Tony Adams Steven Allmon Orson Orsen Chandler Phil Erickson Briana Isaac Thomas M. Joyce Ryan Kramer Gary Mollica Barry Nadler Christian Neuhaus Aimee Pavy Chris Pilkington —————————— WallBreakers Links: Patreon - patreon.com/thewallbreakers Social Media - @TheWallBreakers


    Jack Benny On His Love of Violin

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 23, 2021 0:54


    An excerpt from an episode of Johnny Carson's Tonight Show in 1973 featuring Jack Benny. In this clip Jack talks about his love of the violin.


    When Ozzie And Harriet Visited A Haunted House

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 22, 2021 17:05

    This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 96: Halloween On The Air (1943 - 1953) ___________ In the fall of 1948, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet moved to Sunday evenings at 6:30PM on NBC radio. Although critically acclaimed, the couple had failed to crack the overall top-50 ratings on CBS in any of its first four seasons. The band-leading Ozzie Nelson and Harriet Hilliard met in New York and were married in 1935. They began working comedic bits into their musical performances, eventually making their way to radio in 1941 when they joined The Red Skelton Show on NBC. After Skelton was drafted in 1944, CBS nabbed the couple, giving them their own sitcom. Ozzie led all aspects of production and was the show's pivotal character, with his tangents the vehicles for confusion. Each week Harriet would gently guide him back to reason. Episodes usually ended with Ozzie suffering embarrassment while his sons got in a few comic jabs. Both Ozzie and Harriet felt their children David and Ricky were too young to play themselves. And there were financial implications in big-time network radio. During the first four seasons child actors Tommy Bernard and Henry Blair played the Nelson children. When the show moved to NBC in 1948 it was positioned as the lead-in for The Jack Benny Program. That Halloween Ozzie and Harriet visited a Haunted House.

    Elliott Lewis on the Importance of Understanding All Aspects of the Creative Process

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 20, 2021 1:09


    On July 14th, 1979, radio writer/producer/actor/director Elliott Lewis was a guest of SPERDVAC in California. In this clip, he speaks about the importance of understanding the entire creative process and why it's important for a radio creator to do a little of everything.


    When Quiet Please Broadcast: Don't Tell Me About Halloween

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 18, 2021 15:35

    This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 96: Halloween On The Air (1943 - 1953) ___________ In 1934, with Chicago the center for radio production, NBC Writer and director Wyllis Cooper created a program for NBC's affiliate WENR that drastically altered the tone of horror. Cooper had been writing advertising copy in the late 1920s when he entered radio, working first as a continuity editor then for NBC's Empire Builders. His idea was to offer listeners a late-night terror program, at a time when other stations were mostly airing music. It emphasized crime thrillers and the supernatural. The first series of shows (each 15 minutes long) ran on Wednesdays at midnight to local audiences. It was called, Lights Out. In April, the series expanded to a half-hour. The following year, it went national. Cooper stayed on until 1936 when he left to write film scripts in Los Angeles. He wrote The Phantom Creeps and The Son of Frankenstein before returning for the final season of The Campbell Playhouse on CBS and The Army Hour on NBC. Then in the Spring of 1947 a new opportunity arose in New York. Quiet Please debuted on Sunday June 8th, 1947 at 3:30PM over the Mutual Broadcasting System. Quiet Please elevated the genre to a high art. For the weekly lead, Cooper selected Ernest Chappell, The Campbell Playhouse's announcer.. Chappell proved a natural. He played Scotsman, oil riggers, drunks, and archaeologists. They were every-men who got tied up in the supernatural. Few supporting voices could be afforded or deployed. Those who were were part of New York radio's elite like Frank and Claudia Morgan. The cast was told to play it straight. It resulted in an almost dream-like study in horrific high-art, like on October 27th, 1947 when Quiet Please presented “Don't Tell Me About Halloween.”

    When Sherlock Holmes Had A Halloween Adventure

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 17, 2021 15:26

    This is a snippet from Breaking Walls Episode 96: Halloween On The Air (1943 - 1953) ___________ Sherlock Holmes peaked on radio between 1939 and 1946 with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce playing Holmes and Watson. They made fourteen films during this time, and their rating climbed to 14.1 in 1942 on NBC. The next year, the entire cast moved to the Mutual Broadcasting System. They remained for three seasons until Holmes left for ABC. Basil Rathbone stayed with Mutual to star in a new series called Scotland Yard. Nigel Bruce stayed on as Watson while Tom Conway became Holmes. When the Semler Company discontinued sponsorship in the spring of 1947, ABC cancelled the show. That summer Clipper Craft Clothing signed to pay the bills. The show moved back to Mutual with John Stanley as Holmes and Alfred Shirley as Watson. The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes signed on the air Saturdays at 7PM. On October 26th, Holmes and Watson tackled the case of the Laughing Lemur. That season, the Holmes rating was only 9.9. No incarnation cracked the top one-hundred programs on American radio ever again.

    June Havoc and William Spier On The Death of Dramatic Radio

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 16, 2021 1:31

    In November of 1970, Actress June Havoc and her husband, the prolific radio director Bill Spier were guests of Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran for WTIC's The Golden Age of Radio (full interview here -https://www.goldenage-wtic.org/gaor-08.html). During the interview June Havoc remembered her experience listening to radio during the Golden Age, while Bill Spier pondered whether or not someone was at fault for dramatic radio's demise.

    Radio Actress Shirley Mitchell On How She Got Started in Hollywood

    Play Episode Listen Later Sep 15, 2021 1:53

    In October of 1984, Chuck Schaden sat down with actress Shirley Mitchell for a conversation about her life and career (full interview here - http://www.speakingofradio.com/interviews/mitchell-shirley-actress/). During the course of the chat, Shirley explained how she made it out to the West Coast from Chicago.

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