Friday, June 17, 2022

Hoagy Carmichael, An Impatient Grandma, A 1976 Aircheck, and How to Bisect an Angle


I have another nice cornucopia of sound for y'all today, but first, I wanted to give great thanks, yet again, to Eric Paddon, who has been of great help over the years getting to the bottom of the history behind things I've shared. His recent note to me is so great, and so essential to the site and the post it relates to, that rather than just link to that post, which is here, I'm also going to repeat his comment in its entirety in today's post. It relates to the series of game show recordings that were posted in the middle of my last entry. 

Here's what he wrote:

The index of Gil Fates book on the history of "What's My Line?" reveals this particular program was part of the August 21, 1969 taping session for the show's 1969-70 season originally. That said, even if this was recorded in 1971, it would not be a "rerun" per se because syndicated game shows (which WML was starting in the Fall of 1968) in those days were "bicycled" to different stations and thus no two stations would be showing the same episodes at the same time. And if a station signed up to air the program after it had been on for a year, it would have the option of running the previous year's shows first! This practice continued with syndicated game shows up through the end of the 1970s and it explains why some stations would sometimes be airing a syndicated game show more than a year or two after actual production had ceased (or why in the case of "What's My Line?" some stations would be airing episodes featuring Bennett Cerf on the panel more than a year or two after he died). Wally Bruner is the host, and the panelists are Gene Rayburn, Nancy Dussault, Jack Cassidy and Sue Oakland (who did the on-air editorials for WCBS-TV in this era). A rare week when Arlene Francis was off.

The "Beat The Clock" fragment is more rare and potentially from an episode that doesn't exist (in contrast to the WML which is accounted for). The 1969-70 season was the first year of the BTC revival with Jack Narz hosting. That first season it was taped in New York, but starting in its second year, production moved to Montreal to save costs. GSN and BUZZR have never aired any episodes from the first season in New York which suggests they don't exist.

"Words and Music" would be the rarest of the three as NBC did not keep any of their daytime game shows. No videos have ever surfaced and only one other audio recording in the past.

Many, many thanks, Eric. 


And now, here's a tape that came with a sheet of paper stuff into the box that looks like this: 

The contents of the tape are as marvelous as that sort of haphazard capturing of it might indicate. Because here we have nearly an entire broadcast of a short lived show titled "The Saturday Night Revue" which ran in 1953 and 1954. Fans of Hoagy Carmichael will particularly love this tape, as he hosts the show and performs several of his best known songs.

These are interspersed with a few very draggy and fairly unfunny comedic sketches and other material. I find it interesting that they chose to do what to modern ears will be a very offensive Asian caricature introduction at one point, yet Carmichael seemingly knew well enough to change the words to one of his songs, a moment later, which contained a far less offensive (in 1953) word, singing that the Hong Kong Blues was about an unfortunate "southern" man. 

Incidentally, it's clear that the note above was written decades after this program was recorded - just have a look at the zip code, area codes and fax number at the bottom of the page. The writer also identified the Asian bit as "racist". 

The show is not complete - or perhaps this is parts of more than one episode - anyway, the tape ran out during a comedy sketch. And the sound/tape quality is fairly bad at some points. But what's here is a pretty good snapshot of a variety show in the early Eisenhower years. 

Download: The Saturday Night Revue, Circa 1953


The flip side of the tape is a different animal entirely. I suspect it's from the same time period, although I really don't know. Our note-taker has offered up a few comments on the flipside of the page (see below), mostly saying that "Grandma is Crazy", and indicating that there is later a phone call in which we mostly only hear our end. 

I went back and forth about whether to include this 30 minute recording, and finally decided it was worth preserving for its acute level of real "around the house" feel. Anyone who has dealt with a relative with dementia will find the "Grandma" section familiar and probably a difficult listen, and that's all I'll say. And the phone call is entertaining enough, if you like such things - it would be easy enough with sound software to get a good portion of the other person's conversation, too. 

Here's that tape. 

Download: Recordings Around the House, circa 1953: Grandma Wants to Go Upstairs, A Phone Call


And here's the flip side of that piece of paper:


Next, I have a "scoped" aircheck. Many - perhaps most - of you might know that when a DJ wants to promote his talent, for a new opportunity or any other reason, he or she will record an airshift or two, and cut out all of the music, aside from the section where he or she is talking. 

That's essentially what we have here, with a few odd differences. The DJ's name might be Lan Shepard. I can't tell for sure, and a web search was no help. He was definitely doing overnights on WWCO in Waterbury Connecticut, and combined parts of at least two overnight shifts into this short (12 1/2 minute) tape. 

What I find odd is that this scoped aircheck contains the newscast - which Shepard did not do - and some commercials, which doesn't sound like the DJ either. 

This also served to remind me - not that I've ever forgotten - how wretched most top 40 hits were in 1976. Blech. Actually, my favorite thing here is the concert ad at around the ten minute mark. Fleetwood Mac opening for Jefferson Starship!! Can you believe it? I'm sure that 1976 was the last time that would have been possible. 



Switching gears pretty dang aggressively, here's the contents of one of those three inch reels I've mentioned from time to time. Both sides of the tape total just under eight minutes. On side one, a young person explains her (while I'm guessing it's a "her") project, "How to Bisect an Angle". When she's done, we hear the last few seconds of someone playing the ukulele. 

On side two, it's "Joke Time", and I find this to be a massively entertaining little four or so minutes with a group of what I'm guessing are middle school aged kids. The presence (at the end) of one of the Beatles' first two US hit songs in the background, and their enthusiastic singing along, date this to at least the late winter of 1964, and I'm guessing that it's from just about that time, and not much later. 



And finally, it's time for our "Very Short Reel". And here's a very short reel about a very short lived Baseball team, The Rochester Aces. They only existed under that name for a year - and it was a very good year, too, ending up in a trip to the 1993 Northern League championship, which they lost. You can read about them here


And here's that tape box!:

Monday, May 30, 2022

This Tape is a Goldmine!!!!

 Hello, everyone, 

Today, I have something I think is quite special. I'm going to give quite a bit of backstory, and then get to today's offerings, most of which come from the same tape. That tape is one that I made, over 50 years ago. 

The backstory: I've already shared in multiple places that the tape recorder was among my favorite "toys", even as a five and six year old. And there are seemingly endless recordings of me, me with my brother and me with my friends, on my family's tapes, starting from when I was about those ages. 

On Christmas, 1969, the year I was nine, I was gifted with the first reel of tape which was to be mine, all mine. I had it completely filled, mostly recording at the super slow speed of 1 7/8, and for some of it, recording in mono on all four channels, by the end of January, 1970. That's well over six hours of recording in about five weeks. 

By the fall of 1970, I was on my third "all mine" tape, and I announced at the beginning of it that this tape would be used to record things of interest off of the TV. I recorded an entire broadcast of an obscure animated cartoon ("Hoppity Goes to Town"), parts of "The Wizard of Oz", and parts of a few other broadcast movies. 

Around age 16, after cataloging all of my family's tapes, I then went through all of my personal tapes (about 36 of them, by that point), writing down what was on them, and where on the tape (per the counter on our reel machine) each section began and ended. For the earlier tapes, this had to be an exercise in tedium. Most of the recordings were pretty unlistenable by anyone who wasn't me, and wasn't me in grade school. I was a severely hyperactive child, prone to simply talking to myself, or pretending I was presenting a (usually very uninteresting) show, or even just banging on things with other things, like a reject from a Spike Jones cover band. 

There were periodic highlights, a few of which I'll share in the future, but mostly, these are probably less interesting than banging ones head against the wall. I know this because, about six months ago, I started digitizing these tapes and listening to them all the way through, doubtless for the first time since I was 16. 

But the one labeled "Bob Tape # 3" surprised me. For one thing, I never got finished documenting its contents, and skipped over the second side (both channels - which were recorded separately) completely. And that second side contained magic I didn't expect. For those of you who are not into vintage media (in this case, TV, mostly local TV) recordings, this is probably not the post for you - or you can skip down to the Acetate of the Month and the Very Short Reel. 

But if what I've described floats your boat like it does for me - and it floats my yacht - this is a treasure trove. A goldmine. A picture of much of what a ten year old might well have been watching - including a lot of child-focused commercials - during the period September 1970 to January 1971, in the Chicago market. 

Mostly, I'm going to share these in what appears to be chronological order, from the fall of 1970 to January of 1971, as they appear on side two of the tape. Then at the end, I have a bit of a hodgepodge, a single track made up of several short segments from 1970, from the first side of the tape. I wanted to get this post out today, which is the last chance I'd have until next weekend, and I didn't have time to chop that group of recordings up, the way I did with the other segments heard below. 

Two thing before I explain what each track features. First, at times I was quick to turn the machine off and then on again. Sometimes this was done in quick succession, maybe two or three times within ten seconds. Other times, I wasn't interested in capturing whatever the next thing turned out to be, often a segment or commercial, and didn't return to recording until a few minutes later. So parts of this are quite choppy.  

I should also mention that, in a few of these cases, the shows in question were children's shows which featured a variety of entertainments, some of them cartoons. I have edited out the cartoon soundtracks, which are mostly to films which are quite commonly available. 

Okay, let's start. First up is Ray Rayner. If you're not from Chicago, or not over 50 years old, I encourage you to read about Ray here. Ray was a legendary performer in a genre that has completely disappeared - the local morning kids show. And his show, on WGN, was more than that. He featured traffic reports, sang songs, did comedy bits (literally lip-synching to records), showed the local sports highlights, comment on current events (lightly), did crafts, hosted animal segments, and showed cartoons. At times (as you'll hear later), he simply engaged in conversations about a point of interest with his offstage crew. And in doing this, he BLEW AWAY all of the competition for ratings, among morning TV shows in Chicago. If you can find clips of him online, you will be absolutely befuddled by what he was doing. But it was wonderful, and as a child, Ray was something of a hero to me. I even recorded a song of sorts about him once, after he retired. 

Segment one is nearly seven minutes from a Ray Raynor broadcast. The sports results make clear that the date was 9/10/70. We start with the sports results and highlights (and you can hear me repeat the standings, then hear the wonderful Jack Brickhouse in the highlights), as well as the weather. After a cut, we hear Ray singing a song. He may sound like an amateur, but he had a long string of successes, concurrent with his morning show, as an actor in local dinner theatre. We finish with some commercials, interrupted at one point by yours truly. 

Download: Ray Rayner and His Friends - 9/10/70


The longest segment comes next, and (after a moment of some other show) it's a portion of "Bozo's Circus", probably from the same month. Again, this was a HUGE show in Chicago, with a ticket waiting list of over five years at times, and a massive TV audience. Ray Rayner was one of the clowns, Oliver (although he left the show the following year), with Bob Bell as Bozo, Roy Brown as Cookie, and Ringmaster Ned Locke, one of the sweetest personalities ever to appear on TV. 

This segment fascinates me, mostly for the opening bit. In the end, it's a shaggy dog joke related to Cookie drawing pictures while everyone else sings (and the joke is not worth the wait). But it's that singing that amazes me. For we are told that everyone is going to sing "Swingin' On a Star", from 1944 (26 years earlier). It's clear from this performance that nearly all of the children present know the choruses (in which the words change) well enough to sing along (and there would have been no point in having the words in front of them - most of these children were not old enough to read). Can you imagine a group of five year olds actively singing along to a hit from 26 years ago today? "It's All Coming Back to Me Now? One Sweet Day? I don't think so. Truly a moment captured in time. I love it. 

Part of a Sugar Crisp commercial follows, but then we cut to a few minutes of Herb Alpert style music. I'm not sure what this would have been, but I left it in. Then we hear a tedious skit about a flea circus, followed by a real treat, a Tony the Tiger ad (featuring Thurl Ravenscroft, of course). The show returns with the focal point of every Bozo episode, the Grand Prize Game. A McDonaldland commercial follows (by the way, I had a visceral, nearly hatred reaction to those McDonaldland commercials, when they debuted, which I believe was earlier in 1970 - I never did warm up to them). 

Download: Bozo's Circus, circa Fall, 1970

What follows may be the rarest thing on this tape. It's a recording of most of an episode of a short lived game show called "Words and Music", hosted by Wink Martindale. You can read about the show here. The show only lasted 94 episodes, and debuted on 9/28/70, so we've moved forward a bit in time for this recording. The segment is pretty well self explanatory. Unfortunately, is this case, the commercials are cut. 

Download: Words and Music (game show), circa Fall, 1970


This slides almost right into an episode of What's My Line. But first, we get to hear a legendary commercial for the local ABC news team. I've literally never forgotten the portrayal of the hapless weather girl in this ad. It's really good. The What's My Line episode features Joe Frazier as one of the guests. That he is introduced as the Heavyweight champ - which he was, starting in early 1970 - but also that he just had a song (a 45) released - which happened in late 1969 - makes me suspect this broadcast was a rerun. 

Download: What's My Line?


The game show segments keep getting shorter. Here's a two minute chunk of "Beat the Clock", and a bit of a commercial that followed: 

Download; Beat the Clock, Late 1970


And now we move into 1971. This nearly five minute segment captures the sign on, and opening segments, of a morning of broadcasting on WBBM, the CBS affiliate in town. We start with the national anthem, opening legal and promotional statements, as well as the opening and closing announcements for "Thought for the Day" - I chose not to record the actual thought itself. We then get a preview of the evening's broadcasts, nicely dating this recording to January 9, 1971. At the end, our announcer introduces the news, which we do not hear. But we do hear his name - George Menard - amazingly, the same George Menard who was heard at times during those late 1940's daytime radio shows I shared as part of the Porter Heaps collection, last year. 

Download: WBBM TV Sign-On, Preview, Etc, 1/9/71


We end the main part of this series with 93 seconds of odds and ends from the end of that part of the tape. I have NO idea what the first part of this section was supposed to be. Maybe someone else can enlighten us. Then there is another McDonaldland ad. And I hate the very sound of it. 

Download; Early 1971 TV Odds and Ends


So I mentioned above that there were other 1970 recordings elsewhere on the tape. They are, like some of those above, from September of that year. I have not, and will not have the time to chop these up, so I'm posting them here, because I really want to get this posted today. 

This montage is just over 15 minutes long, and here is what you'll hear. 

0:00: A few short commercials, with conversation in the background, followed by some messed up sounds from the TV (with my mother's amused response). 1:02: More of Ray Rayner, including another song, and some of those random conversations I mentioned earlier. Yes, this was Chicago's favorite morning show, by far. 2:52: More commercials

Then at 3:50: A lengthy segment of Bill Jackson's "Cartoon Town". This show, which aired on UHS channel WFLD, was the afternoon counterpart to Ray Rayner's show, although not as popular, and much more focused on entertaining children. In this segment, Bill is interacting with his character "Blob", a blob of clay which he would decorate, and which would talk to him via taped groans and other sounds. The Old Professor was another character. You'll hear me interact with the TV at one point. After a bit of some commercials, we have another Bill Jackson segment, the start of one where he would create a drawing out of a viewer's initials.

At 9:03: a further moment of Bill Jackson gives way to an ad for Girl Scouting (which is interrupted by a channel change to another Thurl Ravenscroft/Tony the Tiger ad and several other ads, including the unforgettable Baby Go Bye-Bye, and a tie in to H.R. Pufenstuf (which I hated even more than McDonaldland). The promo for Red Skelton dates all of these recordings to September of 1970, by the way). Finally, at 13:20: A few moments of the Saturday morning show, "Tomfoolery", which I LOVED, and which I recorded on other tapes several times. 

Download: Odds and Ends from September, 1970


Incidentally, buried in the middle of all this media recording, on this tape, is a perfect example of the sort of thing I was wont to do when recording myself. It is mercifully short, so I am going to share it here. I do not have any idea what my "stand-up" bit - or whatever it's supposed to be - meant. Clearly, I knew what I was saying, as I go through the routine (one line) twice and act out the audience reaction, but... I have no idea. 

Download: Bobby - The Any Pokabuuh Show, Featuring Bill Banana



Now it's time for our Acetate of the Month. 

If you've been with me for a long time (or have heard my podcast on the subject), you know that I am very much in thrall to an album called "Musical Memories of Camp Bryn Afon", recorded in northern Wisconsin in 1965. 

What I've never shared with more than a couple of people is that I also have several acetates from another (unknown) camp, recorded in the late 1940's, but containing performances which have considerable similarities to (and some differences from) the Camp Bryn Afon recordings. I bought them all at the ALS Mammoth Music Mart (which I've also written about a lot), at least 30 years ago. Today, I will share both sides of one of those. It looks like this: 

As you can see, the acetate was recorded on August 16th, 1947, perhaps in honor of how Elvis would die just 30 short years later on that date, but probably not. 

Keep in mind that summer camps would have (and probably still have) all campers divided up into two teams, designated by colors. On Camp Bryn Afon, it's the Blue and the White. At this camp, it was the Gold and the Blue. Today's offerings are Gold Team songs. 

The "Gold Razz" is a series of rewritten pop hits, much the same as on the Camp Bryn Afon" album, but here performed as a medley, and given the acetate sound quality, I can't always make out what they're singing about, but I do know that "Stormy Weather" is turned into a complaint about Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis). There is also a reference to the St. Vitus Dance. It's pretty long for a 10 inch acetate - over three and half minutes, and there's quite a bit of variety. At one point there is an annoying hum, followed by some speed problems. This is on the disc and is not a result of my digitization. 

I love the energy of these performances, in much the same way I love the CBA album. 


The flip side contains two far shorter songs, back to back, the "Gold Entrance" (to the tune of "Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead!) and the "Gold Fight Song" (to the tune of "Waitin' For the Robert E. Lee). 


If anyone is interested in hearing more of these, I have several acetates from this camp. Just let me know.

And finally, our Very Short Reel™. With primary elections very much in the news these days, I thought I'd share this little set of two advertisements, which the speaker appears to have recorded and put on the air with his own money. It seems he very much believed his friend belonged on the school board. 

There are several "Mountain Home School Districts" in the US, but I'm guessing, based on the speaker's accent, that this election was in the one located in Arkansas. 

The first ad indicates that the election was the next day. The second ad indicates that the election was on the day of the broadcast. 


Saturday, May 14, 2022

The Return of Joe Gerossi, Belated Mother's Day Thoughts, A Garage Band, An Audition, Some Promos, and the End of a Family Visit

 Greetings, fans of measuring the speed at which recording tape passes by the erase, record and playback heads of a reel to reel machine. 

That's probably not actually why you're here... 

First, I would like to share that, as of last Monday, I will again be gainfully employed. Thanks to everyone who chimed in with encouragement and/or condolences regarding the loss of my previous job. As I wrote today on my other blog, the immediate effect here is that I have considerably less time, as I am ramping up in the new job, to blather on at length about things I'm sharing. Some of you may not see this as a problem...

What is also means here, at least for this posting, is that I have not had the time to scan new stuff, or to go back and listen in detail to anything I saved some time ago. So I'm sharing a half-dozen things today which I listened to some weeks, or maybe even months or years ago, without the benefit of re-listening. I can remember all of them, to one degree or another, but will not be nearly as detailed as usual. They are not mysteries to me, but their contents are not fresh on my mind, either. 

With that out of the way, let's get the recorded material you've been waiting for!


Back in 2020, on two occasions, I shared the entertaining ramblings of someone named Joe Gerossi. Those posts can be found here and here. At the time of the second of those postings, I mentioned that there was a third tape of Mr. Gerossi, which I intended to digitize soon. I did do so, but then failed to share it for well over a year. Here is that tape, lasting nearly an hour. Again, I have not rescanned this tape since digitizing it, so you are free to discover its charms, and any sections which are less than charming, on your own.

Download: An Hour with Joe Gerossi



Since Mother's Day is so close in the rear view mirror, here is a tape I've been sitting on for at least five years, waiting to remember to share it for Mother's Day. I hope this is close enough for there to be some enjoyment. It's a recording of a Primary School's Mother's Day program, recorded at some point in the 1950's. As I recall, the sound quality is extremely poor at points during this recording, but the overall sweetness of it prevails and made it worth sharing. 

Download: A Primary School Mother's Day Program



Here's a tape I've simply labeled "A Garage Band Rehearses". I did just scan this one a bit to remind myself of the era, and found it contained multiple Chuck Berry numbers, "Gloria", "Wooly Bully" and the like, so I'm going to say circa 1965-66. 

Download: A Garage Band Rehearses



Here is the only item I'm sharing this week for which I have a relevant image. This is the sticker placed right on the reel: 

As you can see, this is the announcer audition reel for someone named C. Hughes, made on November 30, 1956, just a short 65 1/2 years ago. Mr. Hughes certainly was an announcer of his era. Have a listen!

Download: C. Hughes Audition Tape, November, 1956



And speaking of radio advertising, here are eight commercials put out by The National Religious Broadcasters, in all of five and a half minutes, from 1971: 

Download: Eight Promos for the National Religious Broadcasters



Here's the final offering for today. I guess I could have made either of these last two items the "Very Short Reel" for the week, but as this one is the shortest, at under four and a half minutes. I've called this, "Comments at the End of a Family Visit", and it's from July 15, 1953. In it, we hear a short organ solo, then a series of family members - adults and children, at least some of them having the family name "Van Sickle" - talk about what a wonderful time they've been having. I hope they came back again. 

Download: Comments at the End of a Family Visit, 7/15/53


Friday, April 29, 2022

Vintage Folk Music Radio, More From Japan, Satchmo, Another Acetate, and The Man From Labatt

Hello, everybody, hello!

Before I get started with today's items, I wanted to share that I have again been invited to be part of a podcast. It's the same show - Ephemeral - which has featured elements of my collection four times in the past, and has had me on, as an interviewee, three of those times. 

This time around, I am sharing the world of the Star Ads. Those of you who have been with me since the WFMU days, or the 2003 365 days project before that, might remember the Star Ads, but in case you don't know what I'm talking about, I have shared excerpts from them here and here

The new podcast, which features several more , previously unshared Star Ads, can be heard at:


I also wanted to give an update on my last post, information which will be of great interest to those in the Chicago area, at least those over the age of 50. A new reader, Ed (and welcome and thanks, Ed), wrote in to confirm that "Coughlin's Corner" was indeed hosted by the future Chicago weatherman John Coughlin, but more interestingly, his sidekick on the show was none other than Ray Rayner, who would later become a star of children's television in Chicago for well over 20 years. I love Ray Rayner, and I'm glad to have that information. Thanks again, Ed!

And also, someone who calls himself "Old Guy" wrote in to say that the person in charge of the Charlie Louvin Fan Club (also from the last post), who received an audio letter from Germany, was located in New Oxford,  Pennsylvania, rather than New Rockford. Thanks to you, as well! 

Now if I could only make out the senders name, which is garbled by a bit of damaged tape, in the opening moments of that recording. 

And thanks to both of you - and everyone else who has written - for the kind words about my work on this blog. 


Another cornucopia for you today, starting with a tape I first got to hear almost exactly 27 years ago, in the spring of 1995. And it was one of about a dozen tapes I had bought somewhere (can't recall) which I was very excited to play. And that's because they all contained vintage recordings of one of my favorite radio shows: The Midnight Special. Allow me to geek out about The Midnight Special for a half dozen paragraphs. 

The Midnight Special is legendary in Chicago. It began airing on the classical station WFMT around 1953, created by and initially hosted by none other than Mike Nichols. Hosting duties quickly turned over to two of the stations bigwigs, Norm Pellegrini and Ray Nordstrand, and remained in their hands - along with a third host, starting in the 1980's - for roughly 40 years. Their slogan was to play" folk music and farce, show tunes and satire, madness and escape". I've called it "Folk Music Radio" in the name of the post, and that was always the biggest part of the show, but as you'll hear, there were many other genres dipped into, as well.

Along the way, the program championed all sorts of musicians who were hardly being heard anywhere else, particularly in the years before the folk explosion at the end of the 1950's. They were also perhaps the first station in the country (or, at least outside of the Boston area) to play Tom Lehrer's music. My parents taped many favorites from the show, starting not long after its inception, and their New Year's Eve marathon shows were played every year, from long before I was born and well into the 1970's. 

The show took a dive, in my opinion, when people started to decide that if you played an acoustic instrument, you were automatically folk singer, even if you were singing navel-gazing songs. And so, somehow, "singer songwriter" and "folk music" got intertwined in a way I simply couldn't stomach, especially as I find them to be pretty much the antithesis of each other - the self-absorbed vs the global. To pick one example at random, James Taylor singing "Fire and Rain" - as much as one might like it - is not folk singing, and the fact that it's sung to an acoustic guitar does not make it so. I could go on, but I won't. I faded away from the show when the then-new host became the dominent and eventually only host, over 30 years ago. The show no longer resembled what it once was. Okay, end of rant.  

Anyway, these tapes were all from circa 1960, or a year or so on either side, and that was overwhelmingly exciting for me. My favorite of all of the episodes was this one, which dates from early October of 1960's, probably the first week of that month, based on the new releases mentioned and one comment from the host, who in this case is Norm Pellegrini (who I preferred to Ray Nordstrand, by the way). 

This is a recording of the entire two hour show, except for a verse or so of a Richard Dyer-Bennett song at the point that the tape needed to be turned over (and any time one can miss part - or all - of a Richard Dyer-Bennett performance is a happy moment for me). The commercials are included (except for a short period of time many years ago, WFMT has never allowed pre-recorded commercials - they are all spoken by the show hosts). There are segments here that I could do without, as there have been on every broadcast of the Special that I've ever heard, but the high points here are very, very high, and the low points are brief. 

The episode starts (after the introductory comments) with a track from the then-brand new Jimmie Driftwood album "Tall Tales in Song", the song is "Fi-Di Diddle Um-a Dazey", and upon hearing this tape, that immediately became an all time favorite of mine, which it is to this day. I sought out a used copy of that album starting virtually the next day, and not long after, Bear Family released ALL of Driftwood's RCA albums in a box set, which I gobbled up as soon as it was available. 

As mentioned, I have several more of these, as well as other Midnight Special tapes from the 1960's and '70's which I've picked up along the way, and if there is interest, I can digitize some of those. 

Download: Norm Pellegrini and Various Artists - WFMT: The Midnight Special, Early October, 1960



Now, here's a little piece of tape featuring an interview with Mark David, who was a representative of Labatt Beer. The interviewer is one Bob Brokaw. I can't put my hands on this tape at the moment, to share an image (I digitized this about two years ago), but it was dated 7/22/64. The beer now claims to be the # 1 selling Canadian beer worldwide, but at the time of this interview (and this is the point of the interview), the beer was being introduced in the US. And we even get a weather forecast, another Firestone Tire ad (after those I shared last time), and a fantastic, if very brief, ad for Capri Luncheon Meats! This program aired on KGO, San Francisco. 

Download: Bob Brokaw Interviews Mark David, The Man from Labatt, 7-22-64



Moving on, here's another interview, or at least a fragment of an interview. This might be a commonly available recording, I don't know, but in case it isn't, I thought I'd share it here. It's six minutes of an interview with Louis Armstrong, in which he is very briefly being asked questions about his career, in chronological order. Not included here (as it came after the playing of several Armstrong live tracks), is the announcer explaining that the interview is from Vancouver, in 1954. I believe this is wrong, as the album he is promoting seems to have come out in 1958, but I've kept the date as 1954 here, since that's what's identified. The key point here, I think is that "Hillbillies Make Love, Too". 

Download: Segment of Interview with Louis Armstrong, Vancouver, 1954



And now, it's time for yet another in the series of tapes sent home, from our young man in Japan, who I will continue to identify as a "student/soldier", although that may not be accurate. This one dates from prior to his introduction of music to his tapes. 

Please see the previous entries for more explanation here - or rather, an explanation of my confusion about exactly why teen was in Japan in the late 1960's. Maybe there are some clues here that I've missed. This tape is date May 15, 1968. 

Download: Audio Letter from a Student-Soldier in Japan, 5-15-68



And here's what everyone has been waiting for! It's our Acetate of the Month. Today's acetate has all sorts of writing on it, identifying the singers and songs, with the pianist and the person recording the record listed in this side of the record, as well. Look!:  

These are religious numbers, and both are terrifically sentimental performances, sung in a very old-timey harmony style, one which appeals to me a great deal. The singers, as you can see, are Lillie Berggren and Clara Edvenson, with Edith Mathson at the piano, and A.C. Mathson taking care of the recording duties. Here's the side seen above, "The Lights of Home": 


Here's the flip side, "Be Still My Soul", with more old-timey piano stylings and sweet, old-folks-at-home harmonies. 



And here's the other thing you've all been waiting for! It's this week's episode of "Very Short Reels". The following 148 seconds - about the length of the average 1960's pop hit - is all that was captured on one side of a three inch reel of tape that found its way to my collection. 

And at some point, this must have been someone's prized possession, as (after about 40 seconds of difficulty with making the recording) it captures what is described as "Debbie's First Cry at Four Days Old", with the date given as September 28th, 1952. Debbie is coming up on 70 years old this fall. This is followed by another recording, perhaps Debbie a few months later, but whether it's her or someone else, it's certainly a baby laughing. 

As the tape box (below) indicates, the flip side had recordings of part of Eisenhower's acceptance speech and Stevenson's concession speech, following the 1952 Presidential Election. Those seem likely to be available elsewhere, so I didn't include them here. 

Saturday, April 16, 2022

The 1950's on the Radio and at Home with the Coughlin's, Charlie Louvin Fandom, More Shortwave, and The Reasons People Buy Cars

 Before I get started with today's offerings, I would like to direct you to the comments from last time, and the way that three regular readers/commentators) figured out the teams and date, broadcaster and broadcast medium (and even the inning!) of the very brief baseball segment. One of them further delved in further and determined the date of the high school basketball game I posted. Aren't researchers amazing? Isn't the internet amazing? Have a look at the comments at the bottom of that post. Thank you, Ken, Snoopy and Eric!


And for this week's post, I'd like to start with more Shortwave from Australia. And that's because, within the last month, I have made the acquaintance of Thomas Witherspoon, who blogs about, and has a shared archive of, Shortwave Radio and Broadcasts. His blog is here and his shortwave recording offerings are here. He has kindly written a post about this site, and cross posted one of my previous shortwave recordings. Glad to have met you, Thomas - you are clearly a kindred spirit to me and to those who read this site. 

Anyway, in honor of this meeting of the minds, I found yet another Shortwave broadcast in my collection to pass along. In this case, it is again Australian Shortwave, from Spring of 1968. An I will acknowledge right off the bat that the recording quality is abysmal. It starts poorly and gets worse and worse as it goes along. This is actually why I hadn't shared it before. But I thought the time was right to offer it up, terrible quality and all. 

Download: Australian Shortwave, Spring 1968



And now we move on to the complete contents of another reel of tape, an old favorite of mine which I've owned for decades but only recently got around to digitizing. This is a recording made in the home of someone named Coughlin. The first side features part of a local Chicago daytime also featuring someone named Coughlin, specifically a show called "Coughlin's Corner": 

I believe, but am not certain, that this is John Coughlin, who went on to be a much beloved weatherman on Chicago television, and who you can read a bit about, here. This is a slight, but enjoyable 16 minutes or so, featuring Coughlin and a sidekick named Rainer, playing a few hits of the day - that day apparently being the mid-winter of 1957 - reading ads and making comments on the records and other such things as daytime hosts were known to do. 

Unfortunately, this was recorded from a radio with a microphone in a room, rather than line-in, so it's not the highest quality in the world, but it's not bad, either. 

Download: Coughlin's Corner


The flip side of the tape is recorded at the slower 3 3/4 IPS, and therefore, has about twice as much time recorded on it, all of which are home recordings from the Coughlin Home. Just over half of this side is taken up with the singing of various pop songs, accompanied by piano. This is not the most scintillating part of the tape, but I decided to include it for completeness. By the way, a small portion of this recording was actually at the end of the first side of the tape. 

If this is not to your taste, I still encourage you to have a listen to the portion that follows after this sound clip.

Download: Recordings Made in the Coughlin Home - Pop Songs with Piano


The remainder of the tape features a small child, containing a portion that I find this deeply endearing. I didn't set this up to correspond to Easter, but the first moments of the segment feature a performance of "Peter Cottontail", After another song (and a moment of an adult singing), the same child is allowed to bang on the piano and make up a song. Rather horrid and adorable at the same time. Then we have a rapid fire version of The Three Little Pigs.

But the centerpiece of the section starts at 6:45, and it's a mock interview with "Mrs. Gene Autry", with (I believe) the same small child taking the part of that interviewee, followed by a similar interview with "The Bride of the Year", Marjorie Coughlin. I encourage you to listen, if you enjoy whimsy to any degree, or just the guilelessness of children. The little girl's joyful noise just as the machine is being turned off is worth the price of admission. 

Download: Recordings Made in the Coughlin Home - Small Child Sings and Talks, and Mock Interview



And now for something very, very specific, perhaps not only one of a kind in terms of being the only tape with this recording on it (of course), but also one of a kind in terms of the participant, the recipient and the subject matter. 

For here we have a gentleman in Germany recording an audio letter to someone named Pat, who was, at the time, the President of the Charlie Louvin fan club in New Rockford, Pennsylvania (I can't actually find that there's a town by that name, but that's what he says). He includes plenty of Louvin music, which, I would have to guess that the recipient of the tape would already have owned... 

The date is January 18th, 1968. And I think that just about covers it. 

Download: A Tape to Pat, the President of the Charlie Louvin fan club in Pennsylvania, From Germany, 1/18/68



By the way, have you been wondering why people buy cars? If so, YOU'RE IN LUCK!!! Because for one night only, I have Dr. Ernest Dichter to speak on that very subject!

Download: Dr. Ernest Dichter On Why People Buy Cars


As you'll hear, this seems to be some sort of mix between the actual interview, and various attempts to get retakes of certain questions just right. 


And now the moment you've all been waiting for: our Very Short Reel™ of the day. This item is one of multiple short reels I have containing advertising for Firestone Tires. I previously shared three ads from 1967 or 1968 within this post, just about a year ago. In this case, it's two ads intended for use across the middle of January, 1969. The style of these commercials remind me more of ads I've heard from the late 1950's, than they do of other ads that I've heard from the late 1960's. 

Download: Two Firestone Tire and Rubber Ads - For 1/13/69 Thru 1/24/69


Here is the reel box:  

The box indicates that there is an insert in the box. Here is that insert: 

Finally, here's a fun little request from the producers of the commercials, stuck right on the reel itself:

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Your Hit Parade, Local Basketball, The Newest in Stereo Sound and Much More!

 Good Day, Sports Fans (or not, if you're not sports fans, or if it's not a good day), 

Today, I have a supremely varied hodgepodge of recordings for you, selected from my bulging computer folder known as "tapes not yet used", including one which is literally labeled as a "hodgepodge", as well are my monthly acetate feature. 

But first, I wanted to pass along that I received a note from a creator of experimental music named James, who wanted to let me know he'd used some of the vintage radio recordings I've posted in one of his compositions. It's a very interesting track, and it can be found here. He is likely to continue to use my postings, after asking and receiving my okay, and I will continue to link to them. His main page is here


First up, a recording from 1950, contained on one of those tapes with yet another Scotch tape design which I missed, during my Scotch tape brand feature. This one is a variation of the one I identified as the second Scotch design, here, and also similar to the one I shared a few weeks ago, which I'd also missed the first time around. I still suspect the first one I just linked was the second design, but this one was either concurrent with it, and used with five inch reels, or came right around the same time. Here it is: 

So what's on this tape that makes it worth sharing. Well, it's "Your Hit Parade" from 1950. What we have here are portions of two episodes, both from early July, by the sounds of it. The only reason I'm certain it's not all from the same episode is that the first two songs heard, are heard a second time, later on, and that wouldn't have happened on a single episode of that show. 

The latter episode can easily be nailed down to one of the first two weeks of July, as the song that had VERY quickly hit number one (and I won't spoil the surprise) would have attained that position during that time period. Add the reference to a holiday - almost certainly the Fourth of July - and we have a date for these programs. 

A further note - the tape quality if fairly horrendous in the opening couple of minutes, ruining a version of "The Third Man Theme", which I consider one of the best hits of the pre-rock era, but the sound improves quickly after that, and another rendition of the song follows, later, anyway. 

At the end of the tape are a few remnants of other programming, including the introduction of a Percy Faith song, and what sounds to me like Vaughn Monroe singing is his typically godawful style. 


For those of you who like oddities (and very short segments), the flip side of this tape contains about 28 minutes of bland music from records, but then, at the end, there is some shouting, some whistling, some rifle shots (I think), and then someone named Bill tries out parts of a short speech several times. Given that this recording is made on the same damaged section of the tape as "The Third Man Theme" on the flip side, there is a short section here that also has poor sound. Here is that segment: 



Now here is a lengthy recording which may be of interest to some of you (the Sports Fans mentioned above). With March Madness just about done for another year, it occurred to me that some might enjoy this tape. It is coverage of a High School basketball contest in Maine - no date is listed, but I'm guessing this is from the 1960's. Someone with more patience (and interest) than me can probably figure it out, based on the players mentioned. 

The radio station was WBLZ, which probably didn't stand for "Blood, Luggage and Zucchini", but I'd like to think that it did. 

The teams are Banger and Caribou, and we have nearly the entire game coverage, minus some commercials and any half-time coverage. A true bit of local sports coverage, of the sort which rarely makes it beyond its live broadcast. 



Next up, here's another one of those ubiquitous Stereo Demonstration Tapes, which every producer of reel tapes and reel tape machines seems to have been obliged to produce, in the 1950's and/or 1960's. In this case, it's Bell Stereophonic Sound with a nearly ten minute production about the wonders of Stereo!



And now, here is yet another tape from our young man in Japan. Please see my previous posts for more of an explanation of these tapes, and my confusion regarding exactly what he was doing there. This is before he started using music on the right channels of his tapes, and unlike some of the tapes, this one's date is crystal clear - it's June 27th, 1968 (just one week after I turned eight, by the way). 



And here is our acetate of the month. I don't know anything more about this disc than what it says in the file name, and I can't seem to find the record right now to scan the label. 

But it's an endearing little piece, featuring "Gail and Gram", with Gail, perhaps age four or so, telling the story of "Goldie Locks" (as it was spelled on the record). She is VERY dramatic, raising a laugh from Gram at one point. Very sweet. This is followed by three very short, the last two sung by Gram in a foreign language which I cannot make out through the surface noise. But I bet one of you can. 

Odd to think that, if the Gail heard here is still around, she's probably about 85 or 86 years old. 



And now, two tapes which could probably be names as "Very Short Reels". First is the aforementioned "hodgepodge". I love coming across things like this, as their genesis is quite unknowable. While much of this tape is made up of minimal conversation around the house, those segments are surrounded by all sorts of recordings, as if things were recorded and erased at random, sometimes for only 5-15 seconds. I made this file some years ago, but I believe I remember correctly that this is all that was recorded on the tape. Almost an accidental performance of Musique Concrète.

The mention of George Smathers at the very start, identifying him as a Representative and not a Senator (and what sounds like a reference to him having won a senatorial seat, but clearly not in that seat yet), would seem to date at least part of these recordings from no later than 1951. 

I love stuff like this. 



And finally, a tape which may be stretching it, a bit, in terms of being a "very short reel" and even more so, in terms of being worthy of sharing here. But I did digitize it, and it was waiting for me to use it, and I did address all you Sports Fans, so here it is. It is, quite simply, the merest short fragment of a baseball broadcast, all of 76 seconds in length, with more than half of that being essentially light crowd noise between pitches. Enjoy!!!


Monday, March 14, 2022

1953 Radio, Some Jingles, More from Japan, The Age of Jetomation, and Some Swiss Shortwave


This won't be news if you read my other blog, but... 

 Last time I posted, I mentioned being short of time, and that I'd be brief in my comments. Little did I know how much time I would have starting the very next afternoon. For it was the next day that I learned that due to COVID's effect on my agency's finances, my position was being eliminated, effective immediately. After 29 years with my agency, I am out of a job, and this is the first time in about 40 years that I've neither been employed or in school. Hopefully, it will be just a hiccup in time, but who knows. 


Before I get to today's features, I wanted to share a link sent in by a reader. Back in January, one of my offerings was a "very short reel" featuring Judy Codlin's demo reel. Well, sadly, an anonymous poster recently sent a link to Judy's obituary. which is here


Today, I have another typically varied set of recordings for you, which I hope you'll enjoy. And I'm starting with one from 1953, not because I think it's the most interesting, but because it allows me to continue a series I thought I'd completed, the Scotch Tape Box series. 

I do think this tape's contents are interesting enough, but I especially wanted to share this box, which is of a style I'd never seen before, and which I therefore overlooked in my series. At this point, Scotch was still differentiating between paper and plastic backing, meaning that this is probably style # 3, and from no later than 1951, as all styles from after that point did not specify the type of backing, since they had all been switched to plastic. Here it is: 

And what is on that five inch reel of tape, I hear you ask through the ether. Well, it's a recording that appears to date from 1953, a broadcast on station KROK, in Rockford, IL, of a classical concert, primarily featuring the Peer Gynt Suite, with narration, along with a short performance afterwards. Not the most scintillating thing to hear, but recordings from this period are very, very rare. Plus, at the end, there is some other material, including commercials and the start of a newscast. The mention of the war having ended would seem to place this near or in July of 1953. If nothing else, I encourage you to listen to the last few minutes captured here. 

Download: The Rockford Symphony Orchestra - Peer Gynt Suite and Programming After - WROK, Rockford, circa 1953



Sticking with the radio theme, here are a whopping 30 Jingles from a station in Southern California which actually broadcasted its format from Catalina Island. The station was/is WBIG, which you can read about here. The sound quality is a bit dicey at the start, but gets better. 

Here are all of those jingles!

Download: KBIG - Radio Catalina - 30 Jingles


And here is the tape box: 


Next up, it's yet another tape from our young man in Japan, circa late 1960's. I don't have a date on this one, but I know there are people out there who might be able to take some of the comments and narrow down the time frame. 

As with at least one of the other letters I've shared, our man (boy?) in Japan chose to play music in one channel while talking on the other. In this case, the music is actually louder than his letter in several places, playing up the questionable nature of this decision. 

Download: Another Audio Letter from a Student-Soldier in Japan



And now, it's time for Horizons of Science. See?: 

And when I got this tape, a few decades ago, I was very pleased to hear that it was narrated by Lyle Dean. Lyle Dean's voice is familiar to generations of Chicago area radio listeners, as he worked in news and commercial production at multiple radio stations, for what must have been decades. 

This is a fun little diversion of a program. The things discussed here do not necessarily seem to have been the wave of the future that they are presented as being, at least not under the terms used here, but it's an interesting little program, regardless. 

Download: Lyle Dean - Horizons of Science - the Age of Jetomation



Next up, a lengthy segment for those of you who enjoy vintage shortwave recordings. Most of those I've come across in my collection seem to be from the same collector, or a few people, anyway, and are recordings of Australian broadcasts. This one, however, from the spring of 1968, is a recording of broadcasts from Switzerland. The sound quality goes in and out here - it's never great, which is often the case with these shortwave recordings, but it's almost all listenable. 

Download: Swiss Shortwave, Spring, 1968



And finally, here's our "Very Short Reel" for the week. It's a pair of ads for Kronenburgh Beer, from the late spring of 1980. Actually, to my ears, this is simply the same ad twice, but maybe there's a subtle difference that is escaping me, as I'm not sure why the same ad would be placed on the tape twice, back to back. Then again, the sticker on the box does say "Spot", while the handwriting indicates "2 cuts".  

Download: Lance and Enid - Two Kronenburgh Beer Ads - 6-5-80


And here's the very messy looking tape box: