Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Four Disparate Radio Tapes

Today, as indicated above, I have three recordings made of - and one made for - radio broadcasts. But first, a few bits of business:

First up: It was earlier last year that I discovered that a podcast had used one of my most ridiculous songs - titled "A Sailing Milk Moustache" - as the introductory music for their year-end show. I reached out to the person behind the podcast, and, after quite a bit of conversation, ended up doing a lengthy interview with him for one of his episodes, all about my history, in terms of my collecting and, particularly, my humorous songs. I was then invited to be a part of this year's New Year's Eve/New Year's Day special.

Interestingly, the show's general theme is (this is from their website):  "A podcast and Website dedicated to understanding the world in which we live from a Christian worldview perspective", although nothing remotely in that area came up in the two shows I was part of.

My interview can be found here, and the New Year show - which I am only part of sporadically, can be heard here.


And second, I am indebted to Tony, who recently posted with regard to my recent 1949/1951 home recording post, that, having discerned a reference to Time for Beany, it was clear that this family resided in the Los Angeles area, as that puppet show was a local phenomenon at the time. Thanks!

As a side note, I would encourage everyone reading to find some early Time for Beany, the episodes with Stan Freberg and Daws Butler basically (I believe) improvising the show. There are episodes available in various formats, including youtube, It's among the funniest stuff I've ever seen.


So, on with the countdown!

The most interesting of today's four offerings is probably this mish-mash of recordings off of Chicago radio. It lasts just over 37 minutes, and as far as I can tell, it's all from the AM band, with the exception of a few brief moments of home conversation, made over the earlier radio recordings. The dominant station here is broadcasting an appearance by Governor George Wallace, one of his first appearances after his assassination attempt, at the time of the Democratic Convention, which places this recording definitively in July of 1972. Whoever was recording this day flips back to this news coverage multiple times, and it makes up a good portion of the recording. Bernard Shaw, later to become very well known on CNN, is among the reporters heard. Other stations are heard only momentarily, such as the one playing an Eagles record, and still others are heard for too long for my taste, particularly a bit of religious blather which is fairly far outside my own ideas about faith.

All in all, a neat little time capsule.

Download: Chicago AM Radio, July 1972

Moving back in time 14 years, here is an 1958 episode of a 15 minute show, produced by the Archdiocese of Chicago, and titled "The Catholic View". This show dates to a point in time when a local Cardinal, Samuel Stritch by name, received a deep honor from the Pope and the Vatican, and departed Chicago with great fanfare, to fulfill his new role, only to encounter unexpected tragedy along the way. I have found at least three tapes (perhaps all from the same collection) recorded at different points in this saga, and this one does not complete the story. If I can find one or both of the others, I will share it next time. The whole thing sounds like something out of a medical drama or even The Twilight Zone, so sudden and severe and unlikely are the highs and lows this man experienced. If you want to get "the rest of the story" a bit faster, you can read a very brief explanation of it at the end of his Wikipedia page, and after that, you can wonder what he might have thought about his niece, Elaine Stritch

Download: The Catholic View, May 1958 - Pray for Cardinal Stritch


Next up, I'll offer a bit of explanation. Quite some time ago, I offered up an ad that I found in the midst of a tape of a "Beautiful Music" station, and mentioned that this is where it came from. Someone asked me to post that full segment, commenting that there is very little record of what "Beautiful Music" stations sounded like. Well, I couldn't find that tape - I may well have sold it. I often bundle together tapes which don't have anything interesting (to me) on them and sell them on eBay. But I've found a segment of another station, WBNS in Columbus, Ohio, complete with drab music and equally drab sponsors.

This segment is about 64 minutes long. I believe it's possible that the last 18 minutes are NOT from a radio broadcast, but rather, are all tracks from the same album. There is a sound (at 45:50) which might be a recorder being switched off or back on at that point, and the next song fades in. The final few tracks sound like they could all be from the same album. But I'm certainly not sure.

If anyone wants to hear more of this sort of material, I can post it as I come across it.

Download: WBNS, Columbus, Ohio - Beautiful Music Programming


Finally, as part of the ongoing "Very Short Reels" feature, here's the next one I pulled out of the stack. It's a simple, 30 second ad for a Disney film that I don't remember ever even knowing existed, "Atlantis: The Lost Empire". That's odd, actually, because in 2001, my girls were 10 and 8 that summer, and likely at least on the fringe of the audience for this film. Or maybe I was just that dedicated to not having to hear "Come Sail Away".

Download: Walt Disney's "Atlantis" - Radio Ad

It's worth noting that this commercial has to date to the very last point in time that ads were still being provided to radio stations on reel to reel tape. I'm amazed that this was still a thing in 2001.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Recordings from the Very Dawn of Home Reel to Reel Recorders

Howdy, everyone, and a very happy (upcoming or otherwise) New Year to you and yours! Be sure to go all the way to the bottom of this post before leaving to see my family's unique Christmas Card.

I'm going to ask your indulgence today, as I seriously geek about a tape that I recently bought. Maybe this will hold the same fascination for you, maybe not, but this tape is as rare as they come. I'm going to go on at length, so I hope you'll allow me this geekiness. Let me explain:

As I've written about multiple times elsewhere, part of my fascination with reel to reel tapes and recordings began with my own family's recordings, which went back to 1952 (I was born in 1960), and the behemoth tape recorder on which they were recorded. No one else I knew, when I was growing up, had recordings of any sort that captured their family life, or the things they liked to listen to, from the 1950's. And until this month, my family's first recording, from December of 1952, was the oldest home/family reel recording I'd ever heard, from anyone.

Not anymore. I just purchased a small set of reels, among which were included a set of paper reels (that is, magnetic tape backed by paper, rather than some type of plastic, a format which was phased out at least by 1952), some of which contain home recordings. And the first tape I played from this collection contains recordings which are audibly (and confirmed by the writing on the box) dated to Labor Day of 1949, just over 70 years ago.

I can't imagine how much a reel tape machine cost (in 2019 dollars), in the late 1940's. Recall the initial price for VCRs, and for CD players (and CDs) when those formats were new. I know the first CD I bought cost nearly $30, and some of the players cost a thousand dollars in the early days. Such is the price of new technology. And this family's machine had to have been bought by the summer of 1949. Three years later, in 1952, when my father bought a used studio model, the "new" price for the model he bought was $400, about $4000 in today's dollars. (Dad really must have really wanted the new technology, since he was a relatively new husband and father just starting out on his life's work at the time.) I suspect that in 1949, the cost was even steeper.

Virtually no one outside of the Nazis (who invented reel tape technology) and the American companies (which "borrowed" and studied the technology after the Allies brought it home, for the first few years after the war) knew anything about this technology before 1948.

I recall that the great folk and blues singer Lead Belly, during what became known as his "Last Sessions", recorded in the late fall of 1948, can be heard asking if they don't have to break after five minutes of recording - an artist who had spent much of the decade in various recording studios had never seen a reel tape machine before 1948, and expected to have to stop after every song for a change of disk. The notes to the album refer to the machine used as having been "experimental".

And I also recall that it wasn't until 1949 that Les Paul acquired his first reel to reel machine, and proceeded to revolutionize recording, inventing effects and procedures and making some of the best records ever made in the process.

So this family acquired a reel to reel machine roughly the same time, or a few months after Les Paul began fiddling with his Ampex machine.

Just to clarify, I'm sure that plenty of radio stations, recording studios and, of course, the reel to reel manufacturers had plenty of these machines by 1949. And I have a handful of reels from that era which contain radio broadcasts and records. But nothing from a family's living room.

I would venture a guess that no one else in this family's town, city, county or general region had one of these. To take it a step further (and perhaps I'm underestimating here), I would guess that, in the summer of 1949, the number of private citizens that had a reel to reel machine in the home was numbered in the dozens or hundreds. But this family had one. And I have their tapes.

They are not, I will hasten to add, all that much fascinating as hunks of recording. The first part of the tape has some very dull popular and religious music, and the family sections are bland enough that, were it not for the age of the recordings, I probably wouldn't have considered sharing them. And yet.... wow. Just wow. 1949.

Okay, so what exactly does this thing sound like? Well, here's that opening section, containing just untder nine minutes of the music I just mentioned:

Download: Various Artists - Variety Music

And here's the meat of the recording - a family with small children, encouraging them to talk - say prayers, say their names, say other things, etc., first on Labor Day, 1949, and then once again, two years later, on October 3rd, 1951. This section runs 23 minutes, and contains a couple of minutes of some more music at the end, which I didn't feel like separating out. I do get a kick out of the fact that the children's prayers, clearly recited on a regular basis, include a wish for such folks as The Easter Bunny, but otherwise, this is garden variety home recording stuff. except, again, 1949. If these children are still around, they're probably in their mid 70's now:

Download: Unknown Family - 1949 & 1951 Recordings

(Incidentally, as an aside for those who are as geeky as me about this - these 1949 tapes (there is also another one, containing nothing but bland music) are recorded in a fashion that must have been phased out VERY quickly, as they are only the second and third tapes I've ever played which are recorded this way. Rather than whole track mono (where the entire track is used going one direction, very common in the early days), or half track mono (where one half of the tape is recorded on going one direction, the other half recorded on when you flip the tape over - the typical "mono" recorder style of the 1950's and later), the tapes I'm referring two are recorded on half the track, but right down the middle of the tape, leaving the outside quarter on either side blank. On my stereo machine, the recording comes in on the right channel on both sides. Those who understand reel tape recording will follow me, and I'm wondering if any fellow geeks are familiar with this recorder style - it would have used only half the available space, but also only allowed you to record on one side. Very peculiar and unusual.)


For those of you who didn't find that scintillating, I have a sort of sequel to a post I made back in March of 2018, from a network radio series called "The American School of the Air". That posting featured a rather exploitative play-let about a cad trying to take advantage of a young woman, followed by a remarkably (for its day) frank discussion about sex ed. That program was from the subset of episodes of the series called "Opinion Please". I have a stack of tapes from this show.

Today's tape comes from the subset of episodes called "Tales of Adventure", although I don't find it remotely adventurous, and I have a hard time understanding exactly what was supposed to be educational here - it was, after all, "The American School of the Air". The play this time is called "This Football", and if there is a message, it seems to be, "don't use derogatory names to insult older first generation Italians who have no idea how to be a supportive parent". However, even though there is a plot point involving an insult, nothing is really done about it as far as using this event as a teaching tool, within or outside of the play. In fact, this is more of a soap opera than anything educational.

Please enjoy "This Football":

Download: The American School of the Air - This Football (From "Tales of Adventure")


Next, here's the latest tape I pulled from the stack of "Very Short Reels". In this case, it is a pair of 30 second ads for Dairy Queen. The box it was housed in is scanned below the sound files, but the writing on the box, which is for a 60 second commercial, doesn't match the contents of the reel. And someone has also screwed up the second commercial, as you'll hear less than a second into it.

Download: Dairy Queen - Two 30-Second Ads

And finally, as promised, and few days late, here is my family's Christmas Card. Just so you know, for most of the last several years, my family has been using the Christmas Card concept as a jumping off point for a bit of performance art. Each of us has supplied ideas in the past - this was was mine. There's a lot going on here... I'm in the middle, with my adult kids on either side of me and my wife on the far left. On the right is my daughter's boyfriend.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Christmas, 1974

Good tidings and a Merry, Happy whatever you're having to all!

One year ago tomorrow, I shared a tape of The Wessel Family celebrating Christmas in 1973, and as a teaser, mentioned that there was a 1974 recording on the flip side of the same tape. Today, I am sharing that tape. The text I wrote last year fits nicely again here, except that I've changed the length of last year's feature (106 minutes) to the even longer duration indicated below, and edited it a bit. Here's what I wrote:

Today's feature, advertised in the name of this post, is simply a recording of a family's Christmas celebration, complete with stockings, gifts and greeting cards, recorded on Christmas, in 1974. For those with a sentimental side, there are multiple sweet moments here, and for those who simply enjoy the "Fly On the Wall" nature of some of the home recorded tapes I've provided over the years - this is a goldmine. It is, however, very lengthy, running the length of many major motion pictures (126 minutes). So sit back, relax and enjoy the Christmas celebration of the Wessel family.

Download: The Wessel Family - Christmas, 1974

And now, dessert. In keeping with the ongoing "very short tapes" project, here is another one pulled at random from the stack. It's an ad for Arkansas Western Gas, titled "Anti-Heat Pump", and its from the fall of 1993:

Download: Arkansas Western gas - Anti-Heat Pump Ad

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Earl Godwin, Fizzola Cola and a Vintage Radio Promo Presentation


Last time around, I acknowledged that I had goofed a bit in trying to stay chronological in my presentation of Scotch Brand Tape boxes. Specifically, I quickly realized that I had skipped over two relatively brief designs in indicating that Scotch went from the iconic grey-reel-on-black-background box straight into the good-enough-to-use-to-record-an-orchestra box.

I do believe that the latter box was still from the early '60's, for the reasons I outlined in that second post I just linked, but there were two designs that pre-date it, that also came during the period that my family was not buying new tapes, and again, like the orchestra box, I never saw this design until I began collecting other people's tapes.

This box trumpets the fact that, like maybe tape manufacturers in the late 1950's, Scotch was now selling 1800 foot reels, a 50 % improvement in terms of the length of taping tape available - regardless of the speed used - over the previous industry standard of 1200 feet. It keeps the grey-ish tape motif and the general black background, but also has two (very late '50's-ish) clock images and the phrase "extra play". It's a busy image and one that I find very appealing.

And now on to the first of four items I'm sharing today. And forgive my long road trip to get there. I hope its interesting.

I picked this first item because it came up in conversation this week, with some of the children I work with at my church, and I realized with some surprise that I'd never even mentioned this to my own kids, who are now in their late 20's. I'm not even sure any of my friends have ever heard it.

Part of the conversation with these church kids (ages 12-16) included their reference to everyone having to take music theory at the local high school. That struck me as odd.

I commented that at my high school, only those who believed they would be pursuing a career in music took music theory. And, since I had thought that this was where I would be heading (when I was 14, anyway), that I had signed up for Music Theory as part of my Freshman class load - but that there were only about 15 of us in the class. No one had to take it, and no one outside of the 15 of us did. I was encouraged to sign up as a freshman by the teacher of the class, who knew my family (he also thought a music career was in my future). Everyone else in the class was a Junior or Senior, all of them quite focused on careers in music.

The final project, that following spring, was to create a product and write (meaning, submit the sheet music) and record a commercial for the product, using at least one change in tempo or style (I'm sure there were other things we had to include, as well). My product was "Fizzola Cola". As I've mentioned here from time to time, my mother was a professional (and coloratura) classical soprano, so she sang on the commercial. I sang as well, and played the piano.

Here is that ad. The volume at various points is not perfect (the conversation at the start is way too soft, for one thing), and the tape has worn out somewhat in the ensuing 44 years, but it's still worth a listen, I think, and I hope you enjoy it.

Download: Bob and Mary Fran Purse - "Fizzola Cola" Ad

P.S.: I took the second year of Music Theory as a Senior, still believing at that point that I might pursue a music career. Aside from playing trombone in a pit orchestra for one show, being in a few bands for a short amount of time, and working a few times as a folk singer for children, I never actually did anything that looked like someone who was pursuing a music career. But those two classes made a world of difference for me as a musician and songwriter, even if those things turned out to be solely avocations.


As long as I've focused on my family, I thought I'd also include something I came across a while ago that I had no expectation of finding - a recording of my maternal grandfather in one of his radio broadcasts. Earl Godwin was known as the "Dean of Broadcasters", and was part of the crew that would crowd around President Franklin Roosevelt's desk for press conferences - actually getting to sit next to the president because he was so tall when he stood that the other reporters complained.

He worked for NBC's "Blue" network and remained with the network when it became ABC. I never got to know him, as he died a few years before I was born, and had only heard his voice on one recording, an acetate we owned of a radio tribute to him, on his 75th birthday.

So here I was, listening to a tape I had bought, the earliest one (of several) featuring vintage recordings of day-by-day radio broadcast summaries of the goings-on at the Army-McCarthy hearings, when the announcer introduced commentary from Earl Godwin.

Here is that broadcast:

Download: Earl Godwin - Comments on the Army-McCarthy Hearings


Staying on the theme of radio (and the 1950's), here's a vintage (1953) promotional piece from CBS radio - a commercial sales presentation. I'd venture a guess to say that the vocal insert at 8:34 was not intended to be part of the presentation.

Download: CBS Radio - A 1953 CBS Radio Commercial Sales Presentation


And finally, as promised each post nowadays, I have again grabbed a "very short reel" at random and will offer it up here. This one takes a bit of explanation, as it appears this length of tape was used three times, with each new use erasing part of the previous use. Advertised on the box (see below), is the final use, a painfully shlocky white-rap tribute to Webber's Transmission, from 1997, which has to be heard to believed. After that's over, we hear most of what was being erased, a commercial for a then-upcoming "Bride and Groom" show. Finally, in the last few seconds of tape after that partial ad, we hear an announcer guaranteeing our satisfaction, with regard to.... something. All in 108 seconds.

Download: Noble Broadcast of Toledo - Webber's Transmission, Bride and Groom Show, Satisfaction Guaranteed

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A Homemade Radio Show, For a Friend Out at Sea

Has it really been a month since I posted? I need to work on that, I guess. Anyway, hopefully, today's fascinating and entertaining main item will make up for the lost time. And what's more, I find that in my haste to get last month's final post up in time, I made an error in the timeline of my Scotch Tape Box series, and skipped two designs entirely. I want to get this up while I have the time, but I'll rectify that oversight next time.


I was contacted back in August by Scott F., who wanted to pay tribute to a late family friend, Brian Nelson, of Chicago. His suggestion (and offer) was that I do this by sharing an example of the sort of thing Nelson did, back in the late 1960's, for Scott's dad, who was out at sea with the navy for much of the decade. In the simplest terms, it's an attempt to create a faux radio broadcast, featuring a mix of the music of the day, and some of the records that Nelson liked and loved, and those which he believed Scott's father liked and loved.

This tape is from 1968. Going into a bit more detail, as you'll hear, the "broadcast" includes a summary of the previous year's enormous Chicago snow storm (known forever more as "The Big Snow"), which seems to be excerpted from a real radio station's presentation about the storm, two phone calls to mutual friends, in order to capture their voices and thoughts on the tape, and brief comments from members of Nelson's family, who happened by the room while he was recording. It's a big production, clearly (see below) using quite a bit of equipment, and the final product is a bit of a mish-mash of music radio style, local news, audio letter and a few other things.

Scott F. offered up the following information:

Brian Nelson was one of my dads best friends, if not his best friend, for years. Brian Nelson was the ultimate audiophile. He built his own mixing consoles, modified the preamplifiers and amplifiers he used. In the day, 4 JBL L100’s with 4 Ionovac tweeters powered by a modified Phase Linear 400 that produced a kilowatt total audio. This tape was made in the period of time where Brian was starting to get his equipment up to speed and having been in broadcasting school he was honing his chops making tapes for my father who was serving our country aboard the USS Lawrence from 1962 to 1968. This tape is one of my favorites of the bunch and I hope all that listen to it can enjoy his humor, creativity and craftsmanship. His record collection numbered into the tens of thousands and were all carefully indexed using his own numbering system typed on index cards in library style drawers. I am going to take a guess that Brian would have been 23 or 24 at this time.

The tape Brian sent was a 2400 foot reel, meaning the ability to tape record just over an hour on each side, at the preferred speed of 7 1/2 IPS, And that's what we have here - more than two hours of one friend, involving other friends and family, and sharing the music they loved, in order to entertain a friend at sea. I think it's great fun and very sweet.


Brian Nelson Side One
Brian Nelson Side Two


Many, many thanks to Scott.


Before going on, I want to thank those who confirmed that last month's Jack Paar recordings were from June 14th, 1962, with part of the June 15th show at the end. I'd also like to thank the person who suggested that the Coca-Cola ads were meant to suggest all the things you could be doing, and doing more effectively, while drinking a Coke. And yet another person seems to have confirmed that the short tape of ads I posted likely comes from the Fairmont, West Virginia area. Thanks to everyone for your great comments!


It's been awhile since I shared another example of the unexpectedly large number of recordings I have of shortwave broadcasts from Australia. I no doubt bought a batch of them all in the same place, but at some point, that batch became separated, and I keep coming across them. These are utterly charming segments, and they strike me as a unique and sort of sad illustration of just how much the world has changed in the ensuing 40-50 years. There would be no point in shows like this "Mailbag" today. Also heard is a bit of another show.

Download: More Australian Mailbag


Finally, it's time for our Very Short Reel of the month. Again, pulled out at random, it's features three ads from The Kidney Foundation, indicating how great it is to be alive.

Download: The Kidney Foundation - It's Great to Be Alive (3 Ads)

And here's the paperwork that came with the ads:

Monday, September 30, 2019

Mort Sahl Hosts the Tonight Show! PLUS Some Truly Odd Coca-Cola Ads

Howdy, everyone,

As you will have seen if you read my other blog, this has been a truly hectic and busy month, so I will not be typing nearly as much as I often do, allowing much more to be experienced by the listener without all those comments from me.

But first, I want to continue to the Scotch Tape Box series, and that's where I'll do most of my commenting for today. Two entries ago, I shared the box that seems to have been the one they settled on for most of the 1950's, then last time, I went a bit out of turn and showed the 10 inch reel box that seems to have been their style for quite a while in the '50's and maybe into the '60's.

Below you will find the box I believe came next, and it's a radical change from the "picture of a reel of tape" which had been the focal point, to one degree or another, from each previous design:

I believe this design replaced the iconic black-with-most-of-a-reel design some time in the very late 1950's, and was the going design for a couple of years. I say this both because of the material I've found on such tapes over the years - the likely dates of those recordings, and, most centrally: because I literally never saw one of these until I started collecting tapes in the 1980's. That dovetails nicely with the fact that my family did not have a reel to reel machine that worked well - at all - from about 1960 until the fall of 1963. There would have been no reason to buy tapes during that period.

Now, Scotch is promoting the high quality of the tape, and suggesting via the image, that it is what the studios use - and that was probably fairly accurate. This happens to be a 2400 foot reel, which was twice the length that the first reels of tape had. They had previously expanded to 1800 feet, and now made the tape even thinner and lengthened it again. The box says "Double Length - Double Strength", and while the former was absolutely accurate, the new, thinner tape was not in any way stronger - it was more fragile and more likely to stretch and damage, just as you'd imagine. It got even worse when they thinned the tape again and crammed 3600 feet on the same roll of tape, about a decade later.


Okay, like I said, I'm just going to put up this rare and wonderful tape and let it unspool for your enjoyment, without commenting much at all. Here we have an episode (or I think perhaps parts of multiple episodes - I listened to it months ago) of NBC's "Tonight Show", featuring the guest hosting of Mort Sahl. The main part of the tape is an episode featuring several famous women discussing male/female relationships. I'm fairly certain this comes from the several months between Jack Paar's departure from the show and Johnny Carson's arrival, a period during which NBC had multiple guest hosts for the show. If I had more time, I'm sure I could figure out the date(s) of this recording. This is an amazing 90 minutes of tape.

Download: Mort Sahl and Guests - The Tonight Show (1962)


And here's a VERY peculiar tape I heard for the first time, just this week. It features nine Coca-Cola radio, each one of them featuring a string of helpful household hints that, aside from a couple, have NOTHING to do with Coca-Cola, interspersed with the then-current jingle. I'd love to know how these were received in 1971, because hearing them today is befuddling. Make sure you remember to rub lighter fluid on the walls of your house!

Download: Nine 1971 Coca-Cola Radio Ads


Finally, I again pulled out a "very short tape" from the pile of them I have by the tape recorder, and found that it was labeled ""Clock Jingles". However, that seems unrelated to the tape's actual content, which is a series of ads for several businesses - no doubt in the same market - very likely from the same advertising company. The link below lists the apparent names of the companies (and, for the first one, the radio station). I'm very unsure that I have them all right, but again, maybe someone out there can identify the location and correct names for these companies.

There are 16 1/2 jingles/ads heard here in just 135 seconds. I say "1/2" because the ad that starts at 1:04 is incomplete - it plays just as you'll hear, on the tape.

Download: Unknown - WMMM, Kettering’s Bread, Sorrow’s, First Federal & Corwin’s Ford

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Two Unusual Collections and Two Very Short Tapes

Happy September!

First, I am indebted, and far from the first time, to Eric Paddon, a consistent follower, and one who often chimes in with further or clarifying information when I share media tapes, particularly vintage radio and TV involving celebrates, shows or genres of the past. Last month, I posted excerpts from two episodes of the Bea Kalmus shows, and Eric offered up detailed and fascinating commentary. You could read these on the page for that posting, but I want to share them here.

The musical that never came off "Mad Avenue" that Fairfax Mason refers to was supposed to open in the summer of 1960 starring Frankie Laine. Then behind the scenes problems resulted in it being delayed and in September 1960, the NY Daily News reported it was going to go into rehearsals in December 1960, still starring Laine, but it never did. The producer of the show sued another NY newspaper in November 1960 for libel, claiming that a June report on the show "dissolving in rehearsal" had caused investors to ask for their money back, and that apparently was why the show never opened.

While there is a superficiality to programs like this and others of the day like the weekly CBS Radio talk show hosted by Mitch Miller in this era from Sardis I do find it a fascinating time capsule of the era and it's very rare when programming like this surfaces.

Also, Mason's career clearly revolved around the narrow world of New York cabaret spots and nightclubs. That has the effect of making such people seem very obscure today because they don't leave behind a long trail of performance work in film/theater to judge their careers, but NY audiences in those days tended to have a better awareness of such people even if they were nobodies west of the Hudson. (The NY Daily News noted she had won the "most beautiful child" contest they put on in 1940 when plugging her eventual Broadway debut in "How To Succeed" While her part was small, apparently she did understudy the lead actress during her time on the show).

Thanks again, Eric!


Today, I have two major items which are unrelated except that they each feature a series of internally related items, strung together in this way for reasons that are not clear to me, although I have a better idea in terms of the first set than I do for the second.

First up, a reel which contains a recording - clearly made from a record, but my copy in on a reel, of a series of numbered musical cues, played by an orchestra. Some are little more than "stingers" - very short pieces probably meant to accentuate a moment in a production (perhaps a radio production), others are introductory or transitional musical phrases, and others are considerably longer music beds. The numbering system is weird - as is the emotionless voice rattling them off . And while there are themes that recur within some of the segments, the different musical items are different enough that they'd be unlikely to all be used in the same setting. However, it seems likely that this was an album of music cues, perhaps for sale, and explained somewhere in a brochure, all of them for use whenever the producer wanted them used.

A neat little oddity:

Download: Unknown - A Collection of Numbered Musical Cues


As I said, the second item I have today isn't exactly related to the above, but what it does have in common is that it's a series of related items, gathered together here for a reason I can't quite fathom.

I actually thought I'd posted this somewhere before, but I can't find it - if I did, and someone can point me to it, I'll own up!

For 15 minutes, what you'll hear here are is a series of short, suspenseful introductions to.... something. The narrator is excellent, the production values heard in the background are nice, and it seems like somethings going to happen. But as soon as each introduction ends, it goes to the start of another one, which at least in some cases seems to pick up part of the same story, some time later.

Guesses (or answers!) as to what this is about are welcome!

Download: Unknown - A Series of Suspenseful Radio Show Openings


And now, a couple of very short bits. I thought I'd share the sort of thing I sometimes find buried on otherwise dull tapes (or even otherwise unrecorded tapes). Here's someone singing a familiar song for all of 35 seconds or so.

Download: Unknown - The House of the Rising Sun


And finally, I have again grabbed one of my "very short reels" at random and digitized it for my ongoing series. In this case, we have an early '80's anti-smoking PSA, set to a generic version of some of the most horrific of popular music styles of that moment, and labeled "Peer Group". In honor of the departing Mad Magazine, let me just say "ECCH".

Download: "Peer Group" Anti-Smoking PSA

Whew. I think I need to play some Queen, Fats Domino or Fats Waller to clear my mind of that.