Bing, Bing, Cullen and Lettner

Bits and Pieces of BC Radio History

Bing, Bing, Cullen and Lettner

Postby cart_machine » Fri Aug 16, 2019 4:15 am

Alcohol in the control room? With Jack Cullen, could it have been any other way?

I was introduced to Mr. Cullen 40 years ago at his Brentwood studio/record library. He was at the control board, rambling away in his usual manner. Against a wall was a couch harbouring two men (identities unknown) sitting at a round coffee table with a large bottle on it. Coffee was not the beverage in the bottle.

Jack hosting visitors to his control room was nothing new. Province radio columnist Dick Diespecker ripped Cullen for it in his column of January 16, 1951. Reading between the lines, I suspect a bottle was involved in this instance, too.

I’ve included the whole column. Diespecker was, from what I gather, a culture vulture, so he opens with a story about an opera broadcast.

His picks at the bottom of the column were pretty standard; he mentioned many of the same shows every Tuesday. There’s a mistake in the list. Open House was not on CKNW; it was on CKMO. The host was Stan Lettner. He was a meat cutter from Nanaimo who enjoyed singing. After the war he came to Vancouver to work in his father's butcher shop in West Vancouver and spent his spare time singing and acting. He was also announcing prior to mid-1950. Judging by notes in the Province radio column, he arrived at CKMO by February 1951 to take over Open House (originally hosted by Wally Garrett), left for CKWX in mid-November the same year, got a side job at London Records, returned to CKMO as Production Manager in September 1954 (he did his show on both stations for a time), then moved to Kelowna in late June 1957 as the Programme Director for CHBC-TV, which was about to sign on (Al Jordan was hired at the same time). He died in 1992.

cArtie.

RUDOLF BING GUEST ON METROPOLITAN AUDITIONS
Rudolf Bing, general manager of the Metropolitan Opera Association, will act as guest host on ABC's "Metropolitan Opera Auditions Of The Air" tonight from 8:00 to 8:30 over KJR. He will speak about the meaning of such auditions to opera aspirants, the advantages received, not only by the winners but by all those singers who have appeared on the program, enumerating the infinite possibilities opened by this "Avenue of Opportunity," and the valuable lesson learned through competition.
The two auditionists on the program will be Louise McLane, soprano from Tyler, Texas, and Thomas Perkins, baritone, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The orchestra will be under the direction of Fausto Cleva, a staff member of the Metropolitan Opera Association.
CULLEN's CROSBY SHOW
On Wednesday night, Jack ("What Next") Cullen featured Crosby throughout his DJ show on CKNW from 10:15 until 1 a.m. For the first two thirds of the show, it was good listening.
Jack played some of the earliest discs ever made by Der Bingle. For a lot of us old middle-aged fuddy duddies, they brought back plenty of memories. Songs like "Please," "Thanks" and "The Day You Came Along" were tops. As a matter of fact, one thing that Cullen's show demonstrated very well was that the middle and late 30's were Crosby's peak years. His singing of those days is by all odds his best.
I was disappointed in Jack's selection of a "Road" show from which to play excerpts. The Hope-Crosby "Road to Singapore" probably has the least popular songs of any of the "Road" shows. Nor are isolated pieces of dialogue from a film sound track particularly interesting from a listener's standpoint. For a collector they are fine, but their entertainment value is nil.
By midnight, Cullen had only reached the year 1935 in Crosby's career, and from there on he began to jump about and play selections in no particular order taken from the past 15 years. Some were good and some were mediocre. But what spoiled the show for me in the last hour was the chatter in the studios. I like Bobby Hughes' singing and I like Wally Garrett's announcing, but when they are nothing but muttering voices in the far background, they are merely annoyances. Nobody listening could hear a word they said to Cullen, and although Jack seemed to be convulsed by the humor of everything that went on, it was completely inexplicable to the radio audience.
When will disc jockeys in this town wake up to the fact that this sort of thing is not good taste, or good showmanship or good radio? For a small station in a town with a population of 15,000 it may be all right. But surely Vancouver has outgrown this sort of childish nonsense.
If a disc jockey has visitors and wants to put them on the air, then let him put a microphone in front of their faces and make them talk into it. Disembodied mumblings, from the back of the control room and slightly off-color suggestions, are NOT funny.
Jack Cullen is a good disc jockey, one of the best in Western Canada. He has what is probably the greatest collection of Crosby recordings and transcriptions in the country. His show on Wednesday night could have been a real treat, not only for rabid Crosby fans, but for practically everyone. But it fell apart in the last hour. This is the sort of thing that is keeping many phases of Vancouver radio ten years behind the rest of the continent.
Radio is show business. And until some of Vancouver's radio personalities get that firmly into their heads and act accordingly, they will remain second-raters.
TONIGHT'S BEST BETS
6:00 p.m.—Information Please, KOMO; Life with Luigi, CBR.
6:30 p.m.—Fibber McGee and Molly, KOMO; Canadian Cavalcade, CBR.
7:00 p.m.—Jack Short Show, CJOR; Armstrong of the SBI, KJR; Big Town, KOMO.
7:30 p.m.—Jake and the Kid, CBR; Waltzes with Strauss, CKNW.
8:00 p.m.—Metropolitan Auditions, KJR; Open House, CKNW.
9:00 p.m.—Bob Hope, KOMO; Guy Lombordo, CKWX.
9:30 p.m.—Boston Blackie, CKWX; Esquire Club, CKNW.
10:30 p.m.—Toronto Symphony from Massey Hall, Toronto, CBR.
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Re: Bing, Bing, Cullen and Lettner

Postby jon » Fri Aug 16, 2019 8:15 am

The closest I came to ever meeting Jack Cullen was on a visit to his Brentwood studio back in the 1960s, not too long after it opened.

But it is the 7pm Jack Short show on CJOR that intrigues me. No mention anywhere I've seen, or remember hearing myself, of Jack doing anything on the radio not related to Horse Racing.
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Re: Bing, Bing, Cullen and Lettner

Postby cart_machine » Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:04 pm

The Vancouver News-Herald advertised the half-hour show thusly in 1950:

“Consult your old race forms and hear some bygone races by the Voice of the Races.”

I guess CJOR had to do something with him during the off-season, so this was it.

Jack Diamond’s Pacific Meat was the sponsor.

cArtie.
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