July 24, 70 Years Ago

Bits and Pieces of BC Radio History

July 24, 70 Years Ago

Postby cart_machine » Fri Jul 24, 2020 1:21 am

Radio automation in 1950? It appears so, according to Dick Diespecker’s column in the Province 70 years ago. The version mentioned below required a board op. No jamming carts or misread trip tones just yet.

The bulk of the column looks to have come from an NBC news release and deals with reporter George Folster, who died in 1964 at the age of 57. He retired from radio in 1957 and ran a music publishing company in Tokyo. Perhaps the most interesting thing in his career, according to his obit by UPI, was at the end of the war he arrived in Japan a day before Douglas McArthur and was there to greet the general.

Dick’s a little desperate for “Best Bets.” “Too Many Cooks” was a summer replacement show that lasted eight weeks. It starred Hal March and Mary Jane Croft as the parents of ten children. If they had subtracted four kids and added a housekeeper named Alice it might have worked.

It was Hal Rodd vs. Jim Cox at 9 p.m.

“Opportunity Knocks” was one of the shows CJOR fed to the CBC Dominion network.


Around Your Radio Dial Tonight
One of the NBC correspondents covering the crisis in Korea has had more than his share of battle reporting. He is also a seasoned expert on the Far East. His name is George Thomas Folster, and he heads the NBC Tokyo news bureau.
Folster, with ten years' experience in the Orient, sailed aboard a three-masted schooner as assistant director of the 1940 Fahnestock South Seas Expedition for the American Museum of Natural History. Before leaving New York he contracted with NBC to make broadcasts from interesting points en route.
When the schooner was wrecked on a coral reef off Australia, Folster proceeded on the expedition with a reduced crew, travelling by native canoe some 2,500 miles through the Coral Sea and island waters. He explored New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and walked across Guadalcanal.
In 1947 Folster tested the first broadcast circuits for Trans-Pacific newscasts from Australia, subsequently used by all networks when the Pacific war broke out. He returned from the Solomons to Australia, starting a series of shortwave broadcasts to the United States.
Folster was the first network correspondent to broadcast from Guadalcanal, on November 6, 1943.
His transmitter was set up in a little tent near the front line. The following year he performed the bizarre feat of reporting a battle from a Piper Cub, over Bougainville.
His broadcast was picked up by a radio jeep on the ground, transmitted to army headquarters on Bougainville, relayed to the more powerful station on Noumea, and beamed to San Francisco and the NBC network.
Folster landed with American troops on Luzon, was aboard the battleship Missouri during the Japanese surrender, and reported the postwar atomic experiments at Bikini.
In Tokyo as correspondent ever since V-J Day, Folster has covered for NBC all important developments since World War II, including the breaching of the 38th Parallel by the North Korean Communists. He also reported the US-USSR negotiations in Korea in 1947.
* * *
Mercer McLeod, familiar to Vancouver listeners back in the days of CBR's Chains of Circumstance series and since then as an actor-writer-narrator in his own transcribed series Man With a Story, is new in television in New York.
He is a regular on one of the big New York television drama shows and is in addition doing a considerable amount of television work of other kinds.
* * *
Larry Henderson, announcer-newscaster of Toronto, has just returned from a trip to Europe. He tells his Toronto confreres that radio men in France and Italy have practically abandoned disc recording in favor of tape recording. He says broadcast days are divided into blocks of about two hours and that these blocks are all pre-taped except for spot news. All shows, symphonies, dramas, disc jockey shows and so on are done at night with the studio staff working all night long on the next day's shows.
Comes the dawn, and the stations go on the air with nothing but miles of tape recordings and a studio operator.
* * *
6:00 p.m.—Let Justice Be Done, CBR; Too Many Cooks, KIRO.
7:00 p.m.—Opportunity Knocks, CJOR; Lone Ranger, KJR.
7:30 p.m.—On Stage Tonight, CKNW; Cloak and Dagger. KOMO.
8:00 p.m.—Open House, CKMO; Alberta Ranch House, CBR.
8:30 p.m.—Railroad Hour,KOMO; Broadway Is My Beat, KIRO.
9:00 p.m.—Baseball, CKMO; Lacrosse, CKNW; Rhythm Range, CJOR.
9:30 p.m.—Twenty Questions, CKWX.
6:00, Test Pattern; 6:30, Parade of Stars; 7:00, Kukla, Fran & Ollie; 7:30, Winner Take All; 8:00, Arthur Godfrey and His Friends; 9:00, Top Views in Sports.
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Re: July 24, 70 Years Ago

Postby ronrob » Fri Jul 24, 2020 8:55 am

"Too Many Cooks" was indeed pretty much a flop .. but two cast members went on to have outstanding broadcast careers. Two months later Willard Waterman would seamlessly assume the title role in "The Great Gildersleeve" from Hal Peary and play it to productive ratings for another decade. And George Fenneman would become one of the alltime top 10 commercial announcers on such radio/TV shows as "You Bet Your Life" (with Groucho) and "Dragnet."
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Re: July 24, 70 Years Ago

Postby jon » Fri Jul 24, 2020 2:00 pm

The automation method mentioned by cartie was used by Wolfman Jack on XERB, and even WLS Chicago during the years when DJs did the same shift 7 days a week, and Sunday's show was pre-recorded.

For Wolfman's show on XERB, his Engineer created three tapes in Wolfman's Hollywood studios:
  1. Commercials
  2. Wolfman phone calls
  3. Wolfman talking and the music, which had to all be one tape since he often howled, shouted or sang along with the song
The three were mixed together at the transmitter site by a Mexican engineer.

Sounds complicated, and did not save Wolfman much time over doing it Live. But it did save the long drive to the transmitter site, as U.S. law of that era did not allow running an audio feed across the border.

As of George Fenneman, I always thought he had great chemistry with Groucho.
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Re: July 24, 70 Years Ago

Postby cart_machine » Fri Jul 24, 2020 6:00 pm

jon wrote:As of George Fenneman, I always thought he had great chemistry with Groucho.

The way Fenneman told the story, he ran into director Bob Dwan, whom he had worked with at KGO. Dwan suggested he audition for the announcing job and got it because he'd work for less than the guy who actually won the audition.

That isn't quite the whole story. Jack Slattery was the announcer during Groucho's first season on ABC radio in 1947-48. Why Slattery left, I have no idea, but Fenneman replaced him.

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