Saturday, March 10, 2012

LIVE RADIO SHOWS in the 1940’s

(A few days ago I received an inquiry from a woman named Nina commenting on a blog that I’d written way back in November of 2006. I always love when that happens and thought it would be fun to repeat the entry here and to include her question at the end in hopes that some of you might have an answer for her.)

In the early 1940’s World War II was raging and the live radio shows of that era provided a much-needed respite for the families waiting at home and for the boys on base. “The Jack Benny Show”, “Edgar Bergan and Charlie McCarthy”, “Burns and Allen” and “The Great Gildersleeve” were only a few of the shows
that brought their home-spun humor into our lives.

I was 9 yrs old in 1942 when my family re-located to Wellesley, Massachusetts. I can remember many a night that we gathered around the big, wooden radio in the living room and laughed until the tears flowed. There were also nights when we cried as we listened to the news of our brave boys so far from home. The radio was our lifeline for good news or bad.

One of our family favorites was “You Bet Your Life” with Groucho Marx. He was just as funny on radio as he later was on his TV show of the same name. “The Shadow” was another winner …“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!” Or, how about “The Aldrich Family”, the story of a bumbling kid growing into adolescence. I will never forget the introduction, with his mother calling, “Hen-reeeeeee! Hen-ree AL-drich!” And also, “Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons”, the show that we so cleverly changed to “Mr. Trace, Keener than Most People”.

By 1946 my taste in radio shows had changed dramatically. I was now a teenager and my “romantic” self couldn’t get enough of “The Lux Radio Theater”. Their format was to air one hour radio versions of motion pictures, often using the same cast as in the movie. (examples of these were: “Jane Eyre”, “I Remember Mama”, and “Miracle of the Bells”.) The only problem was that my bedtime was before the show came on.

Not to worry. We now owned two smaller radios and I, simply, connected a long extension cord to one of them and took the radio to bed with me!


Nina commented: “I am in my mid-70s and remember listening to a kid's radio show back in the 1940s. Every week they would sing to the kids who were celebrating their birthdays that week. It was a birthday song sung to the tune of "The Merry Widow Waltz." Does anyone remember what the name of that show was? I would love to find it online.”


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Probably someone will be able to help Nina. I, being a kid by comparison, cannot. ;)

4:21 PM  
Blogger Joseph Pulikotil said...

I was born in 1947 and therefore I will not be able to say anything about this. But I remember when transister radio was introduced in India, I and my friends stood around the radio with open mouth wondering from where the sound was coming. I remember we were all very excited about this radio.

Have a wonderful Sunday,

11:01 PM  
Blogger Arkansas Patti said...

Aww gee, I wish I could help. I don't remember that show but enjoyed your post revisiting the ones we did listen to. Baby Snooks and Our Miss Brooks were my favs. My brothers liked the crime shows.

6:53 AM  
Anonymous schmidleysscribblins, said...

Yes, it was "Big John and Little Sparky" The theme song was to the tune of a classical piece of music, and the words went:

IF you go down in the woods today,
You better not go alone.
If you go down in the woods today,
Its safer to stay at home.
For every bear that ever was will gather there because because.
Today's the day, the Teddy Bears have a picnic.

1:44 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

I remember every show mentioned and loved them too. I don't know which one that lady was referring to, though, it might have been local to her.

6:05 AM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

I thought it was "Big John and Sparky" too but (on my original blog) I mentioned that and Nina said that wasn't the one. Still a mystery,

7:36 AM  
Anonymous Cazzie said...

I listen to a talk back station of a night time here at home (In Australia) and the compares are Bruce and Phil. They are in their late 70's early 80's and they play lots of snippets from early 1940's radio for us all to listen to. I enjoy their programme as they have people call on in and speak of things my Nanna used to speak to me about from when she was young. I worry that we will loose this culture when they pass on. I hope someone comes and rescues it all before Bruce and Phil hang up their microphones.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Haddock said...

Nothing like listening to radio. (I do it even today-listening to streaming radio while on the comp)
And the good old songs were the best. I remember the Saturday date that used to be broadcasted every Saturday for an hour. What lovely songs.

9:21 AM  
Blogger Syd said...

I have no idea, but it looks like someone knows the answer.

8:20 PM  
Blogger Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...


You can still listen to the old time radio shows on the Internet ARchive site
Type the particular show in the search bar at the top or browse or seach by categories.

I am a big fan of old tyme radio and have spent hours listening to all kinds of shows particularly the private detective ones. You will not find The Shadow here as someone still holds the copywrite.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it’s any help when searching for information, the name of the show was “Big Jon and Sparkie”, not “Big John and Little Sparky”; it was also known as “The Saturday Show”.

“The Teddy Bears’ Picnic” was written without words by John Bratton in 1907 under the name “Teddy Bear Two-Step”; it gained words by Jimmy Kennedy in 1932 - so far from being a classical piece it was virtually a pop song in its day!

2:01 AM  

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