Bing Crosby Wants His Records Banned from Radio

Photo of Bing Crosby performing on a CBS radio microphone
Bing Crosby on CBS Radio

How many times a day do you tune in your radio and hear records being played? Would you feel deprived if the station you listened to no longer played these records of your favorites?

That is the situation you may soon be facing. It's important enough for several of the networks' biggest stars to have joined hands in a concerted action to ban the records they have made from the air.

In January a decision was handed down in a Philadelphia court which forbade a radio station in the city to play two of Fred Waring's most popular recordings. It was the first time in the history of this country that a decision on this point had been made. Waring has been fighting for over a year for such a decision.

His point was this: The last time he made a record, quite a long time ago, he made it for a recording company that agreed to put a "For Home Use Only" label on each record. That is, you could buy it and play it on your phonograph, but radio stations weren't supposed to buy it and play it over the air. The Philadelphia station played it anyway, feeling that since no copyright precedent had ever been established, it had a perfect right to do as it pleased.

Now a court has decided in Waring's favor. The case probably will be appealed to a higher court. It may take a year before a final judgment is handed down, perhaps by the Supreme Court itself.

Stars who have commercial programs feel strongly on this point. They claim that when a sponsor is paying them handsomely each week for a program on a large network of stations, local stations should not have unqualified liberty to play their records.

I asked Guy Lombardo for his viewpoint and he wrote me, in part:

"Imagine my astonishment to learn that during a recent broadcast for our present sponsor, whose network included a certain radio station in a Southern city, a smaller station in that same city, at the same hour, broadcast a 'sponsored' program using old Lombardo phonograph records, putting me in direct competition with myself! It is quite evident that the smaller station had sold its sponsor on the idea of capitalizing on the name and the fact that his program and our live program would be on the air simultaneously!"

That incident is not an ordinary one but it shows what can happen and it is a perfect example of why artists like Abe Lyman and Bing Crosby say it is unfair for their records to be put on the air while they're broadcasting. I wonder if you who tune in during the day to records of those bands and singers you like best, hear enough of their music to discourage you from tuning in to their regular network programs. If you do, isn't it logical for those stars to want their records banned?

Fred R. Sammis in Radio Mirror, April 1936