Old Time Radio

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Ray Starita and His Ambassadors Band - Blue River (1938)

Ray Starita and His Ambassadors Band recorded the song "Blue River" with Eddie Collins on vocals in London on April 5, 1938, for the Columbia label. The performers were Starita, who played clarinet and tenor sax and directed the band, Andy Richardson and Sylvester Ahola on trumpet, Bill Hall on trombone, Chester Smith on alto sax, Reg Pursglove on violin, Donald Thorne on piano, Jack Hill on guitar, Arthur Calkin on brass bass and Rudy Starita on drums and vibes. Ray Starita was a ... (read more)

What's in a Name? A Lot in Portland Hoffa's Family

Fred Allen and Portland Hoffa on Radio Stars, February 1935 When Fred Allen met Portland Hoffa on the vaudeville circuit in 1922, he was telling jokes and performing badly as a juggler. She was a dancer. The two future comedy stars hit it off because of a conversation about her name: "I'm a doctor's daughter," Hoffa advised him. "My father named me after the city where I was born. Out in Oregon, you know." "I know," said Allen. ''You ought to be glad you weren't born in Terre Haute or ... (read more)

Book Covers the Years Ellery Queen Fought Crime on Radio

Poster for Ellery Queen and the Murder Ring (1941) Martin Grams Jr. has gained the reputation of being somewhat of a research dynamo. Rarely will you speak to Grams when he's not engrossed in researching a particular show for an article, a book or simply for the sake of knowing more about it. He's gotten the reputation of being one of the most productive old time radio scholars today. For his latest book, The Sounds of Detection: Ellery Queen's Adventures in Radio, Grams teamed up with Francis ... (read more)

Maryland Dance Orchestra - How I Love That Girl (1924)

The Maryland Dance Orchestra recorded the song "How I Love That Girl" in New York in November 1924 for the Coliseum label. The performers were Ben Bernie and His Orchestra, featuring Donald Bryan and Harold Rehrig on trumpet; Frank Sarlo on trombone; Mickey McCullough, Len Kavash and Jack Pettis on reeds; Al Goering and J "Kenn" Sisson on piano; Paul Nito on banjo and violin; Al Armer on brass bass; Sam Fink on drums; and Irving Kaufman on vocals. Ben Bernie, whose real name was ... (read more)

Betsy King, the Youngest Disc Jockey on Radio

Radio's newest program type to run the gamut and come through a success is the kid disc jockey. The latest is Betsy King, daughter of Gene King, program director of WCOP, Boston. Betsy handles a much longer session than most of the disc jockeys who have to sit on phone books to cue up discs. She handles the program as though it were two half-hours from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. She calls her hour Let's Have Fun, and she does. Because she feels that Sundays must have prayers, she ends each ... (read more)

Piccadilly Dance Band (Allan Selby) - Kitty's Kisses (1928)

The Piccadilly Dance Band recorded the song "Kitty's Kisses" in London for Piccadilly Records in August 1928. The recording was directed by Allan Selby and includes Phil Lever on trumpet; L. Cooper on trombone; Sid Lenton and H. Brooks on reeds; Bobby Davis on piano; Hal Pike on banjo; R. del Perugia on brass bass; and G. Marshall on drums. "Kitty's Kisses" was the title song from a 1926 summer musical that faded to obscurity until its music was rereleased by PS Classics in 2009. The ... (read more)

The Audition That Changed the Lives of Chester Lauck and Norris Goff

A print ad for Lum and Abner A strange sight would have greeted the eyes of anyone entering the board of directors room of the Quaker Oats Company on a summer morning in 1931. On one side of the room you would have found all the staid and dignified directors of the company, seated with their faces to the wall. On the other side you would have seen two young men talking hillbilly dialect to a broom handle! That was the turning point in the careers of the two boys who have become famous in ... (read more)

Al Benny's Broadway Boys (Harry Bidgood) - Tip Toe Through The Tulips (1929)

Al Benny’s Broadway Boys recorded the song "Tip Toe Through the Tulips" in London for Broadcast Twelve Records on October 30, 1929. George McQuillan played the harp on the recording. Harry Bidgood was a composer and band leader who recorded music under numerous names using studio musicians. "Tip Toe Through the Tulips with Me" was created by Al Dubin (lyrics) and Joe Burke (music) appeared that year in the musical movie the Gold Diggers of Broadway. It became a hit song again ... (read more)

Fanny Brice Made Her Name on an Amateur Night

Fanny Brice performing as Baby Snooks on radio Every night this week, in movie theaters in small towns as well as in the big radio studios of New York, scared girls in homemade clothes -- amateurs -- are doing imitations and singing songs. Hoping! Thirty years ago, too, there were amateur nights. More brutal amateur nights than those today. They were held not in vast modern studios with an unctuous Major Bowes or a wise-cracking Fred Allen as master of ceremonies, but in variety halls, as they ... (read more)

Lew Stone and His Band - A Sailboat in the Moonlight (1937)

Lew Stone and His Band recorded the song "A Sailboat In The Moonlight" with the singer Sam Costa for the Decca label on August 20, 1937. The personnel included Alfie Noakes and Chick Smith on trumpet, Eric Breeze and Joe Ferrie on trombone, Joe Crossman, Ernest Ritte, Bill Apps, and Don Barrigo on reeds, Bobby McGee on piano, Sam Gelsley on guitar, Arthur Maden on string bass and Jock Jacobson on drums. Stone was a jazz pianist, bassist, cellist, arranger, and dance band leader who ... (read more)