hildy89: (library theater)
Last year, the International Mystery Writer's Festival produced "Remember WENN: Armchair Detectives". I so wanted to attend, but finances and location really hampered my chances. Now I've got the next best thing, since they've released audio cds of the performance. My order arrived in only a few days but I'm only now having a chance to listen to it.

It's rather jarring to hear new voices performing favorite characters. I was reminded of the WENN actors hearing the student actors in "Don't Act Like That" playing their roles. It's strange to hear something so familiar performed so differently, like hearing a quirky rendition of an old standard. The timing and the beats you're used to aren't there and the notes are hit in different ways. I think it's a real credit to all the WENN actors, even the secondary characters, that to this day I can hear each of their voices and personalities so clearly. Also that despite how broadly their characters were written initially, they grew into those roles and gave them depth and feeling and humor. I'm trying not to picture this cast in later sequences, but it's difficult, knowing what comes next.

The other thing that takes some getting used to is the audience. WENN never had a laugh track, so hearing audience reactions besides my reactions was quite strange. A little thrilling, too, knowing some of these people were hearing and appreciating WENN for the first time.

The play combined "On the Air" and "Armchair Detective" with some added bits from other episodes. The "Ghost of WENN" material was not used, which was a shame. It might have given the play a spookier edge. The mystery section was a bit thin for a supposed mystery play festival.

Remember me, remember you... )
hildy89: (mackie)
Today was the anniversary of the D-Day invasion. My thoughts are with my grandfather who served in the war.

I spent most of the day listening to Rat Patrol Radio's annual Complete Broadcast Day. This year's broadcast was slightly different. Having discovered that he had a faulty copy of the CBS broadcast, the RPR's owner found the NBC version instead, which made for an interesting contrast. As I've recounted before, the CBS version switched to actual programming when they reached what we'd consider the prime time hours. NBC cast aside all of its programming and stayed mostly with the news. Occasionally there'd be music or prayers. Lots of requests for prayers. They even provided a "dictation speed" early version of FDR's speech, so you could recite the prayer along with him. The NBC version did not include King George VI's speech.

On a WENN note, there was a long program recapping the reactions around the country from Hartford to New York to Cincinatti to Oklahoma City. I kept picturing a similar news piece from my favorite station in Pittsburgh. Unlike "Some Good News, Some Bad News", there would be plenty of news to report. (*makes notes for old fic idea*)

Both versions are available for download off the Internet Archive if you search under "complete broadcast day". There was also a earlier complete broadcast from 1939 from the local DC station WJSV which became WTOP. Also a large archive of WWII related radio news broadcasts.
hildy89: (harvest moon bpal)
Ah, Halloween, when the ghouls come out to play and Martians land in New Jersey...

2008 is the 70 year anniversary of the Mercury Theatre on the Air broadcast.

The Hyped Panic over War of the Worlds: Chronicle of Higher Education article on the "War of the Worlds" broadcast.

Jitterbugs and Crackpots: National Archives article on the letters FCC received about the broadcast

Dark Horse adaptation of HG Wells novel
hildy89: (home)
Couple of links:
OTR on Wisconsin Public Radio: Over three hundred old time radio programs of varying types on WPR.
July 1942: United We Stand: Fascinating exhibit I seem to have missed when it was around. "In July 1942, seven months after the United States entered World War II, magazines nationwide featured the American flag on their covers. Adopting the slogan United We Stand, some five hundred publications waved the stars and stripes to promote national unity, rally support for the war, and celebrate Independence Day."

This afternoon I did something fairly radical -- I went outside for lunch. Usually I just make do with the cafeteria. There aren't any restaurants or eating places in my corner of DC. But the weather was gorgeous outside (sunny, warm, and not much humidity) and I wanted to stretch my legs. You can go a little nuts down here with no windows or outside human contact. There was a CVS a few blocks up, so I thought I'd go there. Until I spotted the time honored noble hot dog stand. Not fancy and not particularly healthy, but it would do. Instead of walking back towards my office, I went across Constitution towards some inviting park benches in front of a little pond. I should have either brought my camera or played hooky for the rest of the day. It was that lovely outside. It really did remind me how beautiful DC can be, for all its massive flaws. From the maps, I appear to have found the Constitution Gardens next to the Vietnam War Memorial. It even appears to have some sort of island in the middle which I didn't see.
hildy89: (green hornet)
[livejournal.com profile] neadods has been asking about podcasts lately.

I don't listen to that many. The large bulk of mine are old time radio oriented. I had to go digging yesterday to find the superheroes one for my Green Hornet fix.

I've also listened to some of Pendant Audio fan programs, particularly the Champion of Themiscyra one. They're in the middle of their latest crossover bonanza. Some of the voices flat out don't work for me. Some do.

I've listened to a couple of the comics ones, Word Balloon or FanboyRadio, if the author/artist being interviewed interests me.

In my more recent interests, I've listened to Behind the Black Mask's author interviews. They have a second podcast called "Out of the Past" reviewing films, some classic and some modern.

Crimewav: Relatively new podcast of short crime fiction. Two of the authors with stories are Vicki Hendricks and Christa Faust. All we need is Megan Abbott for the trifecta of female noir writers... (Not remotely family friendly readings I might add, if that bothers you.)
hildy89: (oldtimeradio by biichan)
I meant to post about this yesterday.

Jo Stafford died at age 90. She had a long singing career from the Pied Pipers to her own solo work. She was known as "GI Jo" for serenading WWII soldiers with the USO. Her obits are on Washington Post and LA Times but I first heard about in the Thrilling Yesteryear blog.

Trying to remember where I recognized the name (Smithsonian's "You'd be So Nice to Come Home to" collection), I came across a Big Band Serenade podcast episode on her music. There are a whole rafter of OTR podcasts, depending on your preferences. You can fly with the superheroes, fight alongside crime fighters, cry with the soaps, or dance along to the music. To paraphrase Victor Comstock, that is the magic of radio.

D-Day

Jun. 6th, 2007 10:40 am
hildy89: (mackie)
Today is D-Day, June 6th. Rat Patrol Radio is running their complete broadcast day again. I can't seem to get Live365 to cooperate with my work browsers, so I will have to wait until I get home to storm the beaches. Apparently they're rerunning the whole thing starting tomorrrow Thursday at 9am, if you didn't want to wake up today at 3am to catch the first rumors of invasion.
hildy89: (Default)
Oh sorry, I just had a Janine moment.

I just received my HIS confirmation in the mail. Now I can actually start worrying about flights. I was this close to canceling my membership for MediaWest this year, because it just wasn't worth the hassle. But if I get to see some of my friends, it will be. Should I plan a door? And what should it be? My fandoms have shifted again. It's really hard to put up an Atlantis door, other than a "This is my Atlantis, not the one we see on tv." Needs thinking.

TCM is being nice to me. Now that I'm back into the OTR frame of mind, they're showing the Chester Morris Boston Blackie movies as part of their "Watching the Detectives" series this month. I'll have to remember they're on.

Other reasons I'm particularly frazzled I won't go into. Suffice it to say it's one more push towards direct deposit...
hildy89: (oldtimeradio by biichan)
Otter: A freeware Windows program to help catalog old time radio mp3s and files. Theoretically it can match your files with the logs in its system. I'm still working out the bugs myself, but it looks quite useful, especially so you don't download the same thing twice.

[livejournal.com profile] share_otr: Newish community for the sharing of OTR mp3s.
hildy89: (oldtimeradio by biichan)
I came upon an article in the Washington Post about another stage version of Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" broadcast currently at the Scena Theatre through January. They've added the bonus of injecting some of the panic through some planted cast members. It'd be interesting to see, if the theater wasn't all the up in Mt Pleasant. But the prices are reasonable, so maybe...
hildy89: (oldtimeradio by biichan)
This is Orson Welles, ladies and gentlemen, out of character to assure you that "The War of The Worlds" has no further significance than as the holiday offering it was intended to be. The Mercury Theatre's own radio version of dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying Boo!

Starting now, we couldn't soap all your windows and steal all your garden gates by tomorrow night... so we did the best next thing. We annihilated the world before your very ears, and utterly destroyed the C. B. S. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn't mean it, and that both institutions are still open for business.

So goodbye everybody, and remember please, for the next day or so, the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody's there, that was no Martian... it's Halloween.


from "War of the Worlds" (October 30, 1938)
Mercury Theatre on the Air

D-day again

Jun. 6th, 2005 10:19 pm
hildy89: (mackie)
I had the D-Day broadcast on for most of the day while I worked. King George VI's speech was quite affecting. I don't think I'd ever heard him speak. The news reports featured some interesting bits. A former resident of Normandy talking about the terrain and people. The Congressmen & women, including Al Gore Sr, being interviewed at the Capitol. I was mostly struck by the Congressman who was a WWI veteran and kept reiterating this wasn't a carnival and should be treated as a solemn sober occasion. That point was a common refrain.

When the broadcast reached the evening hours, Columbia interpersed their news reports with actual programming. An episode of "Passing Parade" showed the possible 100th anniversary of D-Day, telling our descendants all about the big day. Mostly I found myself amused (and slightly depressed) thinking of myself as the crotchety old history professor teaching the class. I decided I'm really not a Burns and Allen fan particularly. At about 10 pm wartime, FDR gave a prayer to the nation. He sounded tired. In retrospect, I realized he would be dead in just under a year. We heard the occasional "This is London" report from Edward R. Murrow as the BBC provided coverage. CBS gamely tried to stay with it the entire time. At one point, they even apologized for one of their newsman/announcers not being heard at his usual time because he was home getting some sleep, after pulling a long shift. After the umpteenth rendition of "Stars and Stripes Forever" by the Navy Band, I decided I had hit saturation point. The Allied troops would just have to take the beaches of Normandy without me.
hildy89: (oldtimeradio by biichan)
I'm listening to Live365's Rat Patrol Radio. They're airing the Complete Broadcast Day for D-Day from CBS News. For the part I'm listening to now, it's mostly news reports interpersed with occasional music (lots of military themes), although they seem to have done some programming. The most fascinating bulletin for me was a report from wartime Washington describing my "sleepy Southern town" and how it really didn't wake up until about 8am. So much has changed alas. I believe the correspondent was commenting on a intersection at E street, but I couldn't remember the cross street. I'm also grabbing some OTR programs off the binary newsgroups.
hildy89: (oldtimeradio by biichan)
Work is plugging along. I felt a little discouraged yesterday when I discovered an entire section of books I hadn't inputted. It nearly ruined my labeling momentum. Today was a little better, but I spent most of the time before lunch doing a large shift of the books shelving in the new material. Hopefully all the stuff that's left is mostly problems and duplicates.

Part of my rhythm was improved mightily by bringing in my "Boston Blackie" old time radio mp3s. I may not love the Windows media player normally, but it does the job without downloading anything different. The earliest episodes with Chester Morris are quite enjoyable so far, although I have that damn Rinso White jingle stuck in my brain and it won't go away. According to some Google searches, the voice was supposedly a young Beverly Sills, the opera singer. Morris only appeared in the first thirteen episodes. I think he's the Boston I'm the most familiar with. He's certainly a character, always figuring out some way to get out of a jamb. Poor Farraday. He does mean well... mostly.
hildy89: (oldtimeradio by biichan)
I stumbled upon a fascinating article related to old-time radio in the the Fall issue of the National Archives' magazine Prologue, entitled "Jitterbugs" and "Crack-pots": Letters to the FCC about the "War of the Worlds" Broadcast about Orson Welles' infamous "Panic Broadcast" in October 1938.

The magazine article includes actual telegrams and letters held at the Archives. The fairly new FCC received over 600 such missives from listeners with opinions on the broadcast. They also sent over 1000 letters to Columbia Broadcasting and the Mercury Theatre cast. The interesting thing I hadn't realized was how many of those responses were positive, overwhelmingly so. If anything, they were worried that the panic and fuss would hurt future radio programming, stifling potential creativity.

The documents included:


  • A telegram from Eddie Cantor urging the FCC not to "garrote radio with excessive censorship".


  • A long letter from a South Dakota man who stated "I suppose by this time you have received many letters from numerous cranks and crack-pots who quickly became jitterbugs during the program. I was one of the thousands who heard this window and did not jump out of the window, did not attempt suicide..."


  • A twelve year old boy in Rockford, Illinois announced that he enjoyed the program very much, but "I heard about half of it but my mother and sister got frightened and I had to turn it off." Poor kid!


I've always been fascinated with the original Mercury Theatre broadcast, a classic in both radio drama and mob psychology. Reading the letters, I still wonder at why some people reacted with fear and concern and others simply saw it for what it was. Even if they came in mid-way, as many claimed, why didn't they just pick up a newspaper and read the radio listings? Were they so keyed up with potential of war breaking out at any moment? (Are we any different now? I flinch a little these days when I see a "Breaking News" up on the television, like the Martians are about to land at any moment.)

I started an awful story a long time ago with a New Jersey family without their television for one night. They caught a rebroadcast of the original show and fearing the worst. They fleed to their parents who calmly told them about "good old days" of radio. Oddly this was when my OTR listening was limited to the Shadow and Green Hornet.

"So goodbye everybody, and remember the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing, globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody's there, that was no Martian...it's Hallowe'en."
hildy89: (face)


While at the library, I happen upon an interesting find in the audio-visual section with the radio programs. Too Dead to Swing is a audio play which focuses on a mystery set in an all-girl swing band in 1940. Cabaret singer Ann Hampton Calloway provides the singing for the group. Susan Egan plays the main character Katy Green, a struggling violinist & alto saxophonist. The composer and band director is played by Harry Groener who I remember fondly from his stint as the Mayor of Sunnydale on Buffy. And the band's new publicity representative is Simon Jones who my parents would know as Arthur Dent from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Small world. There are four cassette tapes in the program. Supposedly they intend to release other titles in the series.

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