WJSV - A Day in Radio History
On a September Thursday in 1939, the world's eyes were on Europe, where a long-feared war moved into its fourth week.
Americans' eyes were on Washington, where a joint session of Congress prepared to convene to hear an address from the President to clarify US neutrality policy. The day was clear, the temperatures mild.
And in Washington, DC, on the top floor of the Earle Building, located at the corner of Thirteenth and E Streets NW, the staff of radio station WJSV went about the business of just another broadcast day. 6:00 AM to 1:00 AM the following day -- a long succession of programs supplied down the line from New York, Chicago, or Hollywood via the Columbia Broadcasting System, supplemented by a handful of locally produced features.
Announcers Joe King, Hugh Conover, and John Charles Daly went thru their shifts as always -- reading news copy torn directly from a clattering United Press ticker, dropping in spot announcements for Zlotnick the Furrier and Sanitary Food Stores and Bulova Watches and other local clients, reading canned continuity designed to accompany musical selections from the World Transcription Library -- and standing by, always standing by, to hit that next scheduled station break. "This is Columbia's station for the nation's capital: WJSV, Washington."
And as the day rolled on, local personalities Arthur Godfrey and Jean Abbey and Walter Johnson and Harry McTighe and staff organist John Salb all turned in their usual performances. Chief engineer Clyde Hunt and sales manager Bill Murdock and program director Lloyd Dennis, and general manager A. D. Willard, and station vice president Harry Butcher all went about their regular daily routines.
Just another day. Just another broadcast day evaporating into the ether, like all the days that came before and all the days that followed.
Except for one difference.
This one was recorded.
In its entirety.
On thirty-eight 16" double-sided lacquer discs.
The recordings were made after discussions between Harry Butcher of WJSV and R. D. W. Connor of the National Archives, following up on a series of discussions between Connor and John Bradley of the Archives' Division of Motion Pictures and Sound Recordings -- discussions which, in turn, were sparked by conversations between Bradley and WJSV's Special Events Director Ann Gillis nearly a year earlier about the value of preserving radio broadcast recordings. On October 30, 1939, the discs were turned over to the National Archives, and remain in the custody of that institution to the present day.
No restrictions were imposed by CBS or WJSV on the use of the material, and tape transfers of this complete broadcast day began to make their way into Old Time Radio collecting circles in the late 1970s, culminating with the release of a superior-sounding early-generation transfer from the original discs by J. David Goldin of Radio Yesteryear. Subsequent issues of this collection by other dealers and collectors have varied wildly in quality -- and some have been released in edited, truncated form, often omitting the first half hour of the broadcast day preceding Arthur Godfrey's arrival at the microphone and also a rebroadcast from transcriptions of President Roosevelt's speech late in the evening.
But now, Radio Archives is proud to release a newly restored version of this historically essential set of broadcasts -- including EVERY recorded moment of EVERY hour broadcast that day. Each hour has been time corrected, and each hour of the broadcast day runs as a single continuous unit of time -- allowing the listener to finally experience September 21, 1939 just as a listener might have done at home. In addition, each of the various programs in this collection have been assigned a separate track, allowing listeners to skip directly to any of the individual programs contained in this set.
From "The Sun Dial" in the morning, thru the morning soap operas, thru President Roosevelt's address to Congress, from a Washington Senators baseball game thru "Amos 'n' Andy" and "Major Bowes" and the "Columbia Workshop," from the evening news summaries thru the late-night dance band remotes, here is radio as it actually sounded that September Thursday in 1939 -- the good, the bad, the indifferent, the superior and the ridiculous, the quality and the dross. All captured in sparkling digital sound, all presented here just as originally aired.
It's a once in a lifetime trip back to Radio's Golden Age. And Radio Archives is proud to present this definitive edition of this fascinating set of recordings.
Here is the complete content of this historic collection, complete with both product and corporate sponsorship information. (For those who believe that corporate domination of US business is a relatively recent development, note how many diverse products are advertised vs. how few corporations are producing them!) We have not listed the various "spot" announcements featured throughout the day, or the Bulova-sponsored time checks on the hour.
5:58 AM: Sign On
6:00 AM: Music
6:30 AM - 8:30 AM: The Sun Dial - "Musical Clock" program with host Arthur Godfrey. Local sponsors include Pepsi-Cola, a promotion for MGM's "The Women," Minit Rub pain reliever, Zlotnick the Furrier, a local Pontiac dealer, Leggett Drug Stores, the Bond Clothing Store, Peter Paul Mounds candy, Shortening Bread, Alka-Seltzer, the Capitol Fur Shop, Johnny Walker Clothes, Kinsmen Optical, Dr. Pepper, Gulf Service Stations, Charles Schwartz & Son, the Penn-Daw Hotel, and Butler Cars. The program includes at 8:00 AM, the Arrow News Reporter, sponsored by Arrow Beer (Globe Brewing Company) - Local
8:30 AM: Certified Magic Carpet -- Audience Participation program sponsored by Certified Double Flavor Bread (Certified Baking Company) - Local
8:45 AM: Bachelor's Children - Serial, sponsored by Old Dutch Cleanser (Cudahy Packing Company) - CBS
9:00 AM: Pretty Kitty Kelly - Serial, sponsored by Wonder Bread (Continental Baking Company) - CBS
9:15 AM: Myrt & Marge - Serial, sponsored by Super Suds (Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company) - CBS
9:30 AM: Hilltop House - Serial, sponsored by Palmolive Soap (Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company) - CBS
9:45 AM: Stepmother - Serial, sponsored by Colgate Tooth Powder (Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company) - CBS
10:00 AM: News Summary with Robert Trout (Sustaining) - CBS
10:05 AM: Mary Lee Taylor -- Home Economics program, sponsored by the Pet Milk Company - CBS
10:15 AM: Brenda Curtis - Serial, sponsored by the Campbell Soup Company - CBS
10:30 AM: Big Sister - Serial, sponsored by Rinso (Lever Brothers Company) - CBS
10:45 AM: Aunt Jenny - Serial, sponsored by Spry Shortening (Lever Brothers Company) - CBS
11:00 AM: Jean Abbey Notes -- Women's Program, sponsored by the Crowell-Collier Publishing Co. - Local
11:15 AM: When a Girl Marries - Serial, sponsored by the Prudential Insurance Company of America - CBS
11:30 AM: The Romance of Helen Trent - Serial, sponsored by Angelus Lipstick (Louis Phillipe Inc.) - CBS
11:45 AM: Our Gal Sunday - Serial, sponsored by Anacin Aspirin (American Home Products Company) - CBS
12:00 PM: The Goldbergs - Serial, sponsored by Oxydol Detergent (Procter & Gamble Company) - CBS
12:15 PM: Life Can Be Beautiful - Serial, sponsored by Ivory Soap Flakes (Procter & Gamble Company) - CBS
12:30 PM: Road of Life - Serial, sponsored by Chipso Detergent (Procter & Gamble Company) - CBS
12:45 PM: This Day Is Ours - Serial, sponsored by Crisco Shortening (Procter & Gamble Company) - CBS
1:00 PM: Your Sunshine Reporter - News, sponsored by Sunshine Crackers (Loose-Wiles Biscuit Company). Program includes a one-minute silent interval due to station difficulties. - Local
1:15 PM: Life and Love of Dr. Susan - Serial, sponsored by Lux Toilet Soap (Procter & Gamble Company) - CBS
1:30 PM: Your Family and Mine - Serial, sponsored by Sealtest Dairies and Ice Cream (National Dairy Products Corporation) - CBS
1:45 PM - 3:10 PM: News on the special session of Congress, featuring interviews with Senate Minority Leader Austin of Vermont and Democratic Senator Burns by CBS reporter Albert Warner and background information from CBS reporter John Charles Daly, followed by an address by President Roosevelt on the topic of repealing US neutrality and a speech by French Premier Edouard Daladier, concluded with a translation and summary of the speech from CBS New York. (Sustaining) - CBS
3:10 PM: The Career of Alice Blair - Serial, sponsored by Daggett & Ramsdell Cold Cream (Stanco, Inc.) - World Syndication
3:25 PM: Arrow News Reporter - News, sponsored by Arrow Beer (Globe Brewing Company) - Local
3:30 PM: Rhythm and Romance -- Transcribed Music from World Transcription Library discs, sponsored by the Manhattan Laundry Service and other participating local sponsors - Local
3:45 PM: Scattergood Baines - Serial, sponsored by Wrigley's Spearmint Chewing Gum (Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company) - CBS, delayed broadcast from transcription
4:00 PM - 5:17 PM: Baseball: Washington Senators vs. Cleveland Indians, sponsored by General Mills - Local
5:17 PM: The World Dances -- Transcribed Music from World Transcription Library discs (Participating Local sponsors) - Local
5:30 PM: Arrow News Reporter - News, sponsored by Arrow Beer (Globe Brewing Company) - Local
5:35 PM: Johnny Salb - Organ Concert, sponsored by Zlotnick the Furrier - Local
5:45 PM: The Goodrich Sports Reporter (Harry McTighe), sponsored by Goodrich Tires (B. F. Goodrich Company) - Local
6:00 PM: Amos 'n' Andy - Serial, sponsored by the Campbell Soup Company - CBS. Program includes a 2-minute organ fill-in due to network circuit problems.
6:15 PM: The Parker Family, sponsored by Woodbury Facial Soap -- Serial (Andrew Jergens Company) - CBS
6:30 PM: Joe E. Brown Program - Comedy, sponsored by Post Toasties (General Foods Inc.) - CBS
7:00 PM: The Ask-It Basket - Quiz, sponsored by Palmolive Lather Cream, Palmolive Brushless Shave Cream, and Palmolive Dental Cream (Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company) - CBS
7:30 PM: Strange As It Seems - Oddities, sponsored by Palmolive Shave Cream (Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company) - CBS
7:55 PM: Elmer Davis -- News (Sustaining) - CBS
8:00 PM: Major Bowes' Original Amateur Hour, sponsored by Plymouth, Dodge, Desoto, and Chrysler Automobiles (Chrysler Corporation) - CBS
9:00 PM: Columbia Workshop -- Drama (Sustaining): "Now It's Summer," starring Karl Swenson - CBS
9:30 PM: Americans At Work -- Human Interest (Sustaining): "The Auctioneer" - Local
10:00 PM: Arrow News Reporter - News, sponsored by Arrow Beer (Globe Brewing Company) - Local
10:05 PM: Human Side of the News -- Edwin C. Hill, sponsored by Amoco Gasoline (American Oil Company) - CBS
10:15 PM: Streamline Interlude -- Transcribed Music from World Transcription Library discs, sponsored by Zlotnick the Furrier - Local
10:30 PM: Mid-Week Review -- Albert Warner (Sustaining) - CBS
10:45 PM: Rebroadcast of Presidential Address (Sustaining) - CBS, recorded earlier
11:20 PM: Jerry Livingstone and his Orchestra -- Band Remote (Sustaining) - CBS, joined in progress
11:30 PM: Teddy Powell and his Orchestra -- Band Remote (Sustaining) - CBS
12:00 AM: Louis Prima and his Orchestra from the Hickory House, New York City -- Band Remote (Sustaining) - CBS
12:30 AM: Bob Chester and his Orchestra from the Hotel Van Cleve, Dayton, Ohio -- Band Remote (Sustaining) - CBS
12:55 AM: News Summary -- George Putnam (Sustaining) - CBS
1:00 AM: Weather Forecast, National Anthem, Sign Off - Local