Business (And Comedy) As Usual...Well, SORT Of!


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Posted ByGerry O. on May 24, 2002 at 00:38:39:

In Reply to: Re: Benny Program on Final Countdown posted bykurt on May 22, 2002 at 10:59:33:

: That is an excerpt from the Benny program of Dec. 7, 1941. Hard as it is to believe that a comedy program went on the air that evening, it did, and the audience sat there and laughed at it.

: In those days, the sponsors, not the networks, controlled the airwaves. Also, it took quite some time for all the news to trickle in. And this was long before the days of 24-hour news, and even some time before the days of "We interrupt this program..."

: The surviving recording of that program is the West Coast broadcast, in which an announcer breaks in during Dennis' song to ask for local safety volunteers and to advise people not to panic. At the moment, West Coast residents were expecting Japanese Zeros to appear over the horizon any minute!


After our period of "broadcast mourning" following 9/11, it IS interesting to note that as soon as the evening of the Pearl Harbor attack, radio comedy shows went on the air as usual....LIVE broadcasts with studio audiences!
However, things were not quite the same...Many of these comedy shows were being frequently interrupted with news bulletins, and many of the shows made references to the attack and patriotism.
Some of the more notable examples include that week's "TEXACO STAR THEATRE" with Fred Allen and "FIBBER McGEE & MOLLY".
The Texaco program opened with announcer Larry Elliot explaining that the usual program opening of the siren and bells would not be used until further notice, because the sponsor and network did not want listeners mistaking the Texaco signature opening for an air raid alert. (An auto horn was used for the opening for the duration of the war). Elliot then gave out with a short bit of patriotic inspiration before starting the Fred Allen program.
At the end of that week's "Fibber McGee & Molly" program, Fibber & Molly (ALWAYS eager to inspire the patriotism of their listeners), commented on the recent events, and the program closed with the studio audience singing a patriotic anthem.
Yes, the "show did go on" following the Pearl Harbor attack...but things WERE different!


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