GK: And that music tells us it's time for Listeners' Mailbag when we take up a question from our listeners. Here's a letter from T.S. of Frankfurt, Kentucky.
TR (BOY): Hi, Mr.Wyler, I sure am a huge fan of all that you do, you're so gifted and talented, I wonder if you'd be willing to share with us some anecdote from your days in New York during radio's Golden Age lo these many years ago. You are a justly famous raconteur with a plethora of fascinating tales to tell, I wonder if you'd be willing to regale us with just one of these fascinating vignettes of backstage life in broadcasting way back when.
GK: Sure. I guess I could do that. (PIANO UNDER) This was before television, of course, back when radio was king and radio was in New York, all the big shows were here and many of them came from this very stage at Town Hall.
TR (ANNC): Live from New York City, it's the Town Hall Avalanche of Hits with handsome and clean-smelling band leader, Vince Giordano and His All-Boy Orchestra f..brought to you by Hosanna Toothpastef..it gives teeth that (DING) spotlight glamour so important in entertainment or any other businessffand now, the man with the golden voice and a thousand friends, Mr. Broadway, Mr. Big Band, the star of our show, Vince Giordano.
VG: Thank you so much, Russell Timmons, and hello once again from Times Square, where the boys and I are happy to bring you this week's hottest hit tunes, based on surveys of jukeboxes in senior citizen recreation centers and also from the sales of used LP records at flea markets. Let's start with No. 10, moving up fast on the charts, this is PARAMOUNT ON PARADEff. (RECORD HISS) (BEGINNING OF TUNE)
GK: I was a script boy on the Avalanche of Hits and I knew Vince Giordano very well. He was a very nice guy, especially considering his problems. We used to hear gunshots from his dressing room (SFX) and ---- we just never asked questions. Figured he was high-strung. Anyway---- it turned out he was a big gun collector and he quit the show a few weeks before Christmas and moved to Wyoming and became a Republican and I moved on to a different show----- I got a job as an errand boy to a big star named Jiggs Wahpeton.
TR: From the Tom-Tom Room at the Oglallah Hotel on West 43rd Street, it's a live broadcast of THE JIGGS WAHPETON SHOW starring the "gal in the know," New York Journal American gossip columnist Jiggs Wahpeton. (MUSIC FADE)
SS: Every so often, a guy comes along who epitomizes what this business is all about, and what it's about ---- let's face it ---- is class, and some people have it and other people, I'm sorry to say, don't, though some of them think they do, but they don't, and maybe nobody around them dares to tell them they don't, but the truth is, they don't, but here is one guy who does, and I really mean that, this man right here is a legend, and he's also a close personal friend, and what else can I say, it's a huge huge honor to have him here on the Jiggs Wahpeton Show, and I want to thank him for taking time out of his busy busy schedule to be here, what a thrill, Mr. Les Payne.
FN: Hey, thanks. Good to be here.
SS: I mean, let's face it, I've been around, I've seen em come, I've seen em go, and yet, when it's all said and done, either you've got it or you don't, and Les, you are one person who does. And I really mean that.
FN: Hey. You're pretty incredible yourself.
SS: I'm not just saying that. I mean it. You're the best. I went to see you in "O Boy O Boy" and I laughed so hard I threw my back out, I practically had to be carried out of there on a stretcher. I mean it. I'm laughing now just thinking about it. Look at this. I'm laughing at just the memory of how funny you were in that show. You were fantastic.
FN: Hey. Thanks. (MUSIC UNDER)
GK: I was a production assistant on the show and I'd bring Miss Wahpeton illegal drugs in her dressing room where I'd often find her in her nightgown with her musical director Ross Holcombe----
TR (KIRK DOUGLAS) Bring us some of those yellow pills, sonny. And another bottle of gin. Here. Keep the change. (BRIDGE)
GK: They were wonderful people, though they were under a lot of stress at the time, because they were Republicans and the tax cuts were not stimulating economic growth and that was why they used drugs, to deal with the pain, but basically they were good people in their own way and they got me my next job in radio, which was a public radio show -----
TR: In exotic places the length and breadth of the earth live amazing and unusual people with cultural traditions so unlike our own ----- Zanzibar----- Morocco ----- Calcutta ----- Duluth ----- join us now as we take you to strange lands and interesting peoples onffADVENTURES IN ANTHROPOLOGYffwith your host, Dr. G. Dennis Wetherill.
GK: I worked in the office, answering fan mail and sending out autographed pictures, and then Dr. Wetherill formed an HMO, even though his doctorate was in anthropology, and he became enormously wealthy selling medicinal powders and totems to elderly people and collecting large sums from Medicare, and I quit and then I got my big break, it was on a soap opera----
TR (ANNOUNCER): Yes----- it's time for WEST END AVENUE the story of the progressive Folwell family Pops, Ma, Eleanor, Studs, and Eugene Debs Folwell, and their struggle to create political awareness among their reactionary relatives upstate and now, as we join the Folwells in Mom's sunny kitchen under the big Spanish Civil War poster, we hear Studs say.
GK: I'm dropping out of Columbia next week and taking my banjo to western Kentucky to show solidarity with the striking mineworkers there, Ma.
SS: But you're so close to graduation. When do you plan to return, Studs?
GK: Not until we win everything we're demanding from the vicious mine owners, Ma.
SS: Oh.
GK: Why do you ask?
SS: Your father has emptied our savings account, Studs, and given every last dime to the Alger Hiss Defense Fund.
GK: I wasn't aware of that.
SS: The rent on the apartment is due on Wednesday. Without the stipend you receive from the Columbia Law School, we'll be forced out on the street, Studs.
GK: But the mineworkers need me, Mom.
SS: You're two credits away from graduation. In another month, you'll get a fabulous job offer from a big firm downtown, and we'll be able to afford a piano and an automobile and a carpet for the living room. And Eugene Debs can have his teeth straightened. And we can bail your father out of jail. We need you here, Studs. And so does Natasha. (STING)
GK: Natasha. My communist girlfriend with the fabulous hair and the flashing eyes and the body that drives me wild. Oh, what to do? (STING)
TR: Join us again tomorrow for WEST END AVENUE when we hear Pops say
FN: I'm organizing a rent strike, Ma. And a subway riders' strike, and a taxpayers' boycott. (STING)
GK: I played the role of Studs for ten years and then one day Pops confessed that he was a Republican ----- (WEEPING, PROTESTS)
FN: I'm sorry, I had to tell you -----
GK: -----and he quit to go to work for General Electric and give inspirational speeches urging their workers to greater heights of productivity. . And I went on to another soap operaffin the starring role
TR (ANNC): It's time now for RESTLESS QUEST brought to you by Mrs. Weil's Homemade Pickled Green Tomatoes---- you know when it comes to choosing a condiment for your family, you naturally want the best, and that's Mrs. Weil's Pickled Green Tomatoes, they're loaded with vitamins and natural goodness---- and now, RESTLESS QUEST, Can a fellow from a rural background make his way in midtown Manhattan without committing terrible fox paws that reveal only too clearly his rustic origins? Join us now as Buddy, after pausing to check his hair in the mirror and freshen his breath, steps into the office of Acme Employment.
SS: Hello. May I help you?
GK: Yes. I'm hoping that you will.
SS: Good. I hope so, too.
GK: You're looking at me in an interesting way.
SS: How do you mean, "interesting"?
GK: As if you have detected a particular odor and you're wondering from what or from whom it may emanate.
SS: Oh?
GK: I come from a rural background. I want that to be understood from the start.
SS: I come from a rural background, too.
GK: You do???? You don't look as if you do. You're so glamorous. So sure of yourself. (ORGAN SWELL)
GK: I was the star of Restless Quest and I was very happy doing that show for ---- amazing as it may seem ---- twenty-six years. The time just seemed to whiz past. I liked everyone who worked on the show, the head writer Al.
TR: Morning, everybody! Morning, Carson! (TYPEWRITER) I'll have this script ready for you in two shakes of a lamb's tail.
GK: Working hard, Al?
TR: Nope. Easy as pie. Like a hot knife through butter. Like falling off a log.
GK: Well, the scripts have all been so good lately. So well written.
TR: Hope today's is no exception. Knock on wood.
GK: He just seemed to have the common touch. Never acted hoity-toi like so many writers. And of course Susanne Wildebeest who played opposite me for all those years, she was a sweetheart too. They all were. Twenty-six years we were together. We three formed a company, a partnership, and we invested in a berry farm in the Poconos that raised raspberries and blueberries for preserves. And then one day Al and Susanne took all the money from the berry farm, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they absconded with it and went to South America. I had had no inkling that they were Republicans, but, as it turned out, they were. So I was left jobless and penniless and in my late fifties. But I went back to broadcasting school and I went through a course in self-esteem (MUSIC)
GK: And here I am doing my best trying to get along in the radio business, even though it isn't the Golden Age anymore, but we still have fun. Does that answer your question, son?
TR (KID): Yes, sir. But are you a Republican?
GK: Me?
TR (KID): Yes, you.
GK: That's kind of a personal question, isn't it, son?
TR (KID): Tell the truth.
GK: We're all Republicans now
We've all come around somehow
We saw the light
And turned to the right
We're all Republicans now
There's no more bitter dissent
We're all here in the tent.
No more free lunch, everybody must pay.
If you want cheap drugs, Canada is that way.
If you want to earn money, it only makes sense,
Buy pharmaceuticals, invest in defense.
We're all Republicans,
All Republicans,
We're all Republicans now.