GK: So many listeners write in to me and ask, Mr. Wyler, as the oldest living radio host in America, do you sometimes look back at the Golden Age of radio as a real high point in your career, now that your show is getting pounded in the ratings by Ira Glass and Wait Wait I Don't Want To Know and Terry Gross and all the young people coming up in the business, do you ever wish you were back there in your halcyon days? I'll bet you love to sit around after your show, which by the way I used to listen to when I was a child ---- sit around and regale your staff with stories about your salad days in broadcasting. ---- signed, Chris Thile.
Yes, Chris, I do have fond memories, especially when I come to Cleveland which is where Vince Giordano and I started out in radio, many years ago. We lived at the YMCA and the Night Hawks actually were newsboys who hawked the paper, the Plain Dealer, and Vince gave them music lessons when he was sentenced to do 500 hours of community service for stealing a boxful of 78s of Adrian Rollini, the Bruce Springsteen of the Bass Sax. But that's a story for another time. Vince and his Band spent every day up in the attic of this theater where the studios of station WLT were located, guys sitting around playing cribbage and reading the funny papers until ten seconds before the On Air light went on and then they were right there with the theme.
(APPLE BLOSSOM TIME)
TR: And now from the sunny kitchen of Aunt Maggie and her selfish daughter Meghan, we bring you THE RAVENOUS HEART. As we join the Fairfields, Aunt Maggie is saying.....
SS: Ah, look at those fleecy white clouds scudding like graceful ghosts across the Cleveland skyline as the bustling crowds head toward Playhouse Square in search of entertainment to relieve the emotional stress of another work week.
CD: You talk funny, you know that? Talk like a normal person, you old bat.
SS: And yet, when we seek distraction in works of art, what in the end do we find but ourselves, over and over and over again?
CD: Borrow me ten bucks, Ma, I want to go downtown and get into trouble.
SS: Oh mercy sakes. Not with that Italian boy!
CD: Yes, of course, with that Italian boy.
SS: But he's from Rocky Fork Point.
CD: Who gives a rip? I'm out of here.
GK: Vince Giordano, whose real name by the way is Vern Jorgenson, but he changed it because otherwise he'd have to play polkas, he couldn't play jazz ---- Vince Giordano and His Nighthawks were every where in radio back then, usually playing schlock, but ever so often, they got to play the music they truly loved.
TR: WE NOW BRING YOU A BRIEF MUSICAL INTERLUDE WITH VINCE GIORDANO AND HIS NIGHT HAWKS.
(SABRE DANCE, ONE MINUTE)
TR: THAT CONCLUDES THIS MUSICAL INTERLUDE. WE NOW RETURN YOU TO OUR NORMAL SCHEDULE OF BROADCASTING.
GK: All day the band sat in the studio, calling their bookies, lining up dates with female fans, reading unsavory novels, writing angry letters to the newspapers, making anonymous phone calls to complete strangers, and yet no matter what, they were never late when Vince cued them to play the next theme song.
TR (ANNOUNCER): Yes, it's time once again for TIMMY OF THE JUNGLE, brought to you by Brunswick Brand Baked Beans --- when you feel tight and clogged up, too --- Brunswick Baked Beans go right through.....
And now, today's story....(THEME FADES, ORGAN IN. JUNGLE BIRDS AND PRIMATES) Timmy and his mom have left their home in Cleveland to return a casserole dish to Grandma but they got lost in the dark.....
FN (BOY): Grandma lives in Cuyahoga Falls, Mom. I think this is the Cayman Islands. Or the jungles of Colombia.
SS: We have to keep going, Timmy. We have to return things that we borrow. (SNARL) Oh oh. A Jaguar. And not the kind with a hood ornament. You better run for it, Timmy. I'll fight him off with this tree branch. Oh oh. (SNAKE HISS AND RATTLE) It's not a tree branch. (ORGAN STING)
GK: Scaring people was one thing radio was really good at. Movies are seldom scary unless the light gets very very dim. Visuals get in the way of fear. Radio is perfect.
TR (GRAVELY): And now.....Jensen's Medicated Gel..... Jensen's cures sores from smallpox and gangrene, And it leaves you smelling fresh and clean....brings you RADIO STORYTIME with Uncle Buddy.
FN (OLD): Hello, children. Time for another story here on Storytime and today I think I'll tell you a story about.....quicksand. (SFX)
TR (CHILD): Oh no, Uncle Buddy. Not quicksand.
SS: Buddy, that's too scary for our children.
FN (OLD): I'm tired of you, Maud. Stick this in your mouth. (STRUGGLE, SS GAGGED, TRYING TO SPEAK) Quicksand is all around us, children. You can walk down the street and never notice and then suddenly......(SFX, SUCKING, PANIC, SINKING, DROWNING)
GK: That was radio back in the Golden Age and now, in recognition of their contributions over the years, we're going to let Vince and the band play an entire tune from beginning to end, no interruptions...