Back when television was in infancy, people kept up on the news with their daily newspaper, their periodic hourly spots on the radio, and for important and timely offerings, of newsboys yelling “Extra” as they canvassed the streets.

The Herald offered hourly newscasts on the area’s top radio station, WPIC in Sharon. These broadcasts emanated direct from the editorial rooms of the newspaper, often times with the newsmen involved doing the local broadcasting.

National and international happenings had to depend on radio network reporting, usually at scheduled times in the evenings, to keep abreast.

Grownups could hardly wait until 6:45 p.m. when newscaster Lowell Thomas came on the radio. They had just finished reading their daily Herald of what had happened the night before and looked forward to hearing new developments from their favorite newscaster. They gathered around their radios, some large clumsy rounded sets that sat on shelves or end tables.

Those who had no particular interest in Lowell Thomas turned him on anyway because they knew that at the end of his 1 5-minute spiel he would be followed by the comedy Amos and Andy show which delighted the elders.

Radio offered a wide variety of entertainment in those days --- comedies, drama, mystery and suspense, children’s fare, pleasing music, and yes, even soap operas.

Housewives took a respite from their chores at mid-morning or early afternoon to lend an ear to The Goldbergs, Jake and Mollie, or to Stella Dallas, or to other afternoon serials. Then, like Molly Goldberg did with her neighbor, Mrs. Bloom, they’d compare notes with their neighbor ladies, either over the backyard fence or on the telephone.

Late afternoons belonged to the kids. It featured the old wrangler relating stories about the popular cowboy, Tom Mix, or the antics of “Skippy,” or the heroic adventures of “Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy.” I wish I had a nickel for every cereal box top I sent to Checkerboard Square, St. Louis, Mo.

Comedy was king, and many of the comics that reigned in those days continued their popularity when television took over.

Sunday nights belonged to Jack Benny. Bob Hope was Thursday night’s attraction. Other nights of the week were occupied by such laugh experts like Fred Allen, Bob Burns, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly and the popular George Jessel.

The creaking door that introduced the sign-on of”Inner Sanctum,” provided many chills and sometimes sleepless nights, for the mystery fans. Other nail-biting and hairraising shows were “Enu Crime Clues,” “The Green Hornet” and “Mr. Chameleon.”

For good music there were such offerings as “Rubinoff and his Violin,” the Phil Spitalny all-girl orchestra. The popular show was Saturday night’s “Hit Parade” which highlighted the top 10 tunes in the nation performed by outstanding singers and musicians. A featured singer for a long time on the program was Jeff Clark, nee Dave Harbin, a former Westminster College student who got his start in radio as an announcer for Sharon’s station, WPIC. Illness forced him to leave the program.

The most memorable drama program was Friday night’s “Little Theater Off Times Square,” which was emceed by Don Ameche who also starred in many of the presentations.

Wally Wachter is a retired managing editor of The Herald.


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