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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

American Bandstand to Radio 2

American Bandstand to Radio 2

Imagine having your favorite television series like you do today except that it would only be on radio.  Imagine American Idol, Scandal, Dancing with the Stars, The Blacklist, and CSI, only on radio and without the visuals.

Here are some of the popular radio play presentations on radio during the infancy years of television: 

·       Dragnet (1949 - 1957): Dragnet enjoyed an unprecedented popularity among ordinary citizens and law enforcement personnel alike. The show was lauded for its positive portrayal of police officers, so much so that upon the death of Jack Webb, Sergeant Joe Friday’s badge number 714 was retired. 

·       Minus One (1955-1958) Initially a revival of NBC’s short-lived Dimension X (1950-1951), X Minus One is a sci-fi lover’s dream and is ranked among the finest science fiction dramas ever produced for radio.

·       Tales of the Texas Rangers (1950 - 1952) Tales of the Texas Rangers aired from July 8, 1950 to September 14, 1952. As were most of the Westerns made in the 1940s and 1950s, Tales of the Texas Rangers was idealistically patriotic, focusing on upholding American laws and values. However, unlike most Westerns of the day, the show had a contemporary setting, and based its realism in the procedures of the modern Texas Rangers.

·       The 1940s had many more popular programs: the Shadow, and a handful of variety shows.

American Bandstand for those of us growing up in the time of our youth was the equivalent to MTV. I can actually say that sometimes after a while of listening to a hit song in the 60’s, I was surprised when I finally got to see the singer or group on Bandstand.


·       It premiered locally in late September 1952 as Bandstand on Philadelphia television station WFIL-TV Channel 6 (now WPVI-TV), as a replacement for a weekday movie that had shown predominantly British movies. Hosted by Bob Horn as a television adjunct to his radio show of the same name on WFIL radio, Bandstand mainly featured short musical films produced by Snader Telescriptions and Official Films, with occasional studio guests. This incarnation was an early predecessor of sorts of the music video shows that became popular in the 1980s, featuring films that are themselves the ancestors of music videos.
·       Horn, however, was disenchanted with the program, so he wanted to have the show changed to a dance program, with teenagers dancing along on camera as the records played, based on an idea that came from a radio show on WPEN, The 950 Club, hosted by Joe Grady and Ed Hurst. This more-familiar version of Bandstand debuted on October 7, 1952 in "Studio 'B'," which was located in their just-completed addition to the original 1947 building in West Philadelphia (4548 Market Street), and was hosted by Horn, with Lee Stewart as co-host until 1955. Stewart was the owner of a TV/Radio business in Philadelphia and even though he was an older gentleman, his advertising account was a large one for WFIL-TV at the time and was put on the program to appease the account. As WFIL grew financially and the account became less important, Stewart wasn't needed and was eventually dropped from the program. Tony Mammarella was the original producer with Ed Yates as director. The short Snader and Official music films continued in the short term, mainly to fill gaps as they changed dancers during the show—a necessity, as the studio could not fit more than 200 teenagers.
  • On July 9, 1956, Horn was fired after a drunk-driving arrest, as WFIL and dual owner Walter Annenberg's The Philadelphia Inquirer at the time were doing a series on drunken driving. He was also involved in a prostitution ring and brought up on morals charges. Horn was temporarily replaced by producer Tony Mammarella before the job went to Dick Clark permanently. ~ From Wikipedia
In late spring of 1957, the ABC television network asked their affiliates for programming suggestions to fill their 3:30 p.m. (ET) time slot (WFIL had been pre-empting the ABC programming with Bandstand). Clark decided to pitch the show to ABC president Thomas W. Moore, and after some badgering the show was picked up nationally, becoming American Bandstand on August 5, 1957.  The rest is very successful history.  The best is yet to come…..

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