Thursday, November 1, 2007

“How do you do, I’m sure…”

It’s traditional here at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear that I designate the first of the month to talking about the latest Premier Collection to roll off the assembly line at First Generation Radio Archives. Why? For several reasons, really. Their mission statement, “Preserving Radio’s Past for the Future,” means they’re dedicated to presenting the highest quality old-time radio programs in the best possible sound and audio fidelity. They specialize in showcasing a wide array of old-time radio greats in both their highly-touted Radio Legends and Premier Collections, shows that are guaranteed to meet the interests of any OTR fan. Plus, they do this at an affordable price so you won’t have to start clipping coupons or dig under the couch cushions for change by the end of the month.

Oh, and many of the liner notes for these Collections are written by your humble narrator. (Though not so humble that I’m not going to toot my horn every now and then.)

This month’s November Premier Collection is a fourth volume of Fibber McGee & Molly: The Lost Episodes—“lost” in the sense that many of these shows have not been heard since they were originally broadcast from 1953-56. From 1935 to 1953, Fibber McGee & Molly was heard by radio fans as a half-hour comedy series sponsored by Johnson Wax (and later, Pet Milk and Reynolds Aluminum) but because the National Broadcasting Company paid mucho dinero to buy the program from creator Don Quinn and the show’s stars, Jim and Marian Jordan, the network revamped the series into a five-day-a-week quarter hour that listeners will be surprised to learn completely retains the flavor of the half-hour broadcasts. I myself was a bit skeptical about the new format when I first listened to and wrote the notes for Volume One, but the fifteen-minute programs have completely won me over; they’re a delight to listen to, and no self-respecting Fibber & Molly fan would pass up a chance to add these to their library.

Recently, FGRA added a new line of titles to their inventory in a series of collections they call Radio Legends. They feature many of old-time radio’s best-known and beloved programs: they differ only from the Premier Collections in that they’re weren’t culled from the original transcription discs but still feature the fine audio quality that has become their trademark. They have three Radio Legends sets making their debut this month: Have Gun, Will Travel, Suspense (the hour-long version broadcast from January to May 1948 on CBS) and Our Miss Brooks. (For the insatiably curious, I composed the notes for the last two sets.)

Also available at First Generation Radio Archives this month is this little gem, a beautifully-illustrated children’s book entitled The Cinnamon Bear in The Adventure of the Silver Star—based on the classic Christmas radio series, The Cinnamon Bear, which is also available to purchase this month. If I may personalize this a bit, I bought my niece Rachel the Cinnamon Bear CD set a few Christmases back—and to be honest, I didn’t think it would be something she’d be interested in, being a child of the boob tube and all. She later thanked me profusely (when I went to Iowa for a holiday visit) for the “present,” and when I was still skeptical (I figured her ‘rents put her up to thanking me just to make me feel good) I happened to cruise by the FGRA site where they had some illustrations up about the program…and she knew every single, solitary character—proving that she did listen like they had informed me! (Naturally, I will have to pick up a copy of this new book for a present this year.)

With the new neighborhood for the blog, I’ve decided to put a little reminder in the right column that FGRA’s Fibber McGee & Molly: The Lost Episodes, Volume 4 is available all month—only because this first-of-the-month post will be archived in seven days and I don’t want you to forget about this incredible deal. (That, and I really do like promoting myself in a shameless fashion.) Why not part with some of that hard-earned cash and spend some time with the famous radio couple of 79 Wistful Vista? I guarantee you’ll be glad you did.

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