Wednesday, September 21, 2016

“Designed to free you from the four walls of today…”

We’re kind of at the halfway point of our latest Thrilling Days of Yesteryear giveaway: a chance to win one of two Radio Spirits sets of Escape: The Hunted and the Haunted.  This 10-CD set, valued at $39.98, contains twenty vintage broadcasts of the CBS Radio series (the shows originally aired between 1948 and 1954) and a liner note booklet composed by your humble narrator.  The response has been very positive; not Johnny Dollar positive, mind you, but encouraging all the same.  You still have an opportunity to enter for a chance to win, simply by sending me an e-mail (with “The Hunted and the Haunted” in the subject header) at igsjrotr(at)gmail(dot)com.  Be sure and get your entry in soon—the deadline is 11:59pm EDT this Saturday, September 24…and two lucky members of the TDOY faithful will be chosen through the magic of the random number generator at

On a more somber note: the old-time radio community received a sign-off from one of The Hobby’s truly “grand old men”—David S. Siegel, who’s moved on to a better studio at the age of 84.  I was positively gobsmacked to get a phone call from him one day while he was conducting research for a book he co-wrote with J. Randolph Cox, Flashgun Casey, Crime Photographer: From the Pulps to Radio and Beyond.  He had read an entry I wrote for TDOY (back in the old Salon days) about the radio Casey, and asked me if I had any additional information on the show.  I sheepishly had to tell him that the content for the blog post came from the Radio Spirits collection booklet that accompanied the CDs to which I listened.  What I remember most about this encounter with Dave was that he was of enormously good spirits about the “dead end”; he explained that he had to explore every avenue when researching his subject, and even graciously sent me a gratis copy of one of his other books (co-written with series creator Alonzo Deen Cole), The Witch’s Tale: Stories of Gothic Horror from the Golden Age of Radio—which sits on my bookshelf even today.

Eventually, I was able to give David an assist on a project: he had been asked by Radio Spirits to write the liner notes for a collection of Witch’s Tale broadcasts, and he called me to ask how he would go about it…so I sent him a sample of notes that I had finished for a previous assignment.  He later asked me in September of 2011 if I’d be interested in contributing to an encyclopedia he and author Jack French were editing on old-time radio western shows.  That book would be published in 2013 as Radio Rides the Range (the chapters on The Roy Rogers Show and Tales of the Texas Rangers were my contributions).  Some of the other books that David wrote without my help include Remembering Radio: An Oral History of Old-Time Radio (available on Kindle) and Radio and the Jews: The Untold Story of How Radio Influenced the Image of Jews (co-written with his wife Susan; the two also collaborated on a number of tomes known as “The Used Book Lover’s Guide” series).

I wasn’t as close to David Siegel as many others in the old-time radio community…but I always enjoyed hearing from him when he called; I remember we once had a conversation in which he expressed his disappointment with some hobbyists as they were convinced that they were sitting on a gold mine when it came to uncirculated transcriptions.  David firmly believed that OTR was to share (I’ve heard a number of stories of how he helped people new to The Hobby with getting collections started) and he said matter-of-factly to me: “Unless it’s something to do with Elvis or The Beatles, you’re not going to make any money off it.”  Dave Siegel was one of the kindest, most generous individuals I’ve known in the old-time radio community; they’ll be laying him to rest Friday (September 23) and fittingly, his wife Susan has asked J. David Goldin—“The Man Who ‘Saved’ Radio”—to deliver the eulogy and Goldin’s CD “Themes Like Old Times” will play at the funeral home as folks gather for his service.  Sadly, I can’t be there…but I’m hoping that when David reaches his final place of rest he’ll get to meet many of the voices that enthralled him in this wonderful hobby.

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