Bigots, Racists, and Sexists, Oh My

In recent days i had some feedback about the social climate of the era of old time radio. the feeling was that that generation was overly racist, bigoted, and sexist. Mostly in comedy genres, but across the board. I was reminded of a fellow podcaster who introduced an episode with words to the affect that he was warning the sensitive ears of todays listener of some infraction or other of political correctness. Sometimes I think warnings like that are unnecessary and actually a little petty. I’m not trying to defend any bad behavior. I want to take time to say that all generations have redeeming qualities as well as ugly qualities.

There’s a label that has been going around for the older generation, but though I will agree they were a great generation, they aren’t the greatest one. They have many qualities to be admired, an ethic of proper behavior, modesty, hard work and diligence to name a few. Qualities that seem to be lacking when compared to the current generation. That’s not entirely true, but a broad statement.

Our current version of pop culture has made huge strides in leveling the playing field, where it comes to giving a fair chance to people of color and for women. Sterotypical roles have become a thing of the past.

Briefly, one generation points to the future and wags their heads in shame at a loss in morality, for example, but doesn’t see the benefits that has come through technology or civil rights. The other generation looks back and takes offense at a double standard where women and ethnic groups were pushed aside.

I’m not trying to judge either as right or wrong, just making an observation. Challenge me if you like. I have a comments form.

Here’s where I’m going with this. Let’s project ourselves into the future of 50 years from now.

Think of what we think is the norm today. What’s so cool, and fashionable? What qualities do we hold most dear?

Now what if our next generation looks back at us and is horrified and offended at those ideals and standards that we don’t even think about. We just take it for granted that it’s just the way it is.

Fashions change so fast, that’s a given. It only takes looking at the cool hair styles and clothes of 5 to 10 years ago to see that they were dorky and uncool.

What is there in our culture that is the accepted thing to do? Same sex marriage? In the days of classic radio, that kind of thing was only the butt of jokes. A ridiculous thing that was a no brainer. It simply was not meant to be. It went against nature. Is it any more natural just because a few decades have passed? What if the cultural climate changes again, and it no longer is accepted? I’m not saying it is or isn’t. Not saying it will or it won’t. It’s just an example.

My point is that things change, some for the better, and some for the worse. What one generation values, another shuns.

I haven’t quite gotten around to bigotry. It’s a quality that’s best seen in others. But if you can see it in others, they’re probably seeing it in you. Ouch. Now I’m stepping on my own toes too.

I don’t know that I want to pursue this part of my rant, other than to take a long look at the things, people, or life circumstances that we really want to change the most. Try this mental exersize. Think of a thing, or type of person that you wish you could remove from the face of the earth. Oh, come on, admit it. There’s at least one type of person who you think the world would be a much better place without. You don’t have to share that information with me. The point is that everybody is bigotted about something, it’s not wise to point fingers without having some point back at you.

Nobody is perfect. Just realize that while you’re at liberty to be offended by somebody else, in a different culture, place, or time, they just might be equally offended at you. Accept the things that are for what they are. Old time radio and that version of pop culture is history. You can’t change it. It is what it is. Be annoyed by certain things, try to emmulate the good stuff, and maybe we can strive for a better future together.


Thanks for Following, Time to Interact

First of all, thanks goes out to some new followers of the blog. I hope you’ll also take time to hit my Like button.

If you’re also on Twitter, Google+, or Facebook, look for me there too, and feel free to talk to me. I have to admit that I’m not always active on Facebook, and I don’t fully understand Google+, I try to respond to mentions I get there. I’m a little more active on Twitter, and you can chat with me there as @RetroKeith.

I have a chat server, and have plans for some live chat sessions and roundtables. I’ve been slow about starting it because at the moment, I seldom have a quiet time or place to record. And I’m looking seriously at the possibility of doing a live OTR podcast at some point So stay tuned.

I’ve also got a few ideas for articles to post here, and just need to iron out all my dumb, rambling thoughts.

Thanks again for the follows here, and those who have found me on Twitter and Facebook. Lurking is cool, but I like it when people drop me a line. Interact, engage, I really do love to hear from you.

What Do You People Want from Me?

It’s just a question I forget to ask sometimes. Sometimes listeners of the podcast write and comment, and sometimes there’s a slump between the feedback. I love the feedback. It lets me know what you like.

Don’t be shy. leave a comment on any of the shows you like. There’s handy sharing links to post to your Twitter, Facebook, or other social media accounts. Click and share. You’ll especially get my attention if you hit the Facebook like button for the site, or the other like button, which posts the like on

Do you want to follow me, or just get my attention on Twitter? Just mention @RetroKeith in a tweet if you don’t want to follow me. You’ll still get my attention, and maybe we can connect there sometime.

Of course my good old email form to contact me is also an option. Find it on the Contact page. Ask me a question. Tell me your favorite radio shows. Do you like something that you just can’t find on the site? I may already have it in my collection, but just never got around to posting it. If that’s the case, and you can’t wait for me, ask about getting it mailed to you.

It’s not my intention to be in the business of selling classic radio shows. I’d prefer you to click one of my banners and order something from OTRCat. They do a great job, their prices are reasonable, they have a massive collection, and by clicking through on my banner, I get a little support from you. If you just want to pay top dollar for your OTR, there’s Radio Spirits. I don’t have any connection with them, but their CD’s are produced in high quality audio.

I’ve done it for a couple people who ask, and sent them collections of shows. I’m trying to figure out a way to develop some "Buy It Now" buttons for a selected collection or two of radio shows. Which ones? Well duh. Contact me and it’ll be the one, or ones you want. Pricing is subject to change, but at the time of this writing I’m figuring on $10 for a 4GB USB flash drive, $15 for an 8GB drive, and$20 for a 16GB drive chock full of your requested shows, and whatever bonus material I can round up for you. Shipping depends on the going rate from the USPS, but right now it’s just under $6.

Couldn’t I just burn CD’s? I could, it would be a little cheaper with the dollars to Gigabytes, but dealing with the USB flash drives is so much easier, and just between you and me, we can consider it a sale of the flash media, and incidentally it just happens to be preloaded with media. Once you get the flash drive, you can do whatever you like with it. Move the audio to your hard drive, and use the flash drive to store your own data on it. With the CD’s, once they’re burned, that’s it. You won’t be able to rewrite on them or use them for storage for anything else.

Bottom line. I’m open to improve the web site and podcast to make it the most enjoyable experience for you. I’d like you to share the pages you like, to help spread the word to your friends, and even to a new generation of fans. If you find a mistake in my show notes, or have information to fill in gaps or make them better, tell me. Do it right now! Go!

Lum and Abner Comic – Authentic and Historic

Here’s a personal message fromDonald Pitchford, President of the National Lum and Abner Society, Cartoonist and creater of this ground breaking comic strip. I can’t say it any better, so here’s Uncle Donnie in his own words.

The first "Lum and Abner" Comic Strip of the new year presents an important message to adults. I invite you to visit the home page and read, plus listen to this production.

The strip stars two characters from Lum and Abner’s first movie,"Dreaming Out Loud" – Jimmy and Washington – two precocious children. They are portrayed in our audio production by Daron McDaniel and Kyle Cage of Carthage, Texas.

Also in the audio is a performance by legendary Ouachita Mountain fiddler Ruel Bain (recorded in 1985 in the REAL Pine Ridge, Arkansas). Mr. Bain was part of the real Dick Huddleston’s touring show in the 1930s.

I will have some unique and exciting news about the "Lum and Abner" comic strip project soon. I promise it will be something that has never happened in the history of this comic strip!

Here is the link for this week’s strip:

Thank you all so much, and I wish for everyone a blessed new year!

Donnie Pitchford,
"Lum and Abner" Cartoonist
sCarthage, Texas

Horlicks Update Lum and Abner’s Old Sponsor is Still Around

what is this Horlicks stuff that sponsored the Lum and Abner show? The commercials always make it sound like the miracle food stuff of the ages. It makes sick babies well, It makes fat people thin, thin people fat, it gives you energy, and it helps you sleep. How can it do all that?

Believe it or not, Horlicks is still around, although not marketed to the American public. It is used in industrial food use. When you see food that claims to be malt flavored, or a shake machine with the name Horlicks stamped on it, you’re probably consuming the very same kind of Horlicks. You just can’t buy it over the counter.

In Brittain, and various countries around the world who either are, or had recently been part of the colonies of the UK, Horlicks can still be bought over the counter in it’s powdered form. No, it’s not touted as a miracle food, just a dietary aid sort of like what Slim Fast is. The powder is mixed with milk, and is supposed to help provide nutrition, an dbe filling, yet not add in excessive calories. Though it was originally developed as a baby food, and for those recovering from illness, the Horlicks company only recommends it for babies who are old enough to be weaned, or about a year old or so. They no longer claim it to be an energy food, or one to help you sleep at night, although some people claim it can help to drink before going to bed.

Introducing My New Logo, the Mighty Retrobot

After doing a podcast for a few years now, one are I’ve really dropped the ball is in producing an original logo. It makes iTunes happy, it makes Blubrry happy, and it hopefully makes listeners to the podcast happy.

I’d like to say I did it myself, but people around here know better than to put things in the hands of the blind man that could be potentially dangerous. Among them are guns, steering wheels, and crayons. Amazingly they give me sharp pointy things once in a while, and hammers, I can’t forget hammers. Hey, it’s only my thumb on the line here, and little dents all around the nail.

But I digress.

The image was concocted in about 30 minutes, and I’ll bet it looks like it. It’s all I got, I like it, and I’m keeping it.

However, if you think you can do better, I have a prize to give away to any of you artistically gifted people. Here’s the deal.

Send me an image in a jpg or png format. You can draw it then scan it into your computer if you like. If you snail mail me original artwork, you’ll have to pay the postage, and entries become the property of the Retro Radio Podcast. That means me, but if you really want them back I’ll see what I can do.

The image needs to be up to the standards to post on iTunes. 1400 by 1400 pixels.

Draw me a picture of what you think my Retrobots look like. The whole gang includes:

David, not my first Retrobot, but the one I’ve had around the longest. He can be pretty ornery, and likes to tease people.

Callie, his sister who is a no nonsense kind of announcer. Loud and even tempered, but don’t rock her boat, because she knows how to sass back.

Dunkin, their slow talking Scottish uncle. He doesn’t talk much, but when he’s not announcing, he can put the unruly bots in their place.

Anna, the genii in my computer’s lamp. OK, she’s just the Microsoft Anna voice that comes built in, but she managed to bail me out of a tight spot when all the bots went on strike. She can be a little naive, and I think she has a crush on somebody in the crew.

Lee, he kind of showed up when Jill came back after the Retrobot walk out. I haven’t found a role for him yet, but he has a nice voice for announcing the shows.

Jill, yeah, what ever happened to Jill? She came back, then disappeared on me again. I hope she just didn’t get tired of Lee, and dumped him for some other bot. She could be counted on for just about any hosting job I could throw at her. Maybe she left me for more money somewhere else.

Tom. A no nonsense kind of guy. A little dense, but he could read a line and make it sound good. He just never came back after the big Retrobot uprising and walk out. I hear he has a job working for the weather alert channel on my cable company.

There were a few other early Retrobots, but they just never had names, and the technology to power them is a thing of the past. They’ve had to retire to that big Retrobot graveyard in the… um… where ever it is, they’re there.

So, there you have it. A brief profile on who the bots are. Will you do it? Will you draw me a picture to enter into a contest?

The prize.

I have a boxed set of old time radio shows. If you listen to Dennis Humphrey, and the many shows he posts in the Radio Memories Network, you may know he offered this set from his podcast a couple years ago. It is no longer available, and Dennis now offers other products.

The DVD’s originally were sold for $12.95 apiece, and the 10 disks when purchaced together were $112.90. They come in boxes that, when lined up on a shelf make a nice picture. There’s about 6000 episodes, that’s 600 in each of the 10 genres that they represent.

I’d hate to break up the set. It’s still in close to new condition. That’s why I’ll give it away for the prize to the winning entry. It’ll be good for me, and good for you.

All it’ll take to win this prize is to send me your best drawing, or an image of whatever creative artwork you can take a picture of to illustrate the Retrobot hosts in the show.

I don’t know how many people might respond. I’ll keep the contest open at least until the end of the year, December 31, 2013, and see what happens. I hope I hear from you.

If you need to smail mail me something, you can get my mailing information from my podcast page.

If you need to attach an entry to an email, you can send it to: keith.

Sade’s Interuptions

As a project for Jimbo Mason to answer the question, “What would a letter from Sade to her sister, Bess look like?” I wrote the following back to him. We always hear what Bess writes to Sade, but never any word from Sade herself. Be sure to check out Jimbo’s page at:

Dear Sister and all,

we are all well. I thought I’d sit and write since I can’t get anything done today. There’ve been so many interuptions. Just millions of them. No sooner do I start something, but somebody breaks through the door and hollers. Is that what they do in everybody’s neighborhood?

First it was the brick mush man. He just stomps up to the door like a horse, pokes his head right in and starts shouting if I need any brick mush today. There must’ve ben 97 millions. They didn’t stop. Next it was Mr Gumpox to tell me he brought back my trash bin, then the apprentice gas meter reader. He just stomped right up like a horse, opened up the door, and hollered. Didn’t even say hi. He just yelled out he was here to read the meter, and stormed right in. I thought I might get some peace and quiet after that, but all of a sudden, in comes in the gas meter man. He comes right up topoke his head in and yells to see what’s keeping his apprentice so long. Does this happen in every neighborhood?

Just then uncle Fletcher picked one of his times to visit and talk about Kentucky state politics or some of his important ideas. 79 millions of them I tell you, Bess. 79 millions of people just coming and going. Next thing I know Fletcher was going on about peanut machines to the meter man, and I don’t know what all. Oh ish! Does this happen in everybody’s neighborhood?

Well, I need to finish. I can see Vic coming home, and the big caveman will just be helpless as a rabbit if I don’t get supper ready in time.

love to all, sade.

DCFSNM Hosts New Chatroom for the Retro Radio Podcast

DCFSNM (Disability Coalition from Southern New Mexico), is a site dedicated to supporting those with disabilities. They have also been a long time supporter of the Retro Radio Podcast, and without their help, there would be no podcast. A new chat server has been set up using the Teamtalk chat client, and a special room has been set up just for Retro Radio. Check it out, and help get the word out about it. I’ve been trying to sit in the Retro-OTR room as much as possible, so stop in and don’t leave me to sit there all alone.

Instructions to Chat in the Room

TeamTalk is a program that you run on your Windows PC. A Mac version is available, but it does not work well with VoiceOver, and so is not recommended that you use it if you are blind or visually impaired. To get started, follow these steps:

Download and Install

  1. Download the software from
  2. When you’re installing the above program, you’ll come to a screen where you can choose which components you want. Choose the classic version. It is very accessible for those who are blind, and using screen readers.
  3. Tab to the list of components and arrow down until you find the “Teamtalk 4 classic” option.
  4. Press space, then enter.

Server and Host Setup

Once the setup process is complete, and you are in the Teamtalk application (start it up if it is not running already), you will need to do a one time set up of ouur chat server.

  1. From within Teamtalk, press f3. Tab until you get to the “host properties” group, and simply erase any information that may be already in the edit fields. For the “entry name”, type anything you want that will tell you what this server is. For example, “DCFSNM Chat” would be a good name to use. Or even Retro-OTR Chat.
  2. For “host address”, type
  3. Note: because of the way the brilliant webmaster set this up, you could alternately enter the host as:

4. Leave “password” blank, set both port fields to 10333 (they should be already),
You can skip everything else. Only admins to the chat server need to put login information in here.

5. To log directly into the Retro Radio room, be sure to put this in the field for the Channel: /Retro-OTR

6. Press enter on “Add/update” and you should be all set.

Getting Logged On

From now on, you’ll find the server settings you just installed in the list of other public servers that come preinstalled in Teamtalk. By the way, if you want to hide the list of those servers, put a tick in the checkbox just next to the list. You’ll only see the server you set up, and the official public server of Teamtalk.

1. Press F3 to open the list of hosts.

2. Select the DCFSNM, or Retro-OTR Chat host that you just made, tab to the Connect button, and hit it. Hint: you can just hit the Enter key on ytour keyboard once you select the host in the list.

  1. Once you are logged on, you can see any other users who are online, and join any of the available rooms. Note that some may be password-protected, depending on the operator who made the room.

Helpful Tips

Sound Check

To make sure your microphone and speakers are working, go to the preferences (F4), then do a Ctrl+tab until you get to the “Sound System” page. You will have a selection box for possible microphone options, and one for possible speakers attached to your computer.

If the selections look OK, tab to the Test Selected button, and click it. If you don’t hear the ambient sounds of the room you’re in, or your own voice as you speak, try another selection until you do.

When you’re done, tab to the OK button and hit it to save your settings.

Note: If you use speakers, rather than headphones, you will get loud feedback. Try moving yo9ur speakers away from your mike, or switch to a headset.

Joining or Leaving a Room

1. To join this or any room, just arrow to it and press control-j.

  1. To leave a room, arrow to it and press control-l).

Note: In the Server Properties screen mentioned above, there’s a field for a chat channel. If you include the /, then enter the exact room name including uppercase letters and any spaces, You can go right to that room when you log in. Just don’t make a typo, or you will create a room with a similar name, with you as the sole participant. Don’t worry, just arrow to the room you want, and join the chat there. Your room will go away once you leave it, but you’ll want to fix that Channel Field in your host properties.

You can also right click, hit the applications key, or shift-f10, on a room and choose the option you want from the pop up menu.

Room Features

While in any room, you will see 2 edit fields, and three slider controls after the list of channels.

  1. The first edit field is a read only field for system and user messages.
  2. The second lets you chat by typing text and pressing enter.
  3. The first slider changes your microphone’s sensitivity (gain).
  4. The second changes the volume of the room in general as you hear it.
  5. The third one has to do withthe automatic voice activation on your mike, when in full duplex mode. Try ajusting at your own risk. The default is set at 10%, so try that if you need to reset it.

Voice or Video Chat

The server is not configured for video chat. It still might be done on a peer to peer basis though. Explore it on your own.

The default configuration is for full duplex, that means both your speakers and your mike is live, as though you were on a telephone call. You do not need to press a button to key the mike. You can choose to change this if you want to. Just remember to key your mike when you talk.

Using a key to activate your mike will have the affect of muting your mike, until you press a key to talk. This might be handy if you are in a noisy environment.

Chat Rooms, or Channels

The terms Room, or Channel are interchangeable. Users have the ability to create their own room and administer it. Passwords may be set, unruly users might be kicked out or banned. When a room is no longer needed, or when a user logs out of the server, it will be deleted. Only admins can create a room that stays on the server.

There are many configurations to customize your chat room, and online experience. Please take the time to browse the menu system to see how you might record your session, share files, mute people in the room, or make other adjustments. There are too many tweaks to tell about to customize your experience than I can include here.

Jaws Script

If you are using the Jaws for Windows screen reader, there are now Jaws scripts available for use with TeamTalk. The link will take you to a website where you can download these free scripts. We do not offer support for the scripts, though; please refer to the above link for help instead.

That’s it! We hope to see you at the next chat event, and please feel free to leave a comment or reply if you have any questions.

Jack Benny – The Early Years.

This is from information gleaned from several online sources, primarily from Wikkipedia, and the International JackBenny Fan club, but also from a few other sources.

Benny’s father was Myer Kubelski, who in 1889, immigrated to New York from Lithuania. He settled in Waukegan, Illinois and was a Jewish saloon keeper, tailor, haberdasher and dry good store proprietor. Four years after his immigration,Myer married Emma (Sachs) Wagner in 1893. She also was an immigrant from Lithuania.

A story surrounding Jack Benny’s birth concerns a superstition of his mother. She believed that it carried more status, or was good luck, to be born in a bigger city. So she and Meyer temporarily moved. They lived in Chicago for about a year so their first child could be endowed with all the prestige, luck and what ever other good fortune a big city could bring. And so we have the story of why the birth certificate of Benjamin Kubelski reads: Mercy Hospital, Cook County Chicago, Illinois.

The family did move back to Waukegan and their young son had a normal life. The family didn’t have much in the way of wealth, but as a wedding gift, Emma had recieved a piano from her mother. Young Benjamin began showing some musical aptitude by playing simple tunes on that piano. It inspired Benjamin’s parents to present him with a half sized violin for his 6th birthday, which was a popular instrument for young Jewish children to learn to play. It was his parents hopes that he would be a great classical violinist.

His first lessons were taken twice per week from Professor Harlow, who charged 50 cents per lesson. As it turned out, he loved the instrument. He enjoyed playing the violin and was showing promising ability. However, he hated to practice. It is said that He would play for his grandmother. She would sit in a row of chairs that represented a crowd of fans, as her young grandson put on shows for imaginary audiences.

Later that same year, on September 12, 1900 Benny’s sister, Florence was born.

Benny’s violin ability increased and by 1902 was taking weekly lessons at the Chicago Musical College. His new instructor was Dr. Hugo Kortschalk.

As a young schoolboy, life was filled with assorted routines. For Benjamin that meant spending afternoons practicing. From 4pm to 6pm he was forced to sit by the front parlor window at his family home at 224 South Genesee Street. Through that parlor window he could see Lake Michigan, and all the activity that took place on the water’s edge. The boats at the dock, people coming and going and all the distractions to make a young boy’s imagination wander. Practicing the violin just seemed to not be as important.

As time marched on, school, and grades took on less of an interest. By the time Benjamin was 14 years old and entered the ninth grade at Waukegan’s Central High School, his musical ability was accomplished enough to get him a job. He worked in the orchestra pit at the Barrison Theater, the local vaudeville house, which was just a few blocks from his home. Sources also claim that he played in local dance bands as well as in his high school orchestra.

Benjamin was a dreamer and a poor student. He managed to flunk out of every subject that year. Depending on the source, and possibly a combination of them, the truth may be found, one story says that he simply dropped out of school voluntarily. While another story claims that He was expelled from high school, allegedly for hanging out at vaudeville theaters instead of attending class. The reality might well be a combination of things, poor grades, lack of interest and possibly expulsion on academic grounds, due to those bad grades, or poor attendance. Over the next three years, from1908 to 1911, Benjamin most likely both helped out at his father’s store as well as played music when he could get hired on in a band.

Though he was the dutiful son, and tryed his best at the family business, his lack of interest must have been apparent.

Richard Rogue – Pros, Cons, and Annoyances

I’ve been listening to a lot of Rogue’s Gallery lately. He’s the typical hardboiled detective with plenty of wisecracks regardless of whether he’s dealing with the bad guys, the ladies, or the cops. In fact, he’s almost too generic in his ways.

When the police investigators let justice fall through the cracks, he’s all too ready to rub their noses in it when he hands the bad guys over in a neat package. He’s also handy with the ladies, but when he gets snubbed, it’s because either it’s convenient for comic affect, or the lady is involved in the crime. He turns his nose up at petty investigations, until his client can lure him into something interesting and juicy. Of course, he faces off with the bad guys and hard cases, managing to outwit them and make narrow escapes from death at their hands. However, he’s not immune to a few thumps on the head where he wakens safe and ready to go back on the attack.

Oh wait… I just described almost every radio detective out on the market. What is it that makes Richard Rogue identifiable?

It has to be that while he gets knocked out, he has an inner voice. The extremely annoying Igor. I don’t think the character serves any other purpose other than to taunt Rogue in his screaching voice, and that cackling laugh during those times when Rogue is unconscious. I know that I could do without his presence, but if it weren’t for Igor, Rogue just wouldn’t have anything going to set him apart from any of the other detectives. Sad.

Despite the lack of identity, the writing, acting, and the stories themselves are good ones. As with any program, it has it’s finger on the pulse of pop culture of the times, and I get a kick out of the cutting edge sophistication as folks saw it back then. An interesting history lesson of a different kind.