THE LOG: An Essential Tool For The Collector - Revisited (Again)by Terry G. G. Salomonson
I wrote about logs some years ago, and again in the booklet "A Technical Guide To Collecting Old Time Radio Programs." If you are not new to this world of OTR (Old Time Radio), please forgive me if some of this information may sound a little repetitive. It is designed to help everyone, but at the same time also be as informative as possible to the brand new collector. Some of these new collectors may have started since this was originally published, hence the title "...-Revisited (Again)."
Collecting old time radio programs is perhaps one of the best past times and most entertaining and enjoyable hobbies that I know of. Some of us, however, attach mild importance to the degree of seriousness that we go about it. I don't think that any of the readers of this series do, as the reason you more than likely follow these installments, is because you are serious about collecting and want to do it right from the beginning. We collect favorite memories from our listening past, or if we are younger, collect our newly "found" favorites of radio's past. Old or young alike, we collect for the same basic reason - for the sheer pleasure of listening to these golden moments of early broadcasting. And while there is nothing wrong with this form of collecting, others of us, myself included, are very serious about preserving these programs as completely and correctly as possible. We are almost driven by the desire to possess everything.
Like all of you, I started collecting, some years ago, just for the fun of it. The main idea was so that I could enjoy these programs myself over and over again, and maybe also to play these broadcasts for my children when they grew older. After all, there is precious little being presented over the airwaves today that they can enjoy, or later that will be looked upon as golden or even classic in broadcasting. How about the 13 episodes of STAR WARS, or the 13 episodes of THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK that aired over PBS? Would you consider these in the categories of golden or classic? Probably not. How about Ray Bradbury's BRADBURY 13, that aired, again, over PBS, or Garrison Keillor's A PRAIRIE HOME COMPANION? Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not criticizing these programs, but I think you see my point.
Shortly after starting into this hobby of collecting, I got very caught up in it, and have since devoted much more time than I probably should have. Then again, don't we usually spend a lot of time involved in a pursuit we love and are interested in? But I guess my devotion is a little more than the "average collector" if there is such a person. With this background information in mind, let's get into a part of collecting old time radio programs that I think is an important and very helpful tool to any collector - the log.
You may have a couple of good tape recorders, patch cables, headset or speakers, an amplifier, maybe an equalizer, plenty of blank tape, and have memorized the shortest distance to and from the post office. You might be a semi-serious or a very serious collector. But it just might be that you're still missing one of the basic tools of collecting: the log. If you collect purely just for fun, then a log may not mean a lot to you, otherwise, how can you build a serious collection or collect a particular series if you don't know what programs were broadcast, when they were broadcast and in what order they were aired, and how many were done. Also, in the case of a story or script that was repeated, who did it first, second, third and so on. A good example of this is "The Fourth Man" in the ESCAPE series. This was broadcast three times, but the cast credits changed with each broadcast. Another in the same series was "A Shipment Of Mute Fate," which was done four times, again with different cast credits. Do you collect only one as an example of the program and ignore the others? I saw one collector who listed the titles to the above broadcasts, and just listed all the dates after the one copy of the script that he collected. Without the cast credits AND a log of the broadcasts, there is just no way of knowing which broadcast he owned, and its correct airing date.
For these and other reasons, logs are important. Can you imagine trying to collect stamps or coins, not knowing what was printed or minted, how many, or when? That part is easy to say. The hard part is finding or authoring the logs. Clearly not an easy task. Also you must be aware that sometimes there is a lot of misinformation in logs. I have seen two logs on the SUSPENSE series that were supposed to be put out by CBS, the network that aired the series, and they didn't agree 100% with each other. Some logs are accurate with the information they contain, but they just don't contain all the information they should. A few titles may be left out here and there, and so on.
In 1985 I released my log on THE LONE RANGER radio broadcasts. There are 3,379 broadcast dates listed, information on 2,603 recorded programs, plus two special LONE RANGER related shows, a synopsis of the first 713 programs, and 2,199 script titles listed with the authors credited for each script, from the first broadcast. At the time, only about l0% of the log remained to be worked on. In addition to the titles and dates of broadcasts, I included broadcast numbers and transcription numbers. I mention all of this not as an advertisement for the log, but to let collectors know that logs are available which have had a lot of time and careful research put into them. During my research, which took over seven years at that time on this particular program, I found misnumbering, skipped numbers, double listing of numbers with different titles and double listings of titles with different numbers, and titles listed in the wrong order of broadcast. There were also special "mini-series" and sequences within the run of the show that were not clearly identified, etc.
I stated above, that only about 10% of the log remained to be worked on. That 10% is now complete and it turned out to be the most difficult to do. More on this in the next installment of this series.
All of this takes time to sort out and prove. One of the very best sources of correct information that I had access to was a handwritten log that was kept broadcast by broadcast at WXYZ. I didn't even know of its existence until I paid a visit to Special Recordings in Detroit, Michigan in 1983. In this old yellowed paper log, were titles to programs aired, but that had not even appeared in the copyright listings of the U.S. Copyrights Office. I feel that I have found and put together the most accurate LONE RANGER log so far, but I do realize that there are going to be some errors. There has been a LONE RANGER log circulating for sale that starts in the middle of 1940 and goes through the end of the live broadcasts in 1954. This reflects that the only research done, was done in the copyright listings and no other areas were explored beyond that area. It has a lot of errors within its pages, but was a good try. My log starts on January 31, 1933 with the first show, and the copyright listing errors have been eliminated. My update log will also include broadcasts beyond 09/03/54 and several new cross-reference sections.
Can we ever eliminate all the errors in logs? Probably not unless the program was a short run like the 40 shows of FORT LARAMIE or the 41 broadcasts of FRONTIER GENTLEMAN. You may ask why can't we get 100% accurate information? Because with all the people that I have talked to over the years that were producers, directors, announcers, actors, etc., I have heard the same statement repeatedly made over and over in many different ways, that most of what was done when it was being done wasn't considered to be very important at the time, and who would have thought that it would be in later years. So records that were kept are very poor in most cases, if any records were kept at all. The importance of the show was today only, while it was on the air, not tomorrow. Just this week's work week and broadcast schedule. That was, and is a real shame. The only thing worse was all of the programs that were and sometimes are still being destroyed, and in some cases intentionally. One example is all of the VIC AND SADE broadcasts that were destroyed. If it wasn't for the efforts of collectors, we wouldn't have the ten or so reels of VIC AND SADE that we have today. And some of those can't be dated -- NO LOGS!!
Commonly collected programs like LUX RADIO THEATRE, SUSPENSE, FIBBER MCGEE & MOLLY, etc., have complete or fairly complete logs and dating. But as more and more of the lesser known programs are being discovered or released from larger collections, the need really arises for logs. I have 36 programs of THE BLUE BEETLE. As of yet, I haven't found out if there were more than these 36 programs. Also, this series started out as a 30 minute program, and then after the first twelve broadcasts, the stories were broadcast in two 15 minute episodes. Were there more than these 12 two-part stories? So far I don't know. I know that Frank Lovejoy did the first four shows and another actor took over the role after that. Why? And who was the new voice of THE BLUE BEETLE? I don't know much more information about the series, but I am still looking.
I authored a log on MANHATTAN PATROL which was first broadcast on June 10, 1932. Now someone might say, who cares? There aren't any programs left, or that are going around. And furthermore, who ever heard of the program? Well, they said "who cares?" about VIC AND SADE and FIBBER MCGEE AND MOLLY and a few other programs about ten to fifteen years ago when there were few of these shows around. But now a lot of collectors have been putting their collections together in order of broadcast. But, they couldn't do a good or thorough job of it if someone hadn't put together a log to start with, especially if one comes across the program information and then doesn't document it. What a waste!
Fifteen years ago someone wrote to me about my quest for a JACK BENNY log. They asked the same question why should I waste my time, "there just aren't that many Benny's going around." Word at that time was that most of the entire JACK BENNY run was coming out, as it now has with more and more programs appearing every year mostly thanks to the efforts of many. In 1985 a new JACK BENNY log was released, but more information still needed to be researched for Jack's first four or five years on the air. That way, someday, if someone discovers where all of THE CANADA DRY SHOW, THE CHEVROLET SHOW, and THE GENERAL TIRE PROGRAMS are, we will be able to properly place them in the right broadcast order. In 1990 John and Larry Gassman, with the help of Gary A. Dunn, issued their broadcast log for THE JACK BENNY SHOW. This log was based on the review of the actual Jack Benny Show scripts. Every script with the exception of one or two were used to compile this broadcast study of Jack Benny. This is definitely one of the better broadcast log attempts and if you're interested in Jack Benny at all a must guide for your collection. This log also contains a broadcast listing of Jack Benny's guest appearances on other programs. What about logs on AMOS 'N' ANDY, or THE FRED ALLEN SHOW. And how about BOB BARCLAY - AMERICAN AGENT? (I have put together fifty broadcast dates, and the titles to fifty-one programs. Does anyone have any copies of this program?)
So as more shows are uncovered and started around the collector's circuit, it sure is nice to have a log to tell you if the program you have is the first, fifth, or forty-fifth program of the series or at least when it was broadcast. Does anyone have good airing dates for FAVORITE STORY? Probably not as it was syndicated around the country. I do have some dates from the Radio Guides that I have, but I still need more.
It is hoped that the information in these logs will help everyone out to one degree or another in confirming dates and information you already have, adding information you didn't have, or correcting information you have that is wrong. One good example of bad information I have seen in one collector's catalog, was the listing of the I LOVE A MYSTERY series "Bury Your Dead, Arizona." It was listed as complete in six 30 minute shows, when in fact it was aired in fifteen 15 minute shows. Someone before this collector apparently cut all of the openings and closings off and put them together into a 30 minute format. When something like this gets out and is passed on from collector to collector and pyramids out around the country, it is very hard to stop and correct it. And this is when the misinformation starts and is very hard to stop.
If bad information is not stopped early enough, it becomes tomorrow's facts. There have been several new books published in recent years where you can see the same misleading and false information in one book after another. One book listed THE LONE RANGER first taking to the air in 1930. No way! But, without a way of getting this information either corrected, or proven wrong, in ten years it's fact. Maybe the authors don't take the time to proofread the galley proofs that would show the typographical errors, or they are quickly compiling information from other published works. Logs really help you the collector in getting through the misinformation that is out there.
In summary, logs help everyone. They help the beginner and even the older and advanced collector. I have run into a few people that have collected for several years who didn't know anything like a log existed. Logs like MANHATTAN PATROL are around in hopes that in the future they will be of value if any of the broadcasts appear. After all, more and more programs are popping up all the time. Even if the programs were never recorded in any form, these logs would at the very least help someone in the future to be able to write about and document what really happened in radio's early history. The further, in years, that we move away from what was done, the harder it is to document. It is also a great overview of the early obscure acting careers of many of the great radio personalities of the 1930's and 1940's.
I have compiled logs of the following programs for the last couple of years. Have you ever heard of these programs? Some, maybe, and some probably not: THE FIREFIGHTERS, ANN WORTH - HOUSEWIFE, OMAR, THE WIZARD OF PERSIA, SI & ELMER, BIRD & VASH, THE ADVENTURES OF DETECTIVE BLACK & BLUE, JUST TWO GIRLS TRYING TO GET ALONG, NED JORDAN - SECRET AGENT, and THE AMERICAN SCHOOL OF THE AIR, and does anyone remember THE DIXIE CUP CIRCUS?
I am working on a book of logs. Hopefully, in the future, this book will help collectors with many of the programs that they have collected. I welcome any logs from anyone who may have unusual or seldom seen logs. I especially welcome any information dealing with corrections or more information for logs already circulating. This is one way of all collectors helping each other.
Jay Hickerson has compiled a massive listing of available circulating programs of OTR. It is updated annually as more programs are released and become available. He depends on information forwarded to him as programs are released, or from collectors that inform him as to the programs they have available or are to be released. This of course does not take into account literally thousands of non-released or restricted material that may or may not be released to the general collecting community. But still, even collectors with restricted, non-released material can still utilize the important information a broadcast log can provide.
I have received many thanks from collectors ever since the released of the YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR log. This series was a very popular long running radio series with 889 broadcasts, eight different actors in the lead, and six audition programs. We included, naturally the chronological order of script titles as well as a complete alphabetical listing to help the collector in identifying the broadcast dates in their collection. Hundreds of titles that were not known before were listed for the very first time. This is the type of help that many collectors find indispensable.
The next installment of this series will show you how you can do your own log research based on my experience with THE LONE RANGER log. If you have always wanted to put together this type of information but just didn't know where to go or how to start this effort, read Part V.
Next Part V - In Search Of The Lone Ranger
If there is an area of information that you, the new or well established collector, would like to see in this series, please feel free to write me. Any questions, comments, or suggestions will be carefully considered. I can be reached through this internet web site or the following addresses:
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Last Updated: 04/27/15 07:37:41 PM