Radio Memories: Murrow and ‘Lone Ranger’ were two of radio’s bestIn his latest "Radio Memories" column, Ralph Doty takes a look at pioneering newsman Edward R. Murrow and cowboy favorite "The Lone Ranger."
By: Ralph Doty, Budgeteer News
Before I get to the heart of this feature article, you should know that my two computers sustained major damage two weeks ago when a computer virus — my technician says it’s the worse he’s ever encountered — ate up everything stored in them. Included in the missing were letters from readers stored in those computers.
I made hard copies of two of the three letters I received from readers (sent to my former AOL address). The other one is, well, somewhere in “cyber heaven.”
So, if the writer of the letter that’s not in this column would do me a favor, he could send his letter again, this time to my new address: email@example.com.
Carl Casperson, my all-time local favorite radio personality — he was the longtime host of KDAL-AM’s “Serenade to a Sunday,” a show first hosted by the late Don Mason — recently wrote to me about radio news. He mentioned CBS’s Edward R. Murrow.
Casperson, now in his 80s, lives a vibrant and active life in Duluth after he and his beloved late wife, June, resided in Texas for many years
For decades, radio news was absolutely crucial to how people learned about the world around them. But it wasn’t always so.
For many years in the 1920s and 1930s, newspapers successfully persuaded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that radio should not carry any newscasts. Period.
Among their arguments: Radio was an entertainment medium and therefore should not be involved in news. They also contended that if radio carried newscasts, newspapers would die.
But their opposition to radio newscasts came to an abrupt end in the late 1930s when the Nazis mercilessly bombed London. During much of the blitzkrieg, Edward R. Murrow, then a recently hired newsman for CBS, did daily live shortwave descriptions, directly from London, of the havoc wrought on the brave residents of that city. From that time forward, radio news was a good alternative to newspapers, especially for instant coverage.
But when all was said and done, radio actually helped newspaper sales, because having heard a brief snippet about a news event, Americans’ curiosity was piqued and they’d then buy a newspaper for in-depth coverage.
Now, with the Internet, television and, yes, newspapers, radio news is still with us, but it’s not nearly as important as it was in the 1940s and early 1950s.
Duluthian Dave Beran’s memory about his favorite cowboy radio show, “The Lone Ranger” (which aired from 1933 to 1956), is pretty good.
In an e-mail he wrote: “I especially remember, as a kid, sitting on the floor next to our old Philco radio, listening to cowboy shows. As I recall, ‘The Lone Ranger’ was broadcast on Mondays and Wednesdays [and also Fridays].”
(Incidentally, for a few years, “The Challenge of the Yukon” was heard in the same 6:30-7 time slot on Tuesdays and Thursdays.)
Beran correctly remembered Brace Beamer as the voice of the Lone Ranger after the second Lone Ranger, Earle Grasser, was killed in an auto accident as he was driving to the radio studio in Detroit. Fred Foy was the best-remembered announcer.
The first Lone Ranger, George Stenius, starred in that role for less than a year, in 1933.
“Of course,” Beran wrote, “who can hear the opening measures of ‘The William Tell Overture’ without thinking of ‘The Lone Ranger’? Some years later, after buying some LPs of Mendelssohn music, I realized that ‘The Hebrides Overture’ was also played in the background of [the show] fairly often.”
Without a doubt, among the dozens of cowboy and western radio shows, “The Lone Ranger” was the most popular.
Ralph Doty’s “Radio Memories” program, on the air since 1985, is heard every Friday at 8 p.m. on KUWS (91.3 FM). He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.