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Breaking Walls

Storytelling Podcasts

Breaking Walls: The Podcast on the History of American Network Radio Broadcasting.


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Breaking Walls: The Podcast on the History of American Network Radio Broadcasting.






Jack Benny On The Importance of Organic Character Development

In June of 1983, Jack Carney broadcast a two-part audio documentary on the life and career of Jack Benny featuring interviews and recollections with the cast, and audio from the show. During the first part of the documentary, in an interview recorded years before, the late Jack Benny spoke of the importance of organic character and joke development on the Jack Benny Program.


Vincent Price On The Power of Radio Drama

In late 1972, Vincent Price sat down with Dick Bertel and Ed Corcoran for WTIC's The Golden Age of Radio (full interview here - During the course of their conversation, Price spoke about the power of dramatic radio for the listening audience.


BW - EP135: Luke Slaughter Of Tombstone (1958)

In Breaking Walls episode 135 it’s February of 1958 and CBS has just launched a new western, Luke Slaughter, of Tombstone. It’s a forgotten sixteen episode gem. Five years earlier it might have been a hit. —————————— Highlights: • William N. Robson and The Hollywood Radio Western • Planning Luke Slaughter • Slaughter Launches • The Radio Dial on February 23rd, 1958 • Tracks Out of Tombstone • The End of Slaughter • Looking Ahead to Paladin —————————— The WallBreakers:...


BW - EP135—007: Luke Slaughter Of Tombstone—Looking Ahead To Paladin

In 1961, William N. Robson joined The Voice of America. It’s the civilian overseas broadcast agency for the US government. During his fifteen years there, Robson wrote, directed and produced documentaries. He won four more Peabody Awards. Frontier Gentleman lasted five months longer than Slaughter. CBS canceled it in November, but with another western in mind. It’ll be the focus of our next Breaking Walls episode. Next time on Breaking Walls, it’s 1875 and we’re at the Carlton Hotel in San...


BW - EP135—006: Luke Slaughter Of Tombstone—The End Of Slaughter

Despite the CBS sales team’s best efforts, national sponsorship for Luke Slaughter was non-existent. Only the May 4th episode managed to get sponsorship from O'brien Paints. All the components for an excellent series were there, except the timing. By Memorial Day, the writing was on the wall. This is audio from the final episode of Luke Slaughter, which aired on June 15th, 1958. In it we learn that Slaughter was once a young lawyer, and his birth name was Lucien. With his commanding voice,...


BW - EP135—005: Luke Slaughter Of Tombstone—Tracks Out Of Tombstone

The front cover of the March 2nd, 1958 Sunday edition of The Los Angeles Times spoke of President Eisenhower’s recovery from a mild stroke. Two civilian airplanes crashed over Upland, killing four. Racehorse Round Table, won at Santa Anita. Meanwhile, at 12:05PM Pacific Time, Luke Slaughter signed on from KNX. Lawrence Dobkin was featured in the cast. Years later, he and Lilian Buyeff, who played Carlotta in the previous episode, spoke with SPERDVAC.


BW - EP135—004: Luke Slaughter Of Tombstone—The Radio Dial On February 23rd, 1958

After Luke Slaughter signed off, Frontier Gentleman signed on with its fourth episode. It was called “Kendall’s Last Stand,” and was one of the most gripping shows in the run. John Dehner starred. Five minutes of a Road Show followed and then five more minutes of news. After a New York Philharmonic Concert, Suspense signed on at 4:35, guest-starring Karl Swenson and Cathy Lewis. The story, “Five-Buck Tip.” is a thriller about a twin trying to escape the electric chair at the expense of his...


BW - EP135—003: Luke Slaughter Of Tombstone—Slaughter Launches

When Luke Slaughter debuted on Sunday, February 23rd, 1958 over CBS, network radio had shifted focus. Car radios had become standard. That month, U.S. Radio Magazine reported fifty-five percent of all peak listening came from cars. Auto-rating measurements were underway, but ineffective. If you’d have turned on your radio to WCBS in New York that Sunday, you’d have heard news reports at the tops of most hours. Concerts and other music programs filled the dial between 11:30AM and 2:00PM....


BW - EP135—002: Luke Slaughter Of Tombstone—Planning Luke Slaughter

William Robson attracted talented people into Slaughter’s creative process. The going rate in 1958 for a radio script was four-hundred fifty dollars. Lucian Davis would produce script writers like Allen Botzer, Don Clark, Robert Stanley, and Tom Hanley, who also provided editorial supervision. Hanley shared sound duties with Bill James. Gunsmoke director Norman MacDonnell remembered their work. Luke Slaughter would be set in the 1880s around Southwest Tombstone, Arizona. The title character...


BW - EP135—001: Luke Slaughter Of Tombstone—William Robson And The Hollywood Radio Western

In February of 1958, CBS’ Gunsmoke, considered by many to be the greatest western of all-time, was in its sixth radio year. The TV version was the medium’s most-watched show, with a rating of 39.6. Although the 1950s proved to be a great time for radio westerns, in 1958 Gunsmoke was the only one of note on the air. Gunsmoke’s cast and crew had little overlap with its TV counterpart. CBS was contractually obligated to provide their radio affiliates with a promised slate of shows, and because...


A Portion of Bob Hope's Eulogy for Jack Benny from December of 1974

When Jack Benny passed away on December 26th, 1974 after a short battle with cancer at the age of 80, it was Jack's best friend George Burns who was supposed to eulogize him at Benny's funeral. Burns attempted to, but was overcome with emotion and unable to continue. Bob Hope, another close friend and long-time comedy peer, delivered one of the most poignant speeches of his lifetime. This is a portion of it, recorded live at Jack Benny's funeral.


Radio Spirits: Andy Williams Selects the 60 Greatest Old-Time Radio Christmas Shows

This is the preamble from Andy Williams before his Radio Spirits selection of 60 greatest old-time radio Christmas shows. This collection is ©2000. The recording is from ca. 1999-2000. Origin -


BW - EP134: Christmas With Jack Benny In A Changing World (1949)

In Breaking Walls episode 134 we spend our holidays with one of the most-beloved figures of the twentieth century: Jack Benny. —————————— Highlights: • Picking Up with Benny Leaving NBC for CBS • A World in Turmoil • Benny Launches his Fall 1949 Season • The Texas Benefit • What About 1950? • Jack Goes Christmas Shopping • Christmas Week 1949 in World News • Christmas Day with Jack and the Gang • Bringing 1949 To a Close — Looking Ahead to January —————————— The WallBreakers:...


BW - EP134—009: Christmas With Jack Benny In A Changing World—Looking Ahead To January

As the curtain closed on 1949, Jack Benny had his most lucrative year to date. CBS was now the number one network in the country, and both were poised for big things in the oncoming TV era. Benny’s January 1950 rating would rise again, to 25.6. This brings our look at December of 1949 with Jack Benny to a close. Although we’ll be moving on you shouldn’t worry, Jack will still be around the periphery in January.


BW - EP134—008: Christmas With Jack Benny In A Changing World—Christmas Day With Jack

On Christmas Day 1949, The Czech government outlawed all people who’d fled the country during the 1948 Communist coup. While Cary Grant and Besty Drake were married in a private ceremony. At 5PM eastern time, CBS put on a star-studded holiday rendition of “The Man Who Came to Dinner.” Jack Benny played the male title role in this screwball comedy. Holiday specials were a network tradition, and Benny was no stranger to them. At 7PM eastern, The Jack Benny show signed on CBS. This episode was...


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BW - EP134—007: Christmas With Jack Benny In A Changing World—Christmas Week 1949 World News

On Tuesday December 20th, Clark Gable and Sylvia Ashley were married at a ranch in Solvang, California. It was the fourth marriage for both of them. They’d divorce in 1952. The next day, Samson and Delilah directed by Cecil B. DeMille and starring Hedy Lamarr and Victor Mature was released. It would earn more than nine million dollars at the box office — the highest grossing film of 1950. Meanwhile on Friday, December 23rd, The New York Stock Exchange rose to its highest levels since August...


BW - EP134—006: Christmas With Jack Benny In A Changing World—Jack Goes Christmas Shopping

At 7PM eastern time on December 18th, 1949 Jack Benny took to the air with what had become a programming staple: His Christmas shopping episode.


BW - EP134—005: Christmas With Jack Benny In A Changing World—What About 1950

The U.S. spent the first ten months of 1949 in a recession. Competition for the advertising dollar was stiffer. There were now over two-thousand-six-hundred AM and FM radio stations in the country, and TV was becoming a serious threat. Over one-hundred Television stations were on the air. Only two Network Radio shows had ratings higher than a 20. Just two years earlier, there were fifteen. Radio’s average Top 50 ratings were their lowest since 1937 and network radio revenue dropped for the...


BW - EP134—004: Christmas With Jack Benny In A Changing World—The Texas Benefit With Frank Leahy

By December Jack Benny’s rating was up to 25.4, tops on radio. On December 11th, 1949, Jack attempted to make arrangements for his Texas benefit appearance. Notre Dame football coach Frank Leahy was the guest star.