Radio stars (Oct 1938)

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PEOPLE FROM Maine to March" Gras, from Gloucester to San Diego, it has been my good fortune to go into the homes of the butcher, the baker and the candlestick- maker .... the coal miner, the lighthouse keeper, the wealthy and the poor. Mine has been the opportunity to see America at home. Mine is a long back fence over which I have visited the grandest neighbors in the whole world. I've even called on a dead man. That was in Indianapolis, where we went to the old Lockerbie Street home of James Whitcomb Riley. There have been many other programs better received by the public but, of all the one hundred-sixty weeks ~'ve spent on NBC, this one show stands out as my best effort, in so far as the handling of a dif- ficult problem was concerned. Here I was in an old dining-room, with the problem of bringing a dead man back to life, of presenting James Whit- comb Riley through the eyes of his old friends and associates. Under that dining-room table had rested the pol- ished boots of Grant and Sherman, and a typical gathering here in Riley's day would include Joel Chandler Harris, Booth Tarkington, George Ade, Meredith Nicholson, and many others equally well-known. Beside me sat Riley's family doctor, and on the other side his housekeeper. Across the table was an old boyhood friend of Riley's, apple-cheeked and eighty-odd. It wasn't hard to believe that Riley was there. As the program progressed, the little intimate stories about the man from the lips of the doctor and housekeeper made me feel more and more sure of his presence. Down in South America, Meredith Nicholson sat before a radio set with tears trickling down his cheeks; a wire from Booth Tarkington read: "Many of us found it a very touching thing that the broadcast came from the quiet house in Lockerbie Street, where long ago it was our high e author considers the Merriman family of Joliet, III., the most typically Ameri f those he's met.