Radio stars (Dec 1938)

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RADIO STARS 0-0, when the Captain barks "Thomp- son—Get out some Beeman's—Pass it around —Let's get our minds on something pleasant —Relax." Even the Coach had to grin. "Learn a lesson from Beeman's," says he. "That fresh tangy flavor scores every time. Got a tang to it that drives away that weary feeling. Just think how fresh that flavor makes you feel and you can score like Beeman's does." We did, too. and Jane programs at the unearthly hour of 7:15 in the morning. How Jolly Bill can be joily when he has had to get up at 5 :30 in order to get down town and do his daily stint on the air is more than any layman could ever figure out, but for years he's been doing it. There's no mistaking the heartiness of that laugh, either. It's one of the trademarks of Bill Steinke's personality. Kid listeners all over the country know it and love it. Bill is one of the fraternity, too, who stands ready to rush to the assistance of any early broadcaster who needs it. One morning there was a near-calamity on the program of the Don Hall Trio, which was composed of Don Hall and two girls. It was two minutes until eight o'clock, the hour when the Don Hall Trio was supposed to give the call to breakfast. The two girls were there, but Don was missing. The girls had rushed page boys to the drug store where the seven o'clockers, their programs finished, were enjoying their counter breakfasts. At one minute of eight, the studio door flew open and in rushed Jolly Bill, Bradley Kincaid, with his "Houn' Dawg Guitar," and Muriel Pollack and Yee Lawnhurst, the two- piano team, ready to lend a hand if Mr. Hall didn't show up. Miss Pollack had a piece of toast in her hand, but she sat ready at the piano. At a quarter of a minute before eight, in flew Don Hall, his violin out of the case, and he com- menced playing the theme song when the engineer gave the signal, as though not a thing unusual had happened. One of the most popular of the "un- ballyhooed" stars is the Landt Trio, which has been on the air since 1928. The Trio, made up of Carl, Dan and Jack Landt, was formed in Scranton, Pa., where the boys ran across an old friend, Howard White, one day in his bakery, and discov- ered that he had a piano in a back room of the shop and spent hours playing it. The Landts had been doing a little radio singing, so they got together and even- tually landed at NBC, New York. When Howard White died two years ago, they took Curley Mahr as their accompanist, and carried on. For years, the Landt Trio's program was called On the 8:15. Commuters in hundreds of suburbs timed their departure for their stations by the 8:15. On April Fool's Day the boys decided to play a joke on their listeners. The signature of their program was the sound of a train pulling out of the station. On this occasion, they started the program with this sound effect at 8 a.m., instead of signing off with it at 8:15. As a result, hundreds of commuters were confused, scalded their throats with hot coffee, and rushed from their homes only to arrive at their offices fifteen min- utes early. They protested by telephone, telegraph and letter, and the pranksters were duly remorseful, but they did have the satisfaction of checking up on their following. In the nine years of their broadcasting at early hours, the Landts have had many unusual things happen to them, but none were rushing in to do their program at the NBC studios at 711 Fifth Avenue, and were followed in by policemen. The cops wanted to arrest them as suspects in the robbery of a nearby bank. The boys had overslept and had a stubble of beard which made them look like suspicious characters as they ran into the building. Then, to top it off, Carl was carrying his guitar and the cops were sure that the case was full of bank notes. It took no end of explain- ing by the NBC employees to keep the representatives of the law from going right into the studio and pulling the Trio off the air. "Our songs were a little shaky that morning," they recall. No star has been more beloved than Vaughn de Leath, the first woman singer on the air, who is still heard almost every day over NBC. It was back in 1920 that Vaughn was invited to experiment with that new thing called "radio," and became the "Original Radio Girl." In fact, Vaughn can be credited with originating crooning, because when she was doing her experi- menting with radio, she noticed that loud soprano notes often crashed into the radio tubes, with damaging results, so she pitched her tones lower and softer, made her voice throaty and "modulated." Today, with all the self-importance and formality attached to the big revue shows of the air, it is a pleasure to watch Vaughn de Leath at the piano, playing her own accompaniments to her easy singing, keeping one eye on the clock as she does her own timing, now as in the first days of radio. Nothing fazes her. Once, two porters, acting on mistaken instructions, walked right in during the middle of her broadcast and moved out one of the two pianos which she was using with an as- sistant. She ad-libbed and went on with her show. Her self-assurance comes of the years when all the programs came from one studio, and anything could hap- pen. Vaughn puts a great deal of the per- sonal element into her programs, carrying on a dialogue with her announcer, and giv- ing heart-to-heart talks to her fans. Her advice is popular, for she gets a lot of fan mail which she always answers. Two girls are kept busy helping her at this job. "I like being neighborly," Vaughn says "—swapping jelly and home-made bread across a back fence." And, that's just what radio is to her and to the other members of this free and easy crowd—a back-yard fence. On NBC's eighth floor in the mornings, you are sure to see Joe White (Joseph White, The Silver Masked Tenor) visiting with Vaughn, May and Peter, Sammy Herman or other members of the gang, after he has finished his broadcast with Jerry Sears' orchestra. Joe's name is still magic to the steady daytime listeners. From 1925 to 1930, he was known from Coast to Coast as The Silver Masked Tenor and appeared on the Goodrich Tire programs wearing a silver mask. When he was touring the country with the Good- rich Silver/one orchestra, he had a chance to learn the great extent to which the radio had built up its favorites. Cheering crowds greeted him everywhere. One morning lie was standing in front of a theatre which advertised the presence of The Silver Masked Tenor. A man struck up a conversation with him and asked him if he would like to meet the tenor. "Do you know him?" Joe asked. "Sure, I know him," the man answered. "He got part of his face shot off during 60