Radio stars (June 1933)

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RADIO STARS Alex Morrison, authority on golf technique, gives the cast of the Rich- field Country Club program a lesson. Left to right: Jack Golden, the orchestra leader, Morrison, Ernest Glendinning, master of ceremonies, and Betty Barthell, blues singer. Want To Be a Radio Star? (Continued from page 15) sign. Like this—$incerity. You can't do that in the radio business. Somehow, the microphone always finds you out. If you want to go on the air, don't figure that it is merely a short cut to fame and fortune, for you will get no- where. Above all, believe in what you are doing. Your job on the air must be the most important thing in the world to you. Listen to Whiteman : i know a guy who tells bedtime stories to kiddies. He gets thousands of letters a week. He is everybodys' uncle. To you and me that sounds sort of silly, doesn't it? But it's not to this chap. You can't talk to him thirty sec- onds without hearing about those kids. He carries their pictures and their let- ters with him. Whether you like it or not, you've got to read those letters be- fore you get away. He isn't putting on an act, either. He's downright serious in thinking you arc interested. To him, those youngsters are more important than anything else under the sun." That's sincerity. And that's a part of what it takes to be someone on the radio. ILyou really want to be a radio star, there are many ways in which you may go about getting a job. Finally, how- ever, they all boil down to an audition. Almost every studio has an audition room. In them, careers are born and hopes are killed. To them troop the fat and the lean, and the weak and the strong in the hope that they may get on the air. Sometimes they do, but more often it is like this: In the NBC audition studio, a petite, pretty girl stands in front of a micro- phone. Faintly through tightly closed doors seep the. sounds of Manhattan traffic. The girl is dainty and charming with curly brown hair, vivid coloring and a happy smile—a treat to look at. She has been in vaudeville for a year or two singing blues songs. Her first number is a "skat" song of the day. Within the darkened control rooms, three people are listening—but not^ looking. And that is the point. On the stage, her youth and good looks counted heavily, and her songs got by. On the air, they count not at all. And her just-average voice is that of "just another blues singer." There are hun- dreds like her. She leaves the studio disillusioned, puzzled, and wondering why she doesn't click as she always does before a theatre crowd. Li ERE is another audition. A big, strapping man, witli a mellow bari- tone voice. The song comes into the control room rich and vibrant—but so full of poor phrasing, errors in breath control, and other defects that it's ex- cellence is obscured. He will not do. But here is a young lady who imitates children. She imitates a little girl of four in an adventure with her dollies. Terrible as this may sound in print, her work really is remarkable. The audi- tion director, for the first time, beams like a man who has found a five dollar bill. Sometimes it happens, you see—but only once in a blue moon. Paul Whiteman has listened to over 15,000 just such auditions. He has helped more budding stars, probably, than any other man in radio. But when I put to him the problem of the talented youngster in a small town or city out- side of New York or Chicago, he was stumped. To the point-blank question of "How can he get on the radio?" he answered, "Frankly, I don't know." h>\0 ! He doesn't know, and that is a disappointment. And he doesn't bold out the hope of stardom at all. Of all the 15,000 hopefuls he has heard, apprbximately fifty have had the talent or time to continue in the business of entertaining. The odds against the individual are terrific. Fortunately, though, there is always that long-shot chance of crashing through. For there are opportunities, as real as they are rare. Whiteman feels that something should be done about Amer- ican music. Almost none of a lasting quality is being composed. Yet, daily; hundreds of orchestras are on the air, performing all the songs that have been written from antiquity down to now. The centuries have given us a vast reservoir of music, yet Whiteman feels we are fast approaching the bottom. And new singers must be found. You can thank the latest microphones for that. More sensitive and more ac- curate than the old ones, they make a singer sing these days. Now, Lawrence Tibbett sounds like Lawrence Tibbett. And a crooner sounds like—well, just let it go. So, between creating music and delivering it there are chances that will be grasped by those who have, as Whiteman advises, both faith and sin- cerity. I WISH I could make you understand ■ the emphasis which he puts in that word faith. Faith in oneself, he means. Listen to him: "Look at Bing Crosby and Mildred Bailey. When they first started with me. I couldn't give them away. No- body wanted them on the air. Once, they even paid Bing not to sing. And look at them today. They're tops— not because they are any better today than they were then, but because they had faith in themselves." Now here's something. Last year, Paul Whiteman held an audition in the Biltmore Hotel and discovered a little girl named Peggy Healy who, up to the time she sang for him, had never sung in public in her life. Vaguely, she had meant to be an actress, and this audition was merely a lark. When she won it, she was the most amazed person in the studio. The other night, Paul predicted to me that Peggy Healy will be one of the big stars of the air 44