Radio stars (July 1933)

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RADIO STARS Radio's Gentlemen Adventurers —he would lead the world to Christ and His teachings. To put it bluntly, the boy didn't know what he wanted. Who can blame his restless questing for something to entrap his interest? All of us are like that, aren't we? We search until we find our groove. And then we settle into it, becoming more or less useful citizens. JIMMY'S groove, though, wasn't in any profession or trade. He had a heart for adventure, for doing the un- usual and then turning to something else still more unusual. Not until that lucky day in Schenectady, New York, when he rode a tramcar out to Station WGY did he find the thing he sought. I have said that Jimmy started fast. Within a few weeks he had wangled a transfer to New York with the NBC, a cub announcer. Within two months. NBC officials got word of a tremendous concentration of the American battle fleet in the Atlantic for the annual ma- noeuvers. Who should handle it? Some- one remembered Jimmy's stalwart figure and his glib word-painting. "Let Wall- ington go," they said. Wallington went. He went to sea in a plunging, rolling hulk of a navy boat and, with George Hicks as a partner, turned in a job of eye-witness reporting that started something new in the broad- casting business. THAT something new led finally to the broadcast you may have heard from the lion's cage in New York's Madison Square Garden. It led to the fame he has gained and the snug balance in his bank account . . . and to the hap- piness and the home in Bayside, Long Island, that he and his wife share. I wish it were possible to pass on to you the ebullience of this young man, the everlasting bounce that drives him up and on. Not many have it; particu- larly, not many announcers. Ted Hus- ing has it. Walter Winchell, in another field. Eddie Cantor in still another. Jimmy tries to explain it by saying, "I get a kick out of it." A kick, understand ? Adventure gives that. The off-track odds and ends of life that pitch one's pulse at a fever beat. Wallington seeks just that and has always sought it. With George Hicks, whose reports from the Los Angeles as it hovered above the Atlantic fleet that day of their first big assign- ment he considers the finest reporting job he's ever heard, he has taken a mike everywhere. Into every risk, too! THERE was one risk particularly. It has given him one moment that he will remember when all the others have gone. It was at New London, Connec- ticut, in 1930. He was there to broad- cast the Navy's trials of a new sub- marine rescue device called the Momsen Lung. A part of the test was to ride a form-fitting diving bell with a mike strapped under its roof down into a hun- (Conliiiucd from page 32) dred feet of sea water in order that the world might hear what it felt like. On the day before the broadcast there, Jimmy and a naval lieutenant got in the bell and started down. Standing erect in bathing suits, they felt the water come up around their feet and ankles, up to their knees and hips and chests before the pressure within the bell shut it off and they were under water. "Down." The gray-green light of the surface turned to dirty gray, to black. They had only a flashlight. On the bottom, with water lapping their chins, they completed their tests and the liteutenant pressed the "up" but- ton. The heavy bell—three tons of deadweight—started toward the surface. Up, creeping from beneath the weight of piled up water. CUDDENLY, it stopped. Through his ^ earphones, Jimmy heard that there was a breakdown in the electric power. And electric power was the only power that could lift that three ton bell. He and the lieutenant pushed buttons sav- agely, hopelessly. The bell hung in thick, opaque water. Trapped! Can't you imagine the fierce thoughts that flogged his mind as he stood there, helpless, with water lapping a chill, ominous ring about his shoulders ? "How far down are we?" he asked. "Your guess is as good as mine." Untold feet of water stood between them and fresh air. On other days, men had come pitching to its surface from deep-sea tests, bleeding from their mouths. Some had been carried away to the hospital, unconscious. "This air won't last long," said the lieutenant. "What'll we do?" "Shall we swim for it?" Jimmy asked. "Right." Jimmy swam for it. Ducking down under the side of the bell, he started up. Seconds passed. He tried to see but the water was a blur over his eyes. Pain surged through his head, lodged inside his temples and tried. to burst through. More seconds, rising, swim- ming, aching. . . . At last, his head broke the surface and he clawed himself a handhold while he gulped air. A moment later, the lieutenant arrived at his side. Silently, they shook hands. Those seconds, com- ing up, are the ones Jimmy Walling- ton will never forget. Yes, that's adventure of a sort. Red- blooded, the story-writers call it. There is another sort, less spectacular though, that means a lot in a fellow's life. For want of a better word, let's name it "domestic" adventure. This one started in October of 1929. Her name is Statia. The name of James Wallington meant little enough to the world in 1929. She took it, nevertheless. Their Long Island home called "The Gables" is a handsome, happy place with dogs and a boat and an ocean of water for a weary announcer's play days. There haven't been so many of these lately. As this is written, Jimmy works in about thirty programs each week. During a part of the time he clowned with Eddie Cantor, he made a trip each week-end to wherever Eddie's road- show was performing. Leaving each Friday, he traveled in turn to Miami, Jacksonville, New Orleans, Des Moines. Cincinnati and other spots. By Tues- day he was back in New York, ready for work. What work? Well, you've heard about the lion's cage broadcast. 41