Radio stars (July 1933)

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RADIO STARS When Clara, Lu 'n' Em visited New York re- cently, they were entertained at luncheon by Mr. Alfred E. Smith, brown derby ex- ponent. It took place in Mr. Smith's Empire State Building. Backstage At a Broadcast ing into their places before the mikes. Three at one, two at one, one at an- other. In the center, there—that is Clem. He's the reason for that tall mike. He needs it Louis Mason is his real name. A native born Kentuckian, he knows the dialect that he uses. And so do all the rest. Cracker is from Louisiana—her real name is Ann Elstner. Piney—Sara Haden—is from Texas. Gypsy was once a little Mis- souri girl called Theresa Whittler. And David—Ben Lackland, to you—is a Virginia gentleman, sub. MOW, watch them; Enslen is ap- ~ proaching the end of his announce- ment. The introductory music is fad- ing. Louis (Clem) Mason, standing alone at his tall mike, spreads his feet and l>ends his knees. His right hand grips the script. All six feet of him are tensed for the opening line. Just the sort of Clem you imagined, isn't he? All except the glasses, perhaps, that he wears when he reads. But wait ! What is this fellow doing? This chap at the rear of the room, with one hand on that huge sheet of tin- like metal that we just described. His eyes are glued to Tony Stanford who stands like an orchestra director. Ens- len stops talking, jerks a forefinger at Stanford. Stanford's hand sweeps through the air. Immediately bedlam crams the studio. Screams ! Thunder ! The furious barking of a dog! Our ears hum and hurt. But look! Look! The man beside the tin sheet is shaking it like a dog {Continued from page 21) with a bone. And the racket he makes! It's a thunder machine. Such a thunder as might come from a dynamite blast. Every actor in the studio is bending over a mike screaming and screeching. Off in a corner, a black-clad, spectacled man's mouth opens and closes. The sound he makes is between arf and woof. That, ladies and gentlemen, is Bones, the houn' dawg. His real name is Bradley Barker and if you read the June issue of Radio Stars, you read his story under the title, "He Barks for a Living." ABRUPTLY the sound ceases and Clem's voice rings out, "Come back here, Bones." Then, to the girl with him. "Don't ye wimmen folks go no further than right here." It is the beginning of the 135th epi- sode. Almost three years ago "Moon- shine and Honeysuckle" became an aerial feature when Lulu Vollmer pre- sented her first script to the National Broadcasting (Company. Listen ! Clem and Cracker are talk- ing. She wants to go with him to the scene of the explosion. I've listened to Cracker many a Sunday afternoon and tried to visualize her. Tried to imagine what she looked like. Now 1 know. Tall and slim arid chic as a Paris mannequin. A daughter of to- day. I'll bet. But close your eyes. Her voice wafts you hack to down-south mountains and their shabby shacks. All these actors are that way. Look ! There's I'ink. Everybody's friend. Short, sandy hair that is thin- ning on top, he hitches his voice to a star and squeaks out those lovable lines. Maybe you heard him in the Stebbins Boys' sketches last year as Inchy Spencer. His real name is Rob- ert Strauss. With every word he ut- ters, his face works with effort. No half-way acting for him. Listen a moment to this play. The mountaineers are talking about the man and woman whom they suspect of hav- ing caused the explosion. Clem: " 'Tain't natural fer woman to be crime-minded. When she is, she fol- lows some man that-a-way." Cracker: "1 ain't agreein' with ye." Clem: "Why not?" Cracker: "Good as I love ye, ye couldn't lead me into no crime life." Clem: "I ain't figurin' on hit, but ye'd find some mighty dern good excuse for any low-down thing / done." QBSERVE the expert way in which they address those mikes. Smooth running, isn't it? Not by accident, either. For every thirty minutes this troupe is on the air, it spends six hours in rehearsal. Look at those musicians on their stools. The one with the cello is al- most asleep. Nothing to do. he figures. But something is about to happen. The man who rattled an explosion out of that giant tin sheet is standing behind his sound effects table. The actors, crouching behind their microphones, are shooting words at the tiny black boxes. The script has taken us to the very scene of the explosion 42