Sunday, August 3, 2008

Information Please!

Griff loves the old time radio shows. Rochester's public radio station airs many of these broadcasts every night from 7:oo until midnight and I admit that after a time they became a sort of bedtime staple. Now, I often miss hearing the misadventures of Gildersleeve or the suspenseful Shadow before I drop off to sleep. But I had never heard Information, Please! until now.

We seem to enjoy testing ourselves on our knowledge of obscure facts or trivia. The long standing popularity of Jeopardy is an example. Trivial Pursuit and variations on the theme abound and the current public radio sensation, well that might be a little strong, let me say the current hit, Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me, has brought the traditional quiz show to radio.

But as this post from Britannica Blog, featuring a broadcast from the popular radio show, Information, Please! which aired from 1938-1948, shows, radio quiz programs have a long history.

From Britannica Blog:
Its format was novel: instead of quizzing contestants from the general public, listeners submitted questions to quiz the experts, and if they stumped the panel of resident eggheads, they won money and (for many years) a set of Encyclopaedia Britannica. The program became a cultural icon, spurring Information, Please! quiz books, card games, almanacs, film shorts, and countless editorial cartoons and satires. Anybody who was anybody wanted to appear on the show.

Its master of ceremonies was the warm and witty Clifton Fadiman, literary editor of the New Yorker magazine and a longtime member of Britannica’s Board of Editors. His amusing three-member panel of savants routinely included Franklin P. Adams, the popular newspaper columnist, Shakespeare expert, and member of the fashionable Algonquin Round Table of New York writers; John Kieran, the amazing Bronx-accented sportswriter, linguist and Latinist, botanist and bird-lover, and master reciter of Western poetry; and Oscar Levant, pianist, composer, actor, raconteur, and all-around wit. Fadiman and his brain trust would often be joined by a special guest panelist, usually a famous writer, political leader, or Hollywood star.

I particularly enjoy these shows because I am a fan of Fadiman's literary criticism. Several years ago I was introduced to the Great Books Foundation, founded by Mortimer Adler, and Fadiman was a major contributor to this effort, the goal of which was to bring a liberal education to the masses. In this broadcast from August 23, 1938, we hear Fadiman as host and special guest Percy Waxman of Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Click here to "Wake Up!"

For more old time radio broadcasts visit the Old Time Radio Network.

Thanks to Encyclopedia Britanica for links and graphics.


Rob Nixon said...

I don't know if you have xm radio or not but channels 163 and 164 are full of old radio drama and comedy along with some newer stuff based on the 30's stock.

It's pretty cool

Joni said...

I do, but I'm not sure I am that big of a fan. But, when Griffy gets a hold of the radio that is what he tunes in to first, and so I'll listen. It keeps peace in the family!! And after a while the shows grow on you or at least they get on your nerves less. The ads are fun.