Monday, February 21, 2011
BING AND RADIO
Bing Crosby was, and still is, one of America's most popular singers. His voice is still heard everyday around the world. He recorded an estimated 17,000 songs, most for Decca records, who luck it was to hold his recording contract from 1934 -55. Yet many of Bing's most enjoyable performances were done on radio, and were relatively unavailable to the general public until now. Radio allowed Bing to be intimate, and give a subtle delivery of a song as if he were singing it "just for you." It allowed for witty repartee with the cast and guests, too, and Bing's sly wordplay and perfect timing with an offhand line is usually overlooked as one of his stellar traits. Of course, aided and abetted by Bob Hope, the two were a duo unstoppable and unstoppable in movies. But from 1931 until 1962, Bing was the star of radio.
In 1945 he appealed to Kraft and NBC for more money to allow him to pre-record his shows on disc, knowing how well the V-Discs worked. He was turned down, as broadcast radio had its standards, so Bing refused to return to the show in the fall of 1945, then returned in February of 1946, and then left the show for good in May of 1946. Bing was determined to use recording in radio, as he had done with Decca for many years. Of course, all of this went on behind the scenes, and the Kraft Show is considered first-class Crosby, and near-perfect radio entertainment. Philco Radio Time, starring Bing Crosby, made its debut on Oct. 16, 1946, with Bob Hope as Bing's first guest. The show was first recorded on standard large wax transcription disks, but Crosby was already working with engineers, studying German WWII confiscated tape recorder technology. Bing used the tape recorder to tape, and then delay broadcast his show on American radio in 1947, which was a great success. The recorders were manufactured for the public by Ampex and revolutionized the recording industry. Bing's sponsor from 1949 through 1952 was Chesterfield cigarettes, and then GE took the sponsorship.
Bing is a part of everyone's memories of days and evenings past. He was a star of the first magnitude on radio, the movies and television. Funny, witty, one of the best voices of the century- what is left to say? Bing has to be in the top ten of American popular entertainment. You can add your own favorite nine to the list.