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Airing A Peeve and an Interest

My career as a professional journalist began in the summer of 1973 at the Oregon Journal, the afternoon daily newspaper in Portland, Oregon, one of the 50 largest newspapers in the country. I loved the OJ and I am proud of my two stints there as a reporter. It was a great paper produced by great people, and I learned a lot. But the New York Times it was not. As far as I could tell, we did not have copy persons to do errands for us. We bought our own coffee, took our own copy to the City Desk, and, if we needed clippings to support a story, we went downstairs to the morgue and got them ourselves. The latter meant that, if you were on deadline (and at an afternoon newspaper that closed at noon, you were nearly always on deadline), you almost never had time to "pull the clips." So, if you had to reference an historical event, you turned to the person on the desk next to you and said, "When was the First National Tower built," and they told you "the late 60s." The OJ (and for that matter, nearly all other newspapers) were filled with such imprecision, as were the Associated Press and United Press International, where I also worked. Not only were such imprecise dates common, they were also (given the nature of human memory) frequently incorrect.

[I pause here for an anecdote. In their latter years, my parents kept disagreeing about events in their past. "You know, 40 years ago when we went to Disneyland," my mom would say, and Dad would say, "No it was 30 years," and they would argue and become frustrated. This occurred so frequently that they finally agreed; everything happened "about 10 years ago." It made for some silly conversations, but ir prevented domestic strife.]

Frankly, reading "the late 60s" irritated me, and having to write it frustrated me. It became a pet peeve of mine; whenever I had the time and resources, I tried to find the actual dates. For most of my career, such research was difficult, time-consuming and sometimes impossible. Just as I was leaving journalism, Google arrived on the scene. How I wish we had access to Google back in the day. Of course, the Internet is a cornucopia of bad data, but if you are diligent and vet your sources carefully (I am looking at you, Wikipedia), you can arrive at actual dates with some hope of accuracy, particularly if the event occurred after 1995.

So that's my peeve. My interest is in Bob and Ray, radio comedians whose radio careers stretched from WHDH in Boston in 1946 (no precise date available) to National Public Radio, ending on April 5, 1987.  I don't know where I was first exposed to them; my family regularly listened to KOIN (where I might have heard their 1959-60 CBS program at age 7) and KGW (where I might have heard them on the weekend NBC Monitor program). In any case, I cannot remember a time when I was not aware of them  nor when I was not amused by them. They were two very funny people.

For complicated reasons, I decided I would like to be able to keep straight the timeline of their joint career. This is no easy matter, especially in the early 1950s, when they worked multiple simultaneous jobs and also moved around quite a bit. "Surely someone has done a Bob and Ray timeline," I thought.

Well, no. Not until now. Based on numerous old-time radio sources and the excellent book Bob and Ray, Keener Than Most Persons, by David Pollock. In case of prizes, duplicate ties were awarded. That is, when dates from the Internet and Dave conflicted, I went with Dave.

Here now, for the first time ever, anywhere, is a complete Bob and Ray Timeline. I will correct it if someone runs across it and finds an error (information on contacting me is in the sidebar on the right of the page)

Bob and Ray Timeline

  • 1946 WHDH Boston (ad libbed together on the air)
  • 1947-WHDH Baseball Matinee April 11, 1947-June 30,1951
    15 min then 30 min, became Matinee with Bob and Ray
  • 1949 Jan. 14, 1949-one time WMGM appearance
     filled in for Morey Amsterdam and were "discovered"
  • 1951 July 2, 1951- Sept. 28, 1953 NBC Radio
    15 min 5:45 pm Mon-Fri, 1 hour Saturday 9:30pm
  • 1951 WNBC Radio Aug 27, 1951-Nov. 17, 1952
    Morning program (They spent 12 hours a day at NBC; 15 on Saturday)
  • 1951 Nov. 26, 1951-Sept. 28, 1953 NBC-TV
     15 min 7:30pm weekdays
     July 5, 1952 weekly half hour
      Fall 1952 15 min 10:30pm weekdays (and a variety of other slots)
  • 1953 Oct. 5, 1953-July 2, 1954 ABC Network
    Also, some midnight shows on NBC radio
  • 1954 WINS  March 22, 1954 -May 25, 1956 (6:30-10am)
  • 1955 NBC June 12, 1955- (?) NBC Monitor
  • 1955 Mutual Broadcasting System Oct. 3, 1955-September 20, 1957 
     5:05-6pm    (since WOR was the main MBS studio, some sources count this is a stint at WOR)
  • 1959 CBS June 29,1959-June 24, 1960
     No NBC monitor during this period
  • 1962 WHN July 30, 1962-June 30, 1964
    mornings (ironically, formerly WMGM)
  • 1973 WOR March 12, 1973-April 30, 1976
    afternoon drive time 4:15-7pm
  • 1983 National Public Radio July 14, 1983-April 5, 1987

There. I feel better even if you don't.

Actually, this reminds me a little of my work history at CMP, and of my work history in general, which involved cycling through a lot of jobs early in my career, than a gradual slowing of the changes towards the end.

Brexit Correction

Another reason for not mentioning Hitler in an argument is the risk of getting the reference wrong. My friend Kevin Mostyn wrote to correct my reminder that the German people elected Hitler, a cliche I was taught when I was quite young:

Strictly speaking, Hitler was not voted into power by the German people. The Nazis were elected as the largest party in the Reichstag, but they weren't the majority. Hitler was *appointed* Chancellor, not elected. Later, the Reichstag, not the people, gave him special powers, through the law called the Ermächtigungsgesetz [Enabling Act]. Those who would have voted against it where mostly excluded from the vote. Hitler took that law and ran with it. You know the rest of the story. But he was *not* elected by the German people, to rule Germany. Of course, while things were going well, they loved him.

I don't know if this makes my comparison better or worse. Donald Trump, who collected more primary votes than any Republican ever before, still collected a plurality, not a majority, of the votes.

This and That

This is a funny talking dog video.

Check out Donald and Hobbes.

Daniel Dern found this great pun in the funnies.

In Brexit news: The single best summary of Brexit. The funniest comment is this "Hitler" screed, sent to me by Robert Malchman. I am apparently the last to hear of this meme, since the London Daily Telegraph rounded up the best of these screeds in 2009. Just because I (and maybe you) are behind a meme doesn't mean it isn't still funny.