Sunday, October 7, 2012

Writing assignment #6: Listen to the radio version of a popular program and then watch the early TV version. Compare and contrast them. Watch, listen and think critically. (250-350 words; 4-5 secondary sources).


  1. I listened to the radio version of Our Miss Brooks and then watched the TV version and noticed many differences between the two. First of all in the radio program is seems to me that all of the comedy comes from only Miss Brooks, and nobody else even attempts to crack a joke which I found interesting. This is compared to the TV series where I see the comedy is more fluent as Walter makes jokes as well saying it would be cheaper to send our meat to the North Pole rather than pay for the 300-dollar freezer. I also don’t want to say that Miss Brooks sounds more serious in the TV series, but her jokes definitely seem to be more subdued at least from the small sample size I’m seeing in this episode compared to the radio broadcast. In the radio broadcast everything seemed to be a joke and Miss Brooks seemed to be on of those light hearted characters that you couldn’t really treat seriously as she freely gives her money saying, “ I won’t have a problem giving you this money, but the people who I owe for this watch might.” The wit in the radio show is evident as there are a lot more one-liners, as I would expect because you can’t really show comedy through pictures in radio. For example, they left the high school principal Mr. Conklin in the freezer and while that was a very funny scene, there is no way that would have been as funny if the same scene had come about through the radio broadcast because seeing the picture of him nearly freezing to death outweighs any rationale trying to set that up on the radio broadcast without any pictures. That being said, I think the radio show and TV show still had a very similar witty and sarcastic kind of laughter that was well suitable for that time, as we see Eve Arden play a historic role featuring the main character as a woman being funny was definitely a breakthrough during this time in media in the 1950s.

  2. Halls of Ivy, a top comedy radio and television show from the 50s, began as a radio sitcom and was adapted to tv. It was interesting to hear the narrator of the television show give a synopsis on what's going on after the breaks and to inform the viewer on the back story of what's happening. The tv and radio versions of the show carry similar characteristics in that both have a witty sense of humor. The comedy is more formal and proper.

    For instance, Mr. Hall, the president of the small college, quoting, "An open mind is all very well on its way, but it not ought to be so open that there is no keeping anything in or out of it."

    The context of the previous quote was used in a witty and light manner but it was also very insightful. It was also interesting when a character quoted, "one more look at Ivy to see if it’s as green as it is in my memories…" but the show is shown in black and white. ha.

    In both the radio show and the television show the husband and wife are clearly in love by the way they speak to each other. However, it was funny to see in their television relationship, and how it was portrayed as a tad scandalous for them to peck each other on the lips on camera.

    The culture of the time period was very blatant in the show as well. The female was a very proper, classy woman but had an almost dainty personality. Her life consisted of shopping and giggling. The male had a stronger role of authority....

    In the radio sitcom, there is a live audience who laughs. In the television show the laughing was absent. Thus, when listening to the radio I was able to understand more of the comedy, because I knew when it was appropriate to laugh and when the people thought it was funny or entertaining.

    All in all, the radio sitcom and tv version of the show weren't too different with the clear exception of the visual. Maybe I think that because there are no more "radio sitcoms" that could resemble this!

  3. I listened to a 1948 Dragnet radio show titled “Benny Trounsel” and compared it to a 1967 television production of “Blueboy”. I chose this TV episode because it was of a similar storyline, warning the listener of the dangers of drugs and pursuing drug-inspired crimes.

    Radio definitely stood the test of time better here. There’s less room for time-dated ridicule that is inevitable when looking at old TV. A comment on the Youtube channel I was watching summed up the “ominous” visual of the LSD dealer pretty well: commenting on his yellow and blue face paint the user observed “they forgot to tell you LSD made you a Chargers fan…lol” (Dizzyvik, Youtbe).

    While listening to the radio version I was immediately struck by the infamous Dragnet signature DUM DUM DUM sound effect. It was a frequently added to the radio episode. The sound effects were great, according to Old Time Radio Catalog they were some of the best in radio history, using five different operators and several on-site locations to simulate backgrounds and interviews, something that definitely showed through in the radio show ( It was the grandfather of all crime show sounds, the sound before the Law and Order sound.

    They each had announcers setting every scene in terms of location, time and purpose, again the grandfather of most of today’s crime shows. It was actually an interesting point brought up by that because of the monologue and clearness of explanation, the TV show could be followed without actually watching, just like the radio version ( The two kept the same overall style in presenting events, realistic police work, and not so subtle anti-drug messages.

    I did miss the depth of the sounds in the TV version, they obviously weren’t as necessary but the radio version actually seemed more realistic to me. I could clearly “see” everything going on in the radio, while as in the TV version I caught myself laughing at some of the styling and actions of the actors, while the “action music” made scenes funny rather than dramatic.

    That was another point; in the radio version every word had a purpose while the TV version was clearly landing more heavily towards melodrama. One of the detectives yelled at a room of exhausted looking LSD users “don’t move, stay where you are, freeze!”

    Really? Was he worried they wouldn’t understand him the first time? I feel that kind of melodrama worked much better on the radio; your imagination makes it make sense for the scene rather than having to look at a middle-aged principle type yell at people lying down and half asleep.

    Both were roughly successful in achieving a level of realism towards police work, which was their intention according to producers ( The TV version was probably slightly more realistic only because you could see more of the drudgery and glory-less side of police work in that version.

  4. Gang Busters was dubbed as "The only national program that brings you authentic police case histories" that started during the 1930's. The show's plot revolved around a different police case each week, following the police as they tracked down the latest killer, thief, or hooligan. The radio program was characterized with an array of sound effects. The whole idea was that because you couldn't see the police cars, or the gunshots, you had to be able to hear them; and Gang Busters was known using all kinds of sound effects over the radio broadcast to bring the listener that imagery.

    The T.V. show started in 1952 and was original because it took stories and criminals who actually existed and committed these crimes, and made it into a black and white drama. The cast itself was never solid in the sense that there was new people coming and going all the time. The one constant was that the creator, Phillips H. Lord narrated each episode. I found that the radio show was actually more gripping because I could imagine the characters how I wanted. The TV show's special effects could be cheesy, and take away from the story; but with the radio show, you don't run into that problem, you just listen and imagine.

    The show also spun off into a DC comic series, and eventually made it onto the silver screen in two feature films. Also, holding to the format of old time radio and TV, "Gang Busters" was sponsored by Chevrolet, Sloan's Liniment, Tide, and Wrigley, just to name a few.

    Fun fact: The phrase "to come on like gang busters" stemmed from the radio show's opening, the "loud sirens, screams, shots, and jarring music." basically a very flashy and loud entrance. Overall, I thought it was a good show, and if I was a teenager back in the day, I would make sure I caught the latest episode.

  5. I listened to the radio show, "The Life of Riley," and compared it to its television counterpart. The radio version of the show was on the air during the 1940's and the television show was on in the 1950's.
    In the radio program, they did not go into the physical description of the characters very much. The voices of the characters provided enough of it for the audience.
    This was the same for the television broadcast, but they showed their physical beings to the camera, so it was not necessary to talk about their appearance.
    Also, during the television broadcast, they could get away with jumping between scenes often. This did not happen in the radio show, as they had to stay in each scene until they actually announced they changed scenes.
    Another element that they could get away with in the television show was not needing to say every element during scenes. For example, there was a scene with Riley staying outside, worrying what his wife and daughter would be unhappy with his attempts to stuff the ballot box so his daughter could be class president at her college. He stayed out of the house so that he could avoid any potential confrontations. He asked his son, Junior, to bring him food through the window, but it falls on his head, a scene that would simply be impossible to recreate with radio.

  6. Listening to the Lone Ranger and watching the Lone Ranger are two very different things.

    The first thing I noticed between the two was timing. The radio show was only about 8 minutes long and the TV show was over an hour long. This was probably the reason that the radio show had 2,956 episodes spanning from its beginning on January 30, 1933 to its ending on September 3, 1954, according to Compared to the 221 episodes of the TV show produced over eight years, according to IMDB, the radio show trumped the TV show in popularity.

    As could be expected, even though the radio show was much shorter in time, the stories were essentially the same. There was a lot more narration in the radio show which was necessary in order to explain what was happening over a long period of time quickly. There was a lot more reliance on Natural Sound and dialogues to help move the show along. Nevertheless, there was a surprising amount of narration in the TV show too. In the TV show, though, the use of visuals far outweighed the other elements. There were a lot of lengthy sequences with no narration that were simply there to illustrate what was happening at the moment, perhaps the unfolding of the ranger’s plan.

    Another thing that was interesting about the shows is that the actors were very different. On the radio, the role of Lone Ranger was switched a handful of times with as many as 7 actors having voiced the Lone Ranger at some point or another according to On TV however, actor Clayton Moore, won his role as the Lone Ranger and embraced it. According to, Clayton Moore used to wear his black ranger mask at all public appearances until a court order was issued to make him take it off, soon afterwards however, the order was rescinded and he continued to wear his mask.

    In addition, I found it very interesting that the casters of the show used a real Native American, Jay Silverheels, to play the role of Tonto in the Lone Ranger. I have heard rumors that Latino males would often be used to play Native Americans in the movies. But Silverheels was a real Mohawk Native American according to his IMDB autobiography. For instance, on the Lone Ranger radio show, Tonto was played by John Todd, a white male actor, for nearly the entirety of its running according to I’m surprised, therefore, that the producers sought the legitimacy of his Indian ancestry in a time when it seemed most producers were concerned with that.

    Google image search: John Todd

  7. I compared Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy’s radio and television shows. From watching, listening, and some research, Bergen and McCarthy talked about like two different people—even though McCarthy is Bergen’s ventriloquist dummy. The “duo” started on NBC’s The Chase and Sanborn Hour with five-minute situation comedy episodes. When listening to the radio show (conveniently brought to you by Chase and Sanborn Coffee), you would not know unless you’re told that McCarthy is a doll. Whether intentional or not, I think that’s how Bergen and McCarthy were seen as different people. Going in blind, I saw the two as an Odd Couple-esque storyline of the level headed friend-helping lead the funny uninhibited guy. After some research, McCarthy (although you couldn’t see him yet) looked like an older gentleman with a top hat and monocle, but acted like a child. I’m curious to know why this was so widely accepted rather than questioned for being as odd as I think it is.
    In 1949, Bergen and McCarthy left for CBS and television to star in The Charlie McCarthy Show. Something about this ventriloquist act had attracted so much attention that Coca-Cola was now sponsoring them. This show was much different; Bergen started the first show talking on stage to the audience (compared to what I assume is a laugh track on the radio). In the first episode aired on television, Bergen and McCarthy poked fun at the transition from radio now that Bergen has to memorize his lines. Now that you could see McCarthy as a doll rather than a voice, it was easier to understand Bergen’s thinking and his skill.
    McCarthy is permanently on display in the Radio Hall of Fame, where Bergen and McCarthy were inducted in 1990.

  8. I watched and listened to The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. I specifically chose is because Michael called it everyday family comedy. Not only am I stuck in the 90s but I love shows like Everybody Loves Raymond, Home Improvement and Friends. I don’t need any drama to be entertained, I just need something to relate to. I need to watch people going through the same things I go through, like cleaning a house of junk and clutter and fighting to save the year-old magazine because you’ll need it someday. I don’t need stick-think blondes walking around in Stilettos wondering who to sleep with next.
    The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, I found, was loosely based off their life together. Ozzie and Harriet Nelson were two Hollywood socialites that married and started a show. While still fictional, the show mimicked aspects of their life; the set house was actually a replica of their own house. The couples’ two sons, Ricky and David, also starred in the show as version of themselves.
    One of the main differences I noticed between the radio version of the show and the TV version was the way the comedy was presented. I’ve established before that it is hard for me to follow a radio program so I had to really focus on the conversation and consciously decide when to laugh. The script walked the audience through the comedy so it was hard to genuinely and spontaneously laugh. The TV show was much funnier. There was a lot of physical comedy that you would miss if you were just listening.
    I think this was an advantage to shows that moved into TV. They were able to do more to capture the audience. Facial expression, body language and character placement could add to the hilarity of the joke, unlike what is able to be done with radio.

  9. For this assignment I listened and watched to Sherlock Holmes. The radio version was overall very difficult to follow and understand while the video was actually very enjoyable and easy to follow and reminded me more of what Sherlock Holmes is really about.

    The radio version was difficult to follow because I could not tell whom as speaking at any given time. It took me about three minutes to even figure out who was Watson and who was Holmes. It also did not seem like the Sherlock Holmes I'm used to. Obviously you don't see anything on radio and I found it hard to tell what was going on and who was who. The help of visuals is vital for Sherlock Holmes because there are so many different people being introduced. Also, Watson sounded ridiculous, as in he talked funny. He was almost impossible to understand unless you were fully focused and paying full attention to the program (which I did the second time around). For me, the radio program was a huge pain and I definitely did not enjoy it.

    As for the video, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was just what I was expecting to see. I found the beginning sequence between Watson and the lieutenant to be classic Sherlock Holmes: witty and hilarious. Compared to the radio, the video was much easier to follow and understand. I knew who was who and I could follow the plot whereas in the radio version, it was very difficult to follow because I had no idea who was talking to who. The radio version was difficult to follow but if I were without a television and imaginably bored as I think I would be living in the 1960s, I would probably think the radio version is awesome.

    Overall, the video was much better and easier to follow. Seeing who is who and who is speaking makes it much more enjoyable and less confusing. Video > Radio for Sherlock Holmes, for sure.


  10. In order to study the transition from radio to tv, I selected the comedy program The Great Guildersleeve. The radio version starred Hal Peary as Doc Morton whereas the television version saw an actor switch to Willard Waterman. The original radio program aired on the radio in 1941 and The Great Guilder series was considered to be the first successful “spin-off” series, offshooting from a program called Fibber McGee and Molly.
    This particular radio episode had the pretty confusing plot of Peary refusing to pay a 5,000 in settlements for breach of contract because he didn’t want to marry a woman. What stuck out to me was the character of Birdy. With her slightly southern twang and her position as a maid, it was assumed by most listeners that she was a black woman, but besides these two aforementioned characters there was nothing else here to identify her race. Her gag in this episode was repeating “hes a fine man” over and over again. And while it drew laughs, it also characterized Birdy as being unintelligent and parrot-like. In comparison Birdy of the TV show engages with the boss more. She even actively teases and makes fun of Willard Waterman’s mustachioed Doc Morton.
    Another distinction between the radio and tv version was the trademark laugh by the two actors playing Doc Morton. I originally thought it was the same actor for the radio program and the, due to their similar bass/baritone voice. But Hal Peary on the show has this sort of low cackle which always invokes a response from the audience. Willard on the other hand has high pitched titter.
    The radio episode just trailed off with no real resolution to the original conflict. The tv show on the other hand did have a definite ending which carefully wrapped up all the loose ends.

    1. The Great Gildersleeve BearManor Media, Jan 1, 2002 - 177 pages Ben Ohmart, Charles Stumpf