Sunday, January 8, 2017

Lighthouses on Old Time Radio - The Devil's Crib from Front Page Drama (1936)

For my 13th entry in my lighthouses on old time radio series - I thought I would stick with the 1930s and feature a series that I have not used before.  In fact, I have not featured many programs that are shorter than a standard 30 minute time-slot, but this fits that bill also.  There is not a ton written on this series - so thee is a good incentive to keep digging!  With that all said - on to the show.

Cheboygan Crib Light - October 9, 2015 (Cheboygan, Michigan)

Cheboygan (Michigan) Crib Light (Lake Huron)
October 2015

Front Page Drama was a 15 minute weekly serial that ran from the mid 1930s through at least 1954.  This series had a very specific function.  The series presented a dramatization of a story that would appear in the Sunday newspaper supplement called the American Weekly.  This supplement was placed in the Sunday editions of Hearst newspapers across the country.  In the mid-thirties, the series would be on more than 230 radio stations across the United States, Canada and Australia (according to Variety on March 13, 1935 - p41).  To get a sense of the series, here is a review for an episode in Variety in 1937:

Waxed dramatization of story 'to appear in next Sunday's American Weekly' air over WMCA and approximately every station in the New York area, with the exceptions of WEAF, WJZ, WABC and (currently) WOR - about 20 stations at present.  Waxing and placing them handled by Tom Brooks, radio editor of Hearst's N.Y. American and Journal.  Understood broadcasts are gratis proposition, for 'good will.'  Brooks is doing okay.  
Program caught (20) told hokey meller about prodigal son just out of the pen and nose-diving back into crime.  Yanked back to the straight-and-narrow by a mystical 'traveler' he tried to hold up.  Winds up with the reformed lad back with his poor old mamma.  Hefty trending on the tremolo pedal and beaucoup serving of sugarcoated pills of philosophy.  Actors do what they can with it.  Instrumental backgrounds of explanatory interludes and commercials.
Possibly readers who would go for type of yarn broadcast would buy the American as a result of this program.
-Hobe. (Variety - Wednesday March 24, 1937, p39)
On February 15, 1936, the featured story from the upcoming American Weekly was called The Devil's Crib.  Think of it a bit like Romeo and Juliette on a lighthouse.  Well, not really, but there are two families - especially the patriarchs, who cannot stand each other.  One is the lighthouse keeper on Devil's Crib - the other a ship captain.  Unknown to either of them, their children fall in love.  Outrage ensues when the lighthouse keeper reveals that the ship's captain called him an 'old stick in the mud.'  I guess that constitutes one of the worst things you can call someone over the radio in 1936.  But when the weather unexpectedly gets worse, these two adversaries, with a bit of supernatural help, find a way to help each other out.  Hope you enjoy this short program from Front Page Drama.

Devil's Crib (Front Page Drama - February 15, 1936)

Here are some links to programs relating to Old Time Radio and Front Page Drama:

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