. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – NBC Monitor – 7:15-9:15 pm – June 26, 1955 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
. . . or click on the link here for Audio Player – NBC Monitor – 9:15-12 Midnight – June 26, 1955 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection
Sixty years ago this month, on June 1955 radio broadcasting went though a transformation of sorts. Television had swept the country and was the preferred entertainment source in an increasing number of American homes. Radio, what was formerly the bastion of all things communicative, was being left in the dust. There were a few stalwarts – Daytime serials stuck around for another few years before calling it a day. But the entertainment programs, the ones which grabbed the audiences, were abandoning radio in droves for greener pastures. Radio needed to do something to attempt to lure the audience back. It needed to be hip. Or at least pretend to be.
The first thing was to streamline Radio programming – Disc Jockey programs were hugely popular, as was news and some of the talk programs – those needed to become more visible if they were to compete with Television and the rapidly escaping advertising revenue so desperately needed in order to survive on radio.
And so a clever and bold idea was hatched at NBC Radio; why not create a programming service that was basically all the popular aspects of radio as it was currently leaning, into one weekend service? Take advantage of the technology of the time and play on people’s curiosities and desires to travel to exotic locations.
So the concept of Monitor was born – and from 1955 to 1975, Monitor was the premier weekend programming service from NBC Radio, proudly proclaiming the credo “Going Places – Doing Things” – it was a programming service aimed at the mobile society; the one which spent much of most weekends traveling by car. It also boasted a veritable who’s who of famous personalities and notables from the Arts, politics, Letters and sports. Monitor was tailor-made to the curious explorer – the person who wanted to be informed, but also wanted to know what was happening in other parts of the world.
As a sample of what some of that first month sounded like, I put together a 5 hour chunk of programming, roughly 7:15 pm – Midnight for June 26, 1955, the second weekend the service was on the air. The music is what was popular with mainstream audiences at the time – some of the interviews are with people you probably have never heard of before. This was a slice of American life as it was 60 years ago – listen to it as you would if you were suddenly transported to another place and time and had no idea what anything was and are hearing things for the first time, not knowing exactly what it is you’re listening to or what to expect. In addition to the pop culture aspect, there is the history portion buried in here too – the 10th anniversary of the forming of the UN, and interview with Helen Keller‘s biographer on the occasion of her 75th birthday – interviews with Marlene Dietrich and a Jazz remote featuring Woody Herman‘s Third Herd. All contained in this 5-hour extract from the 48 hour broadcast.
Here is Monitor as it was first heard on June 26, 1955.
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