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Since we’re in our first week of July, and it is, for all intents and purposes a week with a holiday smack in the middle, it only seemed logical to add this slice of City History to the roster of Pop Culture artifacts from sixty-three years ago. Someone recorded it – they may have suffered from a short attention span, but it’s just enough to offer a tantalizing sample of what people were listening to on any given day during the Summer of 1956. It runs the gamut because, before the days of stringent formats and narrow-casting, radio was pretty much a free-for-all that changed at least once an hour. The tape starts with the introduction to what was billed as “the longest show on radio” – Dolphin’s of Hollywood, as it aired on KRKD and presented by Huggy Boy (Dick Hugg). It gets into the introduction and then switches stations (always frustrating) to a weather report (yes, we had smog as well as fog and low-clouds sixty-three years ago). There were hucksters masquerading as cure-all salesmen (in this case, a sure-fire cure for obesity masquerading as a show about things “stranger than fiction”. Legendary news broadcaster Walter Winchell, who goes on an anti-communist tirade before switching gears to help solve a kidnapping mystery in which he offers himself as the bearer of ransom money. The music is exactly what you would hear in 1956 if you weren’t a teenager, or even if you were, if you weren’t quite into Rock n’ Roll yet. In 1956 Rock was just getting off the ground and music was still of the “easy listening” variety, for the most part. A lot of ads for places that no longer exist and prices for things that always make contemporary jaws drop, despite what the average person took home in pay in 1956. Just hearing that you could buy a Cadillac for a little under $400 makes for watery eyes. Most of the radio stations mentioned (with the exception of KNX) are no longer on the air, having changed hands several times over the years.
So this is a half-hour slice of life in Los Angeles over a few days in July of 1956. Sadly, these are only snippets from those days, some a few seconds long before plunging into something else while others went along, as if the person at the tape recorder got distracted by something and forgot – it’s all there; a kind of mosaic of what you would be doing if you were there at the time and life in 2019 didn’t exist yet.
Enjoy the time travel.