L.A. at Night -circa 1950s

Looking South on Vine Street. A different world sounding even more different on your radio.

It’s 1952 – You’re In L.A. – It’s Midnight – Your Radio Is Time-Traveling. You’re Somewhere In The 1920s. Weekend Pop-Chronicles

L.A. at Night -circa 1950s
Looking South on Vine Street. A different world sounding even more different on your radio.

Encore Time – Jim Hawthorne, Major J. Andrew White – KNX Midnight-1:00 am – June 3, 1952 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

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Before 24 hour news cycles, ’round the clock music and talk, radio was a sort of “uncharted waters” after midnight.

If you were one of the thousands of Angelenos working night shifts, or insomniacs waiting for sleep to sneak up on you, or were staggering home from a night out, this is probably at least one of the radio stations were you listening to. Decades before they became all-news, KNX was one of the cornerstones of radio in Los Angeles. During those days, radio was a variety medium; lots of things for lots of people. No format per se. During the day it was radio drama or cooking shows. At night it was more drama, comedy or variety shows. After midnight it was up in the air. All-night disc-jockey programs or programs like this; Encore Time featuring Jim Hawthorne who was, throughout the 1950s and into the 1960s a local fixture in Los Angeles radio and early local TV. He was one of the pioneers of Personality Radio, paving the way for a generation of Disc-jockeys, talk show hosts and comics to turn radio into a free-form testing ground for a whole range of entertainment.

This show was a weekly fixture for a number of years. It was a simple format – an audience (whoever was around at midnight to applaud and laugh) an announcer and a permanent guest to talk about the music being played. The permanent guest was a Major J. Andrew “Andy” White who was touted as “the founder of CBS Radio” and “the man with a million memories”. The music selected rarely went past the early 1930s and was mostly steeped in 1910’s-1920’s vaudeville stars and singers, to which White would supply anecdotes and trivia to minute detail.

It sounds odd by todays standards, but one of the most interesting aspects of the show were the bits of information on the artists whose records were being played (all 78’s). It is a fair assumption to say 99% of the people singing and being spoken about are obscure at best, representing a world of 100 years ago and a style of music completely forgotten. But from a history and research standpoint, it’s invaluable because many of these artists are now unknown and finding anything out about them is almost impossible. So Andy White comes in as a treasure-trove of research.

Might take some getting used to, but this is what radio in Los Angeles sounded like in 1952 – Hawthorne plugs various establishments around town, which were popular in the early 50s and long gone now. It was also political Primaries for the 1952 election season, and Hawthorne reads off the latest tabulations for candidates who were running in California. Interesting and fascinating stuff – and the closest thing to time-travel we’re to get so far this year. Here’s a sample of June 3, 1952, from midnight-1:00 in the morning via KNX Radio in L.A.


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