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It’s June 1955 – America Is Going Places And Doing Things – Your Radio Says So.

America at Play
America in 1955 – So what if there was a Cold War going on? We Had Fun to take care of.

NBC Radio – Monitor – 4:15 pm – 5:15 pm – June 25, 1955 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Considering America had gone through a World War, gone through Korea and was smack in the middle of a Cold War with The Soviet Union, our predilection for fun had more to do with escape than with actual thrill-seeking.

We had a lot to be nervous about – but we also had an astonishing prosperity; a Middle-Class, a population boom, advances in Technology, rumors of Spaceflight, Television, Cinemascope, Cinerama, even smell-o-vision. Swept-wing cars with Tortionaire rides, bikinis, Marilyn Monroe and dreams of a four-day work week. When the L Word meant Leisure.

But under the thin skin of bubbly, quiet revolutions were taking place; social upheavals in the forming stages – our place in the world was one thing – our place at home was something else. Even the world in general was going through changes. We were all hearing about and sampling “new music” – we were reading new things and watching new movies, written by people who had different eyes on the world. We were beginning to ask questions and wonder why. People were saying no and meaning it.

And media attempted to reflect that – tried to market the concept of a mobile America; one that never stayed put for long – one that sought open spaces and bigger engines; one that wanted to know about things and was curious to find out more.

Television was taking over the collective escape-route of America. Hollywood was in siege-mode, but still putting out important and memorable films – Radio was fading quickly into the sunset, overtaken by spectacle and animated commercials. It had to do something to preserve what flagging popularity was still to be had.

So in 1966 Sylvester Weaver, an executive at NBC hatched a brilliant idea to capture the mobile audience of America, the ones not glued to the TV, and bring the world to them via sounds. Radio could do that – radio was a description medium – it used words and sound pictures to illustrate stories; it was always good at that.

So Monitor was born – June 25, 1955 marked the premier of this weekend experiment – 48 hours of radio going everywhere, doing everything – it promised a Broadway premier, a United Nations debate, a late-night gig at a nightclub a visit on the set of an upcoming movie – all crammed into a weekend’s worth of audio adventure.

Here is a one-hour snippet of that day; from 4:15-5:15 pm – beginning with a review of the latest Hollywood offering, Not As A Stranger and an interview with Gloria Grahame, one of the films stars and ending up with a skit from Bob & Ray. And a whole lot in-between.

Another Pop Culture snapshot of the world in 1955.

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