WOR-AM, New York – Barry Gray Program with Mel Allen And Ed Weiner – September 16, 1949 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Before the days of phone-in talk shows, Pop Psychologists and conspiracy theorists, Radio was getting its feet wet during the post World War 2 years with conversational programs – people sitting around a microphone discussing things. It could be topical, like a conversation regarding a then-recent ruling by the FCC and Radio (and later TV) game shows, which were hugely popular in the late 1940s.
Or in the case of this episode of the Barry Gray program from WOR-AM in New York, a panel discussion between Gray and celebrated Sports announcer Mel Allen and former Football player-turned-author Ed Weiner on the subject of College Sports, notably Football. Since it was the start of the season and since it was coming under a certain amount of scrutiny and potential scandal over just where the colleges were getting their players. The question of Scholarships and just who was getting them and why was up for discussion.
Many insisted most teams had players who were as academically sound as they were physically fit – others hunched otherwise. It was Gray’s contention (as well as Allen’s) that College Football was becoming a big ticket item and that the competition between school recruiters was fierce in search of the most successful teams. College Football was becoming a cottage industry and many doubted that was such a good thing, as it lessened the University’s success record in academia, instead focusing on Sports as an attraction. Gray was concerned Colleges were too eager to hand a scholarship to a player, even if he did have barely passing grades in high school. Their potential as generators of trophies, awards and well-heeled donors was greater than that of a player’s ability to get a’s on written exams.
The other points the panel explored were the social aspects of College – how money was becoming a factor and that the area of Fraternities and Sororities was becoming an issue of a family’s wealth and status. The race question was also prevalent as well as the sometimes subtle and not-so-subtle differences between News reporting and Commentary.
So, an interesting slice of what we were up to culturally and socially at the time, as well as what people were spending their time listening to more and more on their radios.
To get a better idea of where we were as a society seventy-one years ago, have a listen to this episode of The Barry Gray Program from WOR in New York on September 16, 1949.