Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Her Own Way: The World in 1926

Though this radio-style HSU reading of Her Own Way commemorates the first Humboldt State performance in 1914, radio drama didn’t actually begin until the 1920s.

A pioneer radio station went on the air in San Jose in 1909, but it probably was not until 1921 that the first drama expressly scripted for radio was broadcast by KDKA in Pittsburgh. In any case, within a year or two, there were radio performances of plays, dramatized events, musical comedy and opera all over the country.

 But the kind of radio drama most often portrayed in the movies and in today’s stage presentations (complete with sound effects etc.) was more a creature of the 1930s and 40s.

 Along with plays on the radio came advertising, and in particular, the radio jingle. The first singing commercial was broadcast in December 1926, for a breakfast cereal that was fading in popularity so badly that its manufacturer was considering dumping it completely.

 As a kind of desperate measure, a barbershop quartet recorded a jingle about it that was broadcast in Minnesota. The cereal’s sales there immediately went up. So General Mills decided to invest in commercials-- and to keep making the cereal called Wheaties.  It has done both ever since.

Here via YouTube is that first radio jingle:

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