Many of the interviews reveal a preference for local stations. However many of the listeners close to the border listened to U.S. stations.
Canadian radio programs
These are a few of the popular programs broadcast by Canadian radio stations.
“Knock, knock. Who’s there? It’s the Happy Gang! Well, come on in!”
The Happy Gang one of CBC’s first popular programs, running successfully from 1937 to 1959. The program produced by the CBC picked up on some of the early Canadian tradition of comedy and variety programming. The program aired at 1:00 p.m. in Toronto for 30 minutes from Monday to Friday. The Happy Gang featured a regular combination of comedy and variety. “In the show’s heyday, two million listeners were tuning in daily in Canada alone, and the program was exported to the United States.”
Sources: “On the Air,” The Globe and Mail, 1930-1939; More information can be obtained about the Happy Gang at: CBC Archives. Image: The Happy Gang display at the CBC Museum by Double Blue is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0.
The Romance of Canada
The Romance of Canada, much like the recent Canada: A People’s History on CBC television, was series produced for the radio to chronicle the pagentry of Canadian history. The series of 24 programs written by Merrill Denison was broadcast by the Canadian National Railway Network in 1931 and 1932.
Image: CNR Canadian National Railway Logo Vintage by Collin Douma is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
Wilf Carter was Canada’s famous yodelling cowboy. Although he started out on CFCN in Calgary his singing was known across the country through radio and his records. He recorded as Montana Slim in the United States. By 1937 Carter had a 15-minute program on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation network.
Source and more information:CBC Archives. Image: Wikipedia, A record of Wilf Carter’s Down The Old Cattle Trail.
American radio programs
One of the major concerns during the 1930s was that Canadians were listening almost exclusively to American programs. A few of the major American programs and descriptions are listed below. This is only a preliminary list. These are a few of the popular programs broadcast and produced by American networks during the 1930s.
Amos ’n’ Andy
Amos ’n’ Andy had a 34-year run as a wildly popular 15-minute weekday comedy. At its peak theatres stopped movies to pipe in the broadcast. It started out as Sam ’n’ Henry on January 12, 1926 at WGN in Chicago. Its creators and stars, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll moved their blackface comedy to WMAQ also in Chicago in 1928. With the move came the name change and a more flexible contract that allowed for the pressing of electrical transcriptions of the program. The electrical transcriptions allowed stations all over Canada and the United States to buy the program even if the stations were not part of a network. Electrical transcription, its status as a network show on NBC and early sponsorship by Pepsodent toothpaste facilitated the show’s early rise to popularity.
To read more about Amos ’n’ Andy see: John Dunning, On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998. Image: Wikipedia, Illustration of Amos ‘n’ Andy in New Movie Magazine, 1930.
Ma Perkins was a “serial drama” or soap opera first broadcast by WLW in Cincinnati in 1933. It then became part of the NBC network in late 1933. “America’s mother of the air” lasted until 1960. The show was a regular 15-minute weekday feature. In Canada the program was broadcast by stations such as CFCF in Montreal, an NBC affiliate, until the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation made the program a part of its schedule.
Source: John Dunning, On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, 420-422; Anne MacLennan, “Circumstances Beyond Our Control: Canadian Radio Program Schedule Evolution During the 1930s.” Montreal: Ph.D. Dissertation Concordia University, 2001.
Vic and Sade
Vic and Sade was series of comedic sketches. For most of its run from 1932 to 1946 the program was broadcast by NBC, with short exceptions on CBS and the Mutual Broadcasting System. The sketches centred on Mr. And Mrs. Victor Gook’s household. The show’s theme song in the early 1930s was “Oh, You Beautiful Doll.”
Source: John Dunning, On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, 695-702.
Major Bowes’ Original Amateur Hour
Major Bowes’ Original Amateur Hour was a weekly talent contest. Applicants came from all over the country and the craze for the show lasted from 1934 to 1945. The show received 10,000 applications weekly, 500-700 were auditioned and only 20 were selected for the broadcast while the others ended up on the streets of New York City on the relief rolls.
Source: John Dunning, On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998, 424-429.