Amoeblog

"We will not walk in fear, one of another"

Posted by Whitmore, October 19, 2008 09:16am | Post a Comment

I usually don’t write about politics. I find that the best political writing should employ (exploit?) a subtle and sophisticated hand, especially in these days of tightrope walks and frayed nerves that seem to deal better with cardboard emotions than sheets of facts and figures. I am seldom subtle and, unfortunately, never sophisticated. I’m better off subjecting readers to unintelligible flights of fancy and weirdness than operating a scalpel around the lesions of politics lessons.

But even after witnessing this long, never ending line of fear mongering from the right, I was simply bowled over by the most recent hysteria coming from Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann who suggested that major newspapers should investigate other members of Congress to "find out if they are pro-America or anti-America.” (Of course my first thought was, “I thought the media was controlled by the leftist elite, so how could such an investigation actually work … the left will protect their anti-American progeny!” Then again, I think it's only fair that we should start the investigation with Rep. Bachmann -- you know, she who throws the first stone...just to make sure her aim is true?)

Joseph McCarthy. Not exactly our finest moment as a nation. And now, well here we are ... But then out of nowhere, my rarely seen sunny-optimistic side crawled out from beneath my bleak crusty disposition, swatting away my pesky depression in one mighty blow. I suddenly remembered a quote from Edward R. Murrow’s show See It Now and the special episode entitled “A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy” that aired on the evening of May 9, 1954.   

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wires and lights in a box

Posted by Whitmore, October 18, 2008 11:27am | Post a Comment


This week marks the 50th anniversary of Edward R. Murrow’s seminal address about the future of radio and television, delivered in Chicago on Oct. 15, 1958, in what is now known as the “wires and lights in a box” speech. The legendary CBS newsman warned attendees at the Radio and Television News Directors Association convention to make the most of the new electronic media, and not allow only “escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live.”  

“This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box”

Here is the text of the complete speech.

I suspect Edward R. Murrow would be deeply appalled at what passes as news and news commentary today. Then again, I think he probably had a premonition of it all crashing on down the turnpike. …

Below is a portion of that speech performed by David Strathairn as Murrow in the 2005 film Good Night, and Good Luck.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus - 39 years ago today

Posted by Whitmore, October 5, 2008 08:38pm | Post a Comment


39 years ago today
, light ceased radiating; the World stopped spinning, coughed up a hairball, then turned on its side and attempted to shake loose all the other furry dust berries clinging to its nipple-ly peaks. Fearful of this new creepy darkness, the World tried to catch the tail of a passing comet only to stagger badly and get singed by the fiery interloper.

But seconds before collapsing gloomily into one last catatonic stupor, the World accidentally stepped on the remote control, triggering a channel change and so discovered that there was in fact something worthwhile to watch on television.

October 5th 1969, Monty Python’s Flying Circus was unleashed onto the airwaves of the BBC … six rather handsome young gents (Terry Jones and Michael Palin from Oxford, Eric Idle, John Cleese and Graham Chapman from Cambridge and American born Terry Gilliam from a little school in Los Angeles called Occidental College) changed history itself by saving the World, and us, from sheer utter boredom.

The Death of Old Time Radio

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 30, 2008 12:25am | Post a Comment

THE END OF THE GOLDEN AGE

On this day (September 30) in 1962 CBS radio broadcast the final episodes of Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and the Golden Age of Radio came to a close. 

old time radio party 

RADIO'S BEGINNINGS 

Radio Drama (also frequently referred to as Old Time Radio or OTR) really began in the 1920s. Before that, there was audio theater which consisted of plays performed for radio broadcast. It wasn't until August 3, 1922 at the Schenectady, New York station WGY that the in-house actors, The WGY Players, broadcast a performance that augmented the drama with music and sound effects, creating a vivid aural tapestry. The result was a worldwide explosion in what was an instantly popular new art form. Within months there were radio dramas being produced across the USA, as well as in Canada, Ceylon, France, Germany, India, Japanand the UK.

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George Putnam 1914 – 2008

Posted by Whitmore, September 16, 2008 02:54pm | Post a Comment

If I haven’t mentioned it before at least a dozen times or so, I’m a third generation native Angelino, and obviously a product of the television generation whose earliest childhood memories inevitably revolve around three primary sounds: Earl Shreib commercials - "I'll paint any car, any color, for only twenty-nine ninety-five! Riiiiiiight!”, the legendary voice of Dodger baseball sportscaster Vin Scully and the booming, theatrically stentorian voice of George Putnam, the pioneering  television news anchorman and right wing commentator who was a mainstay of Los Angeles news broadcasting for many a decade. Putnam died last Friday morning at Chino Valley Medical Center. He was 94.

When I was kid my grandfather had his television on constantly and his nightly vigil was Putnam’s newscast. My grandfather ate it all up, every right wing paranoid dramatic declaration; he absolutely trusted everything Putnam said. And of course, Putnam was one of the most influential commentators of the era.
 
In pop-cultural history he is most fondly remembered as the inspiration for fictional newscaster Ted Baxter, Ted Knight's windbag of a character on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. Putnam was also famous for his annual Rose Parade ride on his silver-saddled palomino for almost 50 years. In fact I believe it never rained when he rode in the parade … talk about a man with connections!

Putnam began his broadcast career on a Minneapolis radio station in 1934, moved to New York in the 1940’s. In late 1951 he was hired at KTTV, the independent station then owned by Times-Mirror Co., which also owned the Los Angeles Times.  Putnam quickly became a dominant force in Los Angeles TV news. The winner of three Emmy Awards, six California Associated Press Television and Radio Assn. awards and more than 300 other honors, at one point he was reportedly the highest-rated and highest-paid TV news anchor on the Los Angeles’ airwaves. In the mid 1960s, Putnam moved to KTLA Channel 5. Also, Putnam was briefly a co-host on the political news talk show Both Sides Now with comedian Mort Sahl.

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