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The Battle Stations! Radio Program

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Liberty ship description from August 18, 1943
Liberty ship description from August 18 1943


U.S. Merchant Marine Cap Device
U.S. Merchant Marine Cap Device


U.S. Navy Officer's Crest
U.S. Naval Officer's Cap Device


U.S. Naval Aviation recruiting poster, post-World War I
U.S. Naval Aviation recruiting poster post-World War I


 U.S. Naval Aviation recruiting poster, post-World War II
U.S. Naval Aviation recruiting poster post-World War II


 U.S. Naval Aviation Support recruiting poster, post-World War II
U.S. Naval Aviation Support recruiting poster post-World War II

Billboard magazine review of Battle Stations from August 14 1943
Billboard magazine review of Battle Stations from August 14 1943

From the August 5, 1943 edition of the Wisconsin State Journal:

Series Shows How Allies
Are Beating Axis on Seas

Battle Stations, a series of dramatizations showing how America's armed forces slowly but surely are defeating the Axis on the seas, will be presented in four weekly broadcast over WIBA starting at 7:30 tonight. The first two programs will tell of the Battle of the Atlantic. They will describe how the army air forces and the civilian air patrol, with but a flimsy handful of weapons, swept the German submarine from American waters. The first program also will show how our sea and air power grew from a mere threat to a battering ram of destruction. Famous "firsts" such as the launching of a seaplane from a warship, global flights, dive bombings, skip bombing technique, lighter than air pioneering and polar flights, will be dramatically portrayed.

U.S. Surface Navy Device

As indicated above, the four-installment Battle Stations! production from NBC's Department of Special Events would highlight the considerable advances made by the United States Navy in its efforts to defeat the Axis navies over five oceans. The first two presentations were a two-part arc describing The Battle of The Atlantic. Part 1 of The Battle of The Atlantic describes the overall threat faced in the Atlantic shipping lanes by Nazi Germany's infamous 'wolfpacks' of submarines and their initial, devastating destruction of thousands of merchant marine freighters and 'Liberty ships' delivering troops and war materiel to and from Europe. Narrated by Raymond Edward Johnson of Inner Sanctum fame, the writing is superb, the transitions and vignettes crisp and effective, and the sound shaping absolutely top-notch.

In Part 2 of The Battle of The Atlantic, the series fleshes out the human element of the deadly Battle--its consequences and its triumphs--on both sides of the battle. April 1943's estimate of Nazi officers and enlisted taken or dead in the Battle of The Atlantic were at least 12,000. This installment also addressed the personalities of the quickly evolving Nazi command structure. Highlighting the battle's putative turning point, The Showdown in April, the production creates a fascinating and suspenseful account of the seminal moment in The Battle of The Atlantic that disclosed The Navy's relative success in the sea battles. The point at which The Allied Navies could destroy more Nazi U-boats per month than Germany could still build was a cause celebre on both sides of the Atlantic. Narrated by Jackson Beck, the second installment of The Battle of The Atlantic showed the great advances in The Navy's recovery of its sea power supremacy following the devastation of Pearl Harbor. Citing 'TM' as the most important single element of The Navy's growing supremacy, 'Trained Men' proved the success of both the tangibles and intangibles of World War II.

Naval Aviation Device

The final two installments of Battle Stations! addressed The Navy's growing Air Arm. Part 1 addressed the history and background of Naval Aviation, dating from 1910. From the earliest days of The Navy's small contingent of aviation resources--primarily land-based bombers or reconaissance planes--The Navy's frustration in convincing the War Department of the viability of launching bi-planes or fixed-wing aircraft from a ship shows the determinedness of its most visionary commanders. The installment segues into the first primitive naval platforms for launching planes from ships. The U.S.S. Birmingham was the designated platform for The Navy's first attempts to conduct a successful sea launch of an aircraft.

Employing an inclined platform for launch, the initial thinking was that the incline aided in attaining sufficient air speed for a successful launch. November, 1910 is related as the seminal period establishing The Navy's sea-launched Air Arm. The next key element of the concept was proving the ability to recover a sea-launched or land-based aircraft. The U.S.S. Pennsylvania was selected as the target platform for the successful experiment. This accomplished, Naval Aviation began to gain respectable traction with the hide-bound Naval Admiralty of the era. The Curtis hydroplane was the next transitional element in naval aviation. Quickly realizing that a catapult of some sort would be the only viable propulsion mechanism to launch a hydroplane from a destroyer or other escort ship, steam powered catapults removed the last technical hurdle in a viable Naval Aeronautic Service--during the span of only 10 years of development.

Dive bombing was the next hurdle, overcome in 1919 with technical innovations in bomb release technology. The next demonstration would be a successful trans-Atlantic flight. NC-1, NC-3 and NC-4 were designated as the three most viable aircraft. NC-1 and NC-3 succeeded in crossing the Atlantic--NC-4 had been grounded for technical problems.

The U.S.S. Enterprise, during December 6, 1941 was fortunately at sea on a secret mission during the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7, 1941. Launching a total of 18 planes during the secret tests, the events of the following day, showed the importance of recovering both the Sea Arm and Air Arm of The Navy.

The final installment of Battle Stations! addressed the heroes of the Navy's Air Arm during World War II. Opening with the Navy Flier's Creed, the introduction shows the resolve and dedication of the young men and women of The Navy's Air Arm:

''I am a United States Navy Flyer.

My countrymen built the best airplane in the world
and entrusted it to me. They trained me to fly it.

I will use it to the absolute limit of my power.

With my fellow pilots, air crews, and deck crews, my plane
and I will do anything necessary to carry out our tremendous responsibilities.

I will always remember we are part of an unbeatable combat team--the United States Navy.

When the going is fast and rough, I will not falter.

I will be uncompromising in every blow I strike. I will be humble in victory.

I am a United States Navy flyer. I have dedicated myself to my
country, with its many millions of all races, colors, and creeds.

They and their way of life are worthy of my greatest protective effort.

I ask the help of God in making that effort great enough.''

As Scouting Squadron No. 6 nears Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941, it's confronted with Naval Aviation's first opposition from Japanese dive bombers and fighter planes.

As fliers aboard the U.S.S. Wasp near Nazi-occupied Malta, they're confronted by numerically superior Air opposition, and yet they triumph.

A Navy PB-Y employs dive-bombing tactics on a target of opportunity.

Naval Blimp crews show their continued importance as part of a coordinated coastal defense force. With their ability to flush submarines to the surface--and report on their movements--the Blimp component of World War II's Naval Air Arm proves its continued value throughout the War.

Those who fly on Navy wings are shown to be some of World War II's most effective assets throughout the prosecution of the War.

The entire four-installment arc of Battle Stations! stands as one of the finest two-hour documentaries on the history of The Navy produced during World War II. It's a tribute to both The Department of The Navy and NBC's Department of Special Events that they managed to mount such an enduring tribute to The Navy's Sea and Air Arms with such consistent production quality and fascinating content throughout. Supported by America's finest voice talent from both coasts, the New York-based production continues to be a stirring, inspirational account of The Navy's struggle to compete for resources with The Army, while diversifying itself enough to not only preserve its own rich history of contributions to America's defense, but create an even more important and enduring force for the protection of America and it's allies in the process.

This brief series is a fascinating patriotic documentary that should be a must listen for everyone who's ever either served in the Navy, may be contemplating a career in The Navy, or who's had loved ones and family who've served in The Navy. Indeed, for anyone else curious about Naval traditions or history, this fascinating series is as compelling as anything else produced during the World War II era, with the possible exceptions of The Pacific Story and The Man Behind The Gun.

Series Derivatives:

None
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Patriotic Documentaries
Network(s): NBC
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): None
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 43-08-05 01 The Battle Of the Atlantic Part 1
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 43-08-05 to 43-08-26; NBC; Four, 30-minute programs; Thursdays, 7:30 p.m.
Syndication: NBC Orthacoustic Transcriptions
Sponsors: Presented by The National Broadcasting Company's Department Of Special Events in cooperation withThe United States Navy
Director(s): Joseph Mansfield
Principal Actors: Raymond Edward Johnson, Jackson Beck, John Dehner, Ben Wright, Barton Yarborough.
Recurring Character(s): None
Protagonist(s): None
Author(s): None
Writer(s) Charles Gussman
Music Direction: Leo Kempinski [Composer]
Joseph Stopak [Conductor]
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Jack Costello
Raymond Edward Johnson and Jackson Beck [Narrators]
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
4
Episodes in Circulation: 4
Total Episodes in Collection: 4
Provenances:

RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide, Martin Grams' Radio Drama.

Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were the log of the radioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings. The least accurate source was Martin Grams' Radio Drama.

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The Battle Stations! Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
43-08-05
1
The Battle of the Atlantic Part 1
Y
43-08-05 Wisconsin State Journal
Battle Stations, a series of dramatizations showing how America's armed forces slowly but surely are defeating the Axis on the seas, will be presented in four weekly broadcast over WIBA starting at 7:30 tonight.
The first two programs will tell of the Battle of the Atlantic. They will describe how the army air forces and the civilian air patrol, with but a flimsy handful of weapons, swept the German submarine from American waters. The first program also will show how our sea and air power grew from a mere threat to a battering ram of destruction. Famous "firsts" such as the launching of a seaplane from a warship, global flights, dive bombings, skip bombing technique, lighter than air pioneering and polar flights, will be dramatically portrayed.
43-08-12
2
The Battle of the Atlantic Part 2
Y
43-08-12 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 NBC Battle Stations

43-08-19
3
The Development of The Navy's Air Arm

Y
43-08-19 Wisconsin State Journal
Battle Stations (WIBA): story of first plane flown from deck of a ship; speaker, Rear Admiral P.N.L. Bellinger, commander of naval air forces.
43-08-26
4
The Men of the Navy's Air Arm In World War II
Y
43-08-26 Wisconsin State Journal
Battle Stations (WIBA): exploits of naval heroes: Vice Admiral John S. McCain, Rear Admiral Charles E. Rosendahl, speakers.






The Battle Stations! Radio Program Biographies




Raymond Edward Johnson
(Narrator)

Stage, Screen, Television and Radio Actor
(1911-2001)

Birthplace: Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

Education: Goodman School of Drama, Chicago, IL

Radiography:
1938 Welcome Valley
1938 The Royal Desserts Hour
1939 Arch Oboler's Plays
1939 Great Plays
1940 Mandrake the Magician
1941 Inner Sanctum
1941 Behind the Mike
1941 Metropolitan Opera Auditions Of the Air
1942 Cavalcade Of America
1942 The Man Behind the Masterpiece
1942 Don Winslow Of the Navy
1943 Lights Out
1943 Treasury Star Parade
1943 Doctor Christian
1943 Radio Hall Of Fame
1943 Words At War
1944 The Pause That Refreshes
1944 The Kemtone Hour
1945 War Town
1945 The Radio Edition Of the Bible
1945 The Adventures Of Ellery Queen
1946 Treasury Salute
1946 The Eternal Light
1946 Murder At Midnight
1947 Crime Club
1947 Fibber McGee and Molly
1947 Treasury Agent
1947 The Gabriel Heatter Show
1947 Studio One
1947 Casey, Crime Photographer
1948 A Program About A Lot Of Things
1948 The Golden Door
1948 Gang Busters
1948 The Big Story
1948 Candid Microphone
1948 Ford Theatre
1948 Secret Missions
1948 You Are There
1949 Name Your Poison
1950 Crime Fighters
1950 Mysterious Traveler
1950 Cloak and Dagger
1950 Dimension X
1950 MGM Theatre Of the Air
1950 Chandu the Magician
1952 Best Plays
1953 American Jewish Caravan Of Stars
1953 Tales Of Tomorrow
1953 Twenty-First Precinct
1954 Inheritance
1956 X Minus One
1961 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1961 Suspense
The Lone Ranger
The Lonesome Train
Raymond Edward Johnson circa 1941
Raymond Edward Johnson circa 1941

Raymond Edward Johnson with Arch Oboler circa 1947
Raymond Edward Johnson with Arch Oboler circa 1947

Inner Sanctum spot ad from August 4, 1944
Inner Sanctum spot ad from August 4 1944

Raymond Johnson -- stars in Oboler drama on Station WIBA tonight at 7:30.
Raymond Johnson -- stars in Oboler drama on Station WIBA tonight at 7:30.
Inner Sanctum spot ad from 1942
Inner Sanctum spot ad from 1942


Raymond Edward Johnson  . . . plays the star role, ''Mr. District Attorney,'' tonight over Station WIBA at 8 o'clock
Raymond Edward Johnson . . . plays the star role 'Mr. District Attorney' tonight over Station WIBA at 8 o'clock
From the September 16, 2001 edition of the The New York Times:

Raymond E. Johnson,
Radio Host, Dies at 90

September 16, 2001
By RICHARD GOLDSTEIN

Raymond Edward Johnson, a versatile radio and stage actor who provided a signature moment for radio as the ghoulish host with the creaking door in the long-running "Inner Sanctum," died on Aug. 15 in Wallingford, Conn. He was 90.

Mr. Johnson was a familiar presence in the radio serials of the 1940's and won acclaim playing Thomas Jefferson in Sidney Kingsley's 1943 Broadway play "The Patriots." But he was best known as Raymond, the original host for the gothic tales of "Inner Sanctum," which made its debut in January 1941 and ran for 11 years, on NBC, CBS and ABC.

"I didn't have Leonard Bernstein and 200 musicians doing `The Ride of the Valkyries,' " Himan Brown, the director of "Inner Sanctum," remembered long afterward. "All I used was a creaking door. There are only two sounds in radio that are trademarked — the creaking door and the NBC chimes."

After three bars of organ music, "Inner Sanctum" opened with the sound of Raymond turning a doorknob and then the creaking of rusted hinges. "Good evening, friends," intoned Raymond. "This is your host, inviting you through the gory portals of the squeaking door." Then came a gruesome joke, laughter intended to make his listeners shiver, and finally an improbable episode with ghosts and bloodcurdling sound effects.

When the stories — featuring actors like Boris Karloff, Paul Lukas, Peter Lorre, Claude Rains and Raymond Massey — reached their climax, Raymond offered another round of macabre laughter. Then he concluded the evening by wishing his listeners "pleasant dreams."

Mr. Johnson also played the lead role in "Don Winslow of the Navy" and "Mandrake the Magician" in his busy radio career.

In the summer of 1945, after four years of fan mail sometimes accompanied by oil cans for that creaking door, Mr. Johnson stepped down as host of "Inner Sanctum" and was replaced by Paul McGrath.

By then, Mr. Johnson had achieved success in his Broadway debut as Jefferson in "The Patriots," a tribute to democratic ideals in a wartime America fighting fascism.

While appearing in the play, he continued as the host of "Inner Sanctum" on Sunday nights.

In his review of "The Patriots" in The New York Times, Lewis Nichols wrote that Mr. Johnson "conveys excellently the various moods of Jefferson."

Raymond Edward Johnson was born in Kenosha, Wis., worked as a bank teller, and then studied acting at the Goodman School of Drama in Chicago. His sister, Dora Johnson Remington, who died in 1989, was a radio soap opera actress, best known for playing Evey Fitz, the married daughter in "Ma Perkins."

Mr. Johnson, who suffered from multiple sclerosis for many years, nevertheless revisited his starring years in radio in 1997, when he appeared at a gathering of the Friends of Old Time Radio. He delivered a reading from a portable bed.

His co-star on "Inner Sanctum" was not always a reliable presence, as Terry Ross, a soundman, recalled in telling how a young man setting up the equipment once tried too hard to please.

"We got the hinges and buried them in the dirt out back and watered them down like plants for a couple of weeks or so, till they got nice and rusty, then mounted them on the door a little bit askew, so they would squeak," Mr. Ross recalled in an interview for Leonard Maltin's "Great American Broadcast" (Dutton, 1997). "One of the setup boys came to me and said: `Terry, I fixed the door for you. I oiled the hinges.' This was just before showtime. What do you do when the signature of the show was a squeaky door?"

Mr. Ross became the door. He imitated its creak with his voice, and Raymond and the eerie plot did the rest.

Copyright 2001 The New York Times Company


Raymond Edward Johnson certainly never let any grass grow under his feet as he pursued one of Radio's most successful acting careers. One of Radio's busiest and longest appearing Radio actors, Johnson's radiography comprises many of the Golden Age of Radio's most popular and longest running programming.

From the July 19, 1947 edition of the Cumberland Evening Times:

''Raymond Edward Johnson left Inner Sanctum approximately two years ago to enter the service and upon his release declined to take over his former role in the mystery thriller. He believed that to continue might type him with other producers as a ghostly voice and hinder his chances of portraying lead characters. Currently he may be heard Saturday mornings over NBC as the father in Archie Andrews, in addition to frequent, appearances on ABC's Theatre Guild On The Air.''

When Raymond Johnson returned from the service, he understandably increased his efforts to distance himself from the supernatural thriller typecasting he'd been most associated with through both Arch Oboler's various productions and Himan Brown's successful Inner Sanctum series. He took the name "Raymond" with him, leaving his replacement on the series, Paul McGrath, to his own devicies.

Reinventing himself payed off, finishing out his last years performing over Radio in a wide variety of straight dramatic roles. Stricken with Multiple Sclerosis while in his forties, Johnson's appearances on the small screen were limited to a few appearances behind the scenes as a narrator. He continued to perform over Radio until the early 1960s by which point the effects of his disability forced his retirement from the acting profession.

As indicated in his obituary above, Raymond Johnson's Radio fans continued to make demands on him for the remainder of his life, in spite of the advancing effects of his infirmity. Indeed, while in his 80s and bed-ridden, the otr community prevailed upon him to appear at one of their otr selling conventions with a portable bed and help re-enact their favorite exemplars of his work. While this doesn't say a great deal about the commercial otr community that took grotesque advantage of his circumstances, it speaks volumes about Johnson's continued dedication to the memory of The Golden Age of Radio that he'd both performed in, and loved, for most of his adult working life.

It's that very sense of dedication and love of the craft of acting that endears so many of these great Radio performers to collectors of vintage Radio recordings. With an estimated 3,000 radio appearances to his credit, and hundreds of those exemplars in current circulation, Raymond Edward Johnson's extraordinary versatility as an actor, announcer, narrator, and personality of the era are increasing his avid fan base with each passing year.

Justifiably so.




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