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Original Can You Imagine That header art

The Can You Imagine That Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> Can You Imagine That?

The newspaper article behind Episode No. 10 from the Oakland Tribune April 17 1911
The newspaper article behind Episode No. 10 from the Oakland Tribune April 17 1911

The newspaper article behind Episode No. 16 from the Oakland Tribune June 4 1911
The newspaper article behind Episode No. 16 from the Oakland Tribune June 4 1911

1940's Can You Imagine That? wasn't a particularly historic or ground-breaking production over West Coast Radio. It was simply entertaining. Nothing more, nothing less. A combination of Ripley's Believe It Or Not, Information Please, and Can You Top This?, the program was presented as a combination of docudrama sketches combined with vignettes about odd news items and historical oddities.

Lindsay MacHarrie, who both wrote and directed the production, as well as acting in many of the vignettes, had been a prolific producer while at stations KHJ and KMPC in Hollywood. He also acted as host and narrator for the entire run. The format would tease three or four of the oddities to be presented, then after a 90 second commercial break would present the combination of fascinating vignettes for the evening.

Presented in a 15-minute format, each episode managed to cram four to six interesting topics into the twelve minutes alotted to each script. In what would come to be a fairly formulaic format, the dramatizations would be heard first, often closing with a vignette about an old or popular song of the era. We did a bit of fact-checking on the historical vignettes presented throughout the series and they hold up pretty well even seventy years hence.

Some of the representative highlights from the series illustrate the gentler, more civil and culturally naive temperament of the era immediately preceding America's forced entry into World War II. The premiere episode, for example, cites the plight of a 92-year old Knoxville, TN hospital patient who's teething. The following vignette describes the first use of metal cladding of wooden warships--in 16th Century Korea. The next vignette addresses the etymology of the term 'mumbo-jumbo.' After that, follows a story about a steamship traveler who's robbed of his entire wardrobe by some hobos. The final vignette traces the origins of the hymn I Come to The Garden, to the popular ballad, My Gal Sal.

Complimented by a full orchestra, both the dramatic presentations and musical numbers were well supported and presented. The West Coast casts for each episode often numbered as many as five identifiable voices, with several of the performers often portraying as many as three roles during an episode.

MacHarrie clearly did his homework in assembling the vignettes as the revelations presented during the run of the series are often eye-openers even today. During the course of the series one can learn:
  • The origins of grog, clam chowder, napkins, laying cornerstones, 'passing the buck', bonfires, and modern marriage customs, among many others.
  • The etymology of the words 'ostracize', 'ambition', 'carnival', 'hoodlum,' and 'mumbo-jumbo,' among others.
  • Little-known, yet often surprising facts about American and World history.
  • Fascinating, little-known facts about The Bible, Sports, and the Animal Kingdom
  • The origins and history of several of the more popular songs of the 18th and 19th centuries.

All thirty-nine transcriptions of the run are in circulation and make a fascinating addition of 1940s-era cultural values to any vintage Radio collection.

Series Derivatives:

None
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Retrospective Dramatizations
Network(s): KMPC
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): Unknown
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 40-03-11 01 Aunt Mary's New Tooth
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 40-03-11 to 40-06-05; KMPC; Thirty-nine, 15-minute programs; Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:45 p.m. (PST)
Syndication: Bruce Eells Syndication
Sponsors: Unknown
Director(s): Lindsay MacHarrie
Principal Actors: Lindsay MacHarrie, Jonathan Hole, Herb Butterfield, Hans Conreid, Elvia Allman
Recurring Character(s):
Protagonist(s): None
Author(s): None
Writer(s)
Music Direction:
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Lindsay MacHarrie [Host/Narrator]
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
39
Episodes in Circulation: 39
Total Episodes in Collection: 39
Provenances:

RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide.

Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were the log of the radioGOLDINdex and newspaper listings.

All titles below are anecdotal, derived from the various odd facts and news items recounted in each episode.

Digital Deli Too RadioLogIc


Fraud Alert:

Several circulating collections of Can You Imagine That are up-encoded from their original 64-bit encodes to 'Custom 160kbps' encodes. This practice renders an identical-sounding recording with the identical sound wave characteristics and content but wastes almost 11 Mbs of storage per recording. The nominal size of a 15-minute, 64-bit .mp3 recording is about 7 Mbs. Whoever's engaging in this practice is simply attempting to give the appearance of a 'studio-quality' encode to a nominally encoded 64-bit .mp3. Buyers and downloaders beware.

This is most certainly not vintage Radio preservation. It's simply yet another of millions of online and eBay vintage Radio scams on a par with 'Nigerian inheritance' scams. The more hang-time podcasters can trick naive downloaders into wasting, the longer they can bombard you with all their ads and banner exchanges--all the more opportunity to generate income on their 'free downloading' and 'free podcasting' sites, at your expense. And of course you end up filling up your iPod or other portable device with as much as 400 Mbs of wasted storage in the process.


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We don't pronounce our Golden Age Radio research as 'certified' anything. By the very definition, research is imperfect. We simply tell the truth. As is our continuing practice, we provide our fully provenanced research results--to the extent possible--right here on the page, for any of our peers to review--or refute--as the case may be. If you take issue with any of our findings, you're welcome to cite any better verifiable source(s) and we'll immediately review them and update our findings accordingly. As more verifiable provenances surface, we'll continue to update the following series log, as appropriate.

All rights reserved by their respective sources. Article and log copyright 2009 The Digital Deli Online--all rights reserved. Any failure to attribute the results of this copywritten work will be rigorously pursued.

[Date, title, and episode column annotations in
red refer to either details we have yet to fully provenance or other unverifiable information as of this writing. Red highlights in the text of the 'Notes' columns refer to information upon which we relied in citing dates, date or time changes, or titles.]







The Can You Imagine That Radio Program Log

Date Trans. No. Title Avail. Notes
40-03-11
1
Aunt Mary's New Tooth
Y
[Premiere]

40-03-11 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?" 8:45.
40-03-13
2
'Grog' Back In 1740
Y
40-03-13 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?" 8:45.
40-03-15
3
Where Did Clam Chowder Originate
Y
40-03-15 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--"Tinky Rinky" 8:30.
40-03-18
4
Bits of Bread Used As Napkins
Y
40-03-18 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?" 8:45.
40-03-20
5
Tom Molineaux Is First Negro Heavyweight Contender
Tom Mollino
Y
40-03-20 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?" 8:45.
40-03-22
6
Annual Parliament Building Inspections
Y
40-03-22 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?" 8:45.
40-03-25
7
Explosive Tin Can Tied To Dog's Tail
Y
40-03-25 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?" 8:45.
40-03-27
8
Burglar Complains to P.D. Over Tightwad Targets
First Car Of Funeral Train
Y
40-03-27 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?" 8:45.
40-03-29
9
More Married Men in U.S. Than Married Women
Y
40-03-29 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?" 8:45.
40-04-01
10
A Girl Changes Her Mind with Her Stockings
Y
40-04-01 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?" 8:45.
40-04-03
11
Forty-Four Year Old Domestic Quarrel
Year Old Quarrel
Y
[Cracked Master]

40-04-03 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?" 8:45.
40-04-05
12
Earning Two Million Dollars An Hour
Y
40-04-05 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?" 8:45.
40-04-08
13
Church Rises from Sea At Walton-On-The-Neys
Y
40-04-08 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-04-10
14
Riding for Two Days On A Streetcar
Y
40-04-10 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-04-12
15
Etymology of the Word 'Ostracize'
Y
40-04-12 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-04-15
16
Fifteen-Minute 'Primping Schedule'
Boy Battles Eagle
Y
40-04-15 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-04-17
17
History Repeats Itself in Czechoslovakia
Sneezing For 21 Days
Y
40-04-17 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-04-19
18
The Cardiff Giant
Y
40-04-19 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-04-22
19
The Number Two Is Unluckier Than Thirteen
Y
40-04-22 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-04-24
20
Sophie Fleisher Is Frightened Speechless
Y
40-04-24 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-04-26
21
Compiling A Chimpanzee Language Dictionary
Y
40-04-26 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-04-29
22
Etymology of the Word 'Carnival'
Y
40-04-29 Los Angeles Times - 8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-05-01
23
New Jersey Animals' Field Day
Y
40-05-01 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"

40-05-03
24
Origins of 'Laying A Cornersone'

Y
40-05-03 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-05-06
25
Origins of 'Passing The Buck' and 'Bonfire'
Y
40-05-06 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-05-08
26
The Krakatoa Explosions Heard 3,000 Miles Away
Y
40-05-08 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-05-10
27
The Battle of Bunker Hill Never Occured
Y
40-05-10 Los Angeles Times - 8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-05-13
28
The Most Widely Spoken Language in The World
Y
40-05-13 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-05-15
29
Most Head-on Collisions Are Avoided by One Second
Y
50-05-15 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-05-17
30
Joan Of Arc Sainted 500 Years After Death
Y
40-05-17 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-05-20
31
The Origin of Modern Marriage Customs
Y
40-05-20 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-05-22
32
The Origin of 'Black Cat' Superstitions
Y
[Cracked Master]

40-05-22 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-05-24
33
A Man Becomes His Brother's Step-Father
Y
40-05-24 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-05-27
34
French Babies Detect A Meteorological Disturbance
Y
40-05-27 Los Angeles Times - 8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-05-29
35
The World's Oldest Recorded Detective Story
Y
40-05-29 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-05-31
36
The Etymology of the Word 'Ambition'
Y
40-05-31 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-06-03
37
The Angel Gabriel Never Blew The Last Trumpet
Angel Of Death
Y
40-06-03 Los Angeles Times
8:45 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
40-06-05
38
Motion Pictures Have Never Been Made in Hollywood
Ocean Pictures
Y
40-06-05 Los Angeles Times
9:30 P.M. KMPC--"Can You Imagine That?"
--
39
Victim Is Arrested Instead of Muggers
Y






The Can You Imagine That Radio Program Biographies




Lindsay MacHarrie
Stage, Radio, Television and Film Actor, Writer, Director;Head of Programming for ABC
(?-1960)

Birthplace: Unknown

Education: University of Washington

Military Service: Served as Chief of the Radio Section and Public Information Secretary of the London contingent of The American Red Cross

Radiography:
1931 On With the Show
1933 California Cocktails
1933 The Rangers
1933 Headliners
1934 Crazy Quilt
1934 Komedy Kapers
1934 The Laff Parade
1934 The Blue Monday Jamboree
1934 Calling All Cars
1937 The Cinnamon Bear
1937 Komedy Kingdom
1938 The Rudy Vallee Hour
1939 Lux Radio Theatre
1939 Silver Theatre
1940 Can You Imagine That
1942 The Blue Theatre
1943 Mayor Of the Town
1943 Red Cross Reporter
1944 Ellery Queen
Myrt and Marge
Guess What
Brief obituary for Lindsay MacHarrie from May 23 1960
Brief obituary for Lindsay MacHarrie from May 23 1960

Elvia Allman and Lindsay MacHarrie met while working at KHJ, Hollywood
Elvia Allman and Lindsay MacHarrie met while working at KHJ Hollywood

razy Quilt promo for S. & L. Co. from March 20 1935
Crazy Quilt spot ad for S. & L. Co. from March 20 1935

In spite of a relatively busy career in West coast Radio of the 1930s, surprisingly little is currently known about the personal and professional details of Lindsay MacHarrie's life.

MacHarrie broke into Radio first at radio station KUJ, then migrated to California to work at Hollywood station KHJ in numerous capacities between 1926 and 1938. His most popular early performances over network Radio were in On With The Show (1931), California Cocktails (1933), The Rangers (1933), and the several 1934 sketch comedies of the legendary Elvia Allman, including Crazy Quilt, Komedy Kapers, The Laff Parade, and The Blue Monday Jamboree. MacHarrie later teamed up with Allman in Komedy Kingdom (1937).

MacHarrie was also a member of the ensemble responsible for 1937's legendary The Cinnamon Bear Christmas serial, serving as both actor and director with a cast of what would eventually become many of Radio's Golden Age luminaries.

He acted in, wrote, directed and produced mostly syndicated West Coast productions such as Can You Imagine That (1940), for which he also acted as host and narrator. He'd also appeared in nationwide programs such as Calling All Cars, Myrt and Marge, The Rudy Vallee Hour, Lux Radio Theatre, Silver Theatre, The Blue Theatre and Mayor of The Town.

He took a break from civilian life during World War II, serving for two years as the Chief of the Radio Section and Secretary of Public Information for the London contingent of The American Red Cross.

Upon completing his contract with The Red Cross, he returned to performing, writing directing, and producing Radio features for the American Broadcasting Company.

Striken with tuberculosis, MacHarrie was in and out of hospitals during his 50s, and ultimately suffered an overdose of barbiturates shortly after being discharged from his latest hospitalization in 1960. He was reportedly despondent over the progress of his treatment regimen.

MacHarrie's versatility in Radio and Telvision spanned a career of over 35 years in Broadcasting. Noted for his bell-clear voice, engaging delivery and comedic and dramatic timing MacHarrie was a popular West Coast favorite definitely marked down for even greater opportunities in Broadcasting. But bedeviled by his persistent illness, MacHarrie's premature passing was a reflection of both his impatience with his health and the effects of the extraordinary competition in early Television broadcasting.

His 1940 Can You Imagine That series captures much of his on-air personality for generations to come. His promise, though regrettably never fully realized, is reflected in the over two-hundred circulating recordings that showcase his talents.



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