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Original The M-G-M Theatre of The Air header art

The M-G-M Theatre of The Air Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> M-G-M Theatre of The Air
Spot ad for WMTW premiere of M-G-M Theatre of The Air from October 30 1949
Spot ad for WMTW premiere of M-G-M Theatre of The Air from October 30 1949
M-G-M recorded an entire run of M-G-M Theatre of The Air transcriptions for syndication, initially over M-G-M's own Radio station WMGM
M-G-M recorded an entire run of M-G-M Theatre of The Air transcriptions for syndication, initially over M-G-M's own Radio station WMGM

Billboard Magazine full page ad for M-G-M Radio Attractions from November 5 1949
Billboard Magazine full page ad for M-G-M Radio Attractions from November 5 1949

Broadcasting magazine full-page promo of M-G-M/MBS package of ten feature programs from January 12 1952
Broadcasting magazine full-page promo of M-G-M/MBS package of ten feature programs from January 12 1952


Background

The Marcus Loew Booking Agency had owned radio station call sign WHN since 1946. In September of 1948, WHN changed their call sign to WMGM, in part to capitalize on a series of M-G-M radio programming projects they were attempting to introduce to a national audience. Programs such as The Adventures of Maisie, Crime Does Not Pay, The Hardy Family, M-G-M Theatre of The Air, and The Story of Dr. Kildare, all drew on material that M-G-M, as a Film Studio, already had in the can. Having established Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Radio Attractions for the express purpose of transcribing, then syndicating this content, all that remained was for M-G-M to obtain a well-established radio station from which to broadcast their programming packages. The working assumption was that once heard in a wide enough area they'd be picked up nation-wide in due time. The concept seemed to be working for several years, until a change in M-G-M focus made their M-G-M Radio Attractions division redundant. WMGM slowly began changing its format to remain viable to its expanding local audience, and the era of MGM-produced, network-ready, syndicated content dwindled to nothing.

The M-G-M cachet was so persuasive that within days of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Radio Attractions' July 1949 trade announcements, M-G-M Radio Attractions had sold the following initial eight-program 'portfolio' to over 200 outlets in 45 states and Canada:

Indeed, the package actually came to the air before M-G-M's own WMGM began its initial broadcast run in October 1949. Chicago's Mutual key station, W-G-N, was the first to broadcast M-G-M Theatre of The Air on September 16, 1949, barely a month after the first programs had been recorded.

M-G-M's Maisie, Hardy Family and Dr. Kildare franchises, alone, spanned forty-two feature films over twenty years. Their broad appeal and the feel-good, optimistic values and themes they contained were like a tonic to post-Depression America. When M-G-M spun off its M-G-M Radio Attractions syndicated Radio programming division it seemed only natural to draw upon their proven track record of popular Film features. M-G-M's Crime Does Not Pay series of short features were another natural candidate for a Radio feature. M-G-M Theatre of The Air was an obvious answer to Lux Radio Theatre, the Screen Guild Theatre series', and NBC's long-running series' of Film adaptations.

Thus, in one master stroke, the newly formed M-G-M Radio Attractions brought a compelling package of four half-hour features, an hour-long film adaptation feature, and three fascinating fifteen-minute features, Hollywood U.S.A., Good News from Hollywood, and At Home With Lionel Barrymore to Radio to compete, head-to-head with the best currently available Radio programming of the era.

It's easy to see why the package was gobbled up within days of its announcement. Small market Radio outlets, as well as large, highly successful regional Radio broadcasters could obtain a diverse, highly promising package of features from a major studio, starring some of the greatest talent of the era, at a fraction of the cost to produce and broadcast these features on their own.

M-G-M Theatre of The Air premieres in an hour-long format

Arguably the jewel of the eight-program portfolio, M-G-M Theatre of the Air brought an initial twenty-six, hour-long M-G-M film adaptations to Radio starring M-G-M's greatest talent. By 1939, M-G-M had produced over 1,600 feature films, many of them award winners. With such a deep bench from which to draw upon, M-G-M Theatre of the Air was a natural pick to headline M-G-M Radio Attractions' first major portfolio of programming. By April 1950 the demand for the package remained strong enough for M-G-M to produce another 26 weeks of M-G-M Theatre of the Air, for an intial season offering of 52 episodes.

The first 26 weeks of programming headlined Deborah Kerr, Van Heflin, Charles Laughton, Margaret Sullavan, Burgess Meredith, Fredric March, Florence Eldridge, Edward Arnold, John Garfield, Marlene Dietrich, Margaret O'Brien, Brian Aherne, Cornel Wilde, Ann Sothern, Rex Harrison, Celeste Holm, Madeleine Carroll, Mickey Rooney, Melvyn Douglas, Luise Rainer, Ralph Bellamy, George Murphy, and June Havoc (almost all of whom can be seen in the photo below). With such an array of award winning M-G-M talent, often appearing in the very roles they made famous, the hour-long drama offering was a natural winner for any station broadcasting the package.

When, in 1951, the Mutual Broadcasting System (MBS) sought to expand its own feature programming, it seemed natural to turn to M-G-M Radio Attractions for solid programming. Mutual stations had already comprised the majority of subscribers to M-G-M's intial portfolio of eight Radio features. In mid-1951, MBS and M-G-M began hammering out a deal for what eventually became a ten-feature package of transcribed
, syndicated programming, as follows:

A stunning and compelling lineup to be sure, the package carried forward the half-hour features Crime Does Not Pay, The Hardy Family, The Story of Dr. Kildare, and The Adventures of Maisie, as well as the hour-long feature, M-G-M Theatre of The Air. The MBS package added the half-hour dramatic features, Woman of The Year, The Modern Adventures of Casanova, and The Black Museum, added the half-hour variety feature, The Gracie Fields Show, and complimented M-G-M's Film adaptation feature, M-G-M Theatre of The Air with The M-G-M Musical Comedy Theatre of The Air.

After months of wrangling and delays, the deal was finally struck in November of 1951 and MBS began 'officially' airing the M-G-M Radio Attractions features the week of January 2-8, 1952. Designed to air in the prime-time spot of 8-10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, the package was also structured as a co-op package, similar to competing NBC's 'Tandem Package'. The Mutual package, referred to as 'MBS Plus', offered 'co-operative' advertising spots for multiple sponsors and advertisers. Thus a sponsor or advertiser could purchase any combination of quarter-hour advertising blocks between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., from Monday to Saturday on a daily, weekly, or bi-weekly basis. The opportunity to leverage their sponsoring expenses held great appeal as Radio entered an era of stiff competition with Television for sponsors' dollars. It also afforded member MBS stations a combination of straight drama, adventure, situation comedy, Film and Musical adaptations, and Variety programming in a package that sold for the approximate cost of three to five weekly half-hour features.


From the September 27, 1943 issue of Life magazine, M-G-M's extraordianry stable of stars

Series Derivatives:

1951 MBS-MGM Selections from 'The M-G-M Theatre of The Air'
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Film Dramatizations
Network(s): WMGM, Mutual, and several other local affiliates and networks while in syndication.
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): Unknown
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 49-09-16 01 Vacation From Marriage
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 49-09-16 to 51-04-20; WMGM; seventy-eight, 56-minute programs: Fridays, 7:30 p.m.
Syndication: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Radio Attractions
Sponsors: Helgesen Residence Studio;
Director(s): Max B. Loeb [Director]
Raymond Katz [Producer]
Principal Actors: Deborah Kerr, Van Heflin, Charles Laughton, Margaret Sullavan, Burgess Meredith, Fredric March, Florence Eldridge, Edward Arnold, John Garfield, Marlene Dietrich, Margaret O'Brien, Brian Aherne, Cornel Wilde, Ann Sothern, Rex Harrison, Celeste Holm, Madeleine Carroll, Mickey Rooney, Melvyn Douglas, Luise Rainer, Ralph Bellamy, George Murphy, June Havoc, Jane Wyatt, Pat O'Brien, Marsha Hunt, George Raft, Herbert Marshall, Ava Gardner, Maurice Evans, Franchot Tone, Ronald Reagan, William Holden, Jack Carson, Hume Cronyn, Marsha Hunt, Angela Lansbury, Eddie Albert, Lola Albright, Robert Alda, Gene Lockhart, June Lockhart, Zachary Scott, Les Tremayne, Arlene Dahl, Rex Barker, Brian Donlevy, Ruth Hussey, Dane Clark, Jose Ferrer, Jane Wyatt, William Holden, Barbara Stanwyck, Bonita Granville, Tom Drake, Veronica Lake, Ann Rutherford, William Lundigan, Sarah Churchill, John Payne, Mel Ferrer, Anita Louise, Van Johnson, COrnel Wilde, Charles Coburn. Lee Bowman, Coleen Gray, Patricia Neal, Jeffrey Lynn, John Ireland, Signe Hasso, John Hodiak, Janis Paige, Joan Bennett, Laraine Day, Richard Conte, Ivor Francis, Philip Clark, Leon Janney, Ted Osborne, House Jameson, Marissa O'Brien, Gertrude Warner, Myron McCormick, Eric Dressler, Joan Wetmore, Carl Eastman, Edgar Stehli, Carl Frank, Parker Fennelly, Agnes Young, Edwin Jerome, Lilli Palmer, Basil Rathbone, Bret Morrison, Raymond Edward Johnson, Jan Miner, Eric Dressler, Martin Gabel, Ethel Owen, Art Carney, Vinton Hayworth, John Gibson, Ethel Everett, Ava Gardner, Don Briggs, Maurice Evans, Elaine Rost, John Moore, Alice Frost, Everett Sloane, Mason Adams, Sarah Fussell, Chuck Webster, Kermit Murdock, Court Benson, Carl Eastman, William Eyth, Nina Foch, Paul Stewart, Staats Cotsworth, Florence Robinson, Ken Lynch, Anne Seymour, Chuck Webster, Raymond Massey, Joseph Conway, Rod Hendrickson, Mandel Kramer
Recurring Character(s): None
Protagonist(s): None
Author(s): A.J. Cronin, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, John P. Marquand, Charles Dickens, Marion Hargrove
Writer(s) Harry Kernit [Screenwriter]
Hector Chivigny [Writer]
Welborn Kelly, Ira Marion, William Kendall Clarke, Joseph Ruscoll [Adapters]
Music Direction: Joel Herron [Composer/Conductor]
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Howard Dietz, Carey Wilson [Hosts]
Ed Stokes, Bob Williams [Announcers]
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
78
Episodes in Circulation: 18
Total Episodes in Collection: 21
Provenances:

Initial announcement of eight-program M-G-M Radio Attractions package from Billboard magazine July 9 1949
Initial announcement of eight-program M-G-M Radio Attractions package from Billboard magazine July 9 1949

Spot ad for first run of M-G-M Radio Attractions eight-program package over WMTW Portland, ME from October 30 1949
Spot ad for first run of M-G-M Radio Attractions eight-program package over WMTW Portland, ME from October 30 1949

Billboard magazine announcement of Mutual and MGM intentions to broadcast a package of MGM Radio Attractions features ove MBS from November 3 1951
Billboard magazine announcement of Mutual and MGM intentions to broadcast a package of MGM Radio Attractions features over MBS from November 3 1951

Billboard announcement of initial effectiveness of the Mutual-MGM package of ten feature programs from February 2 1952
Billboard announcement of initial effectiveness of the Mutual-MGM package of ten feature programs from February 2 1952

Billboard announcement from May 10 1952 cites 625 'co-op' sales of leveraged advertising for the ten-program portfolio of M-G-M Radio Attractions
Billboard announcement from May 10 1952 cites 625 'co-op' sales of leveraged advertising for the ten-program portfolio of M-G-M Radio Attractions
.

Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were newspaper listings.

Digital Deli Too RadioLogIc


OTRisms:

Much of the confusion regarding the M-G-M Radio Attractions programming 'packages' of the era can be attributed to two distinct, widely advertised and promoted programming packages:

  • 1949's Initial Package of Eight Transcribed features . . .
    • M-G-M Theatre of The Air
    • At Home with Lionel Barrymore
    • Hollywood, U.S.A.
    • The Story of Dr. Kildare
    • Good News From Hollywood
    • Crime Does Not Pay
    • The Hardy Family
    • Maisie
  • 1951's Mutual (MBS) Package of Ten Transcribed features [this package was limited to a maximum of 52 episodes of any given weekly feature, per agreement between the parties] . . .
    • Woman of The Year
    • Crime Does Not Pay
    • The Black Museum
    • The Story of Dr. Kildare
    • M-G-M Musical Comedy Theater of The Air
    • The Modern Adventures of Casanova
    • The Gracie Fields Show
    • The Adventures of Maisie
    • The Hardy Family
    • M-G-M Theater of The Air

The earliest contiguous broadcast of M-G-M Theatre of The Air that we turned up was over Chicago's Mutual Radio key station W-G-N on September 16, 1949. The M-G-M package of eight transcribed features had been sold to at least 200 stations in 45 states as of November 1949. It would appear that WMGM, New York, didn't begin airing M-G-M Theatre of The Air until a month later than the independent stations and network affiliates M-G-M initially sold it to.

From the July 9, 1949 issue of Billboard Magazine:

MGM Heading Toward Boff
Wax Profit; May Hit $1 Mil
 

     New York, July 2.--Within a few days of the initial public announcement of the eight open-end waxed radio series being peddled by the newly formed Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) Radio Attractions, between 150 and 200 stations gave written, wired and phoned for information concerning the shows.  Should 150 outlets in different markets be pacted for the shows, which feature top film names, MGM Attractions probably will gross about $5,000,000 annually, with a net take of about $1,000,000, according to Bert Lebhar Jr., Sales director of WMGM, New York, who heads Attractions.
     Over $100,000 already has been put out in waxing shows for the series, Lebhar said, with about 250 separate stanzas already on disks.  The programs will be sold on a percentage basis of the purchasing stations' hourly rate.  The eight shows total five hours and 45 minutes of programing weekly, and the cost to stations will be slightly under three times their basic hourly rate for all these shows.
               Seek Portfolio Deal
     Each program may be bought separately, but MGM is attempting to sell all as a single "portfolio" deal, with Music Corporation of America (MCA) handling the peddling.  Lebhar said he hopes to have the shows running by the start of September, but will settle for October.  The MGM drive to build a wax web based on these shows and others to follow is reflected in the offer of "exclusivity" on all MGM radio attractions to stations which become "full affiliates" by taking all of the first eight stanzas.
     Lebhar said the MGM web deal will not conflict with the live networks; on the contrary, he declared, the heads of the four major webs undoubtedly will welcome MGM's venture.  The wax shows will be used only on station option time, and will not eat into live web programing.  The prestige nature of the programs, too, Lebhar opined, will be a real boost for the stations using them.  The stations will be protected by getting exclusive rights in their territories to the properties, and will not be embarrassed as some live web affiliates have been, by having their top attractions shift to another web and air over their leading competitor's facilities.
     The eight programs will cost MGM close to $1,500,000 per year for production and talent charges.  Talent is being paid on a minimum fee plus percentage-of-net basis, according to Lebhar, with the percentage deals ranging from 16 !/3 to 33 percent.  About one dozen shows of the weekly hour-long dramatic MGM Theater of the Air series have been cut in New York.  Over 60 thrice-weekly 15-minute philosophy shows and Paula Stone's five-a-week quarter-hours of film chatter are ready.  Crime Will Not Pay, a 30-minute weekly drama, is about to go into production.  Three other weekly half hour shows will get started in August:  Maisie, Dr. Kildare and Judge Hardy's Family.

By April 1950, M-G-M Radio Attractions had agreed to produce a second cycle of the eight-feature package, for a total commitment of 52 episodes each of the featured programs. This entirely supports our working hypothesis regarding the both the initial distribution and broadcast of The Story of Dr. Kildare up to that point, as well as our hypothesis regarding the ultimate number of episodes of The Story of Dr. Kildare that were ever produced for syndication. From the April 22nd 1950 issue of Billboard Magazine:

MGM To Spend 500G on 2d 26-Week Air Shows

A half-million dollars will go into the production of the second 26-week cycle of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer radio attractions. The first cycle has established the success of the venture by its acceptance of 200 radio stations in 45 states. WMGM, New York, is the film firm's key outlet here.

From the November 17, 1951 issue of Billboard Magazine:

MGM Program Line-Up
Finalized by Mutual

      NEW  YORK, Nov. 10.--Mutual Broadcasting System's programming plans with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer were finalized this week when the movie outfit came thru with a long-delayed complete list of programs and stars.  Line-up was originally scheduled to start November 19, but belated agreement necessitated moving date to week of December 31, when all of the new programs will make their debut over the full Mutual network.
     MGM star line-up includes "Woman of the Year" (Mondays 8-8:30 p.m. EST) with Bette Davis, a comedy-drama series based upon the MGM movie; "Crime Does Not Pay" (Mondays 8:30-9 p.m. EST) dramatizations of MGM's Academy Award winning film subjects; "The Black Museum" (Tuesdays 8:30-9 p.m. EST) with Orson Welles' mystery series based on Scotland Yard case histories; "The Story of Dr. Kildare" (Tuesdays 8:30-9 p.m. EST), the Lew Ayres-Lionel Barrymore vehicle; "MGM Musical Comedy Theater of the Air" (Wednesdays 8-9 p.m. EST), featuring condensations of such top MGM musicals as "Anchors Aweigh," "Meet Me in St. Louis," etc; "The Modern Adventures of Casanova" (Thursdays 8-8:30 p.m. EST), an Errol Flynn thriller; "The Gracie Fields Show" (Thursdays 8:30-9 p.m. EST); "Adventures of Maisie" (Fridays 8-8:30 p.m. EST) with Ann Sothern; "The Hardy Family" (Fridays 8:30-9 p.m. EST, Mickey Rooney, et al; "MGM Theater of the Air" (Saturdays 8:30-9:30 p.m. EST), featuring Marlene Dietrich, Charles Laughton, Fredric March, Robert Taylor, Burgess Meredith, Cornell Wilde, Margaret O'Brien, Peter Lawford.
     These shows will be supplemented with the rescheduling of 12 currently aired MBS programs into the block from 8 to 10 p.m., Monday thru Saturday.  Mutual shows include "Crime Fighters," "War Front--Home Front," "Official Detective," "The Hidden Truth," "Mysterious Traveler," "The Family Theater," "Rod and Gun Club of the Air," "Reporter's Roundup," "Magazine Theater," "Twenty Questions," "Armed Forces Review" and "Lombardoland U.S.A."
     Half of the MGM programs will be offered for local sale by MBS affiliates, including the four half hours from 8:30 to 9 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays; and the full hour "MGM Theater of the Air" on Saturdays.  Remaining five airers will be offered to national sponsors on a "multi-message" basis, similar to that of the National Broadcasting Company's tandem plan.

From the November 8, 1952 issue of Billboard Magazine:
 
MBS-MGM Radio Attractions Rift
Over Renewal Terms Widen
 
     NEW YORK, Nov. 1.--The rift between the Mutual Broadcasting System and MGM Radio Attractions over renewal terms on the latter's group of 10 radio shows was widened this week, as the flicker outfit virtually suspended production on all series at the request of the web.  Because of the production shut-down, Mutual now is offering re-runs on most of the programs.  MGM shows air in the 8-9 p.m. time, Monday thru Saturday, on MBS.  The deal constituted the largest one-package program arrangements in the web's history.
     In line with this, there's a possibility that performers featured on some of the shows may have a beef since re-run money to actors is paltry.  For instance, Lilli Palmer, who appeared on an hour-long "MGM Theater of the Air" program, received less than $7 when the play tape was aired for the second time.
     As reported in The Billboard last week, the MGM packages are up for renewal December 31, and negotiations for a new contract are currently underway between network execs and the film firm.  Meanwhile, the web reportedly is looking for indie packages to spot in the 8 to 9 p.m. time period if the MGM renewal doesn't go thru.  MGM, meanwhile, is said to be attempting to come up with some fresh stanzas as possible substitutes. 
     The production shutdown reportedly was ordered by Mutual, because the web desired to make certain changes in the shows before any more were put on tape.
     Among the shows involved, are the Errol Flynn "Casanova" series; the Mickey Rooney "Hardy Family" show; Bette Davis' "Woman of the Year" package; Ann Sothern's "Maisie"; Orson Welles' "Black Museum"; the Gracie Fields show; Lionel Barrymore's "Dr. Kildare" series; "Crime Does not Pay"; "MGM Theater of the Air," and "MGM Musical Comedy Theater of the Air."


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The M-G-M Theatre of The Air Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
49-09-16
1
Vacation From Marriage
N
49-09-16 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): new series; Deborah Kerr in "
Vacation from Marriage."

49-09-16 Chicago Daily Tribune
8:30 P.M. W-G-N, WGNB-M-G-M-theater.

49-10-14 New York Times
7:30-8--Play: "Vacation From Marriage," With Deborah Kerr and Ivor Francis--WMGM (Premiere).

49-09-23
2
Johnny Eager
Y
49-09-23 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Van Heflin in "
Johnny Eager."

49-09-23 Chicago Daily Tribune - 8:30 P.M. W-G-N, WGNB-M-G-M-theater.
49-09-30
-
Pre-Empted
-
49-09-30 Chicago Daily Tribune
9:00--W-G-N, WGNB, WBBM, WMAQ, WENR--Community Chest program. Speeches by President Truman, Henry Ford, Jack Benny, Ralph Edwards and others.
49-10-07
3
The Canterville Ghost
N
49-10-07 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Charles Laughton in "
Canterville Ghost."
49-10-14
4
Shopworn Angel
N
49-10-14 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Margaret Sullavan in "
Shopworn Angel."
49-10-21
5
Married Bachelor
N
49-10-21 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Burgess Meredth in "
Married Bachelor."
49-10-28
6
The Citadel
Y
49-10-28 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Fredric March and Florence Eldridge in "
The Citadel."

Announce a promotion of the film
Malaya, released in November 1949
49-11-04
7
Stranger In Town
N
49-11-04 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Edward Arnold as justice of U.S. supreme court in "
Stranger in Town," tale of political corruption.
49-11-11
8
The Prize Fighter and the Lady
N
49-11-11 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): John Garfield in "
The Prizefighter and the Lady."
49-11-18
9
Anna Karenina
Y
49-11-18 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Marlene Dietrich in "
Anna Karenina."

49-11-25
10
The Youngest Profession
Y
49-11-25 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Margaret O'Brien in "
The Youngest Profession."
49-12-02
11
H.M. Pullman, Esquire
N
49-12-02 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Brian Aherne in "
H.M. Pullman, Esq."
49-12-09
12
Hideout
N
49-12-09 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Cornel Wilde in "
Hideout."
49-12-16
13
Three Loves Has Nancy
N
49-12-16 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Ann Sothern in "
Three Lives Has Nancy."
49-12-23
14
Crossroads
Y
49-12-23 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Rex Harrison in "
Cross Roads."
49-12-30
15
Slightly Dangerous
Y
49-12-30 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Celeste Holm in as the soda jerk-"heiress" in "
Slightly Dangerous."
50-01-06
16
Riptide
Y
50-01-06 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Madeleine Carroll in "
Riptide."
50-01-13
17
Stablemates
Y
50-01-13 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Mickey Rooney in "
Stablemates."
50-01-20
18
Third Finger, Left Hand
Y
50-01-20 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Melvyn Douglas, Arlene Francis in "
Third Finger, Left Hand."
50-01-27
19
Queen Christina
Y
50-01-27 Chicago Daily Tribune
8:30 P.M. W-G-N, WGNB--MGM Theater.

50-02-17 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Drama:
"Queen Christina," With Basil Rathbone and Lilli Palmer--WMGM.
50-02-03
20
Come Live With Me
Y
50-02-03 Wisconsin State Journal
WGN 8:30 Theater

50-02-24 17 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Drama: "Come Live With Me"; Peter Lawford--WMGM.


Announce a promotion of the film
Malaya, released in November 1949
50-02-10
21
Dramatic School
N
50-02-10 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Luise Rainer in "
Dramatic School."
50-02-17
22
Undercurrent
N
50-02-17 Wisconsin State Journal
WGN 8:30 Theater

50-02-17 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Drama: "Undercurrent," With Robert Taylor--WMGM.
50-02-24
23
Design For Scandal
N
50-02-24 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Ralph Bellamy, Arlene Francis in "
Design for Scandal."
50-03-03
24
Fast Company
N
50-03-03 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): George Murphy and Nina Foch in "
Fast Company," a murder mystery.
50-03-10
25
Reckless
N
50-03-10 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): June Havoc in "
Reckless."
50-03-17
26
Three Hearts For Julia
N
50-03-17 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Jane Wyatt in "
Three Hearts for Julia."
50-03-24
27
The Big House
N
50-03-24 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Pat O'Brien in "
The Big House."
50-03-31
28
The Feminine Touch
N
50-03-31 Chicago Daily Tribune
8:30 P.M. W-G-N--MGM THEATER, Marsha Hunt stars in "
The Feminine Touch," a delightful comedy about a modern marriage.
50-04-07
29
Unholy Partners
N
50-04-07 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): George Raft in "
Unholy Partners."
50-04-14
30
They Met In Bombay
N
50-04-14 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Herbert Marshall in "
They Met in Bombay."
50-04-21
31
Chained
Y
50-04-21 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Ava Gardner in "
Chained."
50-04-28
32
A Tale of Two Cities
N
50-04-28 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Maurice Evans in "
A Tale of Two Cities."
50-05-05
33
His Brother's Wife
Y
50-05-05 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN):
Franchot Tone in drama of love and revenge in South American jungle.

50-05-05 Chicago Daily Tribune
8:30 P.M. W-G-N--MGM THEATER presents Franchot Tone in a radio adaptation of the dramatic story, "
His Brother's Wife."
50-05-12
34
Joe Smith, American
Y
50-05-12 Wisconsin State Journal
8:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Ronald Reagan in "
Joe Smith, American," story of secret war work.
50-05-19
35
Young Ideas
N
50-05-19 Wisconsin State Journal
WGN 7:30 Theater

50-06-09 17 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Drama: "Young Ideas," With Miriam Hopkins, Peggy Ann Garner and Others--WMGM.
50-05-26
36
Camille
Y
50-05-26 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Marlene Dietrich in "
Camille."
50-06-02
37
Escape
N
50-06-02 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): William Holden and Brenda Marshall in "
Escape."
50-06-09
38
The Duke Steps Out
N
50-06-09 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Jack Carson in "
The Duke Steps Out," story of heavyweight champion who goes to college.
50-06-16
39
The Heavenly Body
N
50-06-16 Wisconsin State Journal
WGN 7:30 Theater

50-07-14 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Drama: "
The Heavenly Body," With Lee Bowman--WMGM.
50-06-23
40
My Dear Miss Aldrich
N
50-06-23 Wisconsin State Journal
WGN 7:30 Theater

50-07-21 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Drama: "My Dear Miss Aldrich," Donna Reed--WMGM
50-06-30
41
Public Hero Number One
Y
50-06-30 Wisconsin State Journal
WGN 7:30 Theater

50-07-28 17 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Drama: "Public Hero Number One," With William Eythe, Paul Stewart and Nina Foch--WMGM.
50-07-07
42
A Letter To Evie
Y
[Adapted for Radio from the M-G-M Film, "A Letter For Evie"]

50-07-07 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Hume Cronyn and Marsha Hunt in "
A Letter from Evie."
50-07-14
43
Stamboul Quest
Y
50-07-14 Chicago Daily Tribune
8:30 P.M. W-G-N--MGM THEATER. Angela Lansbury stars in "
Stamboul Quest," a thrilling tale of international intrigue.
50-07-21
44
The Vanishing Virginian
N
50-07-21 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Edward Arnold in "
The Vanishing Virginian."
50-07-28
45
See Here, Private Hargrove
Y
50-07-28 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Eddie Albert, Lola Albright, and Robert Alda in "
See Here, Pvt. Hargrove."
50-08-04
46
William Tell
N
50-08-04 Wisconsin State Journal
WGN 7:30 Theater

50-09-01 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Play: "William Tell," With Raymond Massey--WMGM
50-08-11
-
Pre-Empted
-
50-08-11 Wisconsin State Journal
WGN 7:30 All-Star Football.

50-08-11 Chicago Daily Tribune
W-G-N--ALL STAR FOOTBALL game at Soldier field with Harry Wismer and Red Grange describing. Sponsored by Wilson Sporting Goods and General Mills.
50-08-18
47
Guilty Hands
N
50-08-18 Chicago Daily Tribune
W-G-N--MGM THEATER stars Gene Lockhart and June Lockhart in the exciting "
Guilty Hands."
50-08-25
48
Billy, the Kid
N
50-08-25 Chicago Daily Tribune
W-G-N--MGM THEATER stars Zachary Scott as the adventurous "
Billy, the Kid."
50-09-01
49
Vanity Fair
N
50-09-01 Chicago Daily Tribune
8:00 P.M. W-G-N--MGM Theater.

50-09-29 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Drama: "Vanity Fair," With Jessica Tandy--WMGM.
50-09-08
50
I Take This Woman
N
50-09-08 Wisconsin State Journal
7:30 p.m.--Theater (WGN): Actor Ralph Bellamy saves the life of a lonely girl in "
I Take This Woman."
50-09-15
47
Guilty Hands
N
50-09-15 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "
Guilty Hands," With Gene Lockhart and June Lockhart--WMGM.
50-09-22
48
Billy the Kid
N
50-09-22 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Drama: "
Billy the Kid," With Zachary Scott--WMGM.
50-09-29
49
Vanity Fair
N
50-09-29 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Drama: "
Vanity Fair," With Jessica Tandy--WMGM.
50-10-06
50
I Take This Woman
N
50-10-06 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "
I Take This Woman," With Ralph Bellamy and Host: Howard Dietz--WMGM.
50-10-13
51
Love Crazy
N
50-10-13 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Drama: "
Love Crazy," With Arlene Francis, Les Tremayne and Host: Howard Dietz--WMGM.
50-10-20
52
Remember
N
50-10-20 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "
Remember," With Arlene Dahl, Rex Barker and Host: Howard Dietz--WMGM.
50-10-27
53
Thunder Afloat
N
50-10-27 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "
Thunder Afloat," With Brian Donlevy and Host: Carey Wilson--WMGM.
50-11-03
54
Hold That Kiss
N
50-11-03 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "Hold That Kiss," With Ruth Hussey and Host: Carey Wilson--WMGM.
50-11-10
55
A Yank At Oxford
N
50-11-10 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "A Yank at Oxford," With Dane Clark--WMGM.
50-11-17
56
The Count Of Monte Cristo
N
50-11-17 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "Count of Monte Cristo," With Jose Ferrer--WMGM.
50-11-24
57
Our Blushing Brides
N
50-11-24 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "Our Blushing Brides," With Jane Wyatt and Host: Howard Dietz--WMGM.
50-12-01
58
Kid Glove Killer
N
50-12-01 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "Kid Glove Killer," With William Holden and Host: Howard Dietz--WMGM.
50-12-08
59
Dance, Fools, Dance
N
50-12-08 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "Dance, Fools, Dance," With Barbara Stanwyck--WMGM.
50-12-15
60
The Man In the Iron Mask
N
50-12-15 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: ""The Man In the Iron Mask," With Brian Aherne--WMGM.
50-12-22
61
The Sailor Takes A Wife
N
50-12-22 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "The Sailor Takes a Wife," With Bonita Granville and Tom Drake--WMGM.
50-12-29
62
Woman Of the Year
N
50-12-29 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "Woman of the Year," With Madeleine Carroll--WMGM.
51-01-05
63
Red Dust
N
50-01-05 New York Times
r: "Red Dust," Veronica Lake--WMGM.
51-01-12
64
Faithful In My Fashion
N
51-01-12 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "Faithful in My Fashion," With Ann Rutherford and Others--WMGM.
51-01-19
65
Apache Trail
N
51-01-19 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "Apache Trail," With William Lundigan; Howard Dietz, Host--WMGM.
51-01-26
66
The Mill On the Floss
N
51-01-26 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "The Mill on the Floss," With Sarah Churchill; Howard Dietz, Host--WMGM.
51-02-02
67
High Wall
N
51-02-02 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "High Wall," John Payne--WMGM.
51-02-09
68
Too Hot To Handle
N
51-02-09 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "Too Hot to Handle," With Mel Ferrer and Anita Louise; Howard Dietz, Host--WMGM.
51-02-16
69
Easy To Wed
N
51-02-16 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "Easy to Wed," Van Johnson--WMGM.
51-02-23
70
The Spy
N
51-02-23 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "The Spy," With Cornel Wilde--WMGM.
51-03-02
71
The Stranger's Return
N
51-03-02 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "The Stranger's Return," With Charles Coburn; Howard Dietz, Host--WMGM.
51-03-09
72
I Love You Again
N
51-03-09 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "I Love You Again," With Lee Bowman and Coleen Gray; Howard Dietz, Host--WMGM.
51-03-16
73
Hold Your Man
Y
[Poor recording]

51-03-16 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "
Hold Your Man," With Patricia Neal and Jeffrey Lynn; Howard Dietz, Host--WMGM.
51-03-23
74
Lady Of the Tropics
N
51-03-23 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "Lady of the Tropics," With John Ireland and Signe Hasso; Howard Dietz, Host--WMGM.
51-03-30
75
Manhattan Melodrama
N
51-03-30 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "Manhattan Melodrama," With John Hodiak and Janis Paige; Howard Dietz, Host--WMGM.
51-04-06
76
Love Is A Headache
Y
51-04-06 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "Love Is a Headache," With Joan Bennett; Howard Dietz, Host--WMGM.
51-04-13
77
Wife vs Secretary
N
51-04-13 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "Wife vs. Secretary," With Laraine Day and Others; Howard Dietz, Host--WMGM.
51-04-20
78
We Who Are Young
N
51-04-20 New York Times
7:30-8:30--Theatre of the Air: "We Who Are Young," With Richard Conte; Howard Dietz, Host--WMGM.






The M-G-M Theatre of The Air Radio Program Biographies




Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Radio Attractions
(Production Company)

(1924--)

Incorporation: New York City, NY, U.S.A.

Radiography:

1936 Leo is on the Air
1940 MGM Hollywood Theater
1943 People’s Reporter
1943 Lion’s Roar
1944 MGM Screen Test
1949 MGM Theater of the Air
1949 Crime Does Not Pay
1950 Dr. Kildare
1952 MGM Musical Comedy Theater of the Air

MGM trademark logo
MGM trademark logo
Marcus Loew, ca. 1902
Marcus Loew, ca. 1902

Samuel Goldwyn (Samuel Gelbfisz), ca. 1916 (Samuel Gelbfisz first entered into partnership with Broadway producers Edgar and Archibald Selwyn, hence the Gold-Wyn name. Gelbfisz later changed his name legally to Goldwyn, for understandable reasons)
Samuel Goldwyn (Samuel Gelbfisz), ca. 1916 (Samuel Gelbfisz first entered into partnership with Broadway producers Edgar and Archibald Selwyn, hence the Gold-Wyn name. Gelbfisz later changed his name legally to Goldwyn, for understandable reasons)

Louis B. Mayer, ca. 1935
Louis B. Mayer, ca. 1935

Metro logo ca. 1921
Metro logo ca. 1921


Goldwyn logo, ca. 1920, with 'Slats' The Lion

The revised Metro-Goldwyn logo, ca. 1922
The revised Metro-Goldwyn logo, ca. 1922


The amalgamated Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, with 'Tanner', the Lion, ca. 1925

'Grampa' Mayer with little Margaret O'Brien, July 4, 1944
'Grampa' Mayer with little Margaret O'Brien, July 4, 1944

MGM Radio Attractions transcription label for Program 9 of John Nesbitt's Passing Parade.
MGM Radio Attractions transcription label for Program 9 of John Nesbitt's Passing Parade.

WMGM logo circa 1949
WMGM logo circa 1949
With over 4,000 film credits to its name during its 85 years of operation, one might well imagine that MGM has always had as much business as it can handle. Radio would seem one of the last venues that MGM's roaring lion would care to tackle.

By 1924, movie theater magnate Marcus Loew had already acquired Metro Pictures Corporation (founded in 1916) and Goldwyn Pictures (founded in 1917) to provide a steady supply of films for his large theater chain, Loews, Incorporated. However, these purchases created a need for someone to oversee his new Hollywood operations, since long-time assistant Nicholas Schenck was needed in New York to oversee the theaters.

Louis B. Mayer's ten-year record of success on the West Coast made him a natural candidate to provide the oversight and managerial talent Loew was seeking. So Loew simply bought Mayer Pictures on April 16, 1924. Loew made Mayer vice-president of Loews and head of the studio operations in California. He appointed Harry Rapf and boy wonder, Irving Thalberg (only 25 at the time) as heads of production. For decades thereafter, MGM was listed on movie title cards as "Controlled by Loews, Inc."

Loew's original Metro-Goldwyn logo had already incorporated Goldwyn's mascot, Leo the Lion. Mayer's name was added to the masthead, and in a further nod to the Culver City Goldwyn studios, the "Art for Art's Sake" motto--Ars Gratia Artis--was incorporated into the initial MGM logo. The resulting logo has been updated several times during the ensuing eighty years, but those basic essential elements remain.

With the merging of the three major studios, MGM soon surpassed Universal Pictures as the largest studio in the world--a title it held for the following 25 years. When Marcus Loew died in 1927, control of Loews passed to long-time associate, Nicholas Schenck. Rival mogul William Fox of Fox Film Corporation saw Loew's passing as an opportunity to expand the Fox Empire. In 1929, with Schenck's agreement, Fox purchased the Loew family's holdings. Louis B.Mayer and Irving Thalberg were understandably outraged, but they weren't shareholders at the time.

Ever resourceful, Mayer used his political connections to persuade the United States
Justice Department to sue Fox Film Corporation for violating federal antitrust law. But quite serendipitously, during the summer of 1929, William Fox was badly hurt in an automobile accident. Before he'd fully recovered, the stock market crash of 1929 wiped out all but a fraction of Fox's financial holdings. This effectively ended any chance of the Loews merger going proceeding--with or without the Justice Department's powerful blessing.

This was manna from heaven for Mayer. Nicholas Schenck and Mayer had never gotten along. Indeed, Mayer, who loved assigning pet names to friend and foe alike, reportedly referred to his boss as Mr. Skunk in private. The aborted merger only intensified the animosity between Schenck and Mayer. The persistant rivalry lasted over twenty more years, becoming an East Coast/West Coast, New York/Hollywood schism in the media giant. The rivalry finally ended when Schenck finally dismissed Mayer in 1951.

In 1934 MGM began to produce a number of three-color [Technicolor] short subjects including 1935's musical La Fiesta de Santa Barbara, waiting until 1938 to film a complete feature in the three-color process--Sweethearts with Jeanette MacDonald. But in addition to a growing short subjects program of its own, MGM also released the shorts and features produced by Hal Roach Studios, including the famous comedy shorts starring Laurel and Hardy, Our Gang, and Charley Chase. MGM's distribution deal with Roach lasted eleven years, from 1927 to 1938, with MGM reaping great benefit from the success of both the popular Laurel and Hardy films and the Our Gang comedy shorts.

MGM purchased the intellectual rights to Our Gang in 1938, moving the production in-house, and continuing production of the successful series of children's comedies until 1944. Between 1929 and 1931, MGM produced a series of comedy shorts called All Barkie Dogville Comedies [a shameless play on the 'All Darkie' farces from vaudeville and the silent film era], in which trained dogs were dressed up to parody contemporary films, while voiced by human actors.

On the Animation front, in 1930, MGM purchased the rights to distribute a series of cartoons that starred a character named Flip the Frog, produced by Ub Iwerks. The first cartoon in this series--Fiddlesticks--was the first sound cartoon to be produced in two-color Technicolor.

MGM's short subjects were not to be taken lightly. MGM's Loews Theaters connection provided a ready audience throughout the Loews stronghold in the Northeast United States. While producing as many as fifty feature films a year, it was the shorts--both animated and film--that was the glue connecting a full slate of enjoyable features for their cash-strapped Depression years audiences. And on the strength of a ready-made, captive distribution outlet--the Loews Theater chain--MGM was the only major studio during the period to issue stock dividends throughout the Great Depression years. But this monopoly would resurface fifteen years later in 1954's settlement of U.S. vs. Paramont Pictures, et. al, wherein Loew's, Inc., was ordered to divest itself of MGM.

Crime Does Not Pay, in addition to MGM's Passing Parade and Pete Smith Specialties were immensely popular in their day. The Pete Smith Specialties, in particular, were nominated for Academy Awards sixteen times in various short film categories. MGM's fifty Crime Does Not Pay shorts ran from 1935 to 1948, showcasing many early appearances by what would eventually become some of MGM's finest character actors and feature film stars.

It was the Crime Does Not Pay series of short features that led to MGM's inspiration to expand into Radio Programming. The Marcus Loew Booking Agency had owned New York radio station WHN since 1946. Responding to a suggestion by MGM publicity head, Pete Smith, MGM leased studio and manufacturing space in the Broadcasters Program Syndicate headquarters building in New York, to coincide with the launch of competing NBC's first 1949 broadcasts between its new NBC Studios in Los Angeles and its flagship studios in 30 Rockerfeller Plaza in New York. MGM was granted a call sign change from WHN to WMGM, to further call attention to its ownership of one of the nation's earliest radio stations.

M-G-M Radio Attractions recorded programs for syndication--and for broadcast over WMGM:

  • M-G-M Theatre of The Air
  • At Home with Lionel Barrymore
  • Hollywood, U.S.A.
  • The Story of Dr. Kildare
  • Good News From Hollywood
  • Crime Does Not Pay
  • The Hardy Family
  • The Adventures of Maisie
  • The Passing Parade
  • Woman of The Year
  • The Black Museum
  • M-G-M Musical Comedy Theater of The Air
  • The Modern Adventures of Casanova
  • The Gracie Fields Show

All fourteen programs were well received, but within seven years, MGM would be out of the radio programming and syndication business. MGM Records, however became a major label from the 1950s, on. WMGM's format changed to appeal to a broader audience--and format--and eventually reverted back to call sign WHN in 1962.




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