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Original Ports of Call header art

The Ports of Call Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> Ports of Call
Pierce Brothers Spot Ad for Ports of Call over KFWB from Los Angeles Times of September 9 1935
Pierce Brothers Spot Ad for Ports of Call over KFWB from Los Angeles Times of September 9 1935

Pierce Brothers Spot Ad for Ports of Call over KFWB from Los Angeles Times of September 30 1935
Pierce Brothers Spot Ad for Ports of Call over KFWB from Los Angeles Times of September 30 1935

Transcription Company of America (Transco)

Warner Bros. KFWB 1935

Background

The mid-1930s were rich with some of the most fascinating programs to air over broad-cast Radio waves (and yes, 'broad' casting radio waves was still new then--on both coasts). Music and serial drama were the predominant features over Radio, but the 1930s also ushered in several compelling adventures and educational air features. Most of these features were presented in a standard 15-minute format. When a feature could sustain an equally compelling 30-minute format it was an even greater treat.

Historical and educational features were even more compelling for many listeners of the era. The West Coast, in particular, spawned hundreds of locally produced, early Radio air features broadcast primarily throughout the CBS Pacific, NBC Orange, and early Don Lee-Mutual networks.

Ports of Call was a Transco-produced 30-minute 'musical travelogue' of sorts. Often billed in the newspaper listings of California as either 'musical' or 'drama', the fifty-two Ports of Call programs were more a combination of travelogue, geography lesson, World Music, and docudrama.

Ports of Call Production History and Details

First heard simultaneously in the Bay Area and Southern California, the program appears to have debuted in September 1935, running almost continuously throughout California and as far away as Washington, D.C., as late as 1937 during its first runs.

The Los Angeles run premiered over Los Angeles radio station KFWB, a Warner Bros.-owned station. Pierce Brothers Funeral Directors picked up the tab for the entire KFWB run of twenty-six programs as weekend or Monday night features. Don Lee-Mutual network station, KFRC, premiered its first broadcasts of Ports of Call in the San Francisco Bay area as a Sunday afternoon feature.

It would appear that when it picked up a sponsor, the Philip J. Meaney Company, a West Coast advertising firm, began relabeling the series as a Philp J. Meaney feature, acting as the agent for its sponsor(s).

The full symphony orchestra and chorus that accompanied the musical excerpts throughout each program were exceptional for the musical fare of the era. As a tour of World Music alone, the series holds up as well today as it did in the mid-1930s. As a geography or geopolitics feature, the series shows its wear over the years--or rather, the geopolitical World shows its wear over the years. Coming as it did upon the heels of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations, the somewhat idealized world view of the era managed to keep propaganda at a minimum. This lends an even more--at once idealized and dispassionate--even tone to each country highlighted during the productions.

The Radio Guide of April 2nd 1938 shows Ecuadorian Ambassador Colon Eloy Alfaro accepting a transcription of the "Ecuador" episode of Ports of Call
The Radio Guide of April 2nd 1938 shows Ecuadorian Ambassador
Colon Eloy Alfaro accepting a transcription of the "Ecuador"
episode of Ports of Call

The subject forty-three countries we can currently account for represented every predominant ethnicity, language and region of the modern world of the era. The pure escapism that the series provided, as well as an undoubted element of nostalgia for the various ethnicities that comprised the great melting pot of our post-Depression nation, were an equally compelling attraction for West Coast listeners.

Notably absent in the currently circulating exemplars, but almost certain to have been included in the original fifty-two programs, were: China, France, Spain, Brazil, Hawaii, Canada, Mexico, Poland, and possibly the Baltic States. It's worth noting that the World of 1935 was a far different geopolitical landscape:

  • Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan were still simply 'Persia' to the rest of the world.
  • Israel didn't even exist until 1948.
  • The countries of Indonesia and Southeast Asia were apportioned and reapportioned throughout the 20th Century.
  • The British Empire still retained many of its colonies, as did the Dutch, Spain, France, and Portugal.
  • Thailand was simply 'Siam' until 1939.
  • The mysterious North African countries of Morroco, Algeria, Tripoli, and Tunisia were referred to as simply 'The Barbary States'
  • Hawaii, Alaska and Puerto Rico, while already 'territories' of the United States, were still quite independent 'states' for all intents.
  • Russia was still a monolith, with several far-flung colonies of its own.
  • Germany had only still recently been reapportioned in the wake of World War I

As a time capsule of pre-World War II geography and geopolicy, Ports of Call remains a fascinating snapshot of the pre-World war II globe.

World Music, by contrast, is timeless. The producers of Ports of Call went to often great lengths to capture the most appropriate and representaive music score and musical selections to highlight each country's episode. Today's History students will find great value in the relative historical accuracy of the dramatized vignettes that comprised each episode as well.

For the romantic traveler or adventurer, the series simply fans the fires of wanderlust. Romance and adventure are, after all, equally timeless. And indeed, for the adventurer at heart, the era of the mid-1930s was an incredibly compelling and intoxicating period of World History. The various 'great empires' of the World were in decline, for better or worse. Democracy was gaining momentum throughout the still-free nations of the world. Travel was still by the marvelously romantic 'Clippers' of the era, by the still romantic trains of the era, and by the ever-romantic great steamship lines of the era.

Indeed, the great oceans and seas of the era themselves, were still romantically idealized and treated as areas of seagoing adventure, irrespective of their geography. Even the poles, North and South, had become the targets of contemporary wanderlust. Quite literally the best of times, romantically, and the worst of times, economically, the environment of the mid-1930s simply compounded the adventure for the truly adventurous at heart.

To those ends, Ports of Call fired the imagination, fueled an adventurer's wanderlust, reassured an ethnically diverse nation, and unquestionably created renewed interest in World travel, for those who could still afford it. For those who couldn't afford it, but still undertook World travel, the sense of adventure was almost certainly even greater.

This production was an unqualified gem of The Golden Age of Radio.

Series Derivatives:

None
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Historical Dramatizations
Network(s): Don Lee-Mutual Network [KFRC]; NBC Orange Network; other West Coast independent stations.
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): Unknown
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 35-09-16 01 Italy
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 35-09-16 to 1938;
Syndication: Transco; The Philip J. Meany Company
Sponsors: Pierce Brothers Funeral Directors
Director(s):
Principal Actors:
Recurring Character(s):
Protagonist(s): None
Author(s): None
Writer(s)
Music Direction:
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s):
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
52
Episodes in Circulation: 41
Total Episodes in Collection: 41
Provenances:


Philip J. Meaney Transcription No. RR1385; Ports of Call Episode No. 32 Sweden

Philip J. Meaney Transcription No. RR1385; Ports of Call Episode No. 32 Sweden

Philip J. Meaney Transcription No. RR1383; Ports of Call Episode No. 33 New Zealand

Philip J. Meaney Transcription No. RR1383; Ports of Call Episode No. 33 New Zealand
RadioGOLDINdex, Hickerson Guide, Ben Kibler, ProQuest, randesoteric.

Notes on Provenances:

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


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[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 Ports of Call Radio Program Log

Date Trans. No. Title Avail. Notes
35-09-09
1
Italy
N
[Premiere on Warner Bros. station KFWB, Los Angeles]

35-09-09 Los Angeles Times
8:30--
Musical--KFWB

35-09-09 Los Angeles Times
8:30--KECA--
Waltz, R.
35-09-16
2
Holland
N
35-09-16 Los Angeles Times - "Ports of Call," the new dramatized travelogue, is to get an airing over KFWB at 8:30 p.m. today, with Holland as the destination on the mythical voyage. The broadcast follows Kay Van Riper's "Coronets," which comes to the air at 8 p.m. Kay said she might repeat part of last week's episode for the benefit of dialers who missed it because of the change in the time of the broadcast.

35-09-16 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB

35-09-16 Los Angeles Times
8:30--KECA--Waltz, R.
35-09-23
3
Title Unknown
N
35-09-23 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
8:30--KECA--Ports of Call
35-09-30
4
Persia
N
35-09-30 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
8:30--KECA--Ports of Call
35-10-07
5
Title Unknown
N
35-10-07 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
8:30--KECA--Ports of Call
35-10-14
6
Title Unknown
N
35-10-14 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
8:30--KECA--Ports of Call
35-10-21
7
Title Unknown
N
35-10-21 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
8:30--KECA--Ports of Call

35-10-21 Corona Daily Independent
KWFB--Ports of Call--8:30
35-10-28
8
Title Unknown
N
35-10-28 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
8:30--KECA--Ports of Call
35-11-02
9
Title Unknown
N
[Moves to Saturdays on KMPC]

35-11-02 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--Ports of Call, T., 10.

35-11-03
N
35-11-02 Berkeley Daily Gazette
Sunday Afternoon
4:30 p.m.--KFRC-- Ports of Call
35-11-09
10
Title Unknown
N
35-11-09 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--Ports of Call, T., 10.

35-11-16 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Music Comedy Moments--KFWB
35-11-10
N
35-11-09 Berkeley Daily Gazette
Sunday Afternoon
4:30 p.m.--KFRC-- Ports of Call
35-11-16
11
Title Unknown
N
35-11-16 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--Ports of Call, T., 10.

35-11-16 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Pioneer Sons--KFWB
35-11-23
12
Title Unknown
N
35-11-23 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--Ports of Call, T., 10.

35-11-16 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Pioneer Sons--KFWB
35-11-24
N
35-11-23 Berkeley Daily Gazette
Sunday Afternoon
4:30 p.m.--KFRC-- Ports of Call
35-11-30
13
Japan
N
35-11-30 Los Angeles Times
KMPC--Ports of Call, T., 10.
35-12-02
14
Title Unknown
N
[KFWB resumes Monday broadcasts]

35-12-02 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
35-12-09
15
Title Unknown
N
35-12-09 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
35-12-16
16
Title Unknown
N
35-12-16 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
35-12-23
17
Title Unknown
N
35-12-23 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
35-12-30
18
Title Unknown
N
35-12-30 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
36-01-06
19
Title Unknown
N
36-01-06 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
36-01-13
20
Title Unknown
N
36-01-13 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
36-01-20
21
Title Unknown
N
36-01-20 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
36-01-27
22
Title Unknown
N
36-01-27 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
36-02-03
23
Title Unknown
N
36-02-03 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
36-02-10
24
Title Unknown
N
36-02-10 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
36-02-17
25
Title Unknown
N
36-02-17 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
36-02-24
26
Title Unknown
N
36-02-24 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
36-03-02
27
Title Unknown
N
36-03-02 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
36-03-09
28
Title Unknown
N
36-03-09 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
36-03-16
29
Title Unknown
N
36-03-16 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
36-03-23
30
Title Unknown
N
36-03-23 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
36-03-30
31
Title Unknown
N
36-03-30 Los Angeles Times
8:30--Ports of Call--KFWB

36-04-06
32
Sweden
N
36-04-06 Los Angeles Times
7:30--Ports of Call--KFWB
36-04-13
33
New Zealand
N





The Ports of Call Radio Program Log

Date Trans. No. Title Avail. Notes
35-09-09
1
Italy
N
35-09-16
2
Holland
N
35-09-16 Los Angeles Times
"Ports of Call," the new dramatized travelogue, is to get an airing over KFWB at 8:30 p.m. today, with
Holland as the destination on the mythical voyage. The broadcast follows Kay Van Riper's "Coronets," which comes to the air at 8 p.m. Kay said she might repeat part of last week's episode for the benefit of dialers who missed it because of the change in the time of the broadcast.
35-09-30
4
Persia
Y
36-04-06
32
Sweden
Y
36-04-13
33
New Zealand
Y
Alaska
Y
Arabia
Y
Argentina
Y
Australia
Y
Austria
Y
Barbary States
Y
Belgium
Y
Central Africa
Y
Chile
Y
Cuba
Y
Czechoslovakia
Y
Denmark
Y
Ecuador
Y
Egypt
Y
England
Y
Germany
Y
Greece
Y
Guyana
Y
Haiti
Y
Hungary
Y
India
Y
Ireland
Y
13
Japan
Y
Norway
Y
Panama
Y
Peru
Y
Portugal
Y
Russia
Y
Scotland
Y
Siam
Y
Switzerland
Y
The Philippines
Y
Turkey
Y
Union Of South Africa
Y
United States
Y
Venezuela
Y
Wales
Y
Yugoslavia
Y
China
N
France
N
Spain
N
Brazil
N
Hawaii
N
Canada
N
Mexico
N
Poland
N
Title Unknown
N









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