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Original Wayside Theater header art

The Wayside Theater Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> Wayside Theater

CBS-owned WBBM--We Broadcast Better Music, Chicago originated the Wayside Theater series
CBS-owned WBBM--We Broadcast Better Music, Chicago originated the Wayside Theater series

WBBM (CBS) was housed within The Wrigley Building (left). Competitor WGN was housed within the Chicago Tribune Tower (right)
WBBM (CBS) was housed within The Wrigley Building (left). Competitor WGN was housed within the Chicago Tribune Tower (right)


Early Automobile Club of America sanctioned and inspected Hotel sign.
Early Automobile Club of America 'sanctioned and inspected hotel' sign for a Virginia roadside hotel.


Chicago Motor Club advertisement



Chicago Motor Club Bonded Service Station Sign
Chicago Motor Club Bonded Service Station Sign


Background

Chicago's CBS-owned and operated (O&O) WBBM was one of the three major Radio network-owned and operated Chicago stations to originate quality programming throughout Chicago and surrounding states. WMAQ, Chicago's NBC affiliate also orginated a great deal of local and regional programming throughout the area. WGN, Chicago's Mutual Broadcasting System affilate also orginated a great many Radio features that went national in time. WENR was the newcomer O&O, the Chicago Key Station for The Blue Network (ABC). Among WBBM's many locally originated programs were:

  • 1933 Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy
  • 1938 Manhattan Mother
  • 1939 Knickerbocker Playhouse
  • 1939 Manhattan Mother
  • 1938 The Parker Family
  • 1938 Wayside Theater
  • 1940 A Brighter World
  • 1942 The First Line
  • 1945 Those Websters
  • 1945 America In the Air
  • 1945 Five After the Hour
  • 1945 Island Venture
  • 1945 American Family News
  • 1950 Cloud Nine

Founded in 1923 by Harry Leslie 'Les' Atlass, WBBM first broadcast local election returns as the second licensed amateur radio station in Lincoln, Illionois--designated '9FDC. ' Quickly expanding from his initial transmitting power of 10 watts to 200 watts, Les Atlass acquired permission to use the call letters 'WBBM' for his 200 watt broadcasting station; the initials reportedly representing "We Broadcast Better Music." Though 200 watts may seem relatively small power, it was enough in 1923 and 1924 to be picked up from coast to coast.

After selling his produce company to Armour & Company, Atlass subsequently dismantled the broadcasting equipment on his property in Lincoln, Illinois in preparation for a move to Chicago. Atlass simply broadcast out of his basement in Chicago for the following two years.

WBBM returned to the air in Chicago for the first time on February 24, 1925, broadcasting from the Broadmoor Hotel on Chicago's North Side. WBBM began broadcasting three days a week with mostly jazz. By the late 1920s WBBM had become the first Chicago station to accept commercial advertising. CBS acquired the station in 1928 as a CBS O&O station. WBBM added a 5,000 Watt FM frequency in 1941 and a Television station in 1953.

During WBBM's programming development heyday of the late 1930s and throughout the 1940s WBBM originated numerous public service, drama, variety and soap opera programs for airing throughout the Midwest, many of which were picked up by CBS for national broadcasts.

The Chicago Motor Club

Motor clubs became popular around the turn of the 20th Century. By 1899 several motor clubs for both motorized bicycles and early steam-powered automobiles had spring up around America's largest metropolitan areas. Southern California's Automobile Association was incorporated in 1900. New York's Automobile Club of America had been founded in 1899. The Chicago Motor Club, founded in 1906, had its nexus in the Chicago Motorized Cycle Club of the late 1900s.

From the October 30th 1899 edition of the Daily Gazette:

1899 Daily Gazette article head

     General Avery D. Andrews has the distinction of being the president of the first automobile club in this country. The club was recently organized in New York with 33 charter members.  It is to be known, as the Automobile Club of America.  There is a similar organization in London with about 500 members, and the Paris Automobile club, which has been in existence for nearly two years, is a most flourishing affair.
     It costs $100 to become an active member of the Automobile Club of America. The membership is to be limited to 400, just the number of those whom Ward McAllister included in New York's exclusive society.  Honorary and associate members may be elected without limit.
     A clubhouse is to be built and a storage house for vehicles will be secured.  Club runs will be held and repair stations will be established.  The club contemplates the holding of an automobile exhibition some time during the coming winter.  It is expected that this function will rival the New York horse show, as if is intended to make it a society affair.  When the club is in good working order, it will try to influence legislation in favor of automobilists and will demand from park boards privileges equal to those extended to other pleasure vehicles.  The club will also superintend the exhibit of American automobiles at the Paris exposition.
     Among the charter members of the club are several rich New York merchants, two or three noted physicians, a wealthy brewer, a famous magazine editor, an army officer and numerous prominent society men.  It goes without saying that all the members are rich men, for automobiling is essentially the sport of the rich.


In 1902 the several regional automobile clubs and organizations convened in Chicago to form the Automobile Association of America (AAA). From their inception, America's automobile clubs--and their international counterparts--lobbied, cajoled and organized for improvements in the roads of the era, driving regulations, automobile insurance and mapping the highways of the era.

WBBM and The Chicago Motor Club inaugurate Wayside Theater

Wayside Theater was a classy little drama anthology notable not only for its ensemble cast of legendary Golden Age of Radio performers but also for its excellent scripts. Olan Soulé and Patricia Dunlap anchored most of the ensemble pieces, aided by Brett Morrison of The Shadow fame, Ken Christy, Bill Bouchey, Forrest Lewis, Herb Butterfield, and Lesley Woods among others.

Wayside Theater premiered on September 11th 1938 on Sunday evenings at the dinner hour throughout the Midwest and as far as Pennsylvania and Texas. The Chicago Motor Club was greatly expanding their post-War membership of the era, and aggressively promoted its insurance services, car-buying program, roadside assistance and vacation planning.

Series Derivatives:

None
Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Drama
Network(s): CBS
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): Unknown
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 38-09-11 01 Title Unknown
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 38-09-11 to 39-07-02; CBS [WBBM Air Theatre]; Forty-three, 30-minute programs; Sunday evenings.
Syndication: Chicago Motor Club
Sponsors: Chicago Motor Club affiliate of the Automobile Association of America
Director(s):
Principal Actors: Bret Morrison, Bill Bouchey, Carolyn McKaye, Ethel Owen, Michael Romano, Olan Soule, Patricia Dunlap, Mary Jane Morrow, Forrest Lewis, Harriet Widmer, Percy Henus, Herb Butterfield, Lesley Woods, Constance Crowder, Reese Taylor, Frank Dane, Ken Christy, Gail Henshaw, Peggy Fuller
Recurring Character(s): None
Protagonist(s): Varied with each episode
Author(s): None
Writer(s) Virginia Saffort, James Drew, Sandra Corday, Addison Simmons, Mildred Hark, Noel McQueen
Music Direction:
Musical Theme(s):
Announcer(s): Verne Smith
Estimated Scripts or
Broadcasts:
43
Episodes in Circulation: 9
Total Episodes in Collection: 9
Provenances:
Hickerson Guide.

Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were 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 Wayside Theater Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
38-09-04
--
--
38-09-04 Wisconsin State Journal
5:30--Weekend Potpourri--WBBM
38-09-11
1
Title Unknown
N
38-09-11 Wisconsin State Journal
5:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
38-09-18
2
Title Unknown
N
38-09-18 Wisconsin State Journal
5:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
38-09-25
3
Matrimony For Mother
N
38-09-25 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30 p.m.--Wayside Theater (WBBM): "
Matrimony for Mother."
38-10-02
4
Romance In Old Monterey
Y
38-10-02 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM

Announces
Ma and Pa Play Cupid as next
38-10-09
5
Ma and Pa Play Cupid
N
38-10-09 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
38-10-16
6
The Professor Swings It
N
38-10-16 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30 p.m.--Wayside Theater (WBBM): "
The Professor Swings It."
38-10-23
7
Happy Medium
N
38-10-23 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30 p.m.--Wayside Theater (WBBM): "
Happy Medium."
38-10-30
8
Title Unknown
N
38-10-30 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
38-11-06
9
Rest Cure
Y
38-11-06 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM

Announces
Swing, Sister, Swing as next
38-11-13
10
Swing, Sister, Swing
N
38-11-13 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
38-11-20
11
Title Unknown
N
38-11-20 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
38-11-27
12
Irish Stew
N
38-11-27 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30 p.m.--Wayside Theater (WBBM): "
Irish Stew."
38-12-04
13
Title Unknown
N
38-12-04 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
38-12-11
14
Madcap Princess
Y
38-12-11 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
38-12-18
15
Title Unknown
N
38-12-18 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
38-12-25
16
Title Unknown
N
38-12-25 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-01-01
17
The Adventure of the Absent Minded Professor
Y
39-01-01 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-01-08
18
Love Goes To Night School
Y
39-01-08 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30 p.m.--Wayside Theater (WBBM): "
Love Goes to Night School."
39-01-15
19
Spawn of the City
N
39-01-15 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30 p.m.--Wayside Theater (WBBM): "
Spawn of the City."
39-01-22
20
Food For Thought
Y
39-01-22 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-01-29
21
Title Unknown
N
39-01-29 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-02-05
22
Lillie Brown Leaves
Y
39-02-05 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-02-12
23
Title Unknown
N
39-02-12 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-02-19
24
Diamonds For Milady
N
39-02-19 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30 p.m.--Wayside Theater (WBBM): "
Diamonds for Milady."
39-02-26
25
The Lucky Piece
N
39-02-26 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30 p.m.--Wayside Theater (WBBM): "
The Lucky Piece."
39-03-05
26
Title Unknown
N
39-03-05 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-03-12
27
Love In A Taxi Cab
Y
39-03-12 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30 p.m.--Wayside Theater (WBBM): "
Love in a Taxi Cab."
39-03-19
28
Title Unknown
N
39-03-19 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-03-26
29
Treasure Island
N
39-03-26 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30 p.m.--Wayside Theater (WBBM): Patricia Dunlap and Olan Soule in "
Treasure Island."
39-04-02
30
Title Unknown
N
39-04-02 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-04-09
31
Title Unknown
N
39-04-09 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-04-16
32
Elsie the Magnificent
N
39-04-16 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30 p.m.--Wayside Theater (WBBM): "
Elsie the Magnificent"
39-04-23
33
Title Unknown
N
39-04-23 Wisconsin State Journal
6:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-04-30
34
Title Unknown
N
39-04-30 Wisconsin State Journal
5:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-05-07
35
Title Unknown
N
39-05-07 Wisconsin State Journal
5:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-05-14
36
A Friend of Gertrude's
Y
39-05-14 Wisconsin State Journal
5:30 p.m.--Wayside Theater (WBBM): "
A Friend of Gertrudes."
39-05-21
37
Gangsters Don't Kiss
N
39-05-21 Wisconsin State Journal
5:30 p.m.--Wayside Theater (WBBM): "
Gangsters Don't Kiss."
39-05-28
38
Title Unknown
N
39-05-28 Wisconsin State Journal
5:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-06-04
39
Title Unknown
N
39-06-04 Wisconsin State Journal
5:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-06-11
40
Spoils Of War
N
39-06-11 Wisconsin State Journal - 5:30 p.m.--Wayside Theater (WBBM): "Spoils of War," story of espionage and intrigue.
39-06-18
41
Title Unknown
N
39-06-18 Wisconsin State Journal
5:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-06-25
42
Title Unknown
N
39-06-25 Wisconsin State Journal
5:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-07-02
43
Title Unknown
N
39-07-02 Wisconsin State Journal
5:30--Wayside Theater--WBBM
39-07-09
--
--
39-07-09 Wisconsin State Journal - 5:30--Musical Pot Pourri--WBBM






Wayside Theater Radio Program Biographies




Olan Elbert Soulé
(Ensemble Actor)
(1909-1994)

Birthplace: LaHarpe, Illinois, U.S.A.

Radiography:
1933 Chandu the Magician
1936 Sunset Village
1936 The Couple Next Door
1936 Bachelor's Children
1938 David Adams, Son Of the Sea
1938 Wayside Theater
1938 Curtain Time
1939 Jeff and Lucky (Audition)
1939 Midstream
1940 Fifth Row Center
1940 Chicago Theatre Of the Air
1943 Captain Midnight
1944 This Is the Story
1944 The First Nighter Program
1944 Author's Playhouse
1946 Grand Marquee
1947 The Whistler
1948 Your Movietown Radio Theatre
1949 Errand Of Mercy
1949 The Great Gildersleeve
1949 Guest Star
1950 Screen Director's Playhouse
1950 The Adventures Of Philip Marlowe
1950 The Harold Peary Show
1951 The Adventures Of Sam Spade
1951 A Memo From Molly
1951 Stars Over Hollywood
1951 Lux Radio Theatre
1951 The Pendleton Story
1952 Tarzan
1952 I Was A Communist For the FBI
1952 Dragnet
1952 The Railroad Hour
1954 You Were There
1954 Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator
1954 Inheritance
1957 Heartbeat Theatre
1957 The Ruggles
1959 Have Gun, Will Travel
1960 The Jack Benny Program
1960 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1973 Hollywood Radio Theatre
1973 Sears Radio Theatre
Olan Soulé Artist Card circa 1942
Olan Soulé entry from the October 1940 edition of Lew Lauria's Radio Artists Directory

Olan Soulé enjoys a day at home with his children Jon, 7, and Jo Ann, 9, circa 1949
Olan Soulé enjoys a day at home with his children Jon, 7, and Jo Ann, 9, circa 1949

Olan Soulé in Alfred Hitchcock's classic North By Northwest (1959)
Olan Soulé in Alfred Hitchcock's classic North By Northwest (1959)

Joining Soulé in North by Northwest were the following notable Radio performers of the era (uncredited for the most part due to conflicting union rules):

  • Ken Lynch
  • Les Tremayne
  • Edward Platt
  • Ed Binns
  • Patrick McVey
  • Carleton Young
  • Frank Wilcox
  • Larry Dobkin
  • Sara Berner
  • Walter Coy
  • Tommy Farrell
  • Madge Kennedy
  • Paula Winslowe


Olan Soulé during the zenith of Television's Golden Age circa 1962
Olan Soulé during the zenith of Television's Golden Age circa 1962

Olan Soulé in the Towering Inferno (1974)
Olan Soulé in the Towering Inferno (1974)

Olan Soulé as Carmichael from Battlestar Galactica 1979
Olan Soulé as Carmichael from Battlestar Galactica 1979

Olan E. Soulé was born in La Harpe, Illinois to Elbert and Ann Williams Soule. The Soule's were reportedly the descendants of three of the original surviving Mayflower passengers to arrive in North America. Olan departed Illinois at the age of seven, moving to Des Moines, Iowa. He continued to be raised in Iowa until he graduated from High School at 17. Soon after graduation, Soulé launched his Stage career, joining Jack Brooks' Tent Show based in Sabula, Iowa.

After a couple of years with the Tent Show, Soulé debuted on the legitimate stage in Chicago for a few more years before moving on to Radio. Olan Soulé inaugurated his Radio career in1933 with a stint on Chandu the Magician (1935-36). Beginning in 1936, he embarked on an eleven year career portraying Sam Ryder on Bachelor's Children, a daytime soap opera. His first significant dramatic lead was with Barbara Luddy on Radio's famed The First Nighter program. They were successfully teamed for almost nine years.

One of Radio's genuinely most versatile actors, Olan Soulé performed in every Radio genre ever aired over broadcast Radio. He was equally popular on Radio's Captain Midnight adventure serial, in the role of L. William Kelly, SS-II, second in command of The Secret Squadron.

Upon completing his nine-year commitment to The First Nighter in in 1949. Olan Soulé moved to Hollywood to do Film and Television-- in addition to Radio. Olan Soulé built his Television and Film careers with the same workman-like efficiency and diligence that he had with his Radio career and soon found himself one of Hollywood's most in demand character actors.

His Television career exploded first, with strong supporting roles in an extraordinary array of Television's earliest successful programming, and simply added to his impressive Television resume with each passing year. By 1960, Olan Soulé had appeared in well over 200 appearances in over forty of The Golden Age of Television's most popular programming. This, in addition to appearing in another estimated 1,000 Radio appearances and twelve feature films, concluding the decade with an appearance in Alfred Hitchcock's classic North By Northwest (1959) with Cary Grant and an amazing array of mostly uncredited current and former Radio actors, among them: Ken Lynch, Les Tremayne, Edward Platt, Edward Binns, Patrick McVey, Carleton Young, Frank Wilcox, Larry Dobkin, Sara Berner, Walter Coy, Tommy Farrell, Madge Kennedy and Paula Winslowe.

Among his more memorable appearances on Television were oft-recurring roles in Captain Midnight (1954) as scientist Aristotle 'Tut' Jones, as the court clerk in numerous Perry Mason episodes, as Lab Criminalists Ray Pinker and Ray Murray in the original and 1967 revivals of Dragnet, as the Hotel Carelton Manager in Have Gun, Will Travel (1958), as Cal in Stagecoach West (1961), as the telegraph operator in Bonanza (1961), as choir director John Masters on The Andy Griffith Show (1962), as the Telegraph Clerk in Big Valley (1965), and as Fred Springer in Arnie (1970).

He also appeared in Mister Ed, City Detective, Dante, Harrigan and Son, State Trooper, The Twilight Zone, Bewitched, The Munsters, Gunsmoke, Happy, The Jean Arthur Show, Laramie, The Monkees, Mission: Impossible, The Six Million Dollar Man, Fantasy Island, Little House on the Prairie, Dallas and Simon & Simon.

To whole new generations of fans in the 1970s and 1980s Soule is remembered as the voice of Batman in several animated series. He supplied the voice for the caped crusader first in 1968's Batman-Superman Hour. He then reprised the role in:
  • The Adventures of Batman
  • The New Scooby-Doo Movies
  • Sesame Street (1970)
  • SuperFriends
  • The All-New SuperFriends Hour
  • Challenge of the SuperFriends
  • The World's Greatest SuperFriends.

All told, Olan Soulé appeared in approximately 7,000 radio episodes and commercials, at least 300 television episodes and 60 feature films including, North by Northwest (1959), The Days of Wine and Roses (1962), The Towering Inferno (1974) and The Apple Dumpling Gang (1975).

Olan Soulé weighed less than 135 pounds for most of his adult life.

"People can't get over my skinny build when they meet me in person after hearing me play heroes and lovers on radio," he said in an interview in The Los Angeles Times in 1968. "One guy really laid it on the line," he added. "He looked me over and his parting shot was, 'Well, I don't mind telling you I'm disappointed.' "

Olan Soulé ulitmately passed away in 1994 at the age of 84. According to his family, the cause was lung cancer. A light-weight--or make that bantam-weight--by physical stature standards, Olan Soulé was an absolute giant in Radio, on Television, in Film and certainly in the hearts of his millions of fans over the years.

Reputedly one of the most likeable, easy-going, unruffled major character actors in Hollywood, Olan Soulé was one of those Masters of the Acting Craft that seem to perform almost effortlessly. Indeed, many up-and-comers in the Acting profession might resent that apparent inherent talent. But the wiser, more seasoned observers understand all too well that that level of craft and skill is never achieved effortlessly.

To the extent to which drama is perceived as effortlessly performed, is true genius. And by that measure among any number of others, Olan Soulé was a true genius.




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