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Anyone who has been involved in researching radio
history has sooner or later come upon the name of
Frank Bresee. The interviews he has conducted for
his Golden Days of Radio series for decades are an
invaluable repository of stories from those who were
actually there. For that matter, Frank himself was
"actually there," having begun in radio as a young
During the 1998 NLAS Convention in Mena, Frank
shared with us some of his research and memories,
which we will in turn be sharing with you here. First
of all, he is remembering the days when he was cast
as "Little Beaver" on the famous radio Western Red
"I was cast as Little Beaver in 1942, and did that on
and off for about four years. It was a great show,
because we did it six nights a week. On Monday,
Wednesday, and Friday the show was on the Mutual
Network, which meant we would go to the Mutual
studios on Melrose Avenue... then, on Tuesday we
would go to the NBC studios at Sunset and Vine,
and do the same show that we had done on Mutual
on Monday night. That's when I first saw Lum and
Abner. They were doing their show at NBC, and their
studio was right next to the one we used. They sat in
the middle of the room at a table to do their show. I
used to collect scripts from those days, and it was
amazing because most radio scripts are typed
double-spaced all the way through. But with Lum
and Abner, they were single-spaced, because the
fellows knew their material so well that they didn't
have to worry about making a mistake.
"When I would get to the studio on Tuesday, since
we had already done Red Ryder on Mutual the day
before we didn't need as much rehearsal. So, I
would get there about 5:30 in the afternoon, and we
went on the air at 7:30. Lum and Abner were doing
their show from 5:15 to 5:30 for the East Coast
broadcast, so about the time I would be coming in
they would come walking down the hall, going out to
dinner between shows. They always had friends
with them and were cutting up with each other.
Then, I would finish the Red Ryder show, which aired
from 7:30 to 8:00, and walk out of the studio about
8:05. As I walked back down the hall, Lum and
Abner would be walking back in to do their second
show of the day, which was for the West Coast at
8:15 to 8:30. So I saw a lot of them during the early
|The original version of this article appeared in the August 1998 issue of The Jot 'Em Down Journal.
Some modifications have been made to adapt it to this web format.
Somewhat surprisingly, Frank began his Golden
Days of Radio series in 1949, when radio's "golden
days" were not even over yet! He explains that even
by that time television was cutting into radio's
longtime market, and shows were already dropping
out and being forgotten. After being carried over a
number of stations in the Los Angeles area, Frank's
program was picked up by the Armed Forces Radio
Service in 1965, and it is his interviews from this era
that are most readily available.
Another of Frank's L&A-related acquaintances was
Wendell Niles, L&A's announcer during their
30-minute show days, and guest at the 1989 NLAS
Convention. "I was working for Ralph Edwards
Productions on a TV show called It Could Be You,"
Frank explains. "It was a daytime show hosted by
Bill Leyden, and he would pick people out of the
studio audience to tell their stories and win prizes.
One weekend, Wendell and Bill Leyden went
hunting, and another hunter mistook them for a
couple of deer and shot at them. They missed
Wendell, but Bill Leyden got his eye put out... so for
a couple of weeks Wendell Niles hosted the show
instead of Bill, and he was very good at it."
During the 1940s, when Lum and Abner needed
any sort of female character, the actress they called
|Frank Bresee meets Edgar Bergen and
Charlie McCarthy, 1978.