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Audio Files
Nothing is more evocative of yesteryear than old time radio.  In the years before television, there was a tall Philco console or a table model radio in a prominent spot in every home's living room.  The "theatre of the imagination" offered something for everyone: music/variety shows, comedy, mystery, drama, news, soap operas for housewives, sports for men, hero action adventures for kids, and much more.  Back When Books is pleased to offer a selection of compact discs that represent some of the classics of those programs, complete with commercials, from "the Golden Age of Radio." 

America On the Home Front  


A journey across America during one of the most turbulent times in its history.  Looking forward to a brighter future after the Great Depression, Americans saw many of our allies in Europe falling under Nazi domination.  On Dec. 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor, the U.S. declared war on Japan.  Then Germany and Italy declared war on the U.S. and we were in the European war as well.  The story of our nation's response is brought vividly to life with actual recordings of President Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, General MacArthur and many others.  Interwoven with big band music, segments of popular radio programs and motion pictures that helped keep American spirits high, this 6 CD set recalls the great sacrifices and contributions of young and old on the American home front, and makes clear why Tom Brokaw used the words “The Greatest Generation” to describe those who grew up in the United States during the Great Depression and then went to fight in World War II.


6 dramatic and informative hours on 6 CDs     Price: $34.50



Christmas On the Homefront, 1941 - 1944  


Eight complete broadcasts designed to bring holiday spirit to the Home Front during World War II.  FIBBER McGEE AND MOLLY (12-16-41) Fibber cuts down his own Christmas tree.  JACK BENNY PROGRAM (12-21-41) Jack plans a Christmas party and claims many big stars will be attending.  THE GREAT GILDERSLEEVE (12-20-42) With Christmas coming, Gildy is so busy at the Water Department that he’s neglecting Leila.  CAVALCADE OF AMERICA (12-21-42) “A Child Is Born” stars Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne in an original play about the Nativity.  KRAFT MUSIC HALL (12-16-43) Bing Crosby stars, with Ukie, The Charioteers, The Music Maids announcer Ken Carpenter, John Scott Trotter and the Orchestra, and guests Joan Davis and Phil Silvers. SUSPENSE (12-23-43) “Back For Christmas” Peter Lorre as an eccentric botany professor who plants a “Devil’s Garden” in his cellar.  LIFE OF RILEY (12-17-44) Riley receives a package marked “Do Not Open Until Christmas."  CHARLIE McCARTHY SHOW (12-24-44) Bergen promises Charlie a gift if he can memorize “’T'was the Night Before Christmas.”


4 hours on 4 Compact Discs     Price:  $21.95



Burns and Allen Vol. 1 

George Burns and Gracie Allen, America's beloved comedy couple, in four programs with special guest stars: (11-29-45) George and guest Jack Benny enroll in college;  (1940s) Gracie wants guest Bing Crosby to retire so George can take his place;  (2-20-47) George and Gracie celebrate their 15th radio anniversary with guest Al Jolson;  (5-19-49) Gracie thinks guest Mickey Rooney is a little boy and she wants to adopt him.


2 hours on 2 Compact Discs     Price:  $14.95



Fibber McGee & Molly Vol. 1 


A dozen comedy classics from the folks at 79 Wistful Vista: (4-1-1941) Molly returns from a shopping trip and discovers that the left rear fender is missing from her car.  (11-30-1943) Fibber and Molly search everywhere in Wistful Vista for Teeney’s little dog, Eddie.  (10-16-1945) Fibber promises to get Mrs. Carstairs a Pullman car reservation on the train to Florida.  (1-21-1947) McGee seeks an architect to do some alterations at 79 Wistful Vista.  (3-5-1940) Searching for her dictionary, Molly decides to look in the hall closet.  This is the first show to use the classic closet gag!  (4-7-1942) Mrs. Uppington is collecting for a wartime scrap drive and Molly decides it’s time to clean out the hall closet.  (3-21-1944) Fibber discovers his old mandolin in the hall closet.

(1-7-1947) A radio news bulletin about some escaped criminals prompts Fibber to search for his gun in the hall closet.  (6-5-1945) Molly begins cleaning the hall closet but Fibber insists he'll do it.  As visitors drop by, the McGees reminisce about items from the closet.  (11-1-1949) The Wistful Vista Trolley Company offers a prize for the best suggestions to improve their business and Fibber has a perfect idea.  (4-13-1943) First show of the 9th season; Fibber tries to repair his radio so he can hear a program about his uncle Sycamore.

(2- 24-1948) Fibber uses a neighbor's short-wave radio to contact an old friend in Manilla to collect a $7 debt.


6 hours on 6 Compact Discs     Price:  $29.50 



 Franklyn MacCormack

Franklyn MacCormack, the late-night radio host, in a lengthy portion of the all-night Meister Brau Showcase (3-19-67) , featuring lush music and poetic reflections recited by Chicago radio’s overnight star.  Includes “Why Do I Love You?” and “How Do I Love Thee?”  Plus Franklyn MacCormack’s Old Book of Memories (3-10-49) and the hour-long Closing Night at the Aragon (2-8-64) with MacCormack, Wayne King and his orchestra and the final broadcast from the famed Chicago ballroom.  Includes many Aragon memories, a salute to the bands that played there over the years and, of course, the King-MacCormack favorite, “Melody of Love.”


2 hours on 2 Compact Discs     Price:  $14.95




Jack Benny Program, Vol. 1 


Jack and the gang in 12 great shows, complete with commercials: (2-20-44) The Gilroy Murder Case with guest Groucho Marx; (2-27-44) From the Hollywood Canteen with guest Eddie Cantor; (3-10-46) “The Lost Weekend” with guest Ray Milland; (5-25-47) Guests are Fred Allen and Jack Parr; (2-17-46) Jack’s birthday; (2-24-46) A “Life Can be Beautiful” program; (5-11-47) Jack is appearing at the Chicago Theatre; (5-18-47) From New York, with guest Al Jolson; (4-8-51) Jack has income tax problems; (4-15-51) More tax problems with guests Ronald and Benita Colman; (4-1-51) Preparing for a trip to New York; (2-13-44) From Marsh Field, California, Jack offers a prize to anyone who guesses his age.


 6 hours on 6 Compact Discs     Price:  $29.50



Fred Allen vs. Charlie McCarthy and Jack Benny 

Fred Allen and Jack Benny had a running feud for the amusement of their audiences.  First, each tells how they met.  The stories aren’t at all alike.  Jack takes a trip down Benny’s Boulevard and Fred puts on a Pinchpenny Show. Both appear in a preview of the film they appeared in, “Love Thy Neighbor” – but who gets the top billing?  In 1945, Charlie and Fred engaged in a month-long feud with great comedy that delighted their audiences.  Charlie places an ad for a ventriloquist.  Fred applies and gets the job.  On their first audition, Fred gets hired – Charlie doesn’t.  That starts a lawsuit that goes to court.  This segment includes highlights of those shows.  Plus: Edgar, Charlie and Donald Duck present “Jack and the Beanstalk”.


2 Hours on 2 Compact Discs     Price  $14.95



National Barn Dance  


Saturday night fun from WLS in Chicago to NBC and the nation: (4-1-39) Joe Kelly, Uncle Ezra, Hoosier Hot Shots, Bass Family, Maple City Four; (10-2-43) Joe Kelly, Arkie the Arkansas Woodchopper, LuluBelle and Scotty; (4-15-44) 20th Anniversary of station WLS with Joe Kelly, Arkie, Pat Buttram, Dinning Sisters, Hoosier Hot Shots, Cindy Walker; (9-22-45) Jack Holden, LuluBelle and Scotty, Arkie, Pat Buttram. 


2 hours on 2 Compact Discs     Price:  $14.95



Suspense Classics


Top radio and screen stars in 16 "Suspense" classics: On a Country Road; Zero Hour; Three Skeleton Key; August Heat; House in Cypress Canyon; Ghost Hunt; Man Who Wanted to be Edward G. Robinson; Name of the Beast; Face is Familiar; One Hundred in the Dark; Devil in the Summer House; Dog Star; Out for Christmas; Yuletide Miracle. 


6 hours on 6 Compact Discs      Price:  $29.50