Typewriter of the moment: Sports broadcaster Red Barber; first televised games, August 26, 1939

August 26, 2014

August 26 is the anniversary of the first television broadcast of professional baseball, in 1939; the future-legendary Red Barber called a doubleheader between his Brooklyn Dodgers and the Cincinnati Reds from Ebbets field.

Both games were carried on experimental television station W2XBS, which evolved into New York’s NBC affiliate Channel 2, WNBC.  Two stationary cameras were used, in contrast to the several used in modern broadcasts — and it was in black and white.  About 3,000 people are estimated to have watched.

The Reds won the opener, 5-2, but the Dodgers roared back in game 2, 6-1.

In 1939, the broadcast was inspired by the New York World’s Fair, which showcased television, though there were perhaps only 400 television sets in the New York area.  Baseball on television didn’t really take off until after World War II, with many games scheduled in 1946.  Today, all 30 major league teams are scheduled to play on TV.

Ebbets field is gone.  The Dodgers absconded to Los Angeles in the 1950s.  Baseball games are in color.

Red Barber is gone, too.  We have great play-by-play guys, and wonderful color commentators.  There will never be another Red Barber though.  Below is an old post noting Barber’s ways with typewriters.

Sportswriter Red Barber at his typewriter - Florida State Archives photo

Sportswriter Red Barber at his typewriter – State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/10011

The great Red Barber, when his hair was still red, working at his typewriter, with a volume of Roget’s Thesaurus close by.

Many of us knew Red chiefly through his weekly chats with Bob Edwards at NPR’s Morning Edition.  The biographies say Red died in 1992.  That was 19 years ago — it seems more recent than that.  (Edwards left Morning Edition in 2004.)

It may be ironic to show Barber at his typewriter.  He would be more accurately portrayed, perhaps, behind a microphone at a baseball park.

From 1939 through 1953 Barber served as the voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was working for the New York Yankees when he retired in 1966. Barber had the distinction of broadcasting baseball’s first night game on May 24, 1935 in Cincinnati and the sport’s first televised contest on August 26, 1939 in Brooklyn.

During his 33-year career Barber became the recognized master of baseball play-by-play, impressing listeners as a down-to-earth man who not only informed but also entertained with folksy colloquialisms such as “in the catbird seat,” “pea patch,” and “rhubarb” which gave his broadcasts a distinctive flavor. (Radio Hall of Fame)

More:

This is an encore post.

Some of this post, probably the best stuff on Red Barber, is an encore presentation.


Lost history: Groucho Marx died on August 19, 1977

August 19, 2013

1958 Publicity photo of Groucho Marx from the television program You Bet Your Life.  NBC Television-NBC Photo/Photographer:  Elmer Holloway

1958 Publicity photo of Groucho Marx from the television program You Bet Your Life. NBC Television-NBC Photo/Photographer: Elmer Holloway

36 years ago?  Grouch Marx died on August 19, 1977? 

cropped version of Image:Grouchoicon.jpg - &qu...

The man became an icon, though too few know the great history behind the icon. “Self-made caricature of Groucho Marx” Wikipedia image

 

That means that not only have your high school history students probably never seen much, or anything, of Groucho Marx and his comic genius; it means their parents don’t know him, either.

What a great tragedy.

Groucho Marx brought genius to American comedy films, to radio, and then to television.  His genius was of a sort that does not age, but remains fresh to audiences of today — get a group of teenagers to view Duck Soup or A Day at the Races and you’ll find them laughing heartily at even some of Marx’s more cerebral jokes.  It is symbolic that the films that brought writer Norman Cousins to laughter, and a lack of pain, were Marx Brothers movies (in the day when one had to rent a projector to show the film, long before VCR).  Cousins went on to a grand second career talking about hope in healing, starting with the book, Head First: The Biology of Hope and the Healing Power of the Human Spirit.  I recommend these films to anyone seriously injured or ill, or recovering.  We got VHS, and then DVD copies of several of the films when our kids were ill, with great effect.

Groucho Marx should be in the pantheon of great Americans, of the 20th century, if not all time, studied by children in high school, for history and for literature purposes.

Groucho’s been gone for 36 years, and we are much poorer for his passing.

More:

Groucho grills Ray Bradbury and a woman named Leticia on You Bet Your Life in a 1955 episode:

English: Groucho Marx & anonymous blogging

“I intend to live forever, or die trying.” ― Groucho Marx (Wikipedia image)


All is not lost, is it?

June 26, 2013

NPR moved offices earlier this year.

Tiny Desk Concerts provide a lot of fun in live performance in the offices of a radio network.  To document the move, musically, Tiny Desk called in OK Go.  OK Go is a favorite here at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub — regular bathing music, you might say.

And in 223 takes, they recorded the move.

I’m especially fond of the elevator ride with Carl Kassell. (At least, that’s who I think it is.)

Who else can you recognize from NPR’s famous voices?

223 Takes – All Is Not Lost, OK Go

Details:

Published on Jun 3, 2013

The Tiny Desk has moved, and OK Go has helped make it so.

Earlier this year, we needed to figure out the best possible way to move my Tiny Desk from NPR’s old headquarters to our new facility just north of the U.S. Capitol. We wanted to go out with a bang and arrive at our new space in style, so our thoughts naturally turned to a catchy pop band we love: OK Go, whose unforgettable videos have been viewed tens of millions of times on YouTube.

Bandleader Damian Kulash used to be an engineer at an NPR member station in Chicago, so we figured he’d be up for helping us execute a simple idea: Have OK Go start performing a Tiny Desk Concert at our old location, continue playing the same song while the furniture and shelving is loaded onto a truck, and finish the performance at our new home. In addition to cameos by many of our NPR colleagues — Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, David Greene, Guy Raz, Scott Simon, Alix Spiegel, Susan Stamberg and more — this required a few ingredients: Number of video takes: 223; Percent used in final version: 50; Number of raw audio channels: 2,007; Percent used in final version: 50; Number of microphones: 5; Number of hard-boiled eggs consumed: 8, mostly by bassist Tim Nordwind; Number of seconds Carl Kasell spent in the elevator with OK Go: 98; Number of times Ari Shapiro played the tubular bells: 15; Number of pounds the tubular bells weighed: 300; Number of times the shelves were taken down and put back up: 6; Number of days it took to shoot: 2; Number of cameras: 1

OK Go played “All Is Not Lost” from Of the Blue Colour of the Sky, with words tweaked by the All Songs Considered team. And so begins a new era for the Tiny Desk, after 277 concerts (counting this one) in our old home. — BOB BOILEN

FEATURING
Dan Konopka, Damian Kulash, Tim Nordwind, Andy Ross

CREDITS
Producers: Bob Boilen, Mito Habe-Evans
Directors: Mito Habe-Evans, Todd Sullivan
Audio Engineer: Kevin Wait
Assistant Producer: Denise DeBelius
Camera Operator: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo
Supervising Producer: Jessica Goldstein
Editor: Mito Habe-Evans
Assistant Editor: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo
Production Assistants: Lorie Liebig, Lizzie Chen, Gabriella Demczuk, Marie McGrory, Andrew Prince
Executive Producers: Anya Grundmann, Keith Jenkins
Special Thanks: OK Go and our cast and crew of volunteers.

OK Go at the Albany Tulip Festival

OK Go at the Albany Tulip Festival. Wikipedia image

More:


Typewriter of the moment: Sports broadcaster Red Barber

November 1, 2012

Sportswriter Red Barber at his typewriter - Florida State Archives photo

Sportswriter Red Barber at his typewriter – State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/10011

The great Red Barber, when his hair was still red, working at his typewriter, with a volume of Roget’s Thesaurus close by.

Many of us knew Red chiefly through his weekly chats with Bob Edwards at NPR’s Morning Edition.  The biographies say Red died in 1992.  That was 19 years ago — it seems more recent than that.  (Edwards left Morning Edition in 2004.)

It may be ironic to show Barber at his typewriter.  He would be more accurately portrayed, perhaps, behind a microphone at a baseball park.

From 1939 through 1953 Barber served as the voice of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was working for the New York Yankees when he retired in 1966. Barber had the distinction of broadcasting baseball’s first night game on May 24, 1935 in Cincinnati and the sport’s first televised contest on August 26, 1939 in Brooklyn.

During his 33-year career Barber became the recognized master of baseball play-by-play, impressing listeners as a down-to-earth man who not only informed but also entertained with folksy colloquialisms such as “in the catbird seat,” “pea patch,” and “rhubarb” which gave his broadcasts a distinctive flavor. (Radio Hall of Fame)

More:


Terrible plunge of BBC News

May 28, 2011

BBC Radio News logo

BBC Radio News logo

3:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time.  In Barcelona, Spain, London’s Wembley Stadium, Manchester United and Barcelona(Spain) tangle for the Champions’ League trophy.

BBC News?  This is the order of the stories:

  • In Afghanistan, the national police chief was murdered by a suicide bomber
  • In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak was fined $90 million for interfering with business by cutting phones and internet
  • Yemen’s got trouble
  • Palestinian independence got support from the Arab League, meeting in Doha, Qatr
  • U.S. President Obama ended his tour of Europe in Poland, with a pledge of friendship
  • In Moscow, Russian, gay rights demonstrators were attacked by a mob led by people who said they are members of the Russian Orthodox Church
  • Barcelona leads Manchester, 3 to 1, with minutes to play

I’m not usually one to complain, but doesn’t it appear BBC News has its priorities wrong in this order of stories?


Why conservative talk makes more money than liberal talk: No thinking (is it true?)

January 15, 2011

Some say the success of conservative radio can be traced to 1987 when the Reagan administration put an end to the Fairness Doctrine, making it easier for broadcasters to be one-sided. Others cite the Telecommunications Act of 1996, which led to mega-chains of stations and the widespread duplication of successful formats – including conservative talk radio – which gradually took over the stronger radio outlets in most markets.

Peter Funt, of Candid Camera

Peter Funt, of Candid Camera

But such arguments really overlook the simpler truths of the matter: conservative broadcasters serve an audience that is often angry and easily stirred, that wants to be reinforced more than challenged, and that doesn’t always feel compelled to slavishly adhere to the facts of a matter.

More importantly, conservative broadcasters across the dial are vastly more entertaining than their liberal counterparts. Limbaugh and Beck are polished performers, with enough shtick in the tank to keep truckers engrossed over the long haul, or to rouse tired shift workers on the drive to and from home. Indeed, the daring diatribe of the right is so compelling that it often seems as if the most dedicated listeners of conservative broadcasters are their progressive competitors.

Peter Funt of Candid Camera, at the Cagle Post (Cagle Cartoons)


Badly-needed fable for our times

November 6, 2010

When you’re fed up with the hysteria that Glenn Beck offers instead of true history, when your neighbor complains about how government regulation should “get off my lawn,” point them to this story.

It’s truer than Beck, righter than Limbaugh, and it deserves a wider audience:

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sdhTumEUBN8&feature=player_embedded]

Tip of the old scrub brush to Crooks & Liars Video Cafe, John Gray in Cincinnati, Ohio (whoever he is), and to Thom Hartmann, the performer of the piece, who seems like a regular Joe on the level.

A transcript, below the fold:

Read the rest of this entry »


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