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"Amos 'N Andy": The Lost Episodes

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to: <notquite@hotmail.com>. Thanks!

This week, I tried WBCQ shortwave for myself. And at 12 Midnight
Eastern, they aired something that I was surprised to hear: The "lost"
episodes of "Amos 'N Andy".

These were the 10-minute episodes that Freeman Gosden and Charles
Correll recorded on ordinary 78 R.P.M. records that were sent out to
radio stations from 1928 to 1929 (before they moved to NBC in the fall
of 1929). These ten-minute shows did not include the theme music or an
announcer opening/closing the show, so each station was given copy to
introduce/wrap-up the shows. Ed Bowden has re-created the
openings/closings, using a recording of an organ playing "The Perfect
Song" (the long-time theme music), and apparantly using the original
script announcers at each local station would use with the music.

The actual episodes are genuine. This week, they've been running the
shows from the early Spring of 1929 where Andy is trying to teach Amos
how to use a dial telephone. One episode's punch line was Amos trying to
call a buddy, only to dial the local police station!

There is one historical innaccuracy. At the end of each show, in
re-creating the ending, Bowden uses a "This is NBC" sign-off, followed
by a tape of the chimes. NBC didn't start running "Amos 'N Andy" on the
network (briefly Blue weeknighs at 11 P.M., then a short time later, red
weeknights at 7 P.M.) until the fall of 1929 (although it is possible
some NBC owned stations did run the syndicated version, and that the
management of one of those stations may have suggested that the full
network pick-up the show). Because the shows, with intros/closing, run
11 minutes, Bowden uses vintage 1920's records--one per night--to
fill-out the fifteen-minute period.

Actually, most of the "Amos 'N Andy" episodes from the 1928-29
syndication run still exist, as do all the half-hour shows from 1943 to
1954 and the 25-minute "The 'Amos 'N Andy' Music Hall" episodes from
1954-60. Unfortunetaly, most of the fifteen-minute network episodes from
1929 to 1943 no longer exist, so we might never to get to hear Bill
Hay's introductions ("Here They Are...."), which were part of the
1929-43 network shows (and I think also the local WMAQ-Chicago
broadcasts of the 1928-29 syndicated episodes).

The "Lost" episodes of "Amos 'N Andy" air on WBCQ shortwave, 7415 KHz.,
weeknights at 12 Midnight Eastern time. The time could change next week
with the start of daylight time, so check with them.

Joseph Gallant
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