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Did Anyone Else Hear "All Things Considered" Today?

At about 5:50 pm today (10/30) NPR's "All Things Considered" ran a segment on the
battle between ASCAP and the radio networks during the Depression but before  Pearl
Harbor.  ASCAP was the "mouthpiece" for all the great songwriters we associate 
with the '30s: Gershwin, Porter, Berlin et al.  They charged CBS and the NBC networks a
sizable fee to play these composers' (and others of nearly equal stature) songs on-the-air
by live orchestras.  Then in 1939 or '40, when the fee went up, the Nets balked  and 
reacted by playing only music in the public domain at first.  At this point in the A.T.C.
piece they played a disc of an actual announcer of the time introducing a dance-band 
arrangement of "I Dream of Jeannie With the Light Brown Hair";  then the commentator
(I didn't catch his name; remember I was driving in rt 128 traffic at night so I couldn't
write it down) said that throughout much of 1941, the most popular composer on
network radio was Stephen Foster.  Dozens of his songs were arranged in every way
possible to make them sound contemporary.  Then the Nets formed BMI and began 
to commission every struggling songwriter of the time plus individuals associated 
with the popular music scene in Mexico and Central America.  ASCAP then made deals
with local outlets (WHDH, WNEW I assume) and the Nets strengthened BMI until it 
eclipsed ASCAP. (A lot of the early rockers went with BMI)
I didn't know about this battle between ASCAP and BMI in those days...
"All Things Considered" ran it today because it was in October of 1941 that ASCAP
capitulated and allowed what we now call standards to be broadcast on the Networks.
Of course another interesting subtext in the story was the fact that the songs were
performed live in the studio by bands and vocalists hired by CBS and the NBC 
Networks....I don't know if ABC even existed then or Mutual was a factor.  I
suspect among the millions of listeners to A.T.C., this report was an ear-opener 
to a bygone era.   If you missed it, you'll have to hope your local NPR station runs
the "Best of NPR" show during the weekend;  WBUR does on either Saturday or Sunday.

Laurence Glavin

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