This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
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Clair Schulz responds to the August 2013 Radio Recall Review by Jeff Whipple of:
Fibber McGee and Molly: On the Air 1935-1959
by Clair Schulz, ©2013
(From Radio Recall, October 2013)
The review by Jeff Whipple of the revised and
enlarged edition of Fibber McGee and Molly: On
the Air 1935-1959 in the August issue does not
give an accurate account of the intent of the
author or the contents of the book.
As stated early in the introduction, the book is
designed primarily to be used by people as they
listen to the recordings to enhance their
enjoyment of the shows. Each entry provides a
list of cast members and the roles they played in
that episode, a one-sentence summary of the
plot, musical selections, running gags, and
comments on notable occurrences.
It appears that Mr. Whipple concentrated on
the appendices rather than the introduction and
entries because he asks, "While the appendices
are great, are they alone worth the price of the
book?" Because he repeatedly the words
synopses and summaries, and never once
mentions the unique information in the comments
section, anyone not familiar with the book would
believe its text is merely a list of entries
recounting what happens in each episode.
Even if Mr. Whipple's ideal OTR fans owned all
the shows but not this resource, would they instinctively know while listening to, say, the
October 1, 1946 episode that it was the first one
with a new theme song and that it was the first
episode in which Sea Benaderet played the
character Elsie Merkle and that it was the first
episode to mention the name of Fifi Tremaine
(sweetheart of both LaTrivia and Gamble) and
that the rare occurrence of the band number and
the vocal selection coming from the same musical
was because Annie Get Your Gun was the hottest
show on Broadway at the time?
Mr. Whipple poses the question "Who is the
intended reader?" Here is the answer: people
willing to pay a small price (about the same as the
cost of cable TV or Internet service for one month)
to own the most thorough and readable reference
work on the series written by a dedicated
researcher who has filled over 500 pages with
insights which can be found nowhere else.
There seems to be little room for books in Mr.
Whipple's brave new world, hence his yearning
for a database where scripts of radio programs
are readily available and searchable by phrase.
How would merely skimming digitized pages and
listening to the audio of episodes provide end
users with a global perspective on the entire
series, enable them to relate the action to the
tenor of the times, and develop an appreciation
for the artistry of the actors and writers?
In his misrepresentation of the content and
purpose of this book and in his closing statements
focusing on how radio shows will be viewed
"about a hundred years from now," Mr. Whipple
seems more concerned with projecting his view of
the future than with providing a discerning
evaluation of a current work which honors a
broadcasting triumph of the past.