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Waaaay back when--e.g., B.T. [before Television]--newspaper circulation throughout the United States was given an incredible boost with the posting of Radio Schedule Listings in even the smallest community newspaper or bulletin. The 'novelty' years of early radio created an insatiable desire in the listening public for anything new they might hear over the airwaves.
Talk about fighting over the newspaper, what with Dad wanting to read the front page, business, and sports pages, Mom wanting to check the coupons, discounts, advice to the lovelorn and society articles, and the kids grabbing the funny pages. But one section of the newspaper seemed to face equal demand within every family--the Radio Listings for the day or week.
Depending on the local print news vehicle, the radio listings might simply consist of a list of available radio stations, near and far, and a rudimentary minute-by-minute, 12-18 hour listing of scheduled shows, spots, or news. But in the larger communities, the radio listings of The Golden Age of Radio were also populated with fascinating, compelling teasers or 'spot listings' promoting either a new show or series, or expanding the listener base for existing local, network, or syndicated programming.
There seemed no end of variation on how these spot listings were crafted, some clearly cut-and-pasted from sponsor flyers, advertisers' clip art or branding packages, or in many wonderful instances, highly imaginative, artfully crafted and elaborately prepared graphics.
Early Cecil and Sally Serial Advertisement circa 1932
The few of these little self-promoting gems that remain in ephemera archives or collectors hands all too often show their age with yellowing, the graphic deterioration of 2nd through nth generation reproduction, or all too sadly, a simple lack of respect for these once ubiquitous, humble advertising vehicles.
For my part, they've always fascinated me, and never fail to bring back a flood of memories of how they looked to me when I was a child, seeing them for the first time, or at the least, how I imagine they must have looked at first viewing. Period type and composition have always held great interest for me, and I've managed to collect a very robust collection of period type fonts and graphics that comprised the basic tools of the trade for early ad copy artists.
Early Stories of the Black Chamber Advertisement circa 1935
As a consequence of this long standing interest in period spot ads, I've devoted much of my hobby time attempting to rehabilitate any of these spot ads that come into my possession, from either flea market newspapers, internet clippings from copied or faxed spot ads, or by simply digging through much of the ephemera, packing material, or stacks of twine-bound newspapers and magazines my folks had accumulated in their garage.
Whatever the source, I take great delight in teasing out as much of the original detail as I can coax out of these little illustrations and ad copy. This article represents the result of some of this rehabilitated ephemera over the years. I don't represent them to be the original spot ad as an item of historic ephemera, but I can attest to the fact that they're all disassembled and reassembled using authentic, period type fonts and stock graphics of the era, whenever possible. In the case of being unable to reproduce them from original, contemporaneous stock art, I end up spending pains-taking hours teasing out as much detail as I can obtain from the original source using PhotoShop or Illustrator, for the most part.
I hope you enjoy the result of these efforts, and if you have any similar clippings you'd care to have rehabilitated, I'd love to tackle them. You can contact us at any of the 'Comments Please!' links throughout the site, and I'll do my best to attempt to restore them to their original appearance.
Early The Gumps Advertisement circa 1934
There's another valuable side benefit of restoring some of these spot ads, as they can often provide an initial provenance or additional provenances to establish either the existence of, or the date, time, or year of a long-forgotten or overlooked radio show or series. To that end, the more detail that can be retrieved from the original clip, the better.
1929 Enna Jennick Melodies for NBC Blue Network
1931 The Adventures of Detectives Black and Blue
Horlick's Lum and Abner Advertisement circa 1934
Bob Hawk Thanks To The Yanks spot ad from July 3 1944
I Love A Mystery spot ad for Ivory Soap and Oxydol from june 20 1944
Lum and Abner Advertisement circa 1941
Amos 'N' Andy Station Change Announcement circa 1935
(the perfect type of provenance for logging episodes)
Beatrice Fairfax Advertisement circa 1934
Charlotte Greenwood spot ad from June 20 1944
Tail-Spin Tommy comic Advertisement circa 1941
Vicks Open House Advertisement circa 1937
NUCOA Margarine We The Abbotts Advertisement circa 1939
Alka-Seltzer-sponsored Uncle Ezra Advertisement circa 1934
Early Maxwell House Good News Advertisement circa 1937
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