-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Ledgers for transcription pressings
From: Randy Riddle <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Tue, April 24, 2012 6:37 am
To: [log in to unmask]

ell, here's a couple of examples:

I based the name of this show on its contents, but I can't say for
sure what the proper name of the program is and whether this is some
type of audition or if other programs in the series were made.

> RCA Electrical Transcription PMS-97685-1 ("#1" noted in the matrix)
> RCA Electrical Transcription PMS-97878-1

These would be easy if I had a copy of Victor Master Book Vol 2 at hand.
 P = Pacific Coast studios, M = 16-inch standard groove, S = improved
Western Electric recording system, and the number would be interpolated
into the regular recording matrix series.  It is near the end of the
switch over to a leading zero series after this one hit 100,000 so this
is around 1936.  They probably can be dated within a week.

> The next one I've not posted online since I got it a couple of weeks
> back. This is a Columbia pressing with a white label "Sound on Disc
> Division" label - there's no program name or information on the label
> itself.

> The disc is single-sided and about 16 and a half inches - I can't play
> it on my turntable (it's just a bit too large), so I've not verified
> the contents. Jim Blackson, who I purchased it from, is supposed to
> send me a transfer he made of it.
> According to Jim, it's part 2 of an episode of "Weird Tales", a series
> based on the sci-fi magazine, and he was told it dates from 1938. The
> label, along with the pressing style (laminated) makes me think it's
> much earlier.

> I've been through several websites and databases of old newspapers and
> I can't find any listings or mentions of a "Weird Tales" radio series.
> So is this some kind of audition? Another series entirely?
> Columbia I 1511  "HRA 2" and "IA" are noted in matrix area.

Does the label state "Pressed but not recorded by Columbia"?  For
recordings made by Columbia there would be a circled W and a six digit
matrix number, and elsewhere there might be the take and stamper letter.
 There is a possibility that the IA might be: take one stamper A.

Finally, there's a series of Columbia pressings I've got from the
"Continental Broadcasting Corporation" that were dated by Goldin to
1930-31. These are 16" laminated single-sided pressings with the
title "Gillum & Duke Atterbury" stamped on the labels. Goldin listed
one show in the series when I got it and he called it "The Two
Daffodils" and the title isn't clear in the program contents. I've
never found a title for it in newspaper articles or listings of the
period under either title.


> So it's not just the recording dates I'm interested in, but also the
> name of the client that had the discs pressed, whether others were
> pressed for a series, and the proper name for the series - all that
> would help track down when and where these were broadcast or if they
> were just auditions that never made it to air.

Continental was a major West Coast syndicator for a couple of years from
1930, and they might have been absorbed into Radio Transcrption Corp of
America, or Transco.  The Komedy Kapers episode you mention might be a
repressing of one of these programs.  Some of Transco's series in later
years were culled from miscellaneous episodes of earlier series.  I have
Continental advertisements in some of the trade press of the era, and
the series with its proper title might be mentioned.  Since I am not
near my copies, you might ask Elizabeth if she can identify the proper
title. Continental was the syndication company and would be the "client"
for the series.  They would try to sell them to individual stations
which would each try to get a sponsor, but Continental would also try to
sell a series to a sponsor which in turn would place the program on
different stations.  These types of series on these two companies rarely
had sponsors before recording.  That would limit their long-term use. 
Some of these Continental and Transco series show up being played in the
1940s!  Some even were repressed in plastic.

> I agree with your grumblings about otr collectors. However, I'll cut
> them some slack, at least collectors who were dubbing and trading this
> stuff years ago - their interest was based on nostalgia and not on
> historical research. I don't think many realized what they had.

During those same years record collectors were doing magnificent
discographical jobs of documenting and identifying recordings.  

> I was hoping my blog would encourage otr enthusiasts to document the
> discs themselves, whether pressings or instantaneous recordings, since
> the labels, matrix numbers or even the style of the disc itself can
> have some key information about the recorded sound. But my approach
> seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

Your efforts with the photos as well as the descriptions are great --
and the fact that the OTR people STILL don't appreciate this (and even
LAUGH at it) shows how dense some of them are.

> Documentation on syndicated programming, particularly from the late
> 20s through the 30s is really lacking. Many of the discs don't
> survive and, for those that do, we only have dubs that have passed
> around with no discographical info attached to the sound.

> My frustration with otr extends to record collectors too - I'm sure
> that there are several parts of early radio shows in collections where
> someone picked up a disc because it had Benny Goodman or Tommy Dorsey
> in the band, but it's not been connected to the radio series the disc
> actually came from. The National Radio Advertising Company discs
> pressed by Brunswick are a good example, where one half-hour or
> quarter-hour show was spread across several 12" 78 discs. How many
> complete or near complete shows survive, spread out among various
> record collectors?


I know a dozen or so collectors and discographers who have collected,
reissued, and documented these Nat Ra Adv Co. discs, and in almost all
cases they have not been able to find full six-disc episodes intact.  I
myself have only one instance of a complete episode, found originally by
the late George Blacker.  Every disc known at the time, and all of the
paperwork that still exists, are documented in Ross Laird's Brunswick
Discography.  Some more holes were filled in with a find of about 125
discs two years ago -- but in that huge group there was not one instance
of a complete episode!!!

I've told this story before, but in 1977 when I finished my Ph.D.
dissertation on early broadcast recording I had a lot of detailed info
about Raymond Soat and the National Radio Advertising Co, including why
Maytag did their first series, what stations it was on, etc. etc.  But
there were two things about it I had not been able to do.  One was, I
could not find out what the hell was actually on the recordings of the
Maytag series!!!!  I know NOW because of materials I found later at the
Edison site -- they were considering using Edison instead of Brunswick
-- but nowhere in print did they describe what the series was.  They
were half hour dramas.  They were not musical so the jazz collectors
were not interested in case they found a disc.  The other thing was I
had never heard any recording from this company.  When I handed in the
two copies of the dissertation to Northwestern and completed  the
paperwork, I went out for some relaxation.  For me that is going to a
record store!  And there I found the very LP you used in your posting,
"Radio Rarities" on Broadway Intermission which had bunch of jazz sides
from National, with notes from the collector Ed Polic who lived about
ten miles from there!  I gave him a call and visited.  So I finally had
a chance to hear and see some of the discs for the first time -- after
the dissertation was finished!

Mike Biel  [log in to unmask]

On Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 10:10 PM, Michael Biel <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Although the matrix series for Columbia's transcriptions were not
> included in the Columbia discography, Tim Brooks told me that many of
> these series are documented at Columbia.  Victor used one numerical
> series for all of their recordings although there are blocks that were
> set aside for different studios and sometimes run parallel.  But
> although the paperwork for most of their client recordings are not in
> their files, the dating info can usually be closely extrapolated or
> specifically interpolated.  The "Movie Book" with listings of their
> recordings for film soundtracks for 1928 to 1932 is now once again
> available, and this can also help find things.  The AFRS and V-Disc
> recordings that are Victor based can also be determined thru the common
> matrix series.  While there is a very good discography for V-Discs by my
> friend, the late Dick Sears, the AFRS discography is really more a
> program series listing.  Because of the generally crappy ways OTR people
> fail to properly identify the discs they had made their dubs of, most of
> the information that could have been compiled over the past four or five
> decades has been lost.  A record collector would never fail to include
> discographical info with their dubs but OTR collectors seem to be
> angrily defiant against copying down the info off of the discs they
> have.  Some of them seem to prefer not having proper identification of
> the programs.  (There also are some OTR collectors who don't want the
> recordings to sound good -- one guy wants the programs to sound like the
> old Philco with a torn speaker cone he had in his bedroom as a kid.)
> So what are the numbers of the discs you need identifying?
> Mike Biel  [log in to unmask]
> From: Randy Riddle <[log in to unmask]>
>> I recently obtained a "mystery disc" pressed by Columbia - laminated
> shellac, just over 16", with a "Sound on Disc Division" label common
> to discs Columbia manufactured in the early 30s. I've also run into a
> couple of Victor transcriptions from the early 30s with blank labels
> that have been difficult to get some concrete info about.
>> I've been curious if the ledgers for the transcription divisions of
> Columbia and Victor or other labels have survived. Has anyone done
> any discographical research in this area? I've seen some
> discographies of Armed Forces radio transcriptions or Music Library
> releases. The ledgers from Columbia and Victor and some other
> companies, like Allied, would probably be of great interest to
> researchers on film or radio history.
> Randy