Thursday, December 18, 2014

25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas: Day 18 - Detroit's WXYZ & The Lone Ranger

Working on sending out one blog entry each day in December to showcase great Old Time Radio for the Christmas season.  Here is a link to all the entries.  Here is day 18 - Christmas with the Lone Ranger.  When the movie came out in 2013, I was thinking of writing up a story about the Lone Ranger and how it was produced at WXYZ in Detroit.  I thought I did that, but alas, I did not.  There are thousands of episodes of the Lone Ranger - but there are a few that stand out for Christmas.

If you have Sirius/XM, you can listen to Greg Bell's Old time radio channel (#82). He has a number of great programs available throughout the month of December on his great show.  You can also get a large number of these programs at a variety or resources on the web. One place to find these shows is the 500 OTR Christmas Shows from the Internet Archive. This is a great resources for many of these wonderful radio shows!

Paramount Ranch (Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area) - Friday November 1, 2013

Paramount Ranch (Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area) - Friday November 1, 2013

It is amazing to think that millions of boys in the United States could hum a Rossini Overture and never really knew it.  Gioacchino Rossini was a 19th Century Italian composer who penned numerous operas and other pieces.  His overtures are very well known and are a staple at classical concerts all over the world.  His 1829 opera William Tell (or Guillaume Tell) featured an overture that would be one of the most memorable of all his works.  A good part of that popularity comes from its use in the Lone Ranger on radio and television.

The Lone Ranger first appeared in American culture over the radio.  Instead of Hollywood or New York City, the broadcasts originated from Detroit's WXYZ.  Only a few radio programs originated from the middle of the country outside of Chicago.  Scott Bishop's Dark Fantasy (WKY in Oklahoma City) certainly comes to mind.  But WXYZ was responsible for a few well known series including the Green Hornet and the Challenge of the Yukon.  There was a great article on the Lone Ranger in Hour Detroit magazine in 2007.

Each episode would start with the familiar music and an introduction to let you know you were in for a treat: "In the early days of the western United States, a masked man and an Indian rode the plains, searching for truth and justice. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, when from out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again!" (from the Wikipedia entry - link below).  Brace Beemer was best known voice actor to portray the Lone Ranger.  Tonto was played by actor John Todd, who was or Irish, not Native American decent - but that was the way that radio worked.  Tonto was also known as Kemo Sabe, or trusted scout.  This great series is not only a cultural icon, but also a great tribute to the radio history in Detroit.

Peace Comes to the Frontier (December 23, 1940)

Summary: When a local banker promises to pay $10 a head for cattle from the two biggest ranches in the Red River Valley, suspicions run deep.  Especially as they were thin and scrawny because of a longstanding drought in the valley.  When the good-meaning banker only gets $6 a head, he needs some help from the Lone Ranger to get the two ranchers to bring peace to the Red River Valley.

Present for Janey (December 25, 1944)

Summary: The Lone Ranger and Tonto pay a visit to a rancher at the holidays.  The question about how bad the approaching weather leads to the rancher hiring an extra hand for the winter.  But it turns out that the person they hired comes with a bit of baggage - or a comedy partner.  Or that was what the Lone Ranger thought.

Bells of San Pedro (December 25, 1946)

Summary: The Bells of San Pedro would ring out and draw people to the mission when they had supplies and food to share.  This had been the case for many years, but the bells went silent when a business syndicate swindled (albeit legally) a benevolent mine owner into selling his stake.  The mine owner had supported the mission, but when he lost his money, he could not do it any longer.  His son had been away for two years as was suspected of being a bandit.  A dying mother brought him back to the town for the holidays, but the Lone Ranger and Tonto were the ones that saved the day and make it possible for the bells to ring again.

The Christmas Tree (December 25, 1950)

Summary: A repeat of an earlier episode from Christmas 1948, the Lone Ranger tells his nephew (bet you did not know he had a family) Dan Green about a poor mining cashier who was scraping by with a wife who was injured and young son was framed for a robbery he did not commit.  With only a modest Christmas tree, the young son prayed to make his family whole again.  With a bit of faith, and the Lone Ranger, the young boy received a Christmas gift he could have only dreamed about.

Three Wise Men (December 25, 1953)

Summary: While the recording is not great, this tells a nice Christmas story.  With a winter storm bearing down upon them, a young family found refuge in a lonely shelter.  They were slowed down by a son who was very sick.  Soon, they are joined by three men who seem to have a secret to hide.  Like with the Christmas Tree story from 1950, some help from the Lone Ranger saves the day and helps the family get a fresh start with life.

Here are some links to programs relating to the Lone Ranger:
25 Days of Old Time Radio Christmas:

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