Friday, March 27, 2015

Lighthouses on Old Time Radio - Lightship on CBS Radio Workshop (1957)

Here is the tenth entry in my lighthouses on old time radio series.  I hope you are enjoying all these great old time radio programs with a lighthouse theme.  I have a good number more to do - hopefully they will not be so far apart.  With today's entry, we go to one of the great CBS Radio programs in the late 1950s that showed the network was not giving up on the medium.  There are many times where it seemed that CBS Network was to radio in the late 50s what PBS is to TV now - head and shoulders above all else.  Even in the late 1950s and the early 1960s, when more and more Americans had TV sets for entertainment, CBS Radio had some of their best work.  These included Suspense, Gunsmoke, Frontier Gentleman, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and the program that we are showcasing today, the CBS Radio Workshop.

The CBS Radio Workshop continued the tradition at the network to produce some of the most innovative programs on radio.  The program was intended to provide a link back to the Columbia Workshop days and Norman Corwin and provide amazing drama "dedicated to man's imagination, the theater of the mind" In 1956, CBS returned to the airways with a program that would cement their network as the home for innovation.

Starting in January 1956, the CBS Radio Workshop would be on the air for 86 episodes through September 1957.  The CBS Radio Workshop was designed not to be commercially lucrative, but to find a place where the network could put on cutting edge works that might not match with a sponsor's goals.  The 30 minute program started out with a two-part adaptation of Huxley's Brave New World and featured many original and adapted programs.  These features great radio talent and special effects that were the best in the business.  One of my favorites, though not dealing with lighthouses, is called The Storm, and aired on February 10, 1956 featuring William Conrad.  I will come back to this great series from time to time - it is a treasure.

Huron Lighthship

Huron Lightship (Port Huron, Michigan - July 2007)

The program we feature today is Lightship - which aired on April 28, 1957.  This story was an adaptation of the Archie Binnis' 1934 novel of the same name.  According to an entry about the author:

"Archie Binns, novelist and historian of the northwestern United States, is best known for his critically acclaimed novel Lightship (1934). Based partly on Binns’ own experiences at age eighteen aboard the Umatilla Reef Lightship off Cape Flattery, Washington, the story brings together the diverse lives of nine sailors as they struggle to save the ship, which has broken loose from its moorings in a deadly storm." - Matthew Everston - from Gidmark, Jill B., ed. Encyclopedia of American Literature of the Sea & Great Lakes. Westport, CT, USA: Greenwood Press, 2000.

Lightship does a great job of capturing the danger and desperation that can befall a crew of a lightship.  The episode starts off with a man overboard, and crew members struggling to retain focus and their mission when they are doing anything to be relieved from their service.  But when their relief was delayed, the crew grew more desperate to try to get back to port in Seattle.  Not only do the pine for returning to shore, the also sabotage their ship to force their return.  But their service to the ships heading in and out of Seattle kept them on the water longer than they wished.  This great episode features actors Luis Van Rooten, Dan Ocko, Ralph Bell, and Santos Ortega.

Lightship (April 28, 1957)

Please enjoy these great episodes.  This is a real treat and a great way to continue my Lighthouse Old Time Radio series.  I will have another entry in about a week!

Here are some links to programs relating to Old Time Radio and CBS Radio Workshop

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