J-Heroes: Rescuing the Competition

Not only were newspaper reporters and editors cast as heroic characters in old time radio dramas, they even made heroic attempts to help the competition.

That’s because — like the editor in my previous podcast — they recognized journalism as a higher calling than profit-making. Their attitude was summed up nicely by crusading journalist Steve Wilson during the opening of every episode of Big Town:

“The power and the freedom of the press is a flaming sword. That it may be a faithful servant to all the people, use it justly, hold it high, guard it well.”

Episode: “The Lost and the Found,” December, 1948.

In this radio-noir episode from 1948, Wilson and his colleagues from the Illustrated Press set out to find a rival newspaper’s missing crime reporter, who has been kidnapped by the mob while on an undercover assignment. The bantering conversation between two newspaper editors and a few other scenes are fun, but be prepared for some shaky dialogue, sexist comments (appropriate to the era?), and the “B.O.” warnings of the era’s Lifebuoy commercials.

(The player streams an audio file from the Archive.org collection of old-time radio. Here are its other selections from Big Town.)

In future episodes I’ll add more examples of dramatic radio’s newspapermen setting out to rescue — or avenge — competing reporters.

Footnote: The Illustrated Press’s competition in “The Lost and the Found” is called The Graphic, possibly modeled after the New York Evening Graphic of the 1920s, a sensational tabloid that I’ve written about elsewhere, and will be writing about again.

mild-mannered reporter who sank into computers and the Web during graduate school in the 1980s and '90s, then taught journalism, media studies and Web production, retiring to write and play more music.

Posted in j-heroes, Journalism, Newspapers, oldtime radio, podcast, radio

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