J-Heroes: “Not THE Flash Casey!”

Like his first boss, a crusty editor whose quote in the headline above ends “Not THE Flash Casey!… Never heard of you,” you should get to know Flash Casey, radio’s best news photographer. For a dozen years on radio, plus film, comic book and TV incarnations, Casey was the classic wise-cracking, fedora-wearing newspaper cameraman. In this 1938 film clip, he’s right out of college, hat-in-hand looking for his first job.

Casey as comic book hero

Casey in the comics

With winter commencement coming up tomorrow, I thought the film might raise students’ spirits: Finding a job may be rough today, but it has rarely been easy. Still, like Casey, you never know whom you might run into. (Watch the clip, or the full-length Here’s Flash Casey, at Archive.org.) His attitude, camera and sense of a humor already show promise, even if it is only a B-movie.

(If you’re interested in “new technology,” watch for the appearance of a pre-war Leica 35mm camera later in the film, along with several scenes worth discussing in a media-ethics class.)

During his long run on radio, Casey was the old pro, not the young graduate in the movie. In the series called “Casey, Crime Photographer” or just “Crime Photographer,” he was the “ace cameraman who covers the crime news of a great city,” usually with the help of reporter Ann Williams and the regulars at the Blue Note Cafe. Most of the plots involved more crime-solving than crime-reporting, but often had very good jazz piano in the background.

This radio episode, thanks to the Old Time Radio Research Group collection at the Internet Archive, is “Bright New Star,” in which Casey and Annie present some time-honored skepticism about press-agentry and publicity-seekers.

This second episode, also thanks to the OTRRG collection at Archive.org, is “Source of Information,” in which Casey has a visit from a down-on-his-luck former reporter who has been sitting on a big expose for, perhaps, too long.

NOTE: This blog item, like a few before it, is testing WordPress’s multimedia features. If the audio or video give you any problems, let me know.

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, Multimedia, Newspapers, oldtime radio, podcast, popular culture

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