Thursday, June 30, 2011

Announcement from the 2011 National Radio Hall of Fame Committee

Well, bad news folks. 

We are sorry to announce that the Museum of Broadcast Communications and the National Radio Hall of Fame Committee decided to forgo the public voting process this year and hand select a few individuals for the 2011 National Radio Hall of Fame. This decision is the result of the Museum's move into their new building, set for later this year.

They have, however, assured us they will keep Bob Crane's nomination on file for consideration in future National Radio Hall of Fame classes.

While we are disappointed with this recent decision, we do appreciate the achievements of those who are being recognized in the 2011 class and extend our congratulations to each of them.

Further, we will keep this site and Bob's memory alive by continuing to showcase his tremendous work in radio and in the entertainment industry. 

You can help. Send your support of Bob Crane's inclusion on the 2012 ballot by contacting the Museum of Broadcast Communications directly.

And keep spreading the word about Bob Crane, a true radio legend. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Commercial Break - Goodyear Tires 1962

Bob gets sidetracked, ever so slightly, while promoting Goodyear's new nylon 42" tires. But he gets there...eventually!

Goodyear Radio Spot
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
March 9, 1962

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Bob Crane – Radio, His Drums, and 'Hogan's Heroes'

Bob Crane as Colonel Hogan
on Hogan's Heroes.
It is important to mention Bob Crane's work as an actor, not only because he is best known for his leading role as Colonel Hogan on Hogan's Heroes, but also because his radio, music, and acting careers overlapped frequently.

Shortly after Bob arrived in Los Angeles in August 1956 and began work at KNX on September 13th of that year, he started to explore acting opportunities, first with local theater productions in Southern California. After his five-year no-television clause with KNX expired in 1961, he sought roles on television, earning small parts that included a guest appearance on an episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show. He also gained bit parts in movies, such as Man-Trap, The New Interns, and Return to Peyton Place. Donna Reed took notice of Crane's radio talents and acting capabilities, and in 1962, she offered the established LA radio personality a guest spot on The Donna Reed Show. This turned into a recurring character role as neighbor Dr. Dave Kelsey for seasons 5 through 7, and from 1962-1965, Bob juggled both his work on The Donna Reed Show and his full-time job at KNX. Then, early in 1965, he auditioned for and landed what was to become his flagship series  Hogan's Heroes.

Hogan's Heroes was picked up by CBS in the spring of 1965, and at that time, Bob made the decision to leave The Donna Reed Show. A few months later, he left KNX to devote his full attention to the new television series, which made its primetime debut on September 17, 1965. A conscientious actor, Crane worked hard at perfecting the role of Colonel Hogan, contrary to the belief that he was just "being himself" and wasn't really acting. He studied the acting traits of those he greatly admired in Hollywood, including Jack Lemmon and John Wayne, and developed a character who was not only a strong leader of his men but a comedic nuisance of his nemesis Colonel Klink. He was nominated twice for an Emmy Award (once in 1966 and again in 1967) for Outstanding Continued Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Comedy Series. Hogan's Heroes ran for six seasons, from 1965-1971, and it left an immortal imprint on television history. A strong team of producers, directors, writers, crew members, and actors, including Crane, who many claim was a joy to work with on the set, is credited for making Hogan's Heroes the success that it was and still is to this day.

As he had done in radio, Bob Crane was able to incorporate his music and drumming talents into Hogan's Heroes, and he can be seen playing drums in two episodes, "The Flight of the Valkyrie" and "Look at the Pretty Snowflakes." He also recorded an album, Bob Crane, His Drums, and Orchestra Play the Funny Side of TV, which was produced by Stu Phillips and presents arrangements of theme songs from several television sitcoms (such as Get Smart, F-Troop, Thursday Night at the Movies, The Andy Griffith Show, and Candid Camera, among others).

Bob Crane spent six years working on Hogan's Heroes, thus making him a memorable actor in Hollywood history. However, his radio career spanned decades, and music encompassed his entire life. Both played a significant role in helping pave the way for Crane's eventual career as a full-time actor, and his music went with him wherever he went.

"Hogan's Heroes March" (Bob Crane on Drums)
Bob Crane, His Drums, and Orchestra Play the Funny Side of TV
Epic Records / 1966

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Crane's Pick Hits of 1956-1964

Bob Crane had a collection of songs he liked to play regularly, and many of them he claimed as his "theme songs" throughout his tenure at KNX. One in particular was "I've Got a Rose Between My Toes" by the late Lou Carter (also known as "The Singing Cab Driver"). Other favorites of Crane's included "If I Had a Nose Full of Nickels" (also by Lou Carter), "Pacalafaca" (KMPC's Dick Whittinghill supposedly used this as his drive-time theme song as well), and "West of the Wall" (Bob's engineer Jack Chapman didn't seem to care too much for this one).

Here are "I've Got a Rose Between My Toes" and "Pacalafaca" as aired by Crane over KNX on New Year's Day, 1964. 

"I've Got a Rose Between My Toes" - Lou Carter
"Pacalafaca" - Irving Taylor's Orchestra
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
January 1, 1964

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Commercial Break - Manischewitz 1962

Before there was a Blackberry Smartphone, there was a blackberry Manischewitz wine.

Manischewitz Radio Spot
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
December 11, 1962

Monday, June 20, 2011

Bob Crane: Interviewer Extraordinaire

TV Radio Mirror / December 1963
"It's the Story of Bob Crane"
From 1956 to 1965, KNX-CBS radio was the home of "The Bob Crane Show." On May 30, 1964 (Memorial Day Weekend), from 8:00 a.m. to 11:55 a.m., Bob Crane made his final Saturday KNX broadcast with an 8th anniversary tribute show, during which he spotlighted many of his celebrity interviews.

Bob Crane was not only a gifted and natural-born interviewer; he was one of the premiere celebrity interviewers of his time. At KNX, he is credited with conducting more than 3,000 interviews, the majority of which were key figures in the entertainment industry. A collection of Crane's interviews, including his entire KNX 8th Anniversary Show, is available for the public to hear through the Paley Center in either New York City or Los Angeles. Later, in 1967 and 1968, Bob donated his time with the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network, where he conducted and recorded many more celebrity interviews for broadcast to American troops serving overseas. A great number of these historic recordings are also available to the public through the U.S. Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. For both the Paley Center and the Library of Congress, you must listen to the recordings onsite.

Of the thousands of prominent individuals and other notables interviewed by Crane, the following represents only a mere fragment of the list: Jack Lemmon, Dick Van Dyke, Bill Cosby, Bob Hope, Bob Newhart, Jerry Lewis, Soupy Sales, Gypsy Rose Lee, George Jessel, Bette Davis, Pat Boone, The Great Coogamooga, Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield, Phyllis Diller, a chimpanzee, Charlton Heston, Danny Kaye, Gig Young, Barbra Streisand, Gene Krupa, Stephanie Powers, Richard Chamberlain, Olivia de Havilland, Eddie Cantor, George Hamilton, Otto Preminger, Keenan Wynn, Jonathan Winters, a shoeshine boy, Steve Allen, Jule Stein, Meredith and Remi Wilson, Alexander King, Arthur O'Connell, Frankie Carle, Robert Goulet, Jane Meadows, Rod Serling, Paula Prentiss, Arthur Godfrey, Carol Lawrence, John Gary, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Jaye P. Morgan, Lawrence Welk, Alan Young, Mel Torme, Roger Williams, Doris Day, Henry Mancini, Arte Shaw, Stan Kenton, Eydie Gorme, John Astin, Connie Stevens, Carl Reiner, Shelley Mann, Cesar Romero, Barbara Parkins, Mary Tyler Moore, Omar Sharif, Bobby Darin, Joe Louis, Tony Randall, Terry Thomas, Wayne Newton, Morey Amsterdam, Carl Betz, Ray Conniff, Jerry Van Dyke, Natalie Wood, Frankie Avalon, Tiny Little, Mitch Miller, Barbara Eden, Inger Stevens, Dizzy Gillespie, Allan Sherman, June Foray, Red Skelton, Andre Previn, Ronald Reagan, and Dick Clark.

In this segment, which was rebroadcast in 1962 over KNX as part of Bob Crane's 5th Anniversary Show, Pat Boone and George Jessel are interviewed by Bob together.

Bob Crane KNX Interview / George Jessel and Pat Boone (circa 1960)
Laffter, Sweet and Profane / 5th Anniversary Promotional Record
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
February 15, 1962

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Commercial Break - Hills Brothers Coffee 1962

Whew! After that last post, we gotta sell something. Here's Bob helping to promote Hills Brothers Coffee.

Bob Crane - Hills Brothers Coffee Radio Spot
KNX 5th Anniversary Show
February 15, 1962

Saturday, June 18, 2011

WICC-TV / Channel 43

Former site of the WICC studios and Channel 43.
WICC radio in Bridgeport, CT, was home to Bob Crane's early morning show from 1951 to 1956. In the early 1950s, Philip Merryman, president and general manager of WICC, decided the time was right for a television station. In March 1953, Channel 43 debuted. WICC radio (whose call letters stand for "Industrial Center of Connecticut" in honor of Bridgeport) had been broadcasting out of a building located on Video Lane, just off Booth Hill Road, in Trumbull, CT. This same location became the home of Channel 43, Connecticut's third television station.

Bob Crane took on the responsibility of helping to launch the new station. In addition to preparing for and performing his 6:00 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. radio show, he dedicated himself to making Channel 43 successful.

Pilot, aerial photographer, and former WICC Art Director and traffic announcer (known locally as "Captain Traffic") Morgan Kaolian spent many hours working with Bob Crane on Channel 43. Broadcasting live on the new UHF station, the duo performed many improvisational shows that included, according to Kaolian, "some crazy stunts in the style of Ernie Kovacs." One of Morgan's favorite recollections is the day Bob came riding into the studio on horseback to the sounds of familiar Native American music.

Crane and Kaolian ham it up on
Channel 43. Courtesy of
Morgan Kaolian and used
with permission.
However, Channel 43 struggled to gain much of a viewing audience. UHF was in its infancy, and televisions did not come equipped with the proper technology to receive the UHF broadcasting signal. A special converter along with a separate UHF antenna in the shape of a bow-tie had to be installed. This setup was not cheap; in the mid-1950s, such an antenna could cost around $100. Few thought it was worth the effort or the price, and as a result, the station floundered. But Crane, Kaolian, and other hopefuls were not deterred, and they did their best to boost the viewing audience. During a broadcast, Bob even offered to give away $100 to the first person to call the station. Nobody called. 

With few televisions able to receive the UHF signal and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) denying WICC's repeated request for a VHF band, Channel 43 eventually ceased broadcasting in December 1960. A few months later, a fire severely damaged the portion of the building that housed the former WICC studios. While the Channel 43 side of the building and transmitter (the "Hi-Ho" tower) still exist, the WICC side was demolished, and nearly all historic WICC recordings and Channel 43 footage were lost.

On August 19, 2008, Morgan Kaolian dedicated an hour of WICC air time to Bob. He talked about their friendship, their time spent working together at WICC and Channel 43, and Bob's successes in radio and television. "I knew Bob as a good musician; a very, very talented man on radio; and a just a great, all-around, fun-type guy," Kaolian said. He also took calls from WICC listeners, who remembered Bob Crane as a prominent figure in Bridgeport history.

Note: The first UHF television broadcasts in the world were conducted in 1949 in Stratford, CT, a neighboring town of Bridgeport, to test the viability of UHF for television broadcasting (M. Collins, "Timeline for Connecticut Broadcasting").

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weather Report

TV Radio Mirror / December 1963
"It's the Story of Bob Crane"
And now, we give you the weather from Southern California, not for today, but as it was on November 13, 1957. As per usual, even weather reports were not immune to Crane's capers.

Here, Bob Crane provides us with his version of the weather on this particular Wednesday morning. We think NBC's Today Show forecaster Al Roker should incorporate this "soundtrack" into a future report.

By the way, this recording is a bit low, so be sure to turn your sound up.

Weather Report
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
November 13, 1957

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Commercial Break - Bayer Aspirin 1962

"Delicious" Bayer Aspirin. Pain reliever. Life saver. The best aspirin the world has ever known.

Ever wonder what the secret ingredients are?

Bayer Aspirin Radio Spot
Laffter, Sweet and Profane / 5th Anniversary Promotional Record
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
February 15, 1962

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bob Crane and His Gimmicks Galore

TV Radio Mirror / December 1955
"Man of the Morning"

It was his trademark. For nearly every commercial and almost every song, Bob Crane had a gimmick. From a woman coughing over a cigarette jingle, to a famous race car driver piloting a TWA plane, to Ed Good Drivers Rhymers chugging away in a dilapidated car for Allstate Auto Insurance, his gimmicks were a hit. An integral part of his show, and thus, part of his radio signature, these gimmicks and sound effects were what made his show so much fun for audiences. Once sponsors figured out that a smattering of Crane's humor sprinkled throughout their commercials was lucrative, they wanted more. A lot more. Air time during The Bob Crane Show became one of the easiest time slots to sell to sponsors.

Right from the start, Bob began dabbling with different sounds to see how he could use them to enhance a joke or a gag. A comedian at heart, he was always ready with that one-liner or punchline to drive the joke home. One of his earliest gimmicks was his song rating system. Using the recording of a chicken cackling and eggs dropping down a shoot and into a pail, Bob "rated" various records. One plop, two plops, three plops....the more plops you heard, the worse the record. The sound of dripping water into a cup during a Borden's commercial conveyed that the milk was so fresh, Bessie the cow was being milked right there in the studio at that very moment. Bob's own mother got in on the act as well, lending her quite-contagious laugh for use in her son's skits.

Crane's efforts paid off. At WICC in Bridgeport, CT, he held 65% of the market share, while over at KNX in LA, he and KMPC competitor Dick Whittinghill duked it out for top spot with the SoCal audience.

Allstate Auto Insurance Radio Spot
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
March 9, 1962

Send Dead Flies

The San Fernando Valley had a fly problem...that is, until Bob Crane instructed the southern California residents on how to solve it. Here, he shares his story during a conference of the Association of National Advertisers.

Bob Crane  "Send Dead Flies" (recorded circa 1960)
KNX 5th Anniversary Show
February 15, 1962

Monday, June 13, 2011

Commercial Break - Angostura Bitters 1962

Whether you've heard of this magical elixir or not, pick up a bottle of Angostura Bitters. Apparently, it does everything and lasts forever!

Angostura Bitters Radio Spot
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
December 11, 1962

Sunday, June 12, 2011

'Cranetalking' vs. 'Jaywalking'

At one time or another, most of us have seen (or at least heard of) Jay Leno's "Jaywalking" segments on The Tonight Show. These hurried and harried men and women, minding their own business and wanting nothing more than to reach their destination quickly and without incident, suddenly encounter the late-night talk show host on the street asking them a ridiculous question. Thrown off balance, they search their minds quickly for the proper answer, and the results are often hilarious.

Back in the '50s and '60s, Bob was doing the same sort of thing for his KNX radio show. This clip (recorded circa 1957) puts Bob on the streets of LA, bothering, er, asking innocent and unsuspecting passers-by what they think of the traffic problem in the city.

As the saying goes, ask a silly question, and..........

Bob Crane  "Cranetalking"
KNX 5th Anniversary Show
February 15, 1962

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Bob Crane: Musician of Note

Bob Crane, his drums, and his KNX engineer, Dave Jarecki.
TV Radio Life, October 5, 1957.
Many elements made Bob Crane’s radio show unique, not the least of which was his musicianship. In addition to being able to instinctively feel the timing of the music while talking over each record track, Bob was also a gifted drummer. His love for drums hit early; he was only 10 years old when he first watched and heard Gene Krupa perform at the New York World's Fair in April 1939. Since then, he was rarely seen without a set of drumsticks. Once he broke into radio, he incorporated his drumming into his show by routinely playing along with the records while live on the air. In this clip, Bob plays along with the song “America” from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story, as arranged by Arthur Lyman, who was the in-studio guest that morning.

Bob Crane on Drums
KNX / Arthur Lyman Interview – 1962
“America” from West Side Story

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Commercial Break - Winston Cigarettes 1962

Bob has been referred to as "the man of a thousand voices,” and listeners never knew what to expect. In this commercial for Winston Cigarettes, he sounds as if he is carrying on a full conversation with his engineer. But in all actuality, it’s all Crane.

Winston Cigarette Radio Spot
Laffter, Sweet and Profane / 5th Anniversary Promotional Record
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
February 15, 1962

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Your Vote Counts!

In 1988, the Museum of Broadcast Communications, located in Chicago, inducted the first members into the National Radio Hall of Fame. Altogether, 18 broadcasting legends were recognized that first year, and they included:

Fred Allen
Martin Block
Himan Brown
Charles Corell
Don Dunphy
Alan Freed
Arthur Godfrey
Benny Goodman
Freeman Gosden
Guglielmo Marconi
Groucho Marx
Bruce Morrow
Edward R. Murrow
William S. Paley
Virginia Payne
Bill Stern
Fran Striker
Orson Welles

Since then, the National Radio Hall of Fame has annually honored those who shaped and transformed the radio and the broadcasting industry. You will no doubt recognize their names – Abbott and Costello, Bob Hope, Larry King, Casey Kasem, Bing Crosby, Dick Clark, Fred Foy, Harry Kalas, Gene Autry, Jimmy Durante, Tommy Dorsey, and more, totaling close to 150 individual performers, announcers, and personalities. In addition, 31 programs, including Burns and Allen, The Goldbergs, The Lone Ranger, Little Orphan Annie, CBS World News Roundup, and CBS Radio Mystery Theater, have also been honored.

“Before radio, there was silence,” the Radio Hall of Fame proclaims on its Web site. “Radio came first… Radio marked the first instant medium shared collectively by millions.” Those who left their stamp on what has now become known as “The Golden Age of Radio” are most deserving of their special distinction in the National Radio Hall of Fame, and today, many legends-in-the-making are adding their imprint to this ever-evolving yet still-golden medium.

Courtesy WICC. All rights reserved.

In February 2011, several individuals submitted letters of support and nomination to the Museum of Broadcast Communications on Bob Crane’s behalf to place him on the official ballot for the 2011 National Radio Hall of Fame. Most letters were from co-workers in radio; WICC in Bridgeport sent its endorsement of Bob Crane’s nomination as well. 

In a few weeks, the Museum of Broadcast Communications and the Radio Hall of Fame Committee will release the official 2011 ballot. Voting is open to the public, and your vote counts! As we wait for its release, we’ll keep you entertained with Bob Crane’s radio antics and achievements, as well as reasons why we believe he should be inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame. It is our hope that his name is not only placed on the ballot, but that he is recognized this year for his contributions to radio and broadcasting, something that is long overdue. 

IMPORTANT NOTE: The National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee did not open voting to the public for the 2011 Class. For more information about Bob Crane's nomination and our efforts for 2012, please click here.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Lending a Helping Hand

In addition to a hectic work schedule that started at 6:00 a.m. when he went live on the air, Bob Crane was a tireless volunteer on both coasts. During his tenure at WICC, he served as program advisor for the Bridgeport Junior Achievement and participated in other community events, such as judging talent contests and serving as master of ceremonies for various organizations. Later, at KNX in Los Angeles, Bob was constantly on the move, participating in Auxiliary Lunches, Kiwanis Club meetings, and Cerebral Palsy telethons; making appearances at grocery or department stores to promote local events; and acting as master of ceremonies for countless organizations. Further, Bob held the title of Honorary Mayor of Tarzana, CA; was a member of the Tarzana Chamber of Commerce; and was the Tarzana Senior Ambassador of Good Will. 
TV Radio Life, October 1958

After he moved from radio to television, Bob continued his charitable contributions, volunteering with the U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network, the Cystic Fibrosis Fund Drive, and the Arthritis and Rheumatism Foundation Telethon, as well as hosting the United Cerebral Palsy Telethon on a regular basis.

And the list goes on. To author Johna Blinn, he stated, “One year, I made over 265 personal appearances.”

True, making such appearances goes with the territory of being a radio personality and celebrity. But Bob jumped at every chance, rarely turning down requests from the community or those in need to help out whenever he could.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bob Crane – Radio Legend

While it is generally well known that Bob Crane “got his start” in radio before he became known as Colonel Hogan on Hogan’s Heroes, what is not as widely known is how instrumental he had been in shaping the world of broadcasting. Innovative, cutting edge, and way ahead of his time, Bob Crane has been called a “genius” in radio by those who worked with him and knew him well.

His work spans several decades:

  • April 1950 (est.) to February 1951 (est.) – WLEA, Hornell, NY (also program director)
  • February (est.) 1951 to April 1951 – WBIS, Bristol, CT (also program director)
  • April 1951 to August 11, 1956 – WLIZ/WICC, Bridgeport, CT (also program director and Junior Achievement advisor)
  • September 3, 1956 to June 1965 – KNX-CBS Radio, Los Angeles, CA
  • 1967-1968 – U.S. Armed Forces Radio Network
  • 1973 (Spring/April) – KMPC, Los Angeles, CA

Over the years, Bob Crane did things in radio that had rarely, if ever, been done before, such as getting special dispensation from the engineers’ union to spin his own records and talking over a record track to introduce the song. Advertisers paid top dollar for airtime to have their products “roasted” by Crane, and celebrities clamored for the chance to be interviewed by him. Further, everything he did on the air was spontaneous. Nothing was rehearsed. With his unique style of humor and entertainment (that included his music and drumming talents), as well as his drive, ambition, and cheerful character, Bob Crane can be credited for paving the way for radio personalities and disc jockeys for generations to come.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee did not open voting to the public for the 2011 Class. For more information about Bob Crane's nomination and our efforts for 2012, please click here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Commercial Break - Canada Dry Soda; Pall Mall Cigarettes 1962

While you’re waiting, kick back and enjoy some…commercials?

Bob Crane never just played commercials, however. He played with them, choosing to make them a part of his show rather than a break from it. At times rolling out ten commercials in ten minutes, his audience stayed glued to the dial to hear what “zany” thing he would do next, and station sponsors kept coming back for more.

1. Canada Dry Soda Radio Spot
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
March 9, 1962

2. Pall Mall Cigarette Radio Spot
Bob Crane Show / KNX-CBS Radio
March 9, 1962

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bob Crane

Radio personality and actor Bob Crane is being considered as a nominee for induction into the 2011 National Radio Hall of Fame.

More information will be available soon. Stay tuned…

IMPORTANT NOTE: The National Radio Hall of Fame Steering Committee did not open voting to the public for the 2011 Class. For more information about Bob Crane's nomination and our efforts for 2012, please click here.