Saturday, December 01, 2007

Adventures in Research

No, not my Adventures in Research. Most of my research is kind of erratic and highly partisan. I refer to Westinghouse's radio series "Adventures in Research". It was a documentary-style radio series from the 1940s that was focused on science and research. Of course, they too are partisan. In one biographical episode they actually lionize George Westinghouse. In another they claim that radio broadcasting began on KDKA-AM.
Slightly self-aggrandizing, but usually informative it was described both as a celebration of "Yankee Ingenuity", and also as a Public Service Program. It ran from The 1942 to 1954 producing at least 75 different fifteen minute episodes. The episode about KDKA is #49596. though inaccurate to a fault, it's recreation the election returns broadcast was great radio. Of course the Adventures in Research program was being created in the studios of KDKA, so that one is perhaps more partisan than any other.


Other topics included rural electrification, Morse code, the telegraph, modernization of agriculture, radio navigation, penicillin and many others. The first programs are more stiff consisting largely of Q&A sessions with Paul Shannon asking the questions, and Dr. Phillips Thomas answering. The later programs included dramatizations that were much more engaging for listeners. It was a wise format change considering the young audience they were aiming for.

Host Paul Shannon was a Pennsylvania native, born near Washington, PA in 1909. He worked at KDKA-AM for years eventually leaving for a gig at WTAE-TV doing children's programming including the locally popular "Adventuretime". Throughout the 1950's and 1960's he continued to do similar shows, hosting reruns of youth-oriented programs. He retired in 1975, and died in 1990. More here.

Thomas was a research physicist for Westinghouse. His position historically is somewhat unclear. He's often sighted in magazines of the day demonstrating electronic gizmos like photoelectric marimbas, and a "vortex gun." He was a real member of the research department but seems to have segued into a spokesperson of some kind.

These programs are available from OTR in a nice CD-R package
http://www.otrstreet.com/adventures_in_research.html
or download some from Archive.org. for free

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