Monday, March 24, 2008

Bob & Ray

In their March 24th post, The Probe (an MP3 Blog) reminded me recently of the greatness of Bob & Ray. Thank you Phil Milstein.

Go there download the shows and then read this post. You're just not going to understand what I mean when I use the word "madcap" or "zany." They were an institution. They are probably the only comedy duo to work on every major radio network: ABC, CBS, NBC, and even NPR. They were unstoppable.
Bob Elliot & Ray Goulding met at 850 WHDH-AM in Boston. Bob was a DJ and Ray was a newscaster. Elliot actually arrived at the station first, during WWII, left when he was draftee and returned after his discharge. Bob returned as a morning man, and then Ray got hired as an afternoon guy. They hit it off and visited each others programs.

Soon WHDH picked up the Red Sox franchise. They started doing improv when the games rained out. They never stopped.
The banter was popular enough that they scored their own program in 1946 "Matinee with Bob & Ray." It was more of the improve they'd been honing. They created characters on the spot, hundreds of them. Some returned, many did not. Goulding voiced most of the female characters in a forced falsetto. Bob handled the dullards and they split the rest down the middle. Goulding even recorded a novelty song as a fictional female character for RCA/Victor. they even learned to start scripting and hired a few writers.

In 1951 NBC brought them to New York City to do a daily 15-minute TV program They did five-minute sketches on NBC's Monitor in 1956, their national breakthrough. Then in 1959 started doing a daily program for CBS. In 1962 they went back to radio to do afternoons on 1050 WHN-AM. Then even a brief swing on Broadway.

In 1982 they took on the last great network audience National Public radio. Their listeners are more educated, more savvy and accustomed to pristine production. The Bob & Ray Public Radio Show ran until 1987, tacking final years onto a 40-year career. Goulding died in 1990, and they were inducted into the Radio hall of Fame in 1995.