Monday, June 29, 2009

Victory Six Radio Hour

The Victory Six Radio Hour was one of radio's earliest variety shows. It began in January of 1928, pre-dating many better-known programs but this one was not a series. It was an irregular set of radio specials. The second show didn't run until March of the same year. The March program had a similar line up with the Whitman Orchestra again and an appearance by Will Rodgers.

The NBC radio Network premiere of The Dodge Brothers Victory Six Radio Hour featured Al Jolson, Will Rogers, Dorothy Stone, and the Paul Whiteman Orchestra. The show was broadcast out of WEAF-AM and this ad was "retransmitted to the world. I don't have a complete list but it includes: KOMO, KGW, KNG, KGO, KPO, KFI, KSL, WSB, KOA, KPRC, WSMB, WJAX, WMC, WFAA, KVOO, WSM, WBT, KSD, WDAF, WOW, WHO, WSAI, WOC, WCCO, WTMJ, WWJ, WTAM, WCAE, WHAM, WLIT, WBAL, WRC, WEEI, WCSH, WJAR, WTAG and certainly others... Great post here and here

The show was named for the Dodge model Victory Six. The line was introduced in January 1928 right alongside the radio program. The car cost $1,095 dollars and was heavily advertised by the Dodge Brothers. The Victory Six had an innovative monopiece body/frame design where the seats attached directly to the frame lowering the center of gravity and improving the handling. it also reduced the overall weight by 175 lbs improving acceleration and performance.

In 1927 George Harrison Phelps had been hired to promote the Victory Six. Dodge was not doing well and needed a PR campaign for the Victory Six. He hired PR man Edward Bernays to help. Bernays thought that they should focus on radio over newspapers. Dodge spend $67,000 on the radio show. The buzz got them free publicity in the newspapers.

The downside was that the car didn't sell. For the Dodge brothers sales had been falling in 1927. As a result their stock price began falling. Owner Clarence Dillon sold the company to Chrysler. The buyout made consumers nervous, but Chrysler confirmed publicly they were not closing Dodge dealerships nor ending the brand. Sales in 1928 grew 11.5%. But was that all the Chrysler talking points... or was some of that very effective radio advertising?