Tuesday, October 06, 2009

The Goodwill Hour

The Goodwill Hour had nothing to do with Goodwill thrift stores. It has to do with a high-school drop-out, a taxi driver named Lester Kroll. He had two sons and as a handle for his radio program, he combined them and became John J. Anthony.

John J. Anthony was everything Kroll was not. John had three university degrees, including one from an all-women's college. In 1927, Lester became an announcer and a disc Jockey. But it was John who started the Goodwill Hour. It began in 1932 as a 30-minute talk program, possibly  the first advice program of any kind. He offered advice and counseling on domestic problems. It was loosely based on a radio show called the Goodwill Court. (which I'll cover another day.) WMRJ-AM closed it's doors in 1932 forcing Lester to take his show to WGNY-AM.

It's no surprise that The Goodwill Hour moved to WMCA in 1937. They had run the Goodwill Court in the first place. Why not pick up the spin-off? John's ratings took off and his program moved to WOR-AM and was syndicated on the Mutual Network. The program was renamed "John J. Anthony Hour." He moved out to California and continued the program out of KFRC-AM in San Francisco until 1953. The program was a dramatic favorite with an audience primarily of women. Hooper consistently gave it a 2.5 rating. Callers admitted to infidelity, the urge to kill people and even that they had killed people. No names were ever used. He did milk the success of the program to write a marriage help book... Ironically he was a divorcee who'd once been jailed for failure to pay child-support. He died in 1970.