Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Voice of Experience

Marion Sayle Taylor was the voice of experience. More specifically it should be said he was the host and narrator of the program "The Voice of Experience." Whether it was intended or not, it became his pseudonym. It was an advice program of sorts, that first aired on WOR-AM in 1932. People found the program inspirational. In the Great Depression... hope sold well. Maybe it was his booming voice or delivery, or that earnestness. The content was almost confessional in nature, some written by him, but mostly it was built on the letters from his listeners.

It was picked up by CBS in1933. They carried the 15-minute program six days a week at noon (plus 8:00 PM on tuesdays) the first year then just weekdays (and Sundays at 6:45) into 1936. NBC carried it for a year, then Mutual for another, finally cutting it to 3 days a week in 1938. Born in 1888, He was at least 50 when the program ended it's run. He only lived another 4 years. More here. Marion's personal story sounds like it was written by a publicist. He was an organist, studying to become a surgeon then his career was tragically cut short when a car wreck crushed his hands. That may or may not be true. The book Golden Throats, Silver Tongues by Ray Poindexter corroborates some of the more implausible claims.

He was born in Kentucky, the son of a minister. He was an organist at the Worlds'd Fair in St. Louis 1904. He attended William Jewell College in Liberty, MO and at least enrolled at Pacific University near Portland. There was an accident of some kind, and he was studying medicine at Pacific U. He was later a social worker in Seattle and saw a lot of hard living. He instead became a teacher in North bend Oregon, later on he was lecturer on human behavior and then a debater on christian fundamentalism. In 1925 he took that act on the air at an unnamed Spokane radio station. There were only two in 1925, so if the date is accurate it had to be KFIO-AM or KFPY-AM. It's sort of moot since they were a dayshare on 1130 kHz. Peter Bellanca at The Illustrated Press wrote that it was in San Francisco. They can't both be right and I lean toward Spokane because of the time line.

He fit in well at radio and lectured on many more stations. He began buying airtime and holding public meetings. In 1928 he trademarked "The Voice of Experience" and began looking for a home for the advice radio program he imagined. WOR took him on and the mail came pouring in, literally tens f thousands of letters a week. In 1935 he tried to repackage the program as a magazine. That didn't go anywhere.  But everything else did well.  He built an advice empire with pamphlets, quack medicines, dubious sexual aids, books and short films. More here. He made possibly a million dollars a year at that point and donated large sums to charity. Little is written about the end of his career. it is unknown whether he retired or his program ended.