Wednesday, March 09, 2016

The Matinee Merry-Go-Round

That comic above appeared in the June 23rd 1945 issue of Billboard magazine. It was part of a half-page column advertisement plugging ad time on 850 WJW-AM. The following text bragged that Cleveland was the nation's seventh largest and 5th richest radio market. In the subsequent half century, Cleveland has slipped to #31 in size, And in Household median income there's presently #23 behind Salt Lake City. Ouch.  More here.

The Matinee Merry-Go-Round of course is long gone, but it existing briefly in 1945. It appears in radio schedules in newspapers in 1945. It's in December, October and September issues of the Daily Times. It's in a July issue of Broadcasting the same year. But in the 1947 Radio Annual we find out first clue. In a list of writers available for hire was Charles Hunter beside the call sign WJW and the program name "Matinee Merry-Go-Round." But a February 1946 issue of Broadcasting Magazine that this was also the return of Mr. Hunter. He had been serving in WWII with a tank unit. (ETO is an abbreviation for European Theater of Operations.)
But how long was the program on air? WJW was a proud member of the NBC Blue network in 1945. Was this program syndicated?  The 1940-1941 issue of the Variety Radio Directory lists a program of the same title on KTSM. And a 1949 issue of Billboard notes that Rome Hartman has taken over Bob Mackey's daily Matinee Merry-Go-Round on WIRK in West Palm Beach. It's even listed on a channel 6 KOTV advertisement. Just to get absurd, the BBC home service was also running a Matinee Merry-Go-Round, these seem to be re-broadcasts of the Light Programme.

So outside of about 2 years on WJW the nature of this program is unclear. But we do know a bit more about Charles Hunter. In 1941 he was just an announcer on WJW, and the June issue of Broadcasting announced that he had been drafted. It also noted that he was from Akron, OH. So his return in 1946 followed a 5 year military deployment. He was either hired as or promoted to Program Director. He was still in the role in March of 1950, but there was no sign of the Matinee.