Sundays With Snyder Number 29 - Jerry Lewis

Hey – we’re live again! And, depending on how you look at it, we’re either about 24 hours late… or six days early with this.

Jerry LewisOf course, at the moment, our post headlines are still too big, the pictures aren’t all in yet, and the rotating images in the header have nothing whatever to do with the content of this blog. But those aren’t reason enough to delay new posts.

It’s March 15, 1995 – Jerry Lewis’s 69th birthday, and he’s appearingĀ  on Broadway in Damn Yankees, which is damn ironic, because major league baseball has been closed down by a strike.

Hoist a colortini for Bryan Olson – this is from his collection of CBS shows.

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Sundays With Snyder Number 28 - Our Gang's Spanky McFarland

After 27 consecutive weekly Sundays presenting Tom Snyder’s The Radio Show, Isn’t Life Terrible ran out of raw material (i.e., no more cassettes in the collection) and it appeared we had reached the end of the road.

But turn, if you would, toward St. Paul, Minnesota and tip your hat, send good karma, and make a toast with your very next Colortini to Bryan Olson, a Video Producer at Real Life Video who also saved tapes of Tom Snyder’s Radio Show. Bryan kindly offered to share his programs with us, and he’s put time and effort into getting them here in the proper format.

Bryan, speaking for all of us who appreciate good radio, great interviews, and the unique perspective and presence of Tom Snyder… we’re in your debt.

The first program from Bryan’s collection dates from May 30th, 1989, when Tom welcomed George “Spanky” McFarland, star of the Hal Roach (and later, MGM) Our Gang Comedies. (At right, a sad Spanky sports his signature chapeau in the company of fellow Hal Roach star Charley Chase). Spanky started his movie career at age three and appears in many of the Gang’s best shorts as well as its only feature, General Spanky.

Bryan removed the commercials from the hour-long segment. It’s priceless.

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Sundays With Snyder - Number 5

The television business I know is over. Gone. Kaput. Finiti.
- Tom Snyder March 27 2003

June 26, 1992.

John Gotti’s in jail. Roe versus Wade has been challenged. Murphy Brown has been challenged, too, by Dan Quayle, who doesn’t like the single character deciding to have a baby. Meantime, there’s a real newswoman in Boston who’s doing the very same thing.

A bunch of guys are riding around in the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile documenting Roadside America – including places like Carhenge - Stonehenge recreated with half-buried used cars.

And Tom decides to write his very own version of The Vermont Teddy Bear commercial.

A complete 3-hour Radio Show which runs just under two hours in this version without most ads and newsbreaks. A good one.

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Sundays With Snyder – Number 4

Snyder’s career began in Milwaukee in the 1960s as a radio reporter. He then moved into local television news and anchored newscasts in Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York before moving to late night.

Paul Friedman, a senior executive at CBS News who worked with Snyder on local news in New York, said he was a first-rate newswriter. He’d “read all the wire copy and then throw it away and write the story, quickly, in his own conversational, made-for-broadcast style. It always worked,” Friedman said.
Ed Hookstratten, Snyder’s longtime agent, said Snyder was one of the best local anchors in the country, but he loved interviewing “and always wanted his own hour. He loved to dig down and do his homework on whoever his guest was.” – Article in USA Today, 7/31/2007

This is our fourth Sunday With Snyder: every Sunday, ILT “rebroadcasts” Tom Snyder’s ABC Radio Show.

Tonight: September 4, 1992: Lawyer Melvin Belli (partial; joined in progress) and TV Guide Editor Anthea Disney.(NOTE: This is a new, significantly expanded file added on Dec. 21, 2009 which includes segments that had been missing).


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Sundays With Snyder – Number 3

As a young man I attended Marquette University. I never did graduate, which nearly broke my Mom and Dad’s hearts. I was short ten credits because some professor claimed I copied another student’s book report. This professor had a morning class and an afternoon class. I was in the morning session, the other student in the afternoon. I never met him. Or her. I tried to convince the guy that if we were both reviewing the same book, as turned out to be the case, our reports would be similar. He didn’t buy it and flunked me. I was a senior and so pissed off I moved to Savannah, Georgia to start my television work. – Tom Snyder, April 9, 2003 (Picture: TS in bit part on The Rifleman, 1961 – From Videowatchdog)

This is our third Sunday With Snyder: every Sunday, ILT “rebroadcasts” Tom Snyder’s ABC Radio Show.

Tonight: August 26, 1992: Making Schools Better with Larry Martz and British Entertainer Des O’Connor. Tom’s hour with Des O’Connor is terrific.


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Sundays With Snyder – Number 1

In 1987, Tom Snyder filled-in as occasional guest host on Larry King’s Mutual Radio show. He enjoyed the work and was good at it.

In 1988, the ABC Radio Network gave Tom his own nationally syndicated call-in program. Known simply as “The Radio Show,” it ran for three hours every weekday night for five years. The first hour was usually a news maker or political guest; hour two featured someone from the field of entertainment, and the third hour, the “nightside” hour, was “…you and TS, all alone on the telephone.”

This wasn’t confrontational radio. It wasn’t partisan political radio. It was simply the world filtered through Tom Snyder’s intellect. He was sympathetic to guests and callers alike, connecting on a basic, “common sense” level. When common sense seemed an impossible goal, Tom would give an exasperated “Sheesh!” Not “Sheesh, this person is ridiculous,” but rather “Sheesh, how far am I going to have to go in order to have a conversation?”

It was easy-going and personal. Tom would swap stories with guests rather than formally interview them. It almost didn’t matter who the guest was – listeners tuned in for Tom. Tom gave them great radio.

If these shows are archived somewhere, I haven’t found them. So Sundays With Snyder will be a regular feature here on Isn’t Life Terrible until our finite supply of programs saved on audiocassette runs out. Some shows will be “joined in progress,” some will be incomplete, some will have static, and some will suffer from a buzzing sound generated by a nearby appliance. Others will be screwed up professionally by WICC-AM, the local affiliate, where the board op would frequently miss cues or played two feeds at once. WICC also provided long periods of dead air… but those, like commercials and newscasts, have been cut out. Commercials and newscasts are retained when there’s historic or entertainment value.

Tonight: From Feb. 18th 1992: TS with guest Gloria Steinem. The country is smack dab in the middle of a recession, and it’s the day of the New Hampshire primary when Tsongas beat Clinton and Bush beat Buchanan. (We do not know how provocatively TS was dressed for this show).


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Together, We Can Beat This Thing

History repeats itself.

This recession-themed sixty second spot from WICC-AM is from June, 1992… but it could have been recorded yesterday.

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Sweet and Lovely and First Generation

A few days ago, iTunes was featuring old time radio broadcasts as free podcasts from Humphrey/Camardella Productions. In fact, they still are; I just wandered over to the iTunes store and sure enough, the huge old-time-radio button is still on the podcast page.

Humphrey/Camardella Productions are the people who bring you Boxcars 711 old time radio (it’s also free) and they can be found in my list of “great listening sites” in the sidebar at right. I’ve loved the free programs I’ve listened to at the Radio 711 site, so I subscribed but the podcasts through iTunes were of disappointing quality – muffled, indistinct… you know that sound, like listening through a wet sponge. I unsubscribed quickly. Don’t know what the issue is – theoretically the exact same feed – but I’m going to stick to the Radio 711 site.

The problem, of course, is that as listeners, we wind up hearing somebody’s copy of some other person’s copy of another person’s copy of the copy of a copy that was originally made from… well, who knows? It might have been recorded off the radio by a home enthusiast, and if that’s all that’s available, we should consider ourselves lucky to have anything.

However – Radio Archives is an outfit that deserves your attention and patronage. Yes, it’s on CDs, and yes, it costs, but even in this day and age of free old time radio on the internet, these CDs are worth every penny.

For their Premier Collection, they only will work directly from original transcription discs, and their release from last month, The Coconut Grove Ambassadors, sounds stunning. I don’t have it yet, but plan on ordering it, based on previous purchases from these folks, and based on the clip you can hear on the page linked above, which has to be the most incredible sounding band remote from this era I’ve ever heard, even in its internet sample.

They have other great first generation recordings and are definitely worth a visit.

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Tom Snyder Radio Shows With Norman Lear And Bonnie Hunt

Here’s why I like Tom Snyder, right here.

The hour he spends with Bonnie Hunt.

Tom Snyder falls head over heels in love with Bonnie Hunt right on the air. You can hear it happen. It can’t be anything else.

And, of course, why not? Bonnie’s beautiful, funny, talented, easy-going… and Tom means no harm; he just lets himself fall completely under her spell, and it’s lovely. Tom and Bonnie recall their respective strict Catholic upbringings, and Tom makes a couple of remarkably intimate and revealing statements about his life and philosophy.

First up is a segment with Norman Lear, followed by some “open phones” calls. The Lear show is from May 29, 1991 and the Hunt show is from April 19, 1992. And no, we never do get to hear how Norman Lear got through to Danny Thomas.

Two shows, both a little incomplete (The Lear segment is joined in progress, as is the Bonnie Hunt interview), but still a treat. Just under an hour and a half in total; commercials have been painstakingly removed. This program will stream in’s audio player, or you can download it.


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That’s The House Up There, Right On Top Of The Stoop

NPR ran a piece on Weekend Edition about Laurel and Hardy’s Music Box steps that answers the question, “What does NPR do when they have an extra couple of minutes to fill and they can’t come up with an idea?” 3m, with Kiefer Sutherland as Ollie, Dame Helen Mirren as Stan, and Scott Simon as the rear portion of Susie.


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