FEBRUARY 2021 Magazine | Page 21

Another New York radio-related experience: one day my Dad and I went to a bakery near the El (elevated train). The radio inside the bakery happened to be playing an episode of “Grand Central Station” that my folks had written. The plot was gruesome: a young woman had been strangled with wire inside the chicken coop on a farm. I was afraid to listen. But Dad, whose temperament was gentle and kind – how did he ever write those plots for the radio shows? – told me to listen to the show because “it’s helping to pay our bills.”

In the 1950s, Dad continued his affiliation with NBC. He was hired as a continuity writer at the 50,000-watt station WLW-NBC, in Cincinnati. On-staff for over ten years, he was there in the early 1950s when an unknown writer named Rod Serling (later famous for Twilight Zone) joined the staff. Rod and Dad became good friends, and coauthored a murder mystery, “A Walk in the Night,” that aired on “The Philip Morris TV Playhouse” in 1954, the only time Serling had a coauthor of a TV script.

Another WLW writer, Alan Stern from New York City, and Dad coauthored a mystery that aired on the Colgate TV Theatre in the 1950s.

In 1966, Dad wrote an episode of TV’s “Gunsmoke” that aired – on NBC.

My Dad, an Iowa farmboy, was a brilliant writer. He left college (Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa) a semester before graduation and moved to New York, because he had won first prize in a national contest sponsored by the New York Times, for an original sci-fi play. It was produced in theaters up and down the East Coast.

I delight in regaling friends with tales of early radio, and of Dad’s years at NBC in Cincinnati. One time I was visiting the station, to see a dramatic show being produced. What was unusual about it: an announcer was crawling around on the floor, having deliberately set fire to the other announcer’s script – WHILE HE WAS ON THE AIR! The purpose: to see how the second announcer would react to this unexpected practical joke.

Another time at NBC in Cincinnati, I was waiting in the lobby for Dad to come downstairs so we could go home together. Suddenly a handsome man in a resplendent cowboy suit came up the steps and walked through the lobby – leading a huge, striking horse! They got on the freight elevator and went upstairs to the second floor, to be interviewed on the popular “Ruth Lyons Show.” My Dad was producing that show. Yes…the cowboy and the horse were Roy Rogers and Trigger! Roy Rogers’ real name was Leonard Slye, and he was a native Cincinnatian, with a statue of him downtown.

Hope you’ve enjoyed these reminiscences. Thanks for listening!

Linda Jay is known for being a Lightning-Fast Copyeditor/Copywriter. In 2015, she founded the Petaluma Radio Players, a vintage radio troupe of 30+ actors, musicians, Foley sound effects people, and computer and lighting professionals in Petaluma, California. The troupe  was active until 2018, when funding became scarce. We hope to return to production one day. Please see: www.petalumaradioplayers.com She can be reached at  [email protected] or check out her website: www.wordsbylj.com