Radio Just around the Corner, Say Col. Stoopnagle and Budd by Col. Stoopnagle

            Easter is past, and I wonder if I could interest anyone in a nice, used lily named Urpquirp.  No?  Very well, then, I guess I’ll have to kick the poor thing around until it’s lost.

            I take back what I said the other day about not liking Baltimore.  That was just a gag, anyway.  No, I think Baltimore is the finest city in the United States, practically.  Between shows here at the Century the other day, a very kindly gentleman took Budd and me out to Grant’s tomb and then over to the Miles Standish Monument, where the good old Pilgrims landed so many, many years ago.  Or was it the Puritans?  Well, anyway, the food here is grand and the people are grander.  The only thing I don’t understand are the alleys.  I’ve never seen so many alleys in one city in my life.  Baltimore seems to be up to its neck in alleys.  But they afford an easy way to avoid busy corners and they’re dandy for keeping buildings apart.

            Sunday, Budd and I and our manager, Uncle Nelson Hesse, flew back to New York for our regular Sunday night broadcast over the Dixie network.  It was great.  The front end of the plane (bow, to you) was in New York just as the tail was leaving Baltimore.  At least it seemed that way, we flew so fast with a crack pilot named Herman.  “My gracious goodness,” I was heard to say to myself.  But nobody was listening, so we’ll let the thing drop for the present. 

Two Days Later

            I have been asked to delve slightly into the past and make some insignificant remarks about the future of radio, if any.  I remember well my first conversation regarding radio.  It was during the flood of 1916 (or was it some other year?) as I was floating majestically up the Mississippi on a raft with four Hawaiians named Joe Cook.  There were also several nearby cows.  I turned to one of the cows and said: “Ethel, won’t it be wonderful, in 1932, we’ll say, when you and I can sit in our respective living rooms, turn a gadget of some sort and hear music and other entertainment coming out of thin air?”  Ethel didn’t give me a tumble and the four Hawaiians didn’t understand English either, so my remark was sort of wasted.  However, as far as I know, that memorable occasion goes down in contemporary history as the first time radio was ever mentioned.  And as most of us know, the term has been used several times since.  So you can readily see that I was really the Jules Verne of radio.  I was a pioneer.  So, it’s no wonder that the greatest of the present-day radio engineers beat a path to my door to call on me to solve so many of their more important problems.  One of them called me, collect, just the other day from Crawling-on-the-Hudson with a puzzle to do.  He said, in part: “Here am I coming to you again for an answer, Colonel, when my brother engineers have failed me.  Is it best to pour the coffee into the cup first or should I put the cream and sugar in and then pour the coffee in?”  And after but a second or two, I said: “Professor, I’d use my own judgment, I think, in a case like that.”  Well, the rest is history. 

From Past to Future

            That about fixes up the past, I guess, and so now let’s take a quick look at the future.  There is a little stout girl named Kate Smith who looks promising to me.  She has quite a bit of personality.  In a year or two I think she’ll be right up there, what with the proper publicity.  And then there’s Amos ‘n’ Andy, too, and Alex Gray.  They are singers with a touch of a tear in their voices.  It looks as though in another five years or so they will be among the topnotchers, too.  That’s enough about artists for now.  As far as radio itself is concerned, I really think it is around the corner.  Some day you’ll be able to turn off programs you don’t like without even moving your hand.  You will just nod your head or wiggle your left ear and the crooner will stop.  Or the “comedian.”  “Won’t that be peachy fun?” as Sam, the fun-loving Rover boy, said to Dick, the older of the two.

            Budd and I are often asked the rather pointed question: How do you like vaudeville?  And our answer is, invariably, that we do like vaudeville.  We like the people in vaudeville and everyone connected with its presentation.  In radio I have to write a new show every time we go on the air.  In vaudeville, we can do the same one over and over again.  You’d think, then, that we’d make the vaudeville act a good one, under the circumstances, wouldn’t you? 

Oh, Girls, Look

            Before I sign off, I’d like to show you a fan letter we just received.  It is signed Hortense and reads as follows:

            Dear Colonel and Budd:

            Knowing full well of your ability to help people, I am writing to tell you my girl friend and I were out with two of the handsomest men we have ever met.  They took us to a night club and danced divinely with us, and then just as suddenly as we had met them they disappeared.  Really, they were so good looking and so gentlemanly that we hate to lose their friendship.  I am sure we did nothing nor said anything to hurt their feelings.  What would you do under the circumstances?

            Your devoted listener,


            Answer: Sorry, Hortense, but Budd and I had to hurry back to the theater for the last performance.

                        COL. LEMUEL Q. STOOPNAGLE


[NY Post, 1932]


Page created November 15, 2006.  Copyright 1998-2006 by Richard D. Squires.