I have so many interests it's mind boggling at times just keeping track of things. In last week's post I talked about my fascination with radio and the desire to work in that field. I always admired the radio actor and the play or performance on the radio. That started, I suppose, when I would visit my grandmother. She was semi-invalid and didn't stray far from her chair next to the huge mahogany box with the glowing green eye that got brighter when she tuned to the radio station she wanted to listen to, usually WGY in Schenectady. It was and is 50,000 watts of AM power and its signal reached most of the eastern seaboard. From an early age, I would hear the stories of Pepper Young's Family, Young Doctor Malone and Ma Perklins coming from her radio. I loved how I was able to create my own images. I didn't have to watch that cathode ray tube that sat in the living room with a black and white screen. I was able to have a full color image. The characters would be as creepy or as beautiful as I wanted them to be. I often think how difficult it must be for the youth of today to do that. Everything is “in their face,” no imagination required.
As a teenager, once I had my own portable radio, I discovered there were some other drama shows being broadcast. However, they all disappeared from the airwaves with the final broadcasts of Gunsmoke, Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. There was a short renaissance from 1974 to 1982 with the CBS Mystery Theater.
Later in life, once the technology presented itself and I was able to buy tape recorders, I started collecting “Old Time Radio Shows.” One voice I always admired was that of Jackson Beck. He introduced each episode of Superman on radio. It was through that hobby that I began attending The Friends of Old Time Radio Convention held annually in Newark, NJ. It was so much fun to mingle, chat and interact with some of the people I had heard on those radio shows. It was at one of those meetings, in October 1982, that I met and had a chance to talk with Jackson Beck. At that time, it was said that Beck was making seven figures doing voiceovers in New York City. Our discussion starts as he is listing the many radio shows he was part of and later in the ten-minute chat he gives some advice to aspiring voice-actors. Jackson Beck died in the summer of 2004 at the age of 92. You can read his obituary here: http://articles.latimes.com/2004/jul/31/local/me-beck31
Next week: The Voiceover Bakery