Journalists make good neighbors

This week’s “Betty and Bob” episode, Anita Rusack escapes from her father, finds the journalist couple providing a refuge — and sandwiches — for the young daughter of their neighbor, who apparently went mad after the death of his wife. Hear all about it, in just a dozen minutes or so of vintage radio soap opera.

Next thing you know, they’ll be volunteering to talk-down the armed man.

While it provides plenty of tradional soap opera pathos, this episode doesn’t get the Drakes back to their big city newsroom. That will have to wait until Betty decides whether confronting shotgun-wielding neighbors is the kind of “rest” Bob came to the countryside to get, after the “miracle operation” mentioned a couple of episodes back.

He and Betty and their new friend Chet — a local schoolteacher — have already faced down an angry mob that wanted to lynch the neighbor. If you wonder what any of this has to do with journalism — other than establishing the Drakes as courageous public servants — stay tuned. That means either come back next Wednesday, or use iTunes to subscribe to this page’s RSS feed as a podcast. (You’ll also get any other shows I add to this blog during the week.)

Past episodes:
4. Journalists make good neighbors (this page)
3. Could there be a newsroom romance brewing?
2. ‘There’s Murder in the Air Tonight…’
1. Another journalist named Bob

Reminder: Each episode starts with a couple of minutes of “filler” music that you can fast-forward past. When broadcast, it would have been replaced by a radio commercial.

In fact, although “Betty & Bob” was a 1930s pioneer in the genre that came to be called “soap opera,” I think its original sponsor was General Mills.

“Bisquick opera” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. But this transcribed re-release of the program may have had soap among a variety of sponsors when it was rebroadcast in syndication a decade or so after its original airing. The audio files are dated 1947, presumably from the transcription disc labels, but later episodes have hints that this storyline was first broadcast in the late 1930s.

Some oldtime radio fan (more than one, I suspect) has observed that if the shows had been sponsored by breakfast-food companies, we might call them “cereal serials.”

About Bob Stepno

mild-mannered reporter who found computers & the Web in grad school in the 1980s (Wesleyan) and '90s (UNC); taught journalism, media studies, Web production; retired to write, make music, photograph sunsets & walks in the woods.
This entry was posted in 1930s, 1940s, editors, newspapers, publishers, women. Bookmark the permalink.

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