Reporter had spunk, but soup-opera didn’t last long

Jane Endicott, Reporter — premiere, January 5, 1942: I’ve had this short-lived series  tucked away on my “Soaps and Romance” page, although these adventures of a young woman reporter are not a typical soap-opera or romance series with cliff-hanger episode endings and melodramatic suds.

The series was billed as “the life of a bright and charming American girl in the world of today.” With only two episodes available in free online archives, it’s hard to tell how the series might have evolved — more adventure, more romance, more drama, or what. The two episodes still have plenty of topics for a “media ethics” class to discuss: Story-faking, undercover work, 1940s attitudes toward hiring women, and maybe an office romance brewing.

I’m adding links to both episodes here after a mention of the series by Vic & Sade scholar Jimbo on Twitter. Maybe this post will inspire someone with more information to add a comment or two and point to other sources of “Jane Endicott” knowledge.

Apparently broadcast only on the West Coast in January 1942, the program was sponsored by a regional soup — not soap — company, and its recordings have circulated among old-time-radio collectors long enough to land in the “Singles and Doubles” collection of mixed items at the Internet Archive. To make matters worse, the MP3 recordings have been mislabeled and have been picked up, mislabeling and all, by repackagers who sell recordings.

If the naming error on the first item is corrected, the file may not play correctly until I discover the change and fix my link, but here it is: The first episode, sometimes titled “No Job for a Lady.” (You can download it and rename the “42-01-05xxxBarronElliotandHisStardustMelodies” file yourself, to something like 42-01-05_JaneEndicott_No_Job_for_Lady.)

Jane lands her job by catching the new co-owner of a local paper in enough lies to convince him that she’d be a good reporter. She even has college journalism experience.  She also develops a crush on him, ethically challenged though he might be. They meet when he tricks the guards at her father’s chemical plant into letting him into the building without permission.

The program did have newsworthy issues within its “of course a woman can do the job” plots. The first episode concerns industrial safety; the next is about a possible case of arson. Neither is the standard reporter-detective story with cops-and-robbers action, but more of a journalism-procedural with discussions between the editor and reporters.

Girl Bites Dog, January 7, 1942:The second archived episode, “Girl Bites Dog,” opened with a newsroom abuzz about a dramatic oil field fire, a paper six hours past deadline, and Jane arriving to become woman’s page editor.

“This girl’s no amateur,” the new co-owner tells his partner, the editor. “She was editor of her college daily paper, she’s good.” The editor sends her off on an assignment that turns into another journalism ethics lesson when he tries to trap her with a fake story.

The episodes do have some continuity, although the series is not the cliffhanger-serial type. Identified in the archives as a three-times-a-week 15-minute CBS series was apparently regional and short-lived.

J.David Goldin’s RadioGoldindex.com listing for the Jane Endicott program includes both episodes, but no information about the cast. The announcer is identified as Thomas Hanlon.

The Old Time Radio Researchers have a page ready for more information on  “OTRRpedia”: http://www.otrrpedia.net/getprogram4.php?item=6114

Technical note: Over years of file-swapping in tape and MP3 form, a lot of old-time radio programs are “circulating” online with little or no information about who holds the original radio transcription discs, who digitized them, etc.  Errors get passed along from collector to collector. File names in the Internet Archive seem to have gotten their digital wires crossed between Jane Endicott episodes and both a Walter Winchell Navy Relief broadcast and an episode of “Barron Elliot and His Stardust Melodies.” As of April 2014, the “Bites Dog” episode is properly named at the archive, but a duplicate elsewhere still puts Jane’s name on a Winchell Navy Relief program file, and her debut is still filed as a “Stardust Melodies” show. At least one site distributing oldtime radio files compounds the error by identifying the Winchell MP3 file as a Jane Endicott episode, and claiming that Winchell was part of the program — apparently because the distributor only listened to the first few minutes of the recording, not enough to discover that it was completely mislabeled.

About Bob Stepno

mild-mannered reporter who fell deeper into computers and the Web during three trips through graduate school in the 1980s and 1990s, then began teaching journalism, media studies and Web production, most recently as a faculty member at Radford University.
This entry was posted in 1940s, Drama, editors, ethics, journalism, women. Bookmark the permalink.

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