Radio’s Most Essential People Countdown: #36-#34

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36) Red Skelton-

Red SkeltonThe comedian best known for creating characters such as The Mean Widdle Kid and Clem Kadiddlehopper began first on radio before he hit television.  He was discovered by Rudy Valee and his first major starring role in radio came on Avalon Time in 1939, and then in 1941 he landed his own titular program which he would maintain until 1953 (with the exception of service in World War II before leaving radio for good for the new frontier of television. Skelton’s comedy affected the wider culture as character catch phrases like, “We dood it” entered the popular lexicon. Skelton at times was a challenger to Bob Hope in the ratings numbers, as he remained popular at radio’s zenith. In addition to his legendary style of comedy, Skelton’s program served as a launching pad for the career of two promising younger named Ozzie and Harriet.

35) Glenn Miller

The great band leader was responsible for such hits such as, “Midnight Serenade” and “Chatanooga Choo Choo” made a great impact on radio in his all too short life. Miller was just beginning to enjoy his success. In 1938, his career took a turn and for four years he was a rising star in music. However, in 1942, the war hit  Miller could have avoided military service. At 38, he was too old to be taken to the draft. However, he opted to enter the Army with the full time passion of bringing the highest quality music to American Servicemen. He led the AAF orchestra and the fruits of his efforts can be heard in the program I Sustain the Wings. He performed more than 800 times in England in 1944.  Tragically, Major Glenn Miller’s plane disappeared over the English channel and music and radio lost one of its truly great stars.

34) Norman Corwin

Corwin wrote some of the most important and memorable radio writers. He was known for great stories written around the time of World War II such as We Hold These Truths and On a Note of Triumph but he was more versatile than that. He could be whimsical as in his pla The Plot to Overthrow Christmas” and downright absurd as he was in “Murder at Studio One.”  He could turn write epic adaptations of Old Testaments stories or muse on the foibles of modern man. He was a poet and one of those who utilized the medium of radio in ways that were unique to medium. Corwin touched the hearts and souls of Americans in ways that no other radio writer did.

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