Many old-time network radio shows were set in and/or broadcast from San Francisco:
Other shows would visit San Francisco:
I'm searching through these shows and others for references to cable cars. I welcome suggestions.
San Francisco Radio City
The San Francisco Radio City building at O'Farrell and Taylor was built for NBC (the National Broadcasting Company) in 1942. Stations KPO (NBC Red Network, later KNBC, now KNBR) and KGO (NBC Blue Network) were housed there. NBC sold the Blue Network, which became the basis of ABC (the American Broadcasting Company) in 1943. KGO continued to use Radio City until 1954. KNBR moved out in 1967. The building was later used for many years by a UHF television station, KBHK, Channel 44.
The building contained eleven studios. Three were large enough to hold audiences. Many West Coast and national radion programs broadcast from Radio City including Candy Matson.
John Schneider's Voices Out of the Fog has many interesting articles about Radio City, KPO, and other facets of San Francisco radio history.
Thanks to Walter Rice for suggesting this show.
Candy Matson was a green-eyed former fashion model who became a private detective because she had "to maintain a nice apartment on Telegraph Hill, and buy enough clothes to highlight" her attractive "displacement." Her NBC West Coast Network series ran from 1949 through 1951. It was produced at the NBC San Francisco Radio City studios of station KNBC.
In her 07-July-1949 episode, "The Cable Car Case," Candy heads downtown for a shopping trip, "but I couldn't take the F car on Stockton - they were ripping up about 87 blocks, which is par for the course - so I walked down Telegraph Hill and up to Mason. That's where the Bay and Powell cable car stops." She squeezes onto the bench between an Italian lady and a drunk. "The trip as usual was uneventful. Three smashed fenders and several choice words I'd never heard before. I wrote them down. By the time our prairie schooner reached the turntable at Market Street, the crowd on the car had thinned out," but the drunk was still there, apparently asleep. Candy found that he was dead with a bullet through his heart.
During Candy's investigation, she finds that the victim's brother lives in Sea Cliff, at 25 Dashiell Road. This was a tip of the hat to Dashiell Hammett. She gets help from an alchoholic photographer named Rembrandt Watson. Her romantic interest is a police detective named Mallard, who is the subject of several duck jokes.
If you'd like to listen to the show and find out who done it, try the OTR.Network Library, a collection, as of 07-Oct-2006, of 12,326 episodes of 170 different series. Look under the Candy Matson link, or click here.
Jack Benny was a great American comedian. Many jokes on the show made fun of Jack's alleged stinginess. His radio show was almost always one of the highest-rated.
On 09-January-1938, he took his show to San Francisco, where he broadcast from the Western Women's Club (111 O'Farrell Street). Jack's cast members mention the new bridges and Treasure Island, where the fair will open the next year. Jack's wife, Mary Livingstone, read a poem that she had allegedly composed, which includes one of the show's trademarks, an embedded Jello (r) commercial:
San Francisco oft reminds us,
On 30-March-1947, the show returned to San Francisco. I think there are more references
to cable cars here than in 1938 because of the save the cable cars movement.
Later in the episode, Phil Harris' band plays a number. Jack introduces
Mahlon Merrick, the show's musical director, who conducted because Harris was absent.
Jack Benny brought his radio show to San Francisco for three weeks in April and May 1953, while he appeared in a stage show at the Curran Theatre ("At popular prices" -- a running gag).
In the 03-May-1953 episode, Jack talked to bandleader Bob Crosby about how the band was
sightseeing around the city. The activities of Frankie Remley, a guitar player in the band,
were a frequent source of humor.
Later in the show, Jack talked to Mary Livingstone.
Jack: Well, Mary. How are you enjoying yourself here in San Francisco?
In the 10-May-1953 episode, Jack told announcer Don Wilson that "This is my final day at the Curran Theater and I want to thank all the people of San Francisco for making me feel at home. San Francisco is a beautiful city and I hate to leave."
Jack's wife Mary Livingston joins Jack and Don. Don asks if she has had a good
time in San Francisco. Mary says there is so much to do and see.
Mary laughs. Don asks her what is so funny.
The place he got pulled is hard to understand because Mary is breaking up and then the crowd laughs. It could have been Post and Market. Neither makes sense.
Jack: When you read that, I didn't think I was going to get up the hill at all.
Hooked up the hill? (She may have said the wrong word.) Anyway, Mary, I just did
that for a gag.
If you'd like to listen to these shows, try the
OTR.Network Library, a collection, as of 07-Oct-2006,
of 12,326 episodes of 170 different series. Look under the Jack Benny link,
or click one of these links:
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Copyright 2006 by Joe Thompson. All rights reserved.
Last updated 01-Dec-2006