Approximately 1,100 fans of Ed Walker's "The Big Broadcast" crowded into Lisner Auditorium (at $ 30 a ticket) to attend a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of that OTR series on WAMU-FM and Ed's 24 years of hosting it. It was a diverse crowd of oldsters, young couples and plenty of kids filling the seats of this spacious Washington, DC building.
The event, scheduled for 3 PM on Sunday, Nov 2nd, had to be delayed for five minutes as the ticket holders were still crowding into the lobby. The lobby had opened at 2 PM and the MWOTRC informational table was surrounded by eager patrons, wanting to try the table sound effects and gather up flyers and back issues of RADIO RECALL. Ellen Berney and Joanie Langdon staffed the table and were kept busy answering questions about the club.
Backstage, last minute instructions were given to the cast of "Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar" a 14 minute re-creation by its director, John Abbott, as well as the cast of the 25 minute Lone Ranger parody, written and directed by Jack French. The two groups had been rehearsing at WAMU studios for two weekends and had arrived at Lisner in period costumes, as directed.
In the YTJD cast were: Lawrence Kandrach, Michael Hayde, Chuck Langdon, Sally Stephens, Edgar Farr Russell III, Jeff Whipple and Denis Roma. In the Lone Ranger cast were: Wendy Wilmer, Denis Roma, Patrick Moran, Michael Hayde, Edgar Farr Russell III, Sally Stephens, Mary Whipple. Lawrence Kandrach, and Bert Rude.
Mark and Marsha Bush, who traditionally handle our sound effects for complex productions, did this event also, however Mark was in the hospital for nearly a week and upon his release, was unable to make the performance. Marsha had anticipated this possibility and trained some apprentices to help her with the sound effects, including Joanie Langdon, Bev Rude, Barbara Bonnet, John Abbott, Jeff Whipple, and Bert Rude.
The afternoon's events began with Rob Bamberger, a radio host at WAMU, introducing his long time associate, Ed Walker. The YTJD program immediately followed and the audience applauded their fine production. Ed and Rob introduced Jack French, who with Marsha Bush, gave a well-received 10 minute demonstration of radio sound effects.
Following was a video of Tobey Schreiner and Ed preparing for their weekly 4 hour show, airing OTR programs. Next Rob interviewed Ed for about 20 minutes on his long and impressive radio career. The anniversary celebration concluded with the performance of the Lone Ranger parody, which was interspersed with frequent laughter and ended to great applause for the cast and sound effects crew.
The cast used the vintage microphones of John Holt, the senior engineer at WAMU, who also helped set up the sound system. Tobey also worked on the sound set up and played all the musical cues for both programs.
Everyone agrees it was a remarkable success. Ed Walker emailed the club: "I just wanted to thank you and all the other members of the MWOTRC for the great job you all did yesterday. I know it took a lot of time and you all did a great job. The event yesterday was very humbling for me, and I really appreciate it. Thanks again. "
Rob Bamberger told us: "We did ourselves proud today. It was a splendid afternoon, beginning with the applause for the theme and sound montage, and the waves of affection for Ed from the moment he came out.
People like ourselves are so accustomed to the conventions of the first half of the twentieth century that it's easy to lose track of how unfamiliar it is to others, and how much delight they take in seeing what a broadcast would look like, and how so many illusions were created. You and your troupe(s) put that all across today. So, thanks to you and the Club for joining in creating something memorable for Ed, and the 1,000+ who joined us."
Both John Holt and Tobey Schreiner, professional radio engineers, lauded the club's productions and told us how much they enjoyed it. The two of them hoped they could work with us again on similar projects.
See the links below for pictures of the event taken by our club members and others:
• Rehearsal pictures from John Abbott
• Rehearsal pictures from Denis Roma
• Rehearsal pictures from Sally Stephens
• Event pictures from Anthony Washington, WAMU photographer