OLA ee E The ee of LI'L ABNER as a radio show, from - November 17th, 1939 to December 13th, 1940, was so fabulous in its triumphs and so poignant in its ill-fortune that one acquainted with the titie character's air and newspaper odyseys a

and the radio program's history cannot

swernotice#he parallel. When the first episode rode the NBC Red network on the night of Thursday, November 17th, 1939, LI'L ABNER's parent medium - the United Feature Syndicate strips - had reached a high in the comic strip field. From the Senses of it's beginning in 1935 Al Capp's creation had risen toAleadership which it 3 shared in a see-saw battle with Chic Youngs BLONDIE. . The Sadie Hawking day idea had swept the country: it Rubr- d was celebrated ee P 8 high school societies, and an erent promoted by a Philadelphia newspaper drew a capacity crowd of seventeen thousand people. Close to four hundred newspapers carried the saga of Dogpatch's first citizen. “Such was the high favor of the newspaper feature when the radio version took the air. It was feared by some that the immense popularity of the tie Eh

aht Biase a handicap on tte radio show. They

aad ‘sound the pixyishly robust comedy tola graphically +

by Al Capp's pen, Wk or to find actors who could be instantly when heard, the vocal complement of ‘ber aa -picturés - and recognized as such by all the Aes NG readers. : These fears proved To be groundless. : study of the myriad appeals of the strip by er ee director, and exhaustive auditioning of available actors were rewarded ee ie E E of listeńers that the radio show captured all of the subtle appeak of it's pyinter’ s ink Tap ero tae, Hence, the vast newspaper audience which could so easily have been instantly alienated was instead inherited bythe

yi radio show.

p te

@ubsequent two months much evidence was giren that 5%

ir S performances, added R comic strip to y their pages. : Pa

The radio survey methods, too, reflected the success. Never in NBC's Goatory tad a sustaining serial Suor ai frisen in the Crossley survey listéngs higher than Lee not even the later commercial suecesses Vic and Sade, E Girl ites Don Winslow had done as well in their susta : days. Yet, within the first two months Lith ABNER was eo the air, it had risen to over 2.3. In May of 1940 the Grossley suman placed LI'L ABNER among the leading 3

=

Pay “includes rural communities not caches “In the Hooper Surrey I'L ABNER fared even bertan, be

N JN yeis 6 on. several occasions. ` ; i

the .most damning obstacles. First, since the show on

program was carried by only two stations of the entire « ‘network on all five days of the program week. Listeners of the Gare station were handicapped by the local | omission of as many as three programs in a row. Secondly, : well-established : the stations which carried it had suchqcompetition as Edwin C. Hill, Tom Mix and Orphan Amie. Thirdly, the ` network time LI'L ABNER held was vulnerable to many =

cancellations for news broadeasts during the frequent

war crises.

“from children and adults, intellectual and otherwise) -

spoke. toudly in the AEP behalf:

ao the LID ma mail was ever a fascinating and thought-

provoking study. Often ina- single days mail letters CER.

such drastic contrast as these turned up:

tae radio comedy so badly UeRA Tee on ace all ae such programs. It's fantasy never sinks to the sickeningly maudlin AvA. Milne level. It's melodrama. is delightfully tongue-in-cheek, yet its sincerity is. x unimpeachable. .. "

Texas correspondent x A = _ From an mhe- year ore- < . I like Little Abner

“years old.

x

From a prošŝessor of radio at Chicago University ae eam me g

ABNER is almost unanimonsly regarded as having no equal

Then letterSo8 thi è sort - at once pathetic and comic:

x ‘From a woman in Kentucky ! .. . our station discontinued LI'L ABNER two weeks ago to put on a local program, and ee i > = : Kuan

I want to tell you that my daughter, ten, and my son, eight cried As several Bou Ca n't anything be done BO that : “we can. tare that pine program again? Wheeling is the closest other Station to carry it, and the sone pronior is almost impossible here. If LI'L eee doesn't |

Sara soon my children are going to go back to. aie a

Armstrong and all that rediculous nonsense mee A

? ; : TEE A to the agent affil 3 oe a dad in Californias +. I am Se fo have t Ta

pee

Litt Abner at five o'clock so I can Hear it? eee 3

Other letters, while not worded precisely as these, car; similar messages? They came from successful, intelligent

Saree a fete business men, from unsuccessful, unintelligent men, from 7 bright,sophisticated children, from ordinary, naive einer and on one point they reached a common agreement:

liked LI'L ABNER ;,

‘Of the three letters expressing disapproval - vhe.

received - two were.from persons who ñix objected

the performances of m the actor playing LI'L ABNER and p mta :

the actress playing Daisy Mae- Eta potantecred their Services AEM as performers, in the interest of the show, to remedy the fault. The third letter complained, som Eea U raui that ALAL ABNER was- ie ame

‘educational or instructive. ; ¥ A significant number of letters pointed out that, in -this day of national turmoil ‘and indecision, radio listners appreciate the escape provided by the humor of LI'L ABNER. This is even more true at, the presene moment, and Wiis probably be increasingly true, in the five years to comes: Of the actors who so completely convinced listeners of their comic strip identities - John Hodiac as LI'I Abner, Hazel Dopaeide as Mammy Yokum, Clarence Hartzel Cite = redoubtable Uncle Fletcher of Vic and Sade) as Pappy

Yokum; Hary Young and Laurette Fillbrandt 8 Bei se “3

“$0 resume the es in a resumption of the series. i,

independent producin age ef otterine LI'L ABNER for sale @& use on any

sum owrde of the four networks or on frenecrsprion =e eoee the

ness which foresséalled NBC efforts to sell the E ET show, (1) the arbitrarily arrived-at and axceadive s price, and (2) the Se to clear satisfactory network time.

To those who study the formidable record of the comic ae strip and theyradio show little doubt can exist as to. $ at the ability of LI'L ABNER 86 WIN, hold, and please radio $ i listeners = and-of the benefit bb a Uo ikea mno Sesa : er k the selling of his product to this ow of unlimited”

appeal. ES LI'L ABNER's appeal is not limited ` am bp any classification of listeners, either of youth or

lack. of gene? of wealth or lack of wealth, of intelligence

sor lack of it, the variety of Hogei of services which-coul such a offered by the sponsor JE procren is the most widely

ae diversified possible.

& Tooy “an inovation giongonss by the-builder of the E- : programsstyle makes it possible to present the commercial

message in the most conspicuous way, The fifteen minutes = i : is*divided in three sections of unequal Length (as máy .

be seen in the scripts submitted) - the three scenes mmm: se ces

capturing the suspense of the previous

ting three panels in a comic strip- The

= first scene,

episode 's and carrying it on, is followed By the commercial

announcement and recapitulation. The Sséond scene, or

the Sa scene, which developes and a Qduak a

A &susponse that will bring the listener back on eee

following day. Hence,onze cannot nba sentally å ignore the commercial Caa it.is inextricably part of the dramas stream. ; i 0

Thes, then is the conclusion that is inescapable:

whom he comes in association and in ‘opposition, are destined to play an entertaining part in-the lives of í a vast number of radio listeners, 9k The commercial. benefit accruing to his sponsor undoubtedly will be j

enormous.