Sunday, August 18, 2013

Voices from the Past

One of the challenges in making a film about a program that ended over 50 years ago is that the key participants are for the most part no longer with us. In the case of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, that list includes Jack Johnstone, Virginia Gregg and Bob Bailey to name just a few. Thankfully, as befits key players of the radio medium, many of these individuals can still offer their insights thanks to the generation of old-time radio enthusiasts who were able to interview them before they passed away. In particular, researcher John Dunning's interview with Jack Johnstone gives a fascinating glimpse into the process of making radio drama, especially in the period when the distance between the potential of the medium and the networks' apparent regard for it could hardly have been wider. Sadly, there don't appear to be any interviews with Bob Bailey, doubtless because of the stroke he suffered in the 1970s, but Dunning's conversation with Bailey's daughter, Roberta Goodwin, is equal parts fascinating and heartbreaking as she recounts both good times and bad with her father. In a way, these interviews are themselves a vindication of the radio medium - unforgettable stories brought to life in your mind thanks to the power of the human voice.

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