Bill talked about making the move from local Pittsburgh radio to New York City: "I looked at other no-longer-young guys in a deep rut on stations like mine, and said no, I'm not gonna be like this -- even if I starve." When he moved to New York, he hardly starved. He was hired at CBS in less than a month. Not only that, but before being hired at CBS, Bill also auditioned successfully at NBC. There, he was told he would replace Ed Herlihy when the popular announcer joined the Army. Herlihy never did leave for the service, and Bill ended up at CBS.
As was common for staff announcers, he worked for several CBS series at the same time, so a chronological list would be difficult. Therefore, shows are listed alphabetically, along with our best guesses as to when Bill worked on them.
ADVENTURES OF ELLERY QUEEN
June 18, 1939 to May 27, 1948 on various networks and times
Durable detective Ellery Queen was heard on radio for nearly a decade and at one time or another on three different networks. Most reference sources don't mention Bill but there is one listing for an episode dated February 19, 1947 for which he is credited as an announcer. Our guess is that he was filling in for the regular announcer.
ARTHUR GODFREY TIME
THE CONTINENTAL CELEBRITY CLUB
December 8, 1945 to June 29, 1946 (Saturdays at 10:15pm)
A short-lived variety half-hour sponsored by the Continental Can Company. The program was hosted by John Daly, already a respected radio newsman and later the host of What's My Line? The featured performers were comic Jackie Kelk (famous as Homer Brown on The Aldrich Family), vocalist Margaret Whiting and Ray Bloch's orchestra. Each show featured a single celebrity guest, often a dramatic actor who would perform in an original short play and engage in scripted banter with Daly and Kelk. (Lovestruck Jackie routinely swooned over the female guests.) Guests included such popular stars of the day as Ann Rutherford, Diana Lynn and Pat O'Brien.
Bud Collyer filled both their roles for
final couple of months. At least five of the shows with Bill
Two shows survive, sort
Each of the two badly edited recordings lasts only 8-10 minutes,
that the program may have only been a fifteen-minute affair in the
place. Bill's commercials for Toni are all missing (darn it!),
his unmistakable voice opens and closes each show. Surprising (to
us anyway) is that the airdates for Dan Dodge are several years
later than most of Bill's other announcing chores. By the time
show aired, Bill was already a panelist on I've Got a Secret
had several other television credits. It seems odd that he would
return to the relatively lower-profile role of merely announcing a
THE DANNY O'NEIL SHOW
In 1946, the show
expanded to 25
minutes, included guest stars and was conveniently renamed Danny
and His Guests. One reference book lists Bill as the
for both versions of the series. However, we have four episodes
the original series and each of them appear to be introduced by a
announcer. None are identified by name, though one of them is
Bill. Bill's episode is from April 9, 1945, making it one of the
of his work.
FUN WITH DUNN
GIVE AND TAKE
August 25, 1945 to December 26, 1953
John Reed King was the host for this simple but durable quiz game in which contestants chose their own prize from a table, then answered a single question to win it. A "second guesser" (chosen in an elimination round at the beginning of the show) could win any prize with a correct answer to a missed question. Toni sponsored the show from 1946-51, and since Bill did a lot of work for that sponsor, he may have announced during most of that time. Three episodes are known to exist, and the two that have Bill on them are from January and August of 1949. The show also had a brief TV run in 1952.
"Professor" Cullen introduces our host, John Reed King
September 30, 1946 to March 28, 1947 (Monday, Wednesday, Friday 4:30-5pm)
Contestants tried to identify famous lines of movie dialogue to win prizes. In a popular stunt segment, members of the studio audience were selected to take part in a Hollywood Screen Test, performing such stunts as flying to the balcony or reading a part as Lassie. The host was Kenny Delmar, who later gained fame as the voice of Senator Claghorn on The Fred Allen Show.
LAUGH OF THE PARTY
ONE NIGHT STAND
The single listing we have for Bill is for July 6, 1944, from the Hotel Astor in New York City. Tommy Tucker is the bandleader and introduces the songs himself, so Bill is left with little to do. This was almost certainly not the only time Bill announced for the series, but other listings from that time period fail to name any announcer.
Bill's brief introduction, and the oldest recording of him known to exist
THIS IS NORA DRAKE
The announcer's role in
drama such as this one was very important. Between the opening
the commercials at the beginning and end of each show, the recap at the
start of the program and the "tune in tomorrow" epilogue, Bill's
amounted to about a third of the show's brief running time each day!
Nora confronts the Assistant D.A. in this complete episode from 1948
SING ALONG WITH THE LANDT TRIO
Sometimes listed simply as Sing Along (or even Sing-A-Long), and sometimes just known as The Landt Trio this daytime variety show was Bill's second job as an announcer, following Fun With Dunn. Dan, Karl and Jack Landt were among the earliest radio stars. They had a decade-long NBC show that started all the way back in 1928. Their CBS series ran for five years in the early forties, and Bill probably joined the program sometime in late 1944. Bill met his second wife, vocalist Carol Ames, when both were working on this series.
April 2, 1946 to September, 1946
No details are known about Bill's involvement with this variety series, outside of a single reference in a 1952 profile. From vintage newspaper listings, we know the series was an early-evening 15-minute affair. A handful of 1946 episodes exist which do not include Bill. From the episodes that exist, we gather that the program was a fifteen minute daytime affair hosted by Gordon MacRae.
WAITIN' FOR CLAYTON
WINNER TAKE ALL
June 3, 1946 to September 6, 1946
Bill's big break. He started as the announcer for this series when it debuted. Original host Wade Wilson left the show three months into the run (some sources say he was ill, others suggest he was fired) and Bill took over. He continued to work as an announcer on other series for several more years, but this set him on his way as a game show host. See the first listing under QUIZ SHOWS for more information about Winner Take All.