|LOCAL PITTSBURGH RADIO
After studying at a broadcasting school called Microphone Playhouse, Bill began his broadcasting career on WWSW, a tiny Pittsburgh station, early in 1938. He was a frequent, though unpaid guest on the station's overnight request show, called the 1500 Club. He joined the payroll that summer, and his staff duties included news and sports, as well as routine announcing and platter spinning.
He was the announcer on an audience participation show called Have You Got It? for Walt Framer, who would go on to become a successful radio and TV producer in New York. He also worked with sportscaster Joe Tucker on coverage of Pittsburgh Steelers football games and Pittsburgh Hornets hockey from 1940 to 1943.
Bill eventually moved to the larger Pittsburgh station KDKA, where his duties included hosting a local variety show. In 1944, he moved to New York where he almost immediately became a CBS staff announcer.
WNEW July 2 to August 17, 1951
This was a half-hour of talk and record spinning, heard Monday-Friday at noon on a local New York City station. According to Variety, "Cullen has gotten together a delightful line of chatter, most if it inconsequential, but amusing." Possibly more inconsequential than amusing, it folded after only five weeks.
|IT HAPPENS EVERY DAY
CBS, June, 1952 to Fall, 1953
Mutual, Fall 1953 to February 1955 (or so)
This five-minute morning
featured funny and unusual news items submitted by listeners.
shared hosting duties with Arlene Francis, and the two traded stories
a fast pace. We have two episodes, the only two episodes of this series
that we know to exist. One is from November 3, 1952 and the other
is an undated CBS episode. In addition, we also have an audition
record that Bill and Arlene recorded. In this slightly different
version, the two quoted from notable newspaper columnists of the day.
The series was first heard on the CBS network in spring, 1952 on Saturday afternoons following Fun For All, another Cullen/Francis collaboration sponsored by Toni. It quickly became a daily affair from 4:00 to 4:05pm. In January, 1953 it was moved to 3:55pm. As with so many radio shows of the era, it's hard to tell exactly when the series moved from CBS to Mutual, but our best information suggests it was some time in the fall of 1953. When the show moved to the Mutual network, it was heard at 8:55am and sponsored by Block Drug Company. (Thanks to Kenneth Johannessen for much of this information!)
|NATIONAL RADIO FAN
NBC, Friday nights, c1955-56
The NRFC was a Friday
of live and recorded music, featuring young rising stars as well as
performers. A March, 1956 issue of Hit Parader magazine
Bill as the new "Chairman" of the NRFC, which appears to simply mean
he hosted this weekly program. Young fans could write in, not only to
a member of the NRFC but to choose a radio personality whose specific
they wanted to join. Despite his published views on rock music
Pulse), Bill promoted the
as as enthusiastically as the established talents on the show.
NBC, Fall, 1956
Bill indulged his interest in sports by working for NBC radio as a play-by-play announcer for Army football games in 1956. Marty Glickman was his partner for those games. Bill had also covered sports in his early days in local Pittsburgh radio, and in 1966 he joined Jim Simpson on the sports anthology series NBC Sports In Action.
|STARS FOR SUMMER
NBC, July 10 to August 14, 1957
This six-week series seems to be very similar to the next two listed below, though all we know about it is the brief Variety review and an impressive list of guest stars that included Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, Rosemary Clooney and Tony Martin. The show was heard on a network and was twenty-five minutes long, but other than those two details, everything about it sounds like it was packaged identically to the two shows below, right down to exclusive sponsorship by a governmental body (U.S. Savings Bonds).
|THE NATIONAL GUARD
Syndicated, Summer, 1962?
Also known as All-Star Salute, this was a series of fifteen-minute variety shows, each hosted by Bill and each featuring one guest performer. The guest roster included Andy Williams, Tony Bennett and Gisele MacKenzie. We have four episodes and we know of at least two others. None of our material shows any dates for the series, but based on musical selections and guest stars, we're guessing they were heard in the summer of 1962. Ads included within the program are all for the National Guard.
|FLIGHT PLAN FOR MUSIC
Syndicated, Summer, 1963?
Very similar to The National Guard Summer Show above, this one was sponsored by the Air National Guard and was a slightly more elaborately produced show, suggesting it probably came later. We'll guess 1963. We have six episodes and know of at least two others. A less stellar line-up of stars included Joni James, Jill Corey and Helen O'Connell.