10/26/2012 12:03 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A 1953 CBS Radio Sales Presentation

In one corner of my basement archives, there is a large stack of tapes I bought two or three years ago, which have proven especially fascinating, to the point that I'm deliberately parceling them out to myself, as sort of periodic "gifts" of really special listening. These are media tapes, many of them raw audio from television or film, and most of those having something to do with the CBS networks.  I previously shared a tape of Howard K. Smith and Sen. Albert Gore, Sr., from this same collection (which contains a lot of Howard K. Smith tapes). 

Today's tape is different from the others that I've listened to in that it is the soundtrack for a film, specifically, a film meant to drum up advertising business for CBS radio. There are enough moments of background music, and even a few sound effects, to make it clear that there was a visual element to this presentation. And this tape is undoubtably the final raw source tape for the soundtrack -- there are upwards of 50 splices in the tape, where various recorded elements were stitched together from what were probably multiple takes, some of which are visible in the scan of the tape. There's even a cut in the middle where a very non-announcer-like voice tells us that there would be a switching of film reels. 

It's an interesting presentation, even without the visuals. After a brief, catchy introductory piece, there is a lengthy discussion of how prosperous America has become in the last 15 years (and I'm sure those who were in abject poverty in 1953, and/or fighting racism would love to hear how the country was one big middle class at that point, with very few people living at the fringes). It ties this in with the increased buying power of Americans. Then it moves into the sales pitch.

I was sort of fascinated by the fact that although the subject becomes RADIO at about the six-minute point, the word "radio" is not mentioned until more than three minutes later (although there are clips from radio programs, and there may have been many visuals of radios, of course), and even more interested in the fact that CBS is not mentioned until about 3/4 of the way through, and initially, it's mentioned as an example of a network, rather than the focus of the presentation. 

The presentation concerns itself largely with the omnipresence of radio in the country, its varied uses and its mobility, and finally, the value of advertising on radio, versus print or television, especially the lower cost for what had been proven to be greater audience attention. There is a funny series of short ads for a fake hair care product in the mix, too.

An odd point is made about CBS having "more of the top 29 programs than all other networks combined", which made me wonder if that "more" number was 15, making the more typical statement, which would be about the top 30 shows, impossible. Or perhaps there were only 29 network shows left by 1953 -- whether the CBS honchos knew it or not, national radio programming of the sort being promoted here was quickly leaving our world. Before the end of 1957, the very last radio network comedy show (Stan Freberg's masterful half-hour) would go off the air, and by 1960, there were precious few dramas, and few, if any, variety shows. 

A 1953 CBS Radio Sales Presentation (Film Soundtrack) (MP3)  | Tape (JPG)  | Tape Box (JPG)