Friday, April 13, 2012

The Cincinnati Old-Time Radio Convention

Lon Clark, Bob Burchett and Parley Baer (L to R)
This weekend (April 13 and 14 to be exact) marks the 26th and final Cincinnati Old-Time Radio Convention held (where else?) in Cincinnati, Ohio. The convention promoters have decided, after 26 fruitful years, to hang up their hats and coats and close the doors to a successful run that is quickly becoming a sign of the times. FOTR closed doors a few months ago and I cannot say the hobby will be the same if this trend continues. One old-time radio convention last year wasn’t going to be held until they received donations and underwriting. With an aging fan base and a declined economy, all of this comes as no surprise. My wife and I attend over 20 conventions a year and, with but one or two exceptions, the attendance at film festivals and nostalgia events have been dwindling by the numbers. Everyone has their theories why this has been happening and I feel certain I’ve heard them all ranging from:

a) The internet killed off the need for vendor rooms.

b) Rising gas prices.

c) The fan base isn’t getting any younger.

Bob Hastings and Dan Hughes
I suspect the real reason is a combination of the above. Most important is number three. There are not enough young people involved in the hobby to ensure the longevity of these events. Thankfully, we have this one last weekend to celebrate in Cincinnati. An annual gathering where fans of a nostalgic bygone era can spend a weekend sharing a common interest. So it seems only fitting that we look back at 26 years of history.

The first annual Cincinnati Old Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention began in the spring of 1987. “Bob Burchett got his inspiration from the Newark convention and it was there that he was able to make the contacts so that we could have guests,” Robert Newman recalled.

Parley Baer, Bob Burchett and Bob Hastings
“I would go to the Friends of Old Time Radio convention every year and come back to give a report to our local radio club,” Bob Burchett recalled. “The question would always come up, why don’t we have a convention in Cincinnati? Nothing ever happened until one year we had a new member join named Jim Skyrm. Jim had some experience with conventions. He found a small motel in Kentucky where we had our first convention… The first convention was held on the same weekend as the Kentucky Derby. Everyone had a hard time finding a room with all of the hotels booked solid. It was the first of many learning curves. Afterwards, we made sure not to book the event on the same weekend as the Derby.”

"They were talking about for a year or two," recalled Jim Skyrm. "I'm one of those people who just sits up and gets the job done so I helped get the first one started. I only helped get the first one off the ground. Bob loved and it and took over for the remaining 25 years."

Barb Davies
The event was held in a small room of a motel in Kentucky, near the airport. There was no record of attendance so the head count totaling the number of attendees cannot be certain. There were a total of 17 dealers. There were no celebrity guests or radio re-creations. But attendees came and one highlight of the weekend was a bit unusual. A member of the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio Club, Don Clayton, had painstakingly made a replica of the Jot 'em Down Store from Lum and Abner. “It was stocked and real so you could go in and jaw with Lum and Abner while you played a game of checkers with Abner,” Newman added.

“I had been going to the Friends of Old-Time Radio for eleven years, so I had made friends with a lot of the dealers,” Buchette explained. “When I asked three of them if they would come to Cincinnati if we had a convention, they said ‘sure.’ Terry Salomonson, Bob Burnham and Gary Kramer were the established dealers who came. Terry set a pattern of arriving late that he has kept up over the years… Gary’s daughter got married one time, and he almost didn’t go to the wedding. Bob missed a few but for the most part all three of them have supported the convention over the years.”

Small tid-bit: The name of the first convention was “The Old Time Radio & Nostalgia Collectables Show” because all there was were dealers. “We put an ad in Antique Week,” Burchett recalled. “An old guy walked in with a cane and said, ‘I drove 80 miles for this.’ A group came in and wanted to know if we had any X-rated stuff. When we told them no, they were disappointed.”

Robert Newman
For the second year, the event moved to the Marriott Inn on Chester Road in Sharonville, Ohio. The purpose of the move was because the hotel in Kentucky was insufficient to hold a convention. Bob Burchett built a good relationship with the hotel staff and the event remained there for many years. (The only reason the convention moved to new hotels in later years was because each of the hotels closed doors.) There were no celebrity guests for the second year but the attendance noticeably grew. “Dave Warren found the Marriott hotel with the Windjammer restaurant,” Burchett explains. “We added re-creations that year.”

“The first time I met Bob Burchett and Dave Warren was in Bridgeport Conn.,” Barb Davies recalled. “I was wearing a dress and most of the ladies were wearing pants. Bob ran up to me and said, ‘don’t move a damn inch.’ Then he took a picture of my legs… and he published it in the digest.”

Willard Waterman
The third year, while still at the Marriott, the event moved into the Windjammer portion of the hotel (best remembered for having a pirate ship sticking out of the hotel). If anyone questioned the success of the event, the third year eliminated all doubts. Willard Waterman, best known for playing the title role of The Great Gildersleeve on radio and television, was flown in from California to sign autographs, pose for photos and re-create his radio role on stage with a group of talented actors. “At the Newark Convention I met Willard Waterman. It was his first visit there,” said Bob Burchett. “When I gave my report to our radio club, I suggested we invite a guest – Willard Waterman. There was concern about what it would cost. This is when I went out on a limb and said I would foot the bill. I have been credited with staring the Cincinnati Convention but that is not the case. Our local radio club was the one who created it. The limb I was out on wasn’t a very long one as it turned out. The attendance spiked that year. We must have gone from 100 to 300.”

Bob Hastings
In 1990, Parley Baer and Bob Hastings were the celebrity guests. Hastings would return to Cincinnati more than any other celebrity. Quickly establishing himself as down-to-Earth and a warm human being, Hastings was never treated like a celebrity by the attendees. Instead, the actor became the neighbor-next-door who mingled, laughed and told stories. For those who attended Cincinnati over the last few years, it is kind of difficult to imagine the convention without Bob Hastings.

“What a great guest he has been,” Bob Burchett recalled. “He has always made himself available to the fans and to visit with them as long as they want to… At Newark on that Friday night, Parley Baer came into the room and Jay Hickerson stopped what he was doing and started playing the theme song to Gunsmoke. Everyone gave him a standing ovation. He was very moved by this. Later, he said he didn’t think anybody remembered him or his radio work. Also that year Bob Hastings made his first visit so for our fourth convention we had two guests.”

Radio re-creation with Steve Thompson on right.
Parley Baer was best known as Chester on radio’s Gunsmoke and as Mayor Roy Stoner of Mayberry on television’s The Andy Griffith Show for the 1962-63 season. “I fell in love with him immediately,” Robert Newman recalled, “and at some point during his visits to the convention over the years I told him I would buy a rocking chair, build a fireplace, and a couple of other things if he would come and live with Barbara and I.”

“One thing I remember was Parley’s sense of humor,” Rene Thompson, an annual attendee, laughed. “Parley Baer was ‘hiding’ at our vendor table and helping us sell stuff at the 4th convention.”

Terry Salomonson
“I was with Parley most of the day, and he kept asking me what time it was,” Burchett laughed. “I don’t wear a watch so I couldn’t tell him. Anyway, one the dealers gave me a picture of Parley so he could sign it and I passed it on to him. Parley put on the picture, ‘To my friend Bob who wouldn’t give you the time day.’”

Parley left such a big impression that an award was ultimately named after him. “I had been thinking about this award for a year or so,” recalled Terry Salomonson, “and over a private dinner with Parley in April 1996, I asked him if he would allow me to start the Parley E. Baer Award as a way of recognizing persons that go the extra mile, for all the right reasons, to continue to promote OTR. Without hesitation, he quickly replied that he could think of about 500 other people’s names to use before thinking of his. He was a very modest man with a zero level of ego. But he said he was flattered and would have no objections.”

Each year and until his death on November 22, 2002, Terry and Parley went over a list of names and Parley helped pick the winner for each Cincinnati Convention. Parley personally handed the first award to Bob Burchett. Then, because of an additional stroke on July 21, 1997, Parley was no longer able to travel to Cincinnati. “We continued to select each year’s winners via telephone calls between the two of us,” Terry explained. The following are the dates the award was given and how each was inscribed. On three particular years, two Parley E. Baer Awards were given and for two years, three awards were given.

04/19/1997 Robert P. Burchett
05/30/1998 Jay Hickerson
04/24/1999 Barney Beck
04/29/2000 Margaret "Peg" F. Lynch
                   Robert F. Hastings
04/21/2001 Robert W. Newman
04/20/2002 Thomas "Dave" Davies
                   Barbara Ann Davies
04/12/2003 Charles L. "Chuck" Schaden
                   Mary E. Ramlow
                   Donald D. Ramlow
04/17/2004 Rosemary Rice Merrill
                   Harold F. "Hal" Stone
                   Harold R. Zeigler
04/16/2005 Martin J. Grams, Jr.
04/22/2006 Edward S. Clute
                   Terry G.G. Salomonson
04/21/2007 Charles Franklin Summers
04/12/2008 John Delbert Rayburn
04/25/2009 Neal Stanley Ellis
05/08/2010 Kenneth F. Stockinger
05/14/2011 Roy George Bright
04/14/2012 To Be Announced

The inscription on the Award is as follows:
Parley E. Baer Award
Presented to:
(Name of recipient)
In Recognition Of ("His" / "Her")
Continuing Exemplary Efforts in
Supporting the Preservation
and Enjoyment of Radio History
(Date Given)

In 2006, the founder and creator of the Parley E. Baer Award was surprised as a recipient of the award when it was presented to him by Bob Burchett, head of the Cincinnati Convention, after the presentation of the award to Edward S. Clute.

Parley Baer answers questions from the audience.
In 1991, Ezra Stone and Barney Beck were the celebrity guests. With radio’s Henry Aldrich attending, the selection of a radio re-creation was a no-brainer. The Aldrich Family would become a highlight of the re-creations. But one incident went unnoticed by many of the attendees. “Our group, through twenty odd years, has seen births, marriages, deaths, all the things that go with life,” Rene Thompson adds. “This was never more evident than when Ezra Stone was with us the year after the death of his wife, Sara. The show we were re-creating was a version of ‘You Can’t Take It With You’ and there’s a scene where Martin Vanderhof, the character that Ezra was playing, speaks to God. Unbeknownst to the audience, Ezra ad-libbed a beautiful request asking that the Good Lord remind his wife, Sara, that he still loved her. There wasn’t a dry eye on stage but we pulled together as a troupe and kept up the comedic pace and tone of the piece.”

“I saw later when researching about Ezra for a piece I was writing that this Cincinnati performance was listed in Ezra’s WHO’S WHO entry,” Steve Thompson adds.

Louise Erickson and Shirley Mitchell
After having such great success with Willard Waterman in 1989, Waterman was invited to return in 1992, along with Louise Erickson, Shirley Mitchell and Barney Beck. This time there was no mob scene, but a packed re-creation room was ensured. “When it came time for the re-creation I looked up and got the shock of my life,” recalled Robert Newman. “I could not see the end of the line. I went outside and looked and all I could see was people waiting to get in and see Willard Waterman perform. I left my wife at the check-in table and went to inform the cast of the problem and we got Willard to agree to do a repeat performance. I went looking for chairs that we could cram into the re-creation room. We got as many chairs as we possibly could into the re-creation room. Some may have been sitting in somebody’s lap. And then I faced the people that were left out… For a while it looked like I was going to be lynched.”

“The one to remember was the 6th convention,” Burchett added. “It was because we had three of the stars from The Great Gildersleeve show. Willard Waterman, Shirley Mitchell and Louise Erickson. I was in the dealers room and Robert Newman came up to me and said, ‘You had better look out in the hallway.’ I looked and it was wall-to-wall people all the way back to the registration deck and out the door. Robert said the ones in back of the line aren’t going to pay if they don’t see the show. So I made my way through the crowd to the re-creation room to tell them we had a problem. They didn’t mind in doing at least two shows. That, by far, was our best-attended convention. That night the three guests, myself, Barb and Dave Davies had a great dinner, and spent the evening talking OTR. What a great experience.”

Don Ramlow, director of the re-creations
In 1993, Parley Baer returned along with Barney Beck and Lon Clark. Dick Beals was supposed to be among the guests, but for reasons no one can remember, he was a no-show.

In 1994, Ezra Stone was heavily promoted as the weekend guest, but he died two weeks before the convention. Bob Hastings graciously agreed to fill in for Ezra Stone. John Rayburn was also a guest that weekend.

Bob Burchett decided to give an award every year at the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio & Nostalgia Convention. The Stone/Waterman Award was given to people who helped preserve old-time radio and was named after Ezra Stone and Willard Waterman. "We wanted to create an award to honor one of our two guests, Ezra or Willard. So we decided to name it after both of them," Burchett explained. "There was no problem deciding who was going to get the first Stone/Waterman award. It was Robert Newman, for all the hard work he put into running the convention." Burchett was unable to figure out who won awards on which specific years but a list of the award winners can be found below (subject to revisions and corrections).

Robert Newman (the first award winner)
Bob Hastings
Rosemary Rice
Hal Stone
John Rayburn
Fred Foy
Peg Lynch
The Dan Hughes Family
Martin Grams
Terry Solomonson
Chuck Schaden
Don Ramlow
Bob Burchett
Dave Warren
Parley Baer
Dave Davies
Barb Davies
Steve & Rene Thompson
Bob Burnham
Gary Kramer


Will Hutchins
Ryan Ellett (2008)

Fred Berney (2008)
The Crowne Plaza Hotel & Staff
Herb Brandenberg
Ed Clute
Eddie Carroll
 Neal Ellis (2011)
Ken Stockinger (2011)
Jim Beshires (2012)
Melanie Altman (2012)

Dave Warren


Peg Lynch and Fred Foy
 In 1996, Barney Beck, Fred Foy, Parley Baer and Peg Lynch were the celebrity guests. Parley and Peg teamed up to do Ethel and Albert and this became the highlight of the convention (and again in 1997 and 1998). Unfortunately, these were Parley’s last conventions in Cincinnati. “It was magic when it happened,” Burchett recalled. “Parley said it was the highlight of his career. He wanted to take it on the road.” Beginning in 1999, Peg teamed up Bob Hastings playing the role of Albert.

“Fred Foy was a real gentleman,” Burchett continued. “Class all the way. At local radio station WVXU, they would have our guests on the air for an hour promoting the convention. One time, when Fred was there, a 12-year-old boy came dressed in his cowboy outfit wanting to meet Fred. He had hand-carved guns made out of wood. Fred made a point to stop and have a nice visit with him. I invited him and his mom to the convention. I got to the hotel first and went around to the dealers to tell them about the boy. By the time he and his mom got there, I had a bag full of radio shows for him. I still have the wooden gun he gave me.”

In 1998, Barney Beck, Bob Mott, Bob Hastings, Peg Lynch and John Rayburn were among the guests. “That year Barney Beck wasn’t sure if he could come,” Burchett recalled. “He suggested we ask Bob Mott. After we invited Bob, Barney found out he could come. I told him I couldn’t afford two sound men. He said he wouldn’t charge me for coming. Our Playhouse in the Park had a play that took place in a radio station, and one of the main characters was a sound effects man. They invited Bob and Barney to give a sound effects demo before the play. Bob wrote a skit centered around sound effects about The Lone Ranger for Fred Foy. Fred couldn’t make it that year. When John Rayburn would attend, he was like a spark plug. He kept everyone going with his spoonerisms and fun-filled return to the Golden Age of Radio programs he use to do. At that time he had been in radio for over 50 years. As far as I know he’s still going at it.”

Terry Salomonson (left) receives the Stone/Waterman Award.
“Bob Hastings started doing Ethel & Albert after Parley could no longer come,” Burchett continued. “Peg said after she does it with someone new and gets used to their sound patterns, she can write for them. She wrote several new show for Bob to do. Not just changing old scripts, but writing new ones. She’s a younger Ethel doing it with Bob. What a talent.”

In 2002, Bob Hastings, Peg Lynch, Rosemary Rice and Hal Stone were guests. “Hal and I hit it off immediately,” Newman recalled. “He was sitting when I first approached him. He got up, made me sit and he jumped in my lap and said that from then on I was his Uncle Bob (he had an Uncle Bob; if you are ever at the house I'll show you the picture of him in my lap).”

Rosemary Rice
“I remember when Rosemary Rice started coming to join Bob Hastings,” Burchett added.” She is a really classy lady. In a re-creation of Richard Diamond, she used a hillbilly voice. I couldn’t figure out at first who was saying the lines until I figured out it was her. Then came Hal Stone to round out the cast of Archie Andrews. The three of them had a ball with the reunion. Hal passed away much too soon.”

In 2004, Bob Hastings, Rosemary Rice, Hal Stone, Will Hutchins and John Rayburn were guests. “There’s a side note on Will,” Newman added. “On one of the nights of the convention the main group went out to eat and he got left behind. I offered to get him dinner at the hotel or take him out to eat, but he refused. He finally agreed to let me go out and get him something. When I got back with the food, he tried to pay me for it, which I would not allow, but he did absolutely insist that I take a one dollar tip.”

Attendees who flocked to Cincinnati every year became a permanent fixture. So popular were some of them that many believe the Cincinnati Old Time Radio & Nostalgia Convention would not be the same without them. Among them was Fred Korb, who came to most of the FOTR and all of the Cincinnati conventions. Between Fred and Ken Piletic, they videotaped almost every celebrity interview at both conventions for many, many years.  “Fred Korb (Naperville, Illinois) was an amateur archivist of old time radio programs,” Piletic explained. “Like myself, he recorded many radio programs off the air and put them into circulation on reel-to-reel tapes. At the conventions, once or twice, in the dealer's rooms he sold his ‘Water Method Kit’ to remove the ‘squeak’ from hydrolized Shamrock Tape without baking the tapes. Fred's method (which he discovered himself) was fast and easy. I don't know why it never caught on.”

Ken Piletic
“Fred was secretary of the ORCATS (Old-Time Radio Collectors And Traders Society) for many years,” Piletic continued. “He kept the ORCATS library of OTR shows well organized in several rooms of his air-conditioned library in the basement of his home. He never wrote any books or did any professional radio work. He was a technical person and a great organizer. He was well-educated about Personal Computers, and helped may collectors organize their collections on their PCs. I met him through Ham Radio.  His call sign was K9HWZ, and he participated on the ORCATS NETWORK on the 4Ø meter ham band (short wave) every week. He got many hams interested in Old-Time Radio via this net. He died due to an infection that began during heart surgery several years after the actual heart bypass. Although he continued to attend OTR conventions after this heart problems (and the infection), he was very weak and had to rest a lot in his hotel room during the daytime.”

“Ken Piletic and I got into a yearly ‘thing’ about him taking a picture of me, while at the same time, I was taking a picture of him,” Terry Salomonson added. “This ‘tradition’ has continued every year on the Cincinnati convention.”

Another attendee who was beloved was Paul Meek, who came to all of the Cincinnati conventions until his death on January 6, 2008. “Paul Meek was a neat little guy,” recalled Bob Burchett. “He had trouble getting around because he was born handicapped, but I never heard him complain about it. He collected old-time radio shows and comic books related to OTR and TV stars. He had a large collection of VHS tapes. I met him at my first Friends of Old Radio Convention in 1978. Dave and myself missed our flight home. He came over to my office and I wasn't there. Herb Brandenburg was looking for me also. They got together and started our Cincinnati Radio Club.”

Ted Davenport
One vendor, Ted Davenport, was also a staple at the Cincinnati event. “ He came for many years to Cincinnati until health issues with him and his parents, who he cared for, made it impossible for him to attend,” Terry recalled. “Ted gave many tapes away to convention attendees, especially younger children and early to the hobby collectors. He started my collection off when he befriended me in 1976. He paid for people’s rooms, meals and convention fees for those that helped him at the conventions. Over the years he has always been very generous with his time and the sharing of his collection. To this day, Ted and I are still trading and sharing with each other.”

“Esther Geddes was another dear lady who first came with her husband, Tyler McVey, and continued to come after he passed,” Burchett looks back fondly. “She was always a bright spot when came in to the room. She’s 95 and still swimming every day. She has a great smile.”

Like any convention, funny stories grow with each calendar year. Attendees have their favorite moments and Cincinnati retains a great number of them.

The Boogie Woogie Girls
“There was the one year, while I was setting up, that a tornado went over us,” recalled Robert Newman. “The hotel was evacuated into the area where I was trying to set up.  It was nearly impossible to work around all those people, some holding their plates of food that they had brought out of the restaurants. But we opened on time. I could mention that all those years we were in the Windjammer that the entrance to the convention was like a wind tunnel and Barbara and I liked to freeze to death, while being pelted by rain, ice, snow and anything else you can think of that a mailman, who had been on his route for 50 years might encounter, including the above mentioned tornado.”

“If you are going to be a radio re-creator, you have to have a sense of humor because with only an hour’s practice before you perform, once in a while, you are bound to goof in front over 200 plus people. That said, sometimes the goofs that are best remembered for us re-creators happened during the rehearsal,” Rene Thompson commented. “During a rehearsal for a Lone Ranger re-creation, Ken Borden was trying out for Tonto when he gave a blooper that became legendary among the re-creation clique. Tonto was to say ‘Hmmmm, little girl,’ pointing out to The Lone Ranger that there was a child in the area. Sweet Ken’s delivery was such that, well, to be blunt, he sounded like [you know]. And what made it worse was Karen Hughes who was playing the little girl back when she WAS still a little girl.”

Barney Beck
At the Ramada Inn, Parley Baer and Bob Hastings were in the lobby of the hotel and they were sitting by themselves when a group of ladies happened to come out of the doors of the ballroom. They were not there for the show but they recognized the stars and when they spotted Parley and Bob, they wanted have to there photos taken with them. The stars obliged graciously. Later, while Parley and Bob were at the convention, a bunch of cops came in and asked if they could have their picture taken with them and I told them they are accessible. They especially  wanted to have both of them in the same photo.”

“I do recall my sister Laura and I auditioning for parts in the recreations, getting in to the elevator afterward, and being joined by Payton, who was autistic and one of the nicest people you could ever meet,” recalled Steven Jansen. “At the time, we didn't know him at all, yet. He had been at the auditions, and heard us try out, he liked my sister's performance playing the typical frightened-woman-type. ‘I really like the way you scream,’ he says, with a nervous laugh. ‘Oh, well, thank you!’ replied Laura. The elevator stopped at his floor and he got off and said, ‘I'll see you later.’ As soon as the doors close, I turned to Laura and say, ‘Well, you handled that pretty well.’ Laura asks, ‘What?’ I told her, ‘Some strange guy gets in the elevator with us, and says he likes the way you scream, then says he’ll see you later -- some women might find that a bit scary. He didn’t even phase you a bit.’  ‘Oh,’ she says, ‘I didn't even think of that. You know, you’re right!’”

Dave Davies and Herb Ellis (left to right)
“I remember practicing Jewish accents in the bathroom before auditions for Allen's Alley,” Rene Thompson remarked. “Then there was the year they asked Steven, ‘Can you bark like a dog?’ I told them, ‘Yes, he can, but I’m not saying when or where.’”

“We became a real convention with the fifth one,” Bob Burchett explained. “Don Ramlow became the director of the re-creations, and we got a real sound effects man, Barney Beck. Without them the show would never have been a success. Don and his wife Mary helped carry this show as much as I have and without them there would never have been a 26th.”

Robert Newman remarked: “My most pleasant memories are of all the friends that I have made over the years. As far as I am concerned we never had patrons, ticket buyers or whatever name you care to call the public, we had guests. I did my best to treat everyone with the utmost respect, to meet all their needs, not matter what they were, convention related or not. I spent days driving all over Greater Cincinnati trying to find a car that was stolen. I spent most of two nights in the hospital with a guest that had medical needs, went and got any medicine they needed, and got them back to the hotel and tucked in bed (none of their friends were in sight at the time).”

Harold and Kathleen Ziegler and Bob Burchett
“For the 23rd convention, the hotel where we were going to have the event closed two weeks before the convention,” Burchett recalled. “I had saved a brochure from another hotel so I went out to see it that Sunday, and after looking around I decided it would work. I worked all day that Sunday designing a postcard to be mailed out on Monday. After I got the postcard in the mail, a few days later they changed the name of the new hotel. It’s a wonder anyone found it. Everything worked out and we had good attendance.”

“We have always kept Cincinnati uncomplicated, Robert Newman, Don Ramlow and myself,” Burchett concluded. “One year Robert was having health problems and couldn’t make it. They found something on one of my kidneys the week before the convention, and said it had to come out. I told the doctor I had a convention the next week. He said, ‘Do you want to go to more of them?’ So that year we were without two of the team. Everyone said it ran better without me, and I wondered if I should stay home every year. Barb and Dave Davies pitched in and saw that everything went well.”

Bob Burnham
Closing 
“It is time for the convention to fade away, but there is never a time to be separated from cherished friends,” Robert Newman remarked. “I love them, pray for them and remember them often. Typing this has brought tears to my eyes at 2:30 in the morning.”

“There are several reasons why this will be the last convention,” Bob Burchett explained. “Old-Time Radio conventions have had their run. Attendance has gone down and the cost of putting one on has gone up. There are not enough younger fans getting into the hobby to take over for us old timers. Any guest that come to Cincinnati has to fly to get here and the cost of air travel has gone up. The stars live on the East and West coast so they have to fly. I’ve been throwing a party for 26 years hoping someone would come. Not as many come as there used to. That’s as good enough a reason as any to make this one the last one.”

For the record, the list below details the guests that attended over the years. (I avoided repetition by not listing the guests already mentioned above.)

1995 - Barney Beck and Herb Ellis.
1997 - Barney Beck, Parley Baer, Fred Foy, Peg lynch and John Rayburn.
1999 - Barney Beck, Fred Foy, Bob Hastings, Clive Rice, Rosemary Rice and Peg Lynch.
2000 - Bob Hastings, Esther Geddes, Tyler McVey, Peg Lynch and Rosemary Rice.
2001 - Bob Hastings, Peg Lynch, Esther Geddes, Tyler McVey and Rosemary Rice.
2003 - John Rayburn and Leo Jordan (a relative of Jim and Marian Jordan).
2005 - Will Hutchins, Bob Hastings, Esther Geddes, Rosemary Rice, and Hal Stone
2006 - Fred Foy, Bob Hastings, Rosemary Rice, Hal Stone, Will Hutchins and Esther Geddes.
2007 - Bob Hastings, Rosemary Rice, Hal Stone, Esther Geddes and Ruth Last.
2008 - Bob Hastings, Rosemary Rice, Esther Geddes, John Rayburn and Ruth Last.
2009 - Bob Hastings, Rosemary Rice, Esther Geddes and Eddie Carroll.
2010 - Bob Hastings, Rosemary Rice and Esther Geddes.
2011 - Rosemary Rice and Esther Geddes.
2012 - Bob Hastings and Peg Lynch.

Photo credits: Steve Jansen, Chris Holm, Bruce Raleigh, Steven and Rene Thompson, Ken Borden, Ken Piletic and Bob Burchett.

5 comments:

Craig said...

One li'l correction, MG -

In that pic with Louise Erickson, it's Shirley MITCHELL, not Temple.

-Craig

Martin Grams said...

Mistake corrected. It was a Freudian slip. Thanks, Craig!

Dan Hughes said...

Here's a video from the 1996 convention, with Barney Beck doing sound effects and Fred Foy playing the Lone Ranger (which he really did when this episode was originally broadcast, because Brace Beemer had laryngitis):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ihUfzrpwLXo

---Dan Hughes, http://radiofun.info

Anonymous said...

It has been a great run.As I think back over the last 25 years - it was bound to happen sooner or later. OTR was a great group of people from the WWII-era and the generation immediately following.

Oh sure there were a few others in there of various ages but that was the heart. OTR is a fantastic hobby and one I hope will be rediscovered again at some point by future generations.

As we continue to lose the people who experienced OTR first-hand we are losing a vital link to the past. Sadly, YouTube and Pod-casting will never quite come close enough for me. I can rest assured, though, that we will all be reunited again, one day, for the Great Broadcast.

Until next time . . .

Martin Grams said...

Thanks Bob for all that you have done for the past 26 years. I agree, it was bound to happen sooner or later as you say, like it does to all conventions. But at least we have the photos and the memories. Thank you again Bob Burchett and hope to see you at MANC soon.

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