The short intro: For those who are unfamiliar with the concept, Old Time Radio is the phrase generally used to refer to the time when radio was (mostly) live, and was full of a variety of different shows, as opposed to simply being a means for record labels to use robots to promote the top records of the day. Old Time Radio Thursdays is my chance to explore some of those old radio shows, their connections (both old and new) to movies, and hopefully to encourage some of the rest of you to take a look at a probably unfamiliar source of entertainment that I truly love. If you want more info on OTR, and some examples of the variety of shows that were made, be sure to check out this introductory post.
So last week I started writing about the Adventures of Superman radio show, and I had planned to spend this week talking about some of the surprising things that came out of the show and became canon in the Superman mythos. I still plan to do that post, but I think I’ll put it off for a couple of weeks, because this week, since we celebrated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, it seemed appropriate to highlight this particular series of episodes.
Here’s a bit of background and information on this particular serial courtesy of Wikipedia:
The series delivered a powerful blow against the Ku Klux Klan’s prospects in the northern USA. The human rights activist Stetson Kennedy infiltrated the KKK and other racist/terrorist groups. Concerned that the organization had links to the government and police forces, Kennedy decided to use his findings to strike at the Klan in a different way. He contacted the Superman producers and proposed a story where the superhero battles the Klan. Looking for new villains, the producers eagerly agreed. To that end, he provided information—including secret codewords and details of Klan rituals—to the writers. The result was a series of episodes, “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” in which Superman took on the Klan. Kennedy intended to strip away the Klan’s mystique. The trivialization of the Klan’s rituals and codewords was perceived to have had a negative impact on Klan recruiting and membership.
Reportedly, Klan leaders denounced the show and called for a boycott of Kellogg’s products. However, the story arc earned spectacular ratings, and the food company stood by its support of the show.
“The Clan of the Fiery Cross” ran for sixteen episodes, from June 10, 1946 to July 1, 1946, and thanks to YouTuber “cstevengomez” who originally uploaded these videos, I’ve embedded them all in this playlist which should allow you to listen to them one after the other.
Next time: More of the radio Adventures of Superman, as Superman makes a couple of new (super)friends.
- Day in the life of the KKK (charlottemannion.wordpress.com)
- The KKK in Ontario: Found documents tell of Klan activity 90 years ago (metronews.ca)
- ‘Suspicious’ KKK flyers found in Chicago suburb: ‘The Klan is awake!’ (rawstory.com)