This week, I'm going to be posting various videos relating to a new, inexplicable interest of mine, the history of talk radio. Opening up the phone lines to the listeners goes back to the 1950s when, before the technology was available to actually hear the callers voices, a man named Ben Hunter (pictured above...duh) on KFI radio in Los Angeles, took calls and simply repeated the callers comments for his audience to hear, before answering them and engaging in a one-sided conversation. Ludicrous as this sounds, it was a popular enough breakthrough to hasten the development of the technology necessary to perfect the format.

Here's a very nice article on Hunter and the talk radio breakthrough he created on an overnight show called The Night Owl Club. Hunter later became the host of KTTV's Movie Matinee, which showed an old movie every weekday from 12 to 3PM--guests generally followed, along with a Laurel and Hardy short. I wrote about Hunter a few months ago--along with some general reminiscences of LA local movie shows of the 1970s.

One of the necessarily sad things about talk radio as an art form (and I think it qualifies as such) is that it's instantly obsolete, trafficking as it does in the current moment. Thus there appear to be no tapes of Hunter's old show out there. But plenty of radioheads collect what they can and post it on Youtube so in the coming days I'll share whatever I find on this little journey of mine. Meanwhile, dig some LA radio jingles of the past...

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