Cincinnati Old-Time Radio Convention, April 20-21, 2007


Time to re-live the best part of the entire year!  We arrived at the hotel at around 9:00 on Friday morning.  Peyton was the first person we saw, and it was a lot of fun to catch up with him.  My dad found out that we wouldn’t be able to check into our room until 3:00, so we wandered through the dealers’ room and saw all of our annual family members: Hal Sampson had his usual array of beautiful posters and a few other nostalgic souvenirs, Martin Grams had his fascinating collection of DVDs and books, and there were other tables with countless radio shows and old movies. 


At 10:30, Martin hosted a program in the room next to the dealers’ space.  He showed an hour’s worth of movie shorts that all involved radio in some way.  They were wonderful!  Mike Biel and his daughter, Leah, sat behind us and filled us in on some interesting trivia.  When the shorts were over, we discovered that Jim Skyrm had arrived!  Jim is one of the most wonderful people in the world, and it was (as always) a joy to see him again.


The rest of the morning we wandered through the dealers’ room, caught up with old friends, and attended another program (an author discussing his book, “The Rise of Radio”).  We met Steve Darnall, the new publisher of “Nostalgia Digest,” and his wife Meg (who, as we discovered in the re-creations, is a very talented giggler).  Steve and Rene Thompson arrived early in the afternoon, which was another joy.  The Thompsons are absolutely delightful.  We had a great time talking with them and supporting one another at the auditions.  Steve was cast as a radioactive mouse (more details on that later), Rene was an announcer for “X Minus 1,” my daddy was Major Daggett in “Fort Laramie,” and I was the announcer for that show. 


Rick Keating arrived around this time, and we chatted with him for awhile before heading to dinner with Steve and Laura Jansen and Meredith Granger.  Dinner was an adventure, as we got slightly lost on the way there, but we had a ball.  We got back just in time for the evening’s performances of “The Bickersons” (with Bob Hastings and Rosemary Rice) and “X Minus 1.”  Steve Thompson gave one of the best radio performances I’ve ever heard as George, the talking mouse.  His voice and timing and phrasing were just perfect.  He was absolutely brilliant and hilarious, and his performance was one of the highlights of the convention.


We were pretty exhausted by the time the shows were over, so we went to bed early.  The next morning Daddy and I had rehearsal at 9:30.  Working with Don Ramlow and the sound effects artists and the other actors is always so much fun!  We were fortunate enough to be in the same show as the Jansens and Meredith (all of whom are extremely talented).  After rehearsal we attended a presentation on the Old Time Radio Researchers, and then headed out to grab a quick snack before returning for the afternoon performance.


The first half of “Fort Laramie” opened Saturday’s matinee, and it was followed by “Candy Matson.”  Steve Jansen played a villain, and his facial expressions made my mother laugh so hard that she was in pain for the last half of the show.  When the shows were over, Daddy auctioned off the autographed scripts from the re-creations and then drew all of the raffle winners.  He finished all of that in a record 20 minutes, and then we went to Golden Corral with the Thompsons.  After we’d finished eating, there was still quite a bit of time before the evening’s festivities, so we wandered through an enormous mall.


The final shows of the convention were another episode of “The Bickersons,” the second half of “Fort Laramie,” an adaptation of the fairy tale “The Golden Bird” performed by Don Ramlow’s Michigan group, and a never-broadcast “Escape” episode that dramatized “The Canterville Ghost.”  Bob Hastings was fantastic and very funny as the poor ghost, and Rosemary Rice and Esther Geddes McVay did a great tongue-twisting parody of “Dragnet.” 


When all of the re-creations were over, the awards were presented.  The three amazing sound effects men won Dave Warren Awards, Charlie Summers (who was unable to attend the convention) won the Parley Baer Award, and Jim Cox (who was unable to be present at the awards ceremony) and Ruth Last won Stone-Waterman Awards.  Don Ramlow, to whom many of the hosting duties had fallen in light of Bob Burchett’s illness (we missed you, Bob!), announced that there would be another convention next year, and the official festivities were over.


Even though the planned events had ended, the “family reunion” had not.  We called Derek Tague (who we missed very much!) and passed around the cell phone so that he could talk to all of his admirers and hear about the convention.  We talked to Rick for a while longer, and he was able to listen with us as Esther Geddes McVay visited our hotel room and shared some stories about her amazing life.  Esther is one of the sweetest, friendliest, most cheerful people you could ever hope to meet, and it was such a privilege to talk to her for so long!


At around 1:30 AM, we finally called it a night.  It had been a wonderful convention, and it had gone by entirely too quickly.  However, that just means that it’s time to start looking forward to next year!