Frank and Anne Hummert’s Radio Factory

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Frank and Anne Hummert’s Radio Factory

Postby Lou » Mon Oct 24, 2005 1:17 pm

Frank and Anne Hummert were two of the most influential, but enigmatic icons of Radio's Golden Age. Through their Air Features Inc. production company, they were a dominant force in network radio for much of the Golden Age. While this very private couple were the most prolific producers of radio series, they were reclusive and very little has been written about them. Author Jim Cox has rectified this omission with his enlightening new book, "Frank and Anne Hummert's Radio Factory." Jim has unearthed extensive biographical information on the Hummerts. His book not only provides insight into their private lives, but also the professional backgrounds and activities of Radio's Golden Age most prolific series creator-producers. Additionally, Jim provides vignettes that give glimpses into the Hummert's private and business lives.

The Hummerts were astute business people who were acutely attuned to the likes and dislikes of American radio audiences. In the pages of "Frank and Anne Hummert's Radio Factory," we learn that they were responsible for least 125 radio series. Two dozen of these series were on the air for a minimum of a decade. At least 25 Hummert series were on the network airwaves each year between 1934 and 1948.

The eccentric Hummerts were often seemingly contradictory in their dealings with their employees. They paid the lowest wages in the industry, gave little artistic credit to their writers and performers, and were quick to fire those who displeased them. However, they were loyal to those who met their standards and observed their edicts. During the Communist scare of the late 1940s and early 1950s, they refused to fire employees who were blacklisted.

While the Hummerts produced 61 radio soap opera series and are mainly remembered for being pioneers of the genre, they did not neglect other popular genres. They produced 37 musical or variety series, 10 mystery series, eight children's series, and nine series of other genres. The Hummert's endeavors in each of these genres are covered in separate chapters in the book.

There is also a very interesting chapter on Irna Phillips and Elaine Carrington, the Hummerts' primary competition in the production of daytime serial dramas. The chapter includes biographical sketches of both women and a discussion of the styles of the soap operas of Carrington and Phillips in which they compared and contrasted with those of the Hummerts.

There are also several informative appendices, a standard feature of books by Jim Cox. They are: a chronology of the Hummerts' lives; descriptions of each of the 125 Hummert-created, adapted, supervised, or influenced radio series; a collection of quotations attributed to the Hummerts that express their philosophy of broadcast programming; a list of the most active radio producers of Radio's Golden Age with their most famous series; and typical broadcast schedules of Hummert series.

Jim Cox's new book knowledgeably fills a long-standing void in Old-Time Radio history. This volume gives the reader a new insight into and understanding of two of the most influential, but least known gaints of Radio's Golden Age.

Frank and Anne Hummert’s Radio Factory
The Programs and Personalities of Broadcasting’s Most Prolific Producers
By Jim Cox
ISBN: 0-7864-1631-9
236 pp. photographs, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
$32.50 softcover
McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers
Box 611
Jefferson, NC 28640
Order: 800-253-2187

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