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Greta Keller
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⇒ Mitglied seit ⇐: So Sep 04 2011, 14:54
Wohnort: Köln
Beiträge: 1826
American Air Troupe Finds
New Experiences in Foreign Lands

By Greta Keller

LONDON!— The taxi turns off the crowded Strand down Savoy Hill — until last Spring synonymous to the entire British Isles with the "B. B. C."— the British Broadcasting Corporation. This government-controlled radio organization is doing its very good best to give the Great British Public what it wants in broadcasting for the price of ten shillings (about $2.50) per receiving set owned.

On Savoy Hill, which is not only a hill but also a street, and opposite the historic Savoy Chapel, and its equally historic graveyard, the taxi pulls up and the door is opened by a waxed-moustached commissionaire. "Good Morning, Sir; Good Morning, Madam. Well on time this morning !" he says because promptness — except on the air is to be praised anywhere in England. We move past the clerk at the door, who has satisfied himself that we are really due for a rehearsal this morning, and we are allowed up to studio No. 1, where we find ourselves in line for the rehearsal.

Just as in a vaudeville theatre, first come, first rehearsed, and we have to await our turn, and meantime we swap greetings with the producer, the engineers, and the other artists. Our turn comes. We have been allotted either six or ten minutes, and we have naturally timed our material at home, so we go through it for balance, and then follows a slight inquisition as to the publishers, copyrights, etc., of the numbers we are to sing.

Then, if there is any possible "double entendre" in any of the lyrics, we are asked to purify them on the spot, to the satisfaction of the producer. Great vigilance is maintained to protect the Great British Public from contamination. After this we are told at what approximate time we shall come on in the evening, and are free to go.

The show is generally, for our type of work, from 7 :30 p. m., for an hour, and we arrive, and sit in the artists' room until we hear the act before us start. We go into the studio, making our way through the audience. Spectators have been in proud possession of their tickets to enter the hallowed premises for more than a week. We arrange our music, and, as the announcer gives us the signal, we go into our first number.

There is always a slight feeling of embarrassment for the audience. People evidently expect to hear us as loud in the studio as they do through the loudspeaker in their homes, but they seem satisfied, even though they can hear nothing but a whisper from us and the sound of the piano. Thus we go on and finish our act. At its conclusion, we are thanked in a low voice (and perhaps with a wise-crack) by the announcer, who is an old friend of ours, and he hands us a ticket, which, when taken downstairs to the treasurer's office, entitles us to a check. The check, in turn, must be put through a bank before one can get the actual money, but only after one has signed a receipt-form of indorsement on the back over a two-penny stamp which makes the receipt legal — and the broadcast is over.

VIENNA! — Just a step from the hotel is the RAVAG, the official radio station of Austria. No rehearsal, this time, as we require no orchestra, and we have a half-hour to get the balance with the engineers. The studio is in an old building, (as most buildings are in Vienna), remodelled for the purposes of radio from the stage, dressing-rooms and offices of one of the best pre-war cabarets.

The studio is roomy, and smells slightly of bad cigars, and we feel rather out of place among empty chairs and nude music-racks. We make our set-up, and are okayed by the engineer, and have fifteen minutes to wait. Five minutes before we are to go on the air the announcer arrives, inquires our names, makes two or three tries at pronouncing them, and is apparently satisfied. We are told that there is a two-minute pause every ten minutes, in which the studio is off the air, and that we can talk freely during that interim.

We get the red light, and the announcer takes the microphone standard in his hand, sets it about 15 feet from us (completely ruining our set-up), retreats to where we are and bellows :

"HALLO, HALLO, R A H D I O VEEN !" Then he proceeds, as we expected, to not only mispronounce our names but, even worse, the titles of our first three songs. We are of course, in a panic about the distance of the microphone from us, and a very sotto voice tug-of-war ensues as a result of our endeavors to get the thing back where we want it, in which we finally win on a decision from the referee (in the person of the engineer). Finally we carry on with the program. At the first two-minute pause, and after another announcement that we shall resume in two minutes, the announcer, perspiring freely, comes to us, clicks his heels, and apologizes for having caused so much trouble.

He "had never seen anyone sing so quietly, and still come through loud." And the so-called half-hour comes to an end , and we issue forth into the city streets, quite convinced that no one in Vienna has understood a word of our "Tchezz."

BERLIN !— Close by the center of the city — the Potsdamer Platz. An atmosphere of unfriendliness, cloaking, it seems to us, a lack of knowledge as to what it is all about. We are put in a three-sided cell of hung cloth, with the piano twenty feet away (which doesn't make for unison!) but that's the way it must be done. A five- or ten-minute rehearsal, and we are off. Our period comes at the hour of 6:30. The evening hours are almost entirely reserved for classical concerts, operas, etc. The same old bellow comes from the announcer, but there is no surprise shown at our lack of distance from the microphone. The same pauses as in Vienna, but slightly less of them. Then we are through, and off across the street for beer and sausages.

PARIS! — A commercial broadcast! Station Radio Paris broadcasts commercials when it can get them, and this means that on Sunday, when the B. B. C. shuts off; or confines itself to church services or chamber music ; there are a great many people in England who want something else. Furthermore, they have the time to listen to it, while digesting their famous Sunday "roast beef of old England." It's then that the phonograph companies have their innings. They get the popular record commentators to fly over to Paris on Saturday (which they all seem delighted to do — except those suffering from gout and they put on a show sponsored by a phonograph company. The show consists of about half-an-hour of the company's artists in person presenting songs from their records just come on the market in England, and for another half hour, the broadcasting of records which seem to be pulling.

It's generally cold in the station, and the hour is in the very early afternoon — just at digestion-time for John Bull, and there is always a certain amount of Gallic confusion on the part of the French announcers and technicians.

The hour goes on the air, and every announcement is made in both French and English, with the numbers of the records carefully announced in both languages, and the fun is over almost before one has forgotten that last champagne cocktail — -and the check comes along with your next royalties from the sponsor.

Here in America everyone knows what takes place in the studio - of our broadcasting chains, so we shall just leave these few little quick pictures of a broadcast in the four principle capitals of Europe to the reader to compare with the conditions as he knows them in this country.

Radio Digest, March 1933

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