The National Broadcasting Company originally used the phrase Radio City to describe their studios at Rockefeller Center in New York City. When NBC opened their new Hollywood studios at Sunset and Vine in 1938, they placed the words Radio City prominently on the front of their new building. However, the area between Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard on Vine Street became known as Radio City for tourists and locals alike who visited the many radio studios and radio themed cocktail lounges and businesses in the area.
For a generation in the 1940′s and 1950′s, Hollywood was Radio City.
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Once, radio was king.
That was long ago and almost unknown to those who don’t remember it first hand. Radio was the first medium that brought live entertainment into the homes of Americans across the country. Families rushed home from work to listen to their favorite shows broadcast into their living rooms and parlors. Movie stars, that they watched on the silver screen in neighborhood theaters, were now invited into their homes.
In the early days, when boys built crystal sets to hear the crackling sounds of far away broadcasts, audiences were less sophisticated. They could believe that Martian invaders were actually attacking earth, because Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre on the Air told them so.
When audiences discovered that radio shows were created in studios with sound effect men, technicians, writers, announcers, bandleaders and the stars, script in hand, speaking into microphones, their imagination was not diminished. Alan Ladd could hop a plane, fly around the world, apprehend criminals and return to police headquarters in time to save the life of an innocent girl, all in the space of half an hour, without leaving the studio. The magic that was radio was never lost on audiences.
But where were these factories of fabrication and fantasy, where Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Jack Benny, Burns and Allen, Al Jolson and many more assembled to entertain America in the 1930′s and he 1940′s?
Why, Hollywood, USA, of course.