Tonight's episode used an aluminum recording marked "Amos and Andy," recently found at a Florida flea market, as the springboard for a 20 minute documentary on the old radio series, including its adaptation to television. Of course the controversy of the racial humor was the big part of the story.
I had mixed feelings watching the "experts" puzzle over such questions such as, "What can this 'WOW' written on the label possible mean? Can we ever find out, after 70 years?" "Is there anything really recorded on this grooved disc?" "How can we possible play this, since it is labeled 'Use Fiber Needle Only?'" Do I laugh, or pull my hair and scream?
When they finally tracked down someone with a 78 rpm turntable and transferred the 6 minutes or so to CD-R, there were new questions. "Was this REALLY the same Amos and Andy who were on the radio?" "Who could have recorded this and why? Was it used for syndication? Why are there snips of other voices and programs?"
Finally they found a collector of OTR and asked her! Actually, the find was quite interesting, in that only the script of this particular show was believed to have still existed. Unfortunately, PBS didn't post the audio file on their web site. So it remains out of circulation.
Other questions the rest of us knew the answers to were finally discovered by the "experts." WOW was the radio station carrying the broadcast. The aluminum disc was a one-of-a-kind item, probably made by a hobbiest. The other clips were from other programs - maybe even other stations (or maybe the person making the recording was talking).
I guess the most encouraging lesson from the feature is that there's still stuff to be found out there!
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