Friday, April 9, 2010

Radio Nature League (1928)

Note: There were apparently no shows on: May 16 and May 23; July 4 and July 11 (TWB was fishing in New Brunswick); and August 22 and October 17 (TWB blamed politics). TWB was absent for June 27 show (it is unclear who filled in).

January to December 1928

In 1928, the Radio Nature League continued to grow. By the end of the year, Thornton Burgess would claim a membership of 50,000. The Boston Society of Natural History speakers series would end (it moved to WEEI) but Burgess still shared papers with Austin Clark of the Smithsonian.

Guest speakers, papers , and special programs:
  • January 18: Harold L. Babcock on "New England Salamanders."
  • February 1: James H. Emerton on spiders.
  • February 22 & 29: Both shows were devoted to a retelling of TWB's salmon fishing trip to Nova Scotia the previous June. Mrs. B participated in the storytelling (she also loved fishing).
  • April 11: Charles Crawford Gorst performed birdsongs
  • April 25: Phil Hansling Jr. had a scripted Q&A with TWB about trees
  • August 8: Austin Clark paper on "Giants of the Animal World" (TWB was the reader).
  • August 29: Phil Hansling Jr. on "Trees with Personalities."
  • October 3: Doris M. Cochran paper on "Lizards and their kin" (TWB was the reader).
  • October 31: Frederick C. Lincoln paper on "Migration and facts discovered through banding." (TWB was the reader).
In order to provide an idea of what a typical "members" or "experience" program (nights when there was no guest speaker) was like I've chosen an episode at random (February 8). It provides a sense of the type and range of topics as well as the geographical spread of League membership. I've listed the location of the correspondent first and the topic second. All items are paraphrased.
  • Springfield, MA. Chickens killed by feeding them overly salted cookies.
  • Springfield, MA. Q: Are the ducks in Forest Park the same as the summer ones? A: A mix.
  • Boston, MA. Q: ID of flock of robin-sized birds. A: Starlings.
  • Connecticut. Q: Do you agree with the bounty on goshawks? A: No. Too many innocent hawks will be killed.
  • Springfield, MA. A very intelligent pet oriole.
  • Quincy, MA. A swimming rattlesnake.
  • New London, CT. A suggestion for a home-made bird bath.
  • Warren, MA. A water snake that caught a trout.
  • Canton Center, CT. Litter of squirrels discovered in winter.
  • Colerain, MA. Q: How often do deer shed their antlers? A: Once a year.
  • Indian Orchard, MA. Q: Why won't my canary sing? A: Try changing its seed.
  • Bartlett, NH. Squirrels ingenious at stealing bird food.
  • Woburn, MA. Q: Do mourning doves overwinter? A: Some do.
  • East Templeton, MA. Copperheads born alive.
  • TWB asks listeners to provide information about Great Horned Owls for Dr. Gross.
  • Gardiner, ME. Leominster, MA, Springfield, MA. Reports of evening grosbeaks and wintering robins.
  • TWB thanks listeners for donations to Radio Nature Fund and Bird Hospital.
  • Sunderland, MA. Ram's head lady's slipper.
  • Thomaston, CT. Heard phoebe's song (TWB: No. A chickadee)
  • Thomaston, CT. Q: What to feed tadpole. A: Stuff from bottom of pond. Plus hard-boiled egg bits.
  • TWB welcomes new scout members from East Grandby, CT.
  • TWB announces special episode for following week (imaginary radio tour of Nova Scotia). [This would actually air two weeks later]
  • Ends with signature sign-off. "Good evening, Neighbors. Goodnight, kiddies."

Finally, on November 28, Burgess paid tribute to the memory of W.S. Quinby, a local coffee importer, who had provided the Radio Nature League with money for clerical support and tent caterpillar prizes since the previous spring (and also was the chief financial support behind broadcasts of the Boston Symphony Orchestra).

Next: Radio Nature League 1929

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