Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Radio Nature League (1930)

Note: The Radio Nature League moved from 8 to 8:15 Saturday night on February 15. On August 2, Burgess concluded the first run of the program.

In 1930 there was increasing pressure on the Radio Nature League from national programming and decreasing support from WBZ. According to LaFollette (2008), Burgess had auditioned with NBC for a network program in late 1929 but was rejected because he was thought to appeal to children only. Burgess had also lost much of his fortune (he had been one of the wealthiest men authors in Massachusetts) in the stock market crash, making time-consuming, non-remunerative work problematic. On August 2, citing a need to return to his "means of livelihood" full time and praising the work of the League as a whole, he announced the last meeting of the Radio Nature League for the foreseeable future. The "disbanding" of the Radio Nature League had been widely circulated in the press, so many listeners were prepared for the announcement; in fact, Burgess did not "disband" the League, instead he hoped that members would carry on their work on behalf of the natural environment without the program.

On January 25, Burgess announced the results of the Ruffed Grouse research project: the destructive parasite, "dispharynx," found in grouse intestines came from infected pill bugs. On the same program Burgess exhorted League members to write their congressmen in support of a Norbeck-sponsored bill to protect Bald Eagles (the bill would pass in the Senate but ultimately fail in the House).

Speakers included:
  • February 15: Philip Hansling Jr. on "The winter care of trees."
  • May 10: Dr. Philip Garman of the Connecticut Experimental Station at New Haven, on the oriental peach moth.
  • June 28: Philip Hansling Jr. Scripted Q&A with Burgess about the care of trees.
During 1930, Burgess would increasingly devote long slices of program time to the work of single correspondents. For example: On March 15, in honor of St. Patrick's Day, Burgess read a long story submitted by "Old Bill Blizzard" about the end of toads and snakes in Ireland. On the same program, Burgess discovered that J. Alden Loring (an ornithologist a naturalist and old associate of Teddy Roosevelt) was a listener and invited him to contribute extended notes about birds (which he did on subsequent weeks). On May 3 Burgess read a long essay by Clarence Hawkes ("Blind Poet of Hadley") about the loss of his dog to "killers."

Next: Burgess returns to radio (1933)

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