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1924 __ « What is like to play to an unseen audience ? »
Comment : “What is like to play to an unseen audience ? How do famous artists, used to applause and adulation, feel when they perform before a “tin can” as their sole spectator ? Charles B. Popenoe, director of WJZ, has watched hundreds of seasoned stage stars make their radio debut. He says nearly all of them get radio fright. “Practically everyone is self-conscious before the microphone”, he explained, “Professionals during their first concert by radio are always as nervous as amateurs on their first appearance. The only exception I ever saw was the Hasty Pudding Club, of Harvard. These boys, dressed in feminine attire, came up to the studio prepared for a good time. Nothing of the world could phase them. Even the “little tin can”, as the microphone is disrespectfully called, failed to dampen their enthusiasm. [...] It didn’t make any difference to them that the audience was scattered in all parts of the world, that in hundreds of homes, families had hooked up the old set and were listening-in. The boys were honestly enjoying what they were doing so that the inevitable reaction was that the audience enjoyed it too. The average professional is nervous for the first two minutes. He thinks of the vast audience -- many thousands of people -- hearing him. His reputation is at stake, for never has there been so large a crowd at entertainments as the radio has made possible. Then he thinks of one person out in this vast audience to whom he wishes to perform. Automatically he forgets the multitude who are listening-in, and works for that person alone. Frequently he does the best work of his career, for his thoughts are on the person far away to whom he is pouring his soul”. [...] Cecil Arden, Metropolitan Opera singer :”I don’t mind singing to an unseen audience. To me, the only drawback in radio is the inability to gauge how your audience likes you. On the stage you immediately know whether the people out front are gay or sad, whether they want rollicking tunes or a classic program. A radio entertainer never knows exactly how his number gets across. He is at the mercy of a diverse number of people, weather conditions, and freaky sound waves which are apt to distort the most perfect rendition. When I am singing a program that is broadcasted, I like to think of the shut-ins and the people in the hospitals, to whom I am trying to bring a little pleasure. I like to reach the audience who has little communication with the outside world, that audience which by the invention of radio has been given something for which to live”. [...] So, radio fans, there is just one thing for you to do. When you like a number, write and tell the artist that you enjoyed his selection. Not only will the artist feel repaid for his work but he will appreciate the courtesy of the letter. Audiences in a concert-hall sometimes have to pay several dollars for the pleasure of hearing a certain player or singer; radio audiences often have the music of the same artists brought to them free. A letter of thanks is small payment. Radio fans, it is up to you to show your applause in writing. (Myra May)
Source : May, Myra (1924), “If You Like hem, Let Them Know It”, In “RADIO BROADCAST”, Vol. IV, NOVEMBER, 1923, to APRIL, 1924, Garden City, N. Y., DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY, 1924, pp. 245-248.
Urls : http://www.archive.org/stream/radiobroadcast04gardrich/%23page/246/mode/2up (last visited )

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