Oldies 101.5 to continue Halloween tradition

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Let's clean out the notebook...

• Brett Elmore of Oldies 101.5 FM says that on Thursday he will continue a Halloween night tradition of about the past 15 years or so, by reairing "The War of the Worlds" CBS broadcast that Orson Welles' Mercury Players first broadcast on Oct. 30, 1938. (The legend is some went into hysteria because they channel surfed even in 1938, switching away from Nelson Eddy's number on Edgar Bergan and Charlie McCarthy show to this show after introductions had been made, and thinking they were listening to real news broadcasts.) Because of sports shows that usually fall on Thursday, Elmore thinks it may air this year around 8 p.m., with Halloween music airing from 4-6 p.m. and sports talk from 6-8 p.m. 

I meant to do a longer story, but I recently talked to Sibby Wieland of Houston, Texas, the creator of World Audio Drama Day (on Oct. 30) and who produces audio dramas herself. Her company has created an annual celebration of the artform, picking Halloween - due to "War of the Worlds" - as the annual day to do that. She has produced some live shows, but she has also been involved in podcasts, where radio drama is finding a revival. (Mystery and horror sound like they are especially popular, some going to over 1 million subscribers.) Of course, one can find many old time radio shows online, from phone apps to YouTube. 

"It is definitely intimate with an individual listener," Wieland said. While it is a shared experience, "what they are seeing in their mind's eye is completely different," individual to their own imagination - which makes fright shows on Halloween more frightening to their viewpoint. It also allows being able to do multiple tasks while you are listening to an individual experience - and from a production standpoint, is less expensive to produce. 

Recuperating from eye surgery, I've found it easier to listen to old radio shows, such as W.C. Fields performing "Poppy" on "Lux Radio Theater." I frankly enjoy everything from "Fibber McGee and Molly" and Jack Benny to dramas such as "Gunsmoke" (in some respects better than the later TV version) and "Fort Laramie," a western CBS did with Raymond Burr just before he took off with "Perry Mason" on TV. 

Wieland noted a Walker County connection in terms of Tallulah Bankhead hosting "The Big Show" on NBC in the early 1950s, proving a woman could successfully host a major radio show (and showing a flair for comedy, I might add). However, I recall interviewing a Jasper woman a few years ago who was an assistant on "Truth or Consequences" in its heyday, getting to know Ralph Edwards rather well. One time they even brought the show as a stage show to Jasper, as I recall. 

• The Washington Post reports former U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions is indeed looking at getting into the Senate race, asking donors and supporters what they think. That would surprise me at this late date, but there is always a last-minute surprise. Sessions would still have a number of people to support him, I think, but as President Trump has tried to throw him on the scrap heap of history, a number of Republicans may discard him, much as Roy Moore seemed discarded. But I also would wonder if the votes would be divided up even more to the point that Moore could get into the runoff. That would create absolute panic in the party. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt told the Post that if Sessions was thinking about running, he would patch up his problems with the president. (The Post reports Aderholt has not endorsed anyone yet.) But we will have to see what really transpires between now and Nov. 8, the end of qualifying. 

• I was glad to make it to Hamilton for the retirement reception for Les Walters, who first led the Hamilton Progress starting in the late 1970s and  has led the Journal Record since the late 1980s. He was my boss twice over a combined 18 or so years. Les was quite a character, ranging from his love of professional wrestling, practical jokes, westerns, and comic book collections. At the same time, he was serious about his editing, and the pen bled red over thousands of stories, including mine - and he was not afraid to add whole sections or take them out. Les despised executive sessions, especially if they were not legal. 

He did love Marion County, from its largest city to the most remote rural area, and wanted to make sure they all had a fair shake at coverage. But certainly he made my career, giving me a couple of chances when I was down and out. I think we worked together, with others like Tracy Estes, to give more professionally in-depth coverage of events and issues in Marion County. Les backed me up to do that, and to raise questions that might not be comfortable at times. He is a part of the woodwork in Marion County, and it will be hard seeing him retire. 

However, a new generation of reporters and editors, diverse and eager to ask questions, are now at the Journal Record, and I am sure they will do a great job, based on what I've already seen. A great young man will take Les' place, by the way - Jesse Lamar, who used to be sports editor at the Northwest Alabamian. 

• While we are at it, Brooke Nichols-Slatton, the county administrator in Marion County, shocked a lot of people by taking a similar position in Fayette County. I'm sure it is a good move for her, but that is a big loss of experience, history and organizational skills at a time when the county is having to deal with financial issues, including the building of a new jail, and an upcoming election. Kayln Moore has moved up to county administrator, and should do a good job. 

• I can't recall the firm hired to do the work on Airport Road - I am somewhat out of pocket as I write this column - but they are doing a lot of hard work. It is good to see road crews that are always seen busy. The road is shaping up nicely, although all us who reside or work on Airport Road will all be glad when the work is done. 

• Jason Chambers, who resigned the other night from Carbon Hill City Council, had talked with me earlier, and indicated the amount of work he was doing might keep him from having the time to be on the council. We talked about the other problems, and I think he is regretful of how some earlier statements came off to the public. I think he has the best interests of the city at heart. He has always been a nice guy to me, and I wish him the best. 

• A friend of mine had a spare ticket for the Mercy Me and Crowder concert in Birmingham recently - on the eighth row of the ground floor, no less - and invited me along. We drove down to the civic center area, and I have to say the interstate work is coming along nicely. On the other hand, Premier Parking has made its way to Birmingham and they were charging $20 to park across from the entrance to the coliseum. It is getting so I don't know how anyone can afford to go out and do anything anymore. 

• I keep meaning to ask, but will the constables in Walker County somehow get me a list of those who are incumbents in office currently, so that we can make sure that the ones who are in office are properly accounted for? I really need to make sure for all updates, but certainly for the final list after qualifying ends on Nov. 8. (The Daily Mountain Eagle also hopes - "hopes" is the operative word - to livestream on Facebook the end of the qualifying that day at the Walker County Probate Judge's Office. There has not been a rush of candidates for local office, although the District 3 race on the Walker County Commission has attracted a number of people. 

• I would like to thank everyone who has been praying for me concerning my eye surgeries. I have been dealing with cataract surgeries last week and this. It has been an experience, to say the least, and I have been taking time off to recuperate since the first surgery on Wednesday last week. (I came back Monday of this week, but mostly worked from the apartment Tuesday as my car was also being worked on.) I'm told I will not have to use anything but reading glasses. I am still adjusting and we will see how that works out. I do know I have to take eye drops as much as four times a day for over a month, and that is certainly getting old. 

It didn't help that just days before, I also hit a deer on Airport Road, smashing the front of my Honda; at this writing, I am waiting to be picked up to then pick up the car itself this Tuesday. I even had to rent a car from Enterprise for a week, but turned it in this morning expecting the car to be finished by now. 

I can tell you I was impressed with the Jasper branch manager over at Enterprise, Aaron G. Tsang, a Virginia native in his mid-20s. I understand he will be moving on to take up with a branch in the Birmingham area. He impressed me with his maturity and service in a difficult situation, and I'm sorry we will be losing his services. I'm quite sure he will continue to advance, as he has some rare qualities and abilities that should pave the way for him.