Phillips Carlin: On the Air


Phillips Carlin (1894-1971) was a radio broadcaster who got his start locally at New York’s WEAF, and then was the announcer for several national programs on NBC, as well as the 1926, 1927 and 1928 World Series.

In the waning days of vaudeville in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Carlin hosted several radio revues at the Palace called “On the Air”, designed to help bolster attendance. This was an NBC tie-in, of course. By then the old Keith circuit was part of R.K.O., which was affiliated with N.B.C.  The attendance gambit didn’t work, but ideas like this sound intriguing, and help us to imagine what a “future vaudeville” might have been like if vaudeville hadn’t died out. Carlin later became a major programming executive at NBC and the Mutual Broadcasting Company, and after that went on to produce commercials.

To find out more about the variety arts past and present, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold. And don’t miss Chain of Fools: Silent Comedy and Its Legacies from Nickelodeons to Youtube, released by Bear Manor Media. 


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