Old Time Radio program comes alive at Water Street Studios on Sept. 22

Old time radio has a charm all its own.  Brilliant story telling, charismatic characters and the open-ended imagination of visual images the listening audience could create for themselves.  The First Nighter’s was the longest running radio show in history, featuring the starring power of Don Ameche, June Meredith, Les Tremayne and Barbara Luddy.

Several of the scripts will be re-enacted on September 22 at Water Street Studios. The scripts will be presented by the Shakespeare at the Centre acting troupe, under the direction of Julane Sullivan.

The First Nighter’s connection to Batavia is legendary.

Ernest Oswalt, founder of the Campana Company, was one of the first entrepreneurs to see the value of media advertising. He used newspapers, magazines, billboards, and radio to get his message out. Oswalt hired Florence Ward, a fiction writer who lived in Batavia, to write radio scripts for the company’s famous “First Nighter” radio program. Italian Balm was introduced nationally through this show. The program was a fixture on radio in American homes for twenty-two years.

The show’s opening recreated the aural atmosphere of a Broadway opening. Performing before a studio audience, the actors wore formal attire, ladies in gowns and Mr. First Nighter clad in tails and top hat.  The show was sponsored by The Campana Company and solely featured commercials for their products. Due largely in part to this exposure, their Italian Balm became the best-selling hand lotion in the United States in the 1930s. After three years of broadcasts, it had built up a weekly audience estimated at 20,000,000.

Through the Water Street Studios’ Live Art Series, patrons have a chance to experience the old time radio show broadcasts.

The Live Art Series is a monthly live art performance exploring a variety of art forms including music, film, dance, storytelling, and more! The Live Art Series event is hosted in the Dempsey Family Gallery at Water Street Studios. The Live Art Series is made possible by a grant from the Batavia Arts Council.


Details: Seating is limited to 50. Tickets are $5 in advance or at the door.

Tickets available at Event Brite.
Date: September 22, 2017 | Time: Doors at 6pm

Duration: estimated 90 minutes

Location: 160 S. Water Street in Batavia, IL
Cash Bar: Beer provided by Solemn Oath Brewery and wine provided by Bright Angel Wines

Event Sponsors: Batavia Arts Council & K. Hollis Jewelers

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