(Left to right) Powers Gouraud, George M. Cohan and Stan Lee Broza
Here's an early WCAU broadcast. It dates from July 3, 1936 and originated from Baltimore (via 16" transcription disc) and took place in the guest's dressing room in Ford's Theater. It was with the legendary George M. Cohan, an old, dear friend of Gouraud. This 13 minute broadcast, while not being of the best quality, is truly a classic and should be heard by everyone. Keep in mind that broadcasting in Philadelphia was only 14 years old at the time of this broadcast.
Legendary Philadelphia radio host, Powers Gouraud does the interview on WCAU Radio. He's the "ol' nightowl." This, by the way, was Cohan's six appearance on Gouraud's broadcast. The very first radio appearance by George M. Cohan anywhere in the world was on Powers' broadcast in 1929, shortly after Gouraud started his broadcasting career. Gouraud was hired by our first President, Stan Lee Broza.
A little about this recording! It was transferred from the original 16" transcription disc to reel to reel audio tape in 1966 at the studios of a local radio station. Afterwards, the disc went into the archives of a major university and has never seen the light of day again. While we have heard that the original transcription disc was accidentally destroyed in 1989, we have also heard reports that this was just a rumor. We still have not be able to confirm the existence of the original recording.
Our recording was digitally mastered from the original 1966 tape dub. The original recording is quite noisy and the surface noise gets worse as you progress into the recording. We have equalized the recording based on the voices in the broadcast. Then we ran it through a surface noise reduction program which has reduced the surface noise from 2 to 12 db, depending on where you are in the recording. Any additional processing deteriorated the recording to the point that parts of the broadcast were not understandable.
We experimented with different parameters and programs for 20 hours and the recording we present here is the best of all possible choices. We could, of course, get rid of the surface noise completely, but it totally made the recording unintelligent. We elected to present this historic recording in its clearest form, even if there were high levels of surface noise in parts. It's more important to be able to hear what is being said.
One thing we can tell you is that we removed over 200 pops and clicks from this recording. This 2009 edition is far clearer than the previously posted one from 2006 (which was clearer than the one uploaded in 2000). Hopefully, technology will advance more in the next few years so that we can give you an even clearer version. Also, for the first time, it is posted in two formats, Real Audio and in the Windows Media format.
From the official archives of the Broadcast Pioneers of Philadelphia
Audio originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers historian Gerry Wilkinson
Photo originally donated by Broadcast Pioneers member Roger Hendler
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