Local Pittsburgh Radio
Bill Cullen began his broadcasting career on WWSW, a tiny Pittsburgh station, early in 1938. He was a frequent, though unpaid, guest on the station's overnight show, called The 1500 Club. He joined the payroll that summer, and his staff duties included news and sports, as well as routine announcing and platter spinning.
He was the announcer on an audience participation show called Have You Got It? for Walt Framer, who would go on to become a successful radio and TV producer in New York. He also worked with sportscaster Joe Tucker on coverage of Pittsburgh Steelers football games and Pittsburgh Hornets hockey from 1940 to 1943. He also sometimes served as announcer for variety shows hosted by Betty Dugan, including one called Juvenile Round-Up.
Bill eventually moved to the larger Pittsburgh station KDKA, where his duties included hosting a local variety show. In 1944, he moved to New York where he almost immediately became a CBS staff announcer.
WNEW July 2-August 17, 1951
This was a half-hour of talk and record spinning, heard Monday-Friday at noon on a local New York City station. According to Variety, "Cullen has gotten together a delightful line of chatter, most if it inconsequential, but amusing." Possibly more inconsequential than amusing, it folded after only five weeks.
We've uncovered a Billboard article from 1947 that casually mentions Bill is going to be hosting a new radio show titled Going Nowhere, featuring his second wife, singer Carol Ames, as a regular. We have found no listing for Going Nowhere during this year, nor any mention of it or anything that sounds like it. We suspect Bill was originally going to use the title for a variety show.
The full Variety review of Going Nowhere
It Happens Every Day
CBS, June, 1952 to Fall, 1953
Mutual, Fall 1953 to February 1955 (or so)
This five-minute morning program featured funny and unusual news items submitted by listeners. Bill shared hosting duties with Arlene Francis, and the two traded stories at a fast pace. We have one undated CBS episode (the only one we know of) sponsored by White Rain and Prom.
The series was first heard on the CBS network in spring, 1952 on Saturday afternoons following Fun For All, another Cullen/Francis collaboration sponsored by Toni. It quickly became a daily affair from 4:00 to 4:05pm. In January, 1953 it was moved to 3:55pm. As with so many radio shows of the era, it's hard to tell exactly when the series moved from CBS to Mutual, but our best information suggests it was some time in the fall of 1953. When the show moved to the Mutual network, it was heard at 8:55am and sponsored by Block Drug Company. (Thanks to Kenneth Johannessen for much of this information!)
An undated pilot episode
Variety reviews It Happens Every Day
Some fun news tidbits from November 3, 1952
National Radio Fan Club
NBC, Friday nights, c1955-56
The NRFC was a Friday night series of live and recorded music, featuring young rising stars as well as veteran performers. A March, 1956 issue of Hit Parader magazine welcomes Bill as the new "Chairman" of the NRFC, which appears to simply mean that he hosted this weekly program. Young fans could write in, not only to become a member of the NRFC but to choose a radio personality whose specific club they wanted to join. Despite his published views on rock music (see Pulse), Bill was pushing the young artists as much as the established talents on the show.
We have a listing for the show from July 1, 1955, so the series ran for at least eight months before Bill joined it, and his association with the show may have been brief. The April, 1956 issue of Hit Parader continues to list him as "chairman". Even though the NRFC appears to have been a prime time network series, no modern reference book seems to list it.
NBC, Fall 1956
Bill indulged his interest in sports by working for NBC radio as a play-by-play announcer for Army football games in 1956. Marty Glickman was his partner for those games. Bill had also covered sports in his early days in local Pittsburgh radio, and in 1966 he joined Jim Simpson on the sports anthology series NBC Sports In Action.
Stars for Summer
NBC, July 10 to August 14, 1957
This six-week series seems to be very similar to the next two listed below, though all we know about it is the brief Variety review (above left) and an impressive list of guest stars that included Peggy Lee, Nat King Cole, Rosemary Clooney and Tony Martin. The show was heard on a network and was twenty-five minutes long, but other than those two details, everything about it sounds like it was packaged identically to the two shows below, right down to exclusive sponsorship by a governmental body (U.S. Savings Bonds).
Variety reviews Stars for Summer
National Society for the Prevention of Blindness
Bill lent his voice to public service announcements for the organization.
National Guard public service announcements
Bill did a slew of recorded announcements for the National Guard, and there's almost certainly a connection between these and the next credit on this page.
Pilots - 60 second spot
Pilots - 30 second spot
The Army - 60 second spot
The Army - 30 second spot
Air Guard - 60 second spot
Air Guard - 30 second spot
"Guess" - 60 second spot
"Guess" - 30 second spot
The National Guard Summer Show
Syndicated, Summer, 1962?
Also known as All-Star Salute, this was a series of fifteen-minute variety shows, each hosted by Bill and each featuring one guest performer. The guest roster included Andy Williams, Tony Bennett and Gisele MacKenzie. We have four episodes and we know of at least two others. None of our material shows any dates for the series, but based on musical selections and guest stars, we're guessing they were heard in the summer of 1962. Ads included within the program are all for the National Guard.
A scoped version (music removed as a copyright precaution) of Andy Williams' evening on All-Star Salute
A scoped episode featuring Gisele MacKenzie
Flight Plan for Music
Syndicated, Summer, 1963?
Very similar to The National Guard Summer Show above, this one was sponsored by the Air National Guard and was a slightly more elaborately produced show, suggesting it probably came later. We'll guess 1963. We have six episodes and know of at least two others. A less stellar line-up of stars included Joni James, Jill Corey and Helen O'Connell.
A scoped version of Les Paul, Mary Ford, and some other friends dropping in on Flight Plan for Music
Bill welcomes Jill Corey
The March of Dimes
Bill did at least one public service announcement, possibly more, for the Marching Mothers campaign.