Bill Cullen stayed very busy from the sixties until the end of his career recording a variety of short features that were pressed onto vinyl discs and distributed at no cost to radio stations across the country. These typically were no more than four minutes in length, and sometimes much shorter. Sponsors footed the bill for the programs in exchange for brief mentions at the beginning and end of each episode.
The first four series listed below were produced by the Robert G. Jennings Corporation (later Aerial Communications, Inc.) and tended to be general interest programs with little connection between sponsor and content. The ones after that were produced by David J. Clark Enterprises (listed by some sources as Celebrity Radio Productions).
Although certainly a minor and all-but-forgotten aspect of Bill's career, he nevertheless did it, on and off, for nearly twenty-five years. We estimate that Bill ended up hosting nearly four thousand individual episodes of these various series.
PART I: PROGRAMS FOR THE ROBERT G. JENNINGS CORPORATION
September 30, 1963 to January 2, 1970
A four-minute informational series sponsored by Grolier's Encyclopedia.
Despite the title, there was nothing adventurous about the program. There wasn't even musical accompaniment for most of the show's run. For each session, Bill gave four unadorned minutes of interesting facts and unusual trivia about a subject. Subjects could be almost anything: Mount Everest, centipedes, hair dying, youth hostels and sorcery were discussed in one week. Since episodes were designed to play on a specific date, anniversaries of famous events would frequently be topic material.
We have 335 episodes from this series in the Archive, some from Bill's personal collection. The series ran for an astonishing 1,635 episodes, though many were repeats of earlier segments. When Cullen's Adventures finally ended on a Friday, the next Monday Bill was right back at it as the host of Knowledge Mod Style.
Bill discusses the life of Ralph Waldo Emerson
The history of "paddle tennis"
The U.S. Naval Academy
Bill delves into Ben Franklin's kite-flying experiment
Bill dives into the topic of swimming
Bill hears crickets
How America almost became known as "Columbia"
The diary of Samuel Pepys
All about worms
Hodgepodge #1 - Diamonds, SCUBA, and Memorial Day
Hodgepodge #2 - Rattlesnakes, Mountains, Dandelions
Guy Fawkes Day
All about the hippopotamus
Grover Cleveland's wedding
The American Flag
A short promo for Cullen's Adventures
James K. Polk
Hodgepodge #3 - Dodo, Malta, and Cinnamon
Halloween Party Games
The Deacon's Masterpiece
Animals That Migrate
The Ballad of the Oysterman
Ideas for Better Living
March 22, 1965 to June, 1968
Bill and his fellow I've Got A Secret panelist Betsy Palmer shared the microphone for this one. The title is self-explanatory. The pair chatted away on such subjects as medical care for your pets, the meaning of happiness, imaginative children's toys and -- frequently -- the differences between men and women in various endeavors.
Unlike many of the other series listed here, which ran continuously year-round, Ideas For Better Living appears to have been produced in annual 13-week chunks of 65 shows, airing between March and June each year. We have most of the 1965 season, as well as examples from 1967 and 1968.
How to "say it with flowers"
Color and climate
"Myths about Teflon"
Bill and Betsy on Mother's Day
Better to Receive
A short promo
Kids' toys and summer vacation
How to paint window shutters
The ship's galley
Down by the sea
What's Wrong with the Weather
Proof in the pudding
Not a perfectionist
The Art of Relaxing
Yet another promo
The Case of the Peeling Window Sill
On the Road
Dining Rooms are Back
Key Home to Hair
Don't Quote Me
Come to the Fair
Myths About Cooking
Paint Cool for Summer
Another short promo
Knowledge Mod Style
January 5, 1970 to at least April 16, 1971
Similar to Cullen's Adventures above but at half the length, this two-minute feature began with a question that had been submitted by a caller, followed by Cullen offering the answer to the query. The only thing remotely "mod" about the feature was the brief bass-beat theme music. We have over four hundred episodes of this series, including the first 160. The latest episode we have is #680, and we don't know for how long the series continued beyond that date.
Some mod facts about solar eclipses
Bill gets mod about football
Bill talks about snakes
The mod history of Christmas cards
Mod on ice! It's hockey history
A mod look at skiing
Touch gloves and come out mod! It's boxing time!
Force and weightlessness
Has anyone seen a mammoth?
Knowledge Mod Style lays an egg
Gypsies, facts, and Bill
Cullen goes electric!
A look at the American Bald Eagle
Bill knows his salt
A mod look at elevators
The Sound of the Voice
Bill Cullen's Baseball
Bill goes to Cooperstown
Space capsules and suits
Noses & Smells
The Light Bulb
The Origin of Dogs
The Strength of Ants
Here's to Your Health
We have very little to tell you about this. We've only ever seen one reference to the show, in a contemporary program guide for a single radio station in Nevada. All we can tell you is that it was a five-day-a-week segment and each episode was four minutes long.
Looking Inside Sports
September 23, 1972 to December 22, 1972
A thirteen-week series of four-minute segments which focused, as the title might suggest, on human interest stories in the world of sports. Stories tended to center on then-current subject matter, though historical items would be discussed occasionally. Legendary sportscaster Red Barber replaced Bill for twenty shows in the middle of the run, from November 6 to December 1. The episode guide sent to stations carrying the program including a note only saying "Bill Cullen was unable to record these programs."
Helbros Watches sponsored the series, and each episode featured a plug for a sports-themed Helbros contest, for which the grand prize was a trip to the Super Bowl. We have the entire series.
Episode #1, with a profile of pro bowling champion Paula Sperber.
Episode #2: Bill consults some experts about what makes a good linebacker.
Episode #3: Bill looks at losers.
Episode #4: The Cincinnati Reds, and the most eligible bachelors in sports.
Episode #5: Bill touches on "Jungle Jim," the Boston Marathon, and rule changes in football.
A 5-second promo
Episode #6: The resurgence of amateur boxing, and the importance of film in professional football.
Episode #7: Baseball's "fast ball" and other subjects.
Episode #8: Bill talks to Steve Groves of the NCAA Golf All America Team
Episode #9: A preview of the 1972 World Series
Episode #10: Bill explains the "research and development" employees in pro football.
Another brief promo
Episode #11: Bill looks at Billie Jean King and explains what "dogs" are in football.
Episode #12: Bill profiles a referee who reads the rules before bedtime, and finds out which NFL team watches the most movies
Episode #13: Who starts the fights on a hockey team?
Episode #14: Football wives and superstitions
Episode #15: Why Wilt Chamberlain is underpaid
Episode #16: The New Breed of Wide Receivers
Episode #17: A New Kind of Hockey Holdout
Episode #18: PGA Tourney Players' School
Episode #19: Tennis Officials
Episode #20: Legalize the spitball?
PART II: PROGRAMS FOR DAVID J. CLARK ENTERPRISES
These shows more cleverly incorporated content that expanded on the sponsor's own message, so that the entire program worked as a marketing tool. These were essentially early versions of what would become known as infomercials. Bill was one of many celebrities hosting programs for David J. Clark. Others included Peter Graves, Florence Henderson, Lee Meriwether, Chuck Connors, and sportscaster Dave Diles.
Here's how exactly this business operated. A sponsor would be secured and a batch of episodes and promos would be sent out at no cost to many, many radio stations, which could air them, or not, at no charge. The record came with a postcard, and if the station wished to continue receiving episodes, they would mail the postcard back to David J. Clark Enterprises and continue receiving the records indefinitely. The station would never pay; the programs were always completely free. The sponsor paid for the production costs, which were minimal.
People On The Go/
People Who Are Different
January 15, 1979 to c1981
Two-minute-long biographical profiles, sponsored by Nestle. The series started with profiles of reasonably well-known contemporary individuals. One representative week from the fall of 1979 covered actress Mariel Hemingway, author Joseph Heller, Ethel Merman, The Village People and Sigourney Weaver. Starting with program 196 on October 15, 1979, the title changed to People Who Are Different and the series began to focus on less famous individuals with unusual talents or accomplishments. We do not know for how long the series ran, and we do not have examples of People on the Go in the archive.
By the way, the adjacent photo is there because it's clearly a radio studio and it appears to be early 1980s, but we have no idea who the man is with Bill.
A 5-second promo
Your Child's Health
May 4,-October 30, 1981
Colgate was the sponsor of this unambigulously-titled program. A press release from just before the show's debut offered little info, except that exactly 130 episodes would be produced.
Goose Who's Coming to Dinner
Five two-minute Thanksgiving stories produced for the National Goose Council. Given the sponsor, it's not surprising that the stories pointed out the role of the goose in history, and the bird's superiority to turkey as a Thanksgiving meal. We have the entire brief series.
Episode #1: "Our Pilgrim Mothers"
Episode #2: "A Traditional Dinner"
Episode #3: "Our Friend, The Goose"
Episode #4: "Call It Goose Day"
Episode #5: "Beware of Goose"
This David J. Clark offering was a little more blatantly commercial than the others. According to a tape case provided to us by fellow collector James Owen, Fuji Facts with Bill Cullen was "25 1-minute tips on Photography, Video and Computer Use". Jim remembers this being offered to stations around 1987 or so. Roger Munyon was able to provide us the actual recordings for this program.
How to get a good action shot
Projects involving your PC, word processor, and laser printer
Some tips for photography in cold weather
Prolonging the life of your videotape
Tips for portrait shooting
Traveling with a camera
Bill tells us about floppy disks
Audio tape categories
What's an ISO Number?
Photography on a moving platform
How to make greeting cards
Using the rectangle
Family greeting videos
Audio tape categories
The Parents Notebook
At least March, 1983 through at least September 11, 1987
Another two-minute series, this one sponsored by Johnson & Johnson. Most episodes consisted of Bill dispensing some straightforward tips about raising and caring for children. Occasionally, weeks of episodes showcased special guest experts giving their own advice.
We've found references to the show in print ads for local radio stations as early as March, 1983 but we have no episodes prior to 1985. Based on the unusual numbering system on the records we have, we believe that there were 400 episodes produced in 1983 and 1984. By 1985, the show was provided to stations in distinct annual runs, once in 1985 (Apr-Nov), again in 1986 (Mar-Oct) and a third time in 1987 (Jan-Sep). In the last known interview given by Bill, in 1988, he implies that he's still recording episodes of this program, but we can't find any records of a 1988 run.
Each annual run that we know about consisted of between 160 and 180 episodes, so we believe that there were approximately 900 episodes produced in total, even more if there was also a 1988 series. We have 400 of those episodes in the Archive. At some point, this series was provided to stations on cassette tape rather than (or in addition to) vinyl albums. This would be Bill's last professional work.