It comes from Mark:
How was Bob Crane on radio. You hear a lot of superlatives now, but the early work of famous people is often overpraised. What did you think of him at the time?
Before Crane established himself as a fine comic actor, he was a truly great radio personality and here’s why: He really knew how to communicate one-to-one with his listeners. He was warm and funny and talked directly to YOU. Very few announcers understand that concept. But the great ones, like Arthur Godfrey, Paul Harvey, Dan Ingram, and Vin Scully do.
For years Crane did mornings on the CBS flagship station in Los Angeles, KNX.
His big schtick was that he used a lot of wild tracks in his show – quick sound bytes inserted into programming, even commercials. He’d play a Winston cigarette commercial and stop it right in the middle for five seconds of a guy coughing. Remember these were the late '50s and that technique was very groundbreaking. Now almost every zany radio personality does this as part of their act. But Crane was one of the originators.
Interestingly, he was hired from a small station in Bridgeport, Connecticut. The station used to reach parts of New York and he was eating into the ratings of powerhouse WCBS. Primarily to get him out of town, CBS offered him the morning show on their LA outlet.
The union engineers were nowhere near as proficient at it and the show really stumbled out of the gate. Crane threatened to quit unless he could run his own control board. Lots of meetings between the station and the union resulted until an agreement was reached allowing him to do that.
And all the while he remained the same humble charming friendly guy on the air. You just felt comfortable listening to him. And the quality never slipped. You never got the sense he was now just phoning it in because he had a TV series.
Once he got HOGAN’S HEROES and was starring in a show, that’s when he finally gave up the radio job.
I also knew him a little bit from the neighborhood. His son was roughly my age and I’d see Bob Crane at Little League games or school concerts. He was the typical suburban dad.
Who knew he would abandon all that for a life of sex and pornography and enter a very unsavory and ultimately deadly world?
Crane is remembered way more for his TV work, but I’m here to tell you, as good as he was, his radio work was even better.