Q. For me the golden age of St. Louis radio was when Bob Hyland was in charge at KMOX. Jack Carney, Miss Blue, Anne Keefe and Bruce Bradley were my favorites. Where are they now? I know Anne was from Rochester, N.Y.
-- Garry Kaemper, of Tilden
A. You're a man after my own heart, Garry.
Except for the morning and noon news on Belleville's WIBV, my mom kept the radio glued to KMOX all day. It started in the morning with the comic genius of Jack Carney, Miriam Blue -- and newsman Rex Davis' frequent cameos as poet Percy Dovebreath, a takeoff on Ernie Kovacs' Percy Dovetonsils.
Then, all afternoon, Bob Hardy, Jim Butler, et al., would welcome experts each hour to At Your Service so listeners could learn about everything from gardening to the latest medical breakthroughs.
Now it seems hosts are almost required to preach a viewpoint so we get Rush and Mark trying to out-conservative each other for seven hours a day. So, let's return to your golden age of radio for a moment -- and let's start with the biggest surprise of all: Miriam Blue.
Each day, Blue would ride the bus from East St. Louis to clean the KMOX studios for a reported $50 a week. She was a favorite of station staffers because of her sunny disposition. They knew if they asked how she was, she would deliver the line that she would later become famous for, "All is well."
As she remembered it later, she was just dusting in the studio one day when Carney innocently began asking her questions. Not knowing the microphone was on, she simply chatted away as she would have to a fellow bus passenger.
The audience reaction was immediate, and soon she was dishing out her homespun advice twice a week (for which she was reportedly paid $40) as well as later joining in on Carney's "As the Stomach Turns" skits. Eventually joining the broadcasters' union, she continued cleaning and talking until suffering a stroke in the early 1980s. She later died in the hospital.
The clever Carney grew up in Los Angeles and was studying for a law degree when, just for fun, he took a few radio classes. Turned out he was a natural, and he quickly gave his legal studies the death sentence.
After paying his dues at small stations throughout the Southwest, Carney wound up as a rock 'n' roll jock in Milwaukee, Atlanta and Boston. St. Louis audiences got their first taste of him when he signed on at WIL in 1958 but he was again lured away by WABC in New York.
Then, just before he turned 40, he took over Jack Buck's morning show on KMOX and quickly drew a huge audience that stuck around until he died of a heart attack on Nov. 27, 1984. He was just 52. In 2001, he was inducted posthumously into the National Radio Hall of Fame.
As you know, Anne Keefe was another favorite from 1976 to 1993 on KMOX and then as a "Donnybrook" panelist on KETC-TV, Channel 9. I once signed up to travel to Egypt with her until radicals began shooting up tour buses that spring, forcing her to cancel. Last summer, Keefe, now in her mid-80s, moved back to Rochester, N.Y., to be closer to six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Many of your other favorites have gone to that studio in the sky. Bob Hyland died of cancer in 1992 at age 71; Belleville's Bob Hardy, 63, died of a heart attack the following year; and Jim White, "the big bumper," died in 2009 at 72.
That leaves the big enigma: Bruce Bradley. Still thought of fondly in Boston, Bradley is remembered by some as the driving force behind the Dave Clark Five's popularity in the U.S. in the 1960s during his days at WBZ. But after leaving KMOX and then WIBV, the trail seems to have gone cold.
"You've touched on one of life's great mysteries, Roger," St. Louis media historian Frank Absher told me. "It's almost like the proverbial UFOs. I get a couple reports each year of Bruce Bradley sightings, but no one seems to have the definitive answer on where he has settled. The most recent location is 'somewhere in the Southwest.'"
Now back to our regular programming ...
What Oscar-winning comedy was almost titled "Anhedonia"?
Answer to Saturday's trivia: On Sept. 14, 1847, forces led by Gen. Winfield Scott raise the U.S. flag over the Hall of Montezuma in Mexico City, making it the first foreign capital to be occupied by U.S. forces. Five months later, the two countries signed the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, ending the Mexican-American War. It gave the U.S. undisputed control of Texas, established the Rio Grande River as the border between the two countries and gave the United States a large swath of what is now the American Southwest. In return, the U.S. gave Mexico $18 million plus assumed $3.25 million in Mexican debt to U.S. citizens.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-2465.