This is the third in a series of articles written by the former president of the Crimson Network about the Network's early days of broadcasting.
Two successive evenings at the Old Howard and $5.25 (for roses) was what the Crimson Network's first program manager had to spend before he succeeded in convincing Ann Corio that she ought to come up some time and giggle into the College station's microphones.
When she came, the strippeuse spent ten minutes telling the network audience that she prefers Harvardmen to Yalies . . . and an hour and ten minutes posing for Boston and CRIMSON photographers while she carried on to the death staring contests with every gaping student whose eyes happened to cross hers.
For at least twenty-four hours the College was more than mildly Corio-conscious. Networkmen did not have to call a special meeting to decide that this incident carried with it a moral. "Your audience," said the moral, "likes sex; let them have it."
Colds Bare Harvard
Five days later a Radcliffe freshman, a Wellesley sophomore, a vacationing Vassar junior, and a Boston debutante sat around a Network microphone for a half hour while they compared notes and answered the question: "What's the matter with Harvard men?"
The program made a hit. "Well," mused the Networkers, "all we've got to do is let them listen to some women's voices, and they'll be happy." And so one of the station's lesser members went and fetched six girls from Simmons. "Do anything you want," he told them. "All we want you for is your voices."
Simmons Gives Anything
"Anything?" asked the Simmons lasses. That was simply grand. Why just a week ago they had won a prize for doing the court room scene from the Merchant of Venice. They did that court room scene again. This time they won no prizes.
No, Harvard wanted more than women's voices--what they wanted was to hear what people thought of them. During the next six weeks two dozen gawdy-gowned night club entertainers, plus Georgie Jessel and Mike of Mike's Club, declared that Harvardmen are "just lovely."
Harvardmen Prefer Femmes
Eager to learn the results of this series of shows, the Network made a survey. They learned that Harvard still preferred classical music programs to anything else that the station was offering. But Harvardmen had shown a preference for feminine voices; this was no time to give up.
A Networker put on his beat how tie, traveled up to Agassiz, sipped some tea with members of the Radcliffe News, and returned to Holyoke Street with the plans for a new series of programs: The Radcliffe News Presents.
First, there came a never-ending string of recitals--piano recitals, string recitals, recitals by choral groups.... Surveys showed that recitals were popular only when they were good. Network listeners didn't much care whether those recitals were by Radcliffe girls or by Australian Bushmen.
Members of the College station scratched their heads. Sex, they felt, can be mighty important in college broadcasting. For proof they pointed to the success of the Corio and "What's Wrong with Harvardmen?" interviews. Perhaps their logic was faulty, but they stuck to their convictions.
Next they turned their Radcliffe colleagues into swing music announcers and tutored them in the art of making clever dedications. The idea was a good one; it attracted more listeners. But Networkmen had reason to be their from modified. Their exploitation of the female voice could, they believed, be much more successful.
Personalized Sex Wanted
One fine day the answer to the Network problem came--it wasn't so long ago--when the Network Prize Show went on the air. The ostensible "prizes" given away are free passes to the U.T., but the important prizes are the telephone numbers (names attached) which are given out and must be called during the program.
The Prize Show had been on the air only three times--and a survey had shown that 600 people had heard it-- when Networkmen decided that the problem had been solved. Harvardmen were cool to the sound of a female voice; they were indifferent, after the first time, to what females had to say about them; they cared little for dedications sent their way.
All that the average Harvardman wanted with the average young lady was this: a date. As long as the Network could supply the need, and keep playing classical music on the side, their listeners would be happy. And what's more, they'd be listeners.