Chicago Theater of the Air

Chicago Theater of the Air was a weekly American radio program that featured hour-long operettas & musical theater. It first ran locally in May 1940 on WGN radio in Chicago and then nationally as an unsponsored show on the Mutual Broadcasting System from October 5, 1940, to September 11, 1954.[1]

The Chicago Theater of the Air
GenreOperetta & Musical theater
Country of originUnited States
Home stationWGN
Hosted byCol. Robert R. McCormick
Directed byWilliam A. Bacher
Jack LaFrandre
Joe Ainley
Original releaseMay 9, 1940 – May 7, 1955

The show grew out of listener surveys conducted by WGN that showed that many listeners enjoyed opera and drama.[1] The show combined both into 60-minute operettas. Intermission commentary was originally by conductor Henry Weber and later by Chicago publisher Robert R. McCormick.[1] For seven years, Henry Weber's wife, Marion Claire Weber sang on the show.[2]

As the program began its seventh season, McCormick commented on its growth:

Three years ago, the demand for tickets to these broadcasts became so great that our original auditorium studio became entirely inadequate. Then, too, the program itself outgrew the studio, as the size of the orchestra, chorus, and dramatic cast became larger and larger to meet the requirements of more complicated productions. So it was decided to move ... to ... the Medinah Temple. Here we can accommodate nearly 5,000 guests each week and have the necessary facilities for any type of production.[3]

Beginning January 12, 1949, many of the people involved in Chicago Theater of the Air also put on Comedy Playhouse, "a fast-paced half hour show featuring top Broadway comedy hits" on Mutual.[4]

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Episodic logEdit

Streaming audioEdit


  1. ^ a b c Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 152. ISBN 0-19-507678-8. chicago theater of the air.
  2. ^ "Obituaries". Chicago Tribune. February 28, 1988. Retrieved August 21, 2012.
  3. ^ McCormick, Robert E. (October 13, 1946). "Chicago Theater of the Air". Chicago Sunday Tribune. p. Part 1 - Page 22. Retrieved 20 April 2015.
  4. ^ "WOOB". The Anniston Star. January 12, 1949. p. 2. Retrieved April 19, 2015 – via