This is an online encyclopedia of personalities of Old Time Radio. It is designed for educational and entertainment purposes.

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Billy Jack Long is a professional musician and author from Southern California. Any paid advertising you see on this page was not put her by Bill. Ignore it and it should go away.

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Thursday, March 01, 2012

Adventures in Odyssey

Welcome me back after a long hiatus! I'm not really sure I can post as regularly as I did over the years. I still have so much to share with everyone. I need to get back to some of the questions on my guest book. If you want something answered quickly, contact me at my Facebook page.

I mentioned that the longest running radio drama was (and still is) Unshackled!, which has been heard throughout the world continually since 1950 (thats over 61 years!) The longest running news program is the CBS World News Round-Up which has been running since the late 1930s and is still heard. And the oldest running radio music show is Music and the Spoken Word, also on CBS, which has been broadcast by station KSL in Salt Lake City (from the Mormon Tabernacle) since 1929. I will write about it later.

The longest running comedy show isn't from Old Time Radio. It was first broadcast on November 21, 1987, which means my older daughter was a year old when it first came on. It's Adventures in Odyssey. Sponsored by Focus on the Family, the sitcom is a combination of Old Time Radio, modern technology, old fashioned values, and old time religion, as well as Saturday morning cartoons. Its opening music by John Campbell is reminiscent of Frank Comstock's theme for Rocky and His Friends.

The premise of the show is very simple: Odyssey is a small town in an undisclosed location. We know it isn't near Chicago, Iowa, California, or Colorado. John Avery Whitaker is an entrepreneur who owns an educational book publishing house near Chicago. He also owns a soda fountain in Odyssey called "Whit's End," as everyone calls him Whit. He's very politically conservative and a very interesting and resourceful person. Whit's End has video games and virtual reality exhibits giving the place sort of a science fiction feel, but you know it could happen in the present day.

Whit's main job at the soda fountain is counseling with people of all ages. He's good at it. His wife died a few years ago and he has nothing but time. Whit has two employees: Connie is a high school senior who is 17 going on 35. She's sweet and helpful. But she isn't as competent as she wants to be and she knows it. Eugene is a techie who began working for Whit in college and couldn't seem to quit to find a job in his field after graduation. He did some of the work on the virtual reality stuff in the store. Eugene is a new believer in Christ who sometimes gets a little confused about all kinds of stuff. He's a good friend to all.

The program is enjoyed not only by Christians but also by agnostics and atheists alike. It isn't really that blatantly Evangelical that the unbelievers are turned away. But some of those have actually become Christians by the show.

Now one of the interesting parts of the show is that most of the kids, who are played by kids, age and develop as they should. The main roles, such as that of Connie Kendall, who is played by an actress who was born the day before my late sister, never get any older. Actually, I like that. That shows a consistency.

It should be pointed out that one of the actors presently performing on the show is a veteran of Old Time Radio: Alan Young (born 1919) plays the part of Jack Allen, the antique dealer. I hope to put his biography up here someday. You know, he's going to be 93 this November... I saw him at a concert at the Music Center in Los Angeles about ten years ago and he looked great.

Also, Dave Madden (born 1931), who was in the cast of Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In, plays the part of the window washer and handyman.


John Avery Whittaker ..................... Andre Stojko
Connie Kendall .................... Katie Leigh
Eugene Meltsner .................... Will Ryan
Katrina Shanks-Meltsner .................... Pamela Hayden
Bernard Walton .................... Dave Madden
Wooton Bassett .................... Jess Harnell
Jack Allen .................... Alan Young
Announcer .................... Chris Landsdowne-Anthony

Although the show functions as a ministry of Focus on the Family, there have been some commercial tie-ins with the Chick Fil-A chain.

Here is the link for the Adventures in Odyssey 'Blog. There are also cartoons and video games of the series.

In this picture we see Connie, Eugene, and Whit. (Of course, they're better if you just imagine them.)


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