Cladrite Radio’s New Home Sweet Home

You may have noticed that things look a bit different around these parts, and there’s a good reason for that: We’ve been hard at work for weeks, revamping our website.

Cladrite Radio is now a fully secure, mobile-friendly website and we have a brand new streaming player for you to enjoy our toe-tapping tunes of the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s. We hope you’ll put the new site through its paces and let us know if you experience any technical issues.

Moving the site to a new server and springing for increased security wasn’t cheap, so if you’d like to show your support by chipping in a few clams, you’ll see a link to the right of this post that allows you to do just that. And thanks!

An attractive woman sits listening to a vintage radio

Dame Vera Lynn’s Still Got It

Dame Vera LynnWe were tickled pink recently to learn that the recent greatest-hits release from Dame Vera Lynn has sold more copies than any other album released by a female artist in the U.K. this year.

Not bad for a 100-year-old songbird!

Lynn, known during World War II as “the Forces’ Sweetheart” for the inspiring wartime songs she sang and her dedicated efforts to entertain the troops, celebrated her centenary birthday in March of this year, and though she’s no longer recording, her reissues and greatest-hits packages have always done very well.

But the top-selling female artist in the U.K. more than 65 years after her heyday? That speaks to the deep affection and high esteem in which Dame Vera is held.

Longtime Cladrite Radio listeners and readers know very well how we feel about Dame Vera; her music has been a big part of our playlist since we went “on the air” years ago. So you can imagine how excited we were to receive in the mail last week this lovely autographed picture, direct from Dame Vera herself.

In the brief note that accompanied the picture, Dame Vera wrote, “My P.A. [personal assistant] Susan has told me about your radio station, and I commend you for keeping alive the memory of that bygone era.”

It’s our great pleasure, Dame Vera, and we’re grateful you’re still here with us. You’re an inspiration to us all.

If you’d like to show your appreciation to Dame Vera for the joy she’s brought us all over the years, consider supporting Dame Vera Lynn Children’s Charity, which is dedicated to supporting families with children under 5 years old with cerebral palsy and motor-learning difficulties. Dame Vera thanks you, and so do we.

The Latest from the Streaming Wars

We’ve been talking to you of late about the technical troubles our streaming provider, Radionomy, has been experiencing, and here’s the latest: Our stream is currently available via all the popular browsers via this website, our page on the Radionomy.com website, the Internet Radio feature in iTunes (look for us under Jazz), and via the free Radionomy app that’s available for Android and iOS.

However, it’s still not available through many third-party apps (like Reciva and Nobex—though Android users of the latter may be able to access the stream), and that has impacted our listener hours rather drastically. This matters because Radionomy has a daily minimum number for listener hours and any stations that fall below that mark get 86’d.

We’re not that close to the danger point just yet, but we’re closer than we’d like to be. So we humbly ask you to make it a point to give us a nice, long listen or two (or twelve) over the next few days to get our average back up a bit. Choose whichever method mentioned above that works for you; it’s all the same to us (and to Radionomy).

We may look into switching to another streaming provider one of these days—Radionomy is not only buggy, but their communication with their broadcasters is almost non-existent. But the service is free, which matters to us a great deal—a money-maker Cladrite Radio is not. We’re lucky when we break even.

So unless and until we switch, please keep us streaming in the background whenever you’re able (heck, stream us on your computer or phone and mute the sound, if you’re not in the mood for our toe-tapping tunes at just that moment, though honestly, when are you not in the mood for great music from the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s?). And thanks!
Listening to Cladrite Radio on the beach

Happy 115th birthday, Louis Armstrong!

The great Louis Armstrong was born 115 years ago today in New Orleans, Louisiana. Here are 10 LA Did-You-Knows:

  • Armstrong was the grandson of slaves.
  • He grew up rough in the Storyville section of New Orleans and as a sometimes-delinquent teenager, he found himself more than once sent to the Colored Waifs’ Home for Boys. It was there that he honed his abilities in playing the cornet.
  • The young Armstrong played with many bands in the Crescent City, but it was his time with band of Fate Marable‘s riverboat outfit that perhaps proved most influential in his style and ability. He once referred to his time with Marable as “going to the University.”
  • His nickname morphed from Satchelmouth to Satchmo during a 1932 European tour when an editor of a London music magazine referred to him by that soubriquet, perhaps based on a shorthand version of Satchelmouth in his notes.
  • Armstrong tended to remember faces but not names, so he made it a practice to call “Pops” anyone whose name was eluding his memory. Eventually, friends turned that around on him, and it became another of the nicknames by which he was known.
  • Armstrong claimed most of his life to have been born on July 4, 1900, but some years after he died, a birth record was discovered that revealed his true birth date.
  • Armstrong was unfamiliar with both the song Hello, Dolly! and the show it came from when he recorded it in 1964. It became his first No. 1 hit.
  • An avid user of a herbal laxative called Swiss Kriss, he adhered to the questionable belief that the regular use of laxatives was key to good health.
  • Armstrong is said to have coined the slang terms “cat” (a jazz musician) and “chops” (a musician’s skill with his instrument).
  • Louis Armstrong’s home in the Corona section of Queens, New York, where he and his fourth wife, Lucille, settled in in 1943, is now a museum and remains furnished much as it was when the pair resided there.

Happy birthday, Satchmo, wherever you may be!

Louis Armstrong

Happy Birthday, Smith Ballew!

If you turned on your radio in the 1920s and early 1930s (or, for that matter, if you tuned into Cladrite Radio right now), you wouldn’t have to wait long before you heard the crooning of one of a handful of popular male vocalists: Chick Bullock, Scrappy Lambert, Dick Robertson and a few others.

These weren’t the biggest stars of the day—they didn’t rank up with, say, Bing Crosby or Rudy VallĂ©e—but they were among the busiest singers for hire, performing and recording with a lengthy roster of the most popular orchestras of the day, and, depending upon which contractual restrictions they were violating at the time, often being credited under various pseudonyms.

And probably as busy as any of them was Smith Ballew, who was born 114 years ago today in Palestine, Texas. Ballew was a popular radio singer and sang on literally hundreds of records. He was so busy that he once reported for for-hire session at a recording studio in NYC with no earthly idea who he was to be singing with that day—it turned out to be Duke Ellington and his orchestra.

Smith Ballew

After this busy phase of his career, Smith Ballew became a singing cowboy in the movies, starring in 17 pictures between 1936 and 1951. He retired from Hollywood after that, moving back to the Lone Star state, where he took a position as manager in the missiles division of an aircraft company. He passed away in 1984.

Happy birthday, Mr. Ballew, and thanks for the musical memories!