Don McNeill's

Early Years in Radio


Don McNeill sent a photograph and the following letter to NBC in June, 1933.

"My start in radio came in 1928, one year before I was graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee. I was engaged at WISN as an announcer and radio editor. After a year I joined WTMJ, the Milwaukee Journal station, in the same capacity. In 1930 I transferred to WHAS, the Courier-Journal station in Louisville. Here I teamed with Van Fleming in a comedy act.

"For two years we wrote and presented a daily west coast network program, "The Two Professors:, from San Francisco. Earlier this year we split up and I returned to Milwaukee and WTMJ. Sample scripts of "The Journal Jamboree", which played to capacity theater audiences, "The Rise of a Rookie" and other features are enclosed."

As a result of this letter, Don was asked to audition with two others for the m.c. role on an early morning show called "The Pepper Pot." Sid Strotz, then program director of the central division, told later that everyone on the program board, except him, thought McNeill was the worst of the three. Since Sid was the boss, Don got the job.

Application photo: Don McNeill was 25 when he auditioned for The Breakfast Club. He had been in radio for five years, the only career he has ever followed.

College graduate: While attending Marquette's college of journalism (he hoped to be an editorial cartoonist), Don was editor of the 1928 Junior yearbook. The same year he went to work for a Milwaukee radio station at $15 a week. He was valedictorian of the class of 1929.

Louisville, 1930: Between announcing, writing and illustrating a radio column, Don found time to develop a comedy act with Van Fleming. He also became engaged to Katherine Mary Bennett, his college sweetheart from Milwaukee.

San Francisco, 1931-32: Don and Van with Joe E. Brown, a guest of "The Two Professors." Don and Kay were married in San Francisco, September 12, 1931.

Milwaukee, 1933: Don portrayed the character of Homer Benchbottom in the daily pre-baseball game feature he wrote for WTMJ. Left to right, Coach Christiansen of the Milwaukee Brewers, Bob De Haven and Don McNeill.

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