The Breakfast Club:
8 December 1941

Right: Don McNeill and unidentified members of the "Breakfast Club" cast in an undated photo.

Curator's note: Twenty-four hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Don McNeill and the Breakfast Clubbers had their hands full. News bulletins from New York and London repeatedly interrupt the show. Until the broadcast's emotional final segment, Don makes only the most oblique references to the tragedy of the previous day and the declaration of war all know will follow shortly.
Conductor Joe Gallicchio and his men are the heroes of the day, repeatedly reaching into the back of the book to provide fill-in music between bulletins and the smaller-than-scheduled portion of the "Breakfast Club" show that gets on the air.
Of special note: two numbers by the "Four Vagabonds", an African American vocal group that had been featured since 1938 on NBC-Chicago broadcasts.
Secondary NBC affiliate WCFL aired this broadcast in Chicago from 8 to 9AM, CST.
Peruse the 1942 Breakfast Club Family Album and the 1953 Breakfast Club Year Book to learn more about the role this broadcast played in wartime America and thereafter.
And watch streaming video of a mini-documentary on the "Breakfast Club" the curator put together in 2004.

Download the broadcast:

[you will need RealPlayer to listen to this broadcast].

  • Segment 1 (runs 14:48): Opens with the end of a news bulletin from the NBC-Chicago newsroom, a network id, the NBC chimes followed by fifteen seconds of silence (for local station breaks). Following the show open the Four Vagabonds sing "I've got Swing for Sale". The cast make light of Joe Gallicchio's bald pate and Joe and the orchestra play "Two in Love". Nancy Martin steps to the microphone to sing "Why Don't we do this More Often?" But a bulletin from the NBC newsroom in New York intervenes before Gallicchio can deliver the downbeat. Gallicchio and the orchestra begin a musical interlude near the end of the first quarter-hour, but they're almost immediately cut off by a bulletin from New York: Britain has just declared war on Japan.
  • Segment 2 (runs 14:18): Most of the segment originates in London where Charles Collingwood (CBS) and John McVane (NBC) provide analysis of Prime Minister Winston Churchill's war declaration address to the House of Commons. The segment ends with a summary of news bulletins from New York.
  • Segment 3 (runs 16:05): A brief orchestral interlude from Joe Gallicchio ends the second quarter hour followed by a fifteen-second pause for station identification. Tenor Jack Baker leads off the third "call to breakfast". The second half-hour of the show typically began with "march around the breakfast table". It's especially spirited on this broadcast ("We march for the United States armed forces, wherever they may be," Don proclaims). Nancy Martin sings "Be Fair". New York breaks in and switches back to London where Collingwood and McVane report on the conclusion of Churchill's speech. Back in Chicago, Gallicchio's orchestra concludes the quarter-hour with an instrumental version of "I Want to be Happy."
  • Segment 4 (runs 14:24): Following some comedy Jack Baker sings "'Til Reveille". Don segues into "inspiration time"---a regular feature of the final quarter-hour, noting that "sometimes you can strike a giant who is dozing momentarily. But when the giant awakens, look out." Gallicchio's orchestra plays "White Cliffs of Dover" featuring muted strings. Nancy Martin and Jack Baker sing a chorus of "Shine on, Harvest Moon". The Four Vagabonds return with their arrangement of the ballad, "I'd Love You Again". Pianist Bill Krenz plays "Make Believe" with the orchestra joining in on the last chorus. Don ends the broadcast with his signature signoff: "So long---and be good to yourself!"

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