Listen to "Smackout"

Left: Jim and Marian Jordan around 1931 (judging from the RCA 4A condenser micrphone), perhaps reading a script from "Smackout", their first big radio hit.

About the broadcast: "Smackout" aired from March, 1931 until August, 1935. It began as a local WMAQ offering. The NBC network began carrying the program in April, 1933.

Don Quinn developed and wrote the show along with the Jordans. Quinn later became the lead writer for "Fibber McGee and Molly".

Marian and Jim Jordan were the show's only cast. But there were dozens of characters, many of whom were merely referred to by name.

Marian and Jim played "Marian and Jim", the names by which the duo was generally known on other WMAQ and WENR broadcasts. Their vocal duets (with Marian's piano accompaniments) were a staple of the show, interspersed with low-key comedy sketches.

Featured characters were "Uncle Luke", the proprietor of a country store and a teller of tall tales, and "Teeny" an incredulous little girl. "Uncle Luke" became the inspiration for the "Fibber" character on "Fibber McGee and Molly"; "Teeny" was moved unmodified to "FM&M".

Unlike "Fibber McGee and Molly", which had a large cast, an orchestra, vocalists and a studio audience, "Smackout" was a small-scale production featuring just the Jordans. The tone and intimacy of "Smackout" are quite akin to the production values of "Vic and Sade" and "Lum and Abner" (and perhaps even early television's "Kukla Fran and Ollie"). It certainly contrasts with the brassy, almost in-your-face character of the first few years of "Fibber McGee and Molly".

"Smackout" appears to have been aired from Studio C. Marian plays a harmonium on one of the fragments you can listen to; Studio C was equipped with such an instrument.

About these broadcasts: The only known surviving "Smackout" material comes from 12-inch 78rpm aluminum disk recordings which Jim Jordan had in his possession. They are believed to date from March 3rd, March 23rd and June 11th of 1931. The quality of the recordings is spotty at best. But they are well worth listening to, given the scarcity of surviving material from this period.

Download the broadcasts:
  • Segment one: Jim and Marian sing "The Peanut Vendor". Teeny wonders why Uncle Luke is painting rootbeer bottles (runs 3:48).
  • Segment two: Uncle Luke asks Marian to play a hymn for him on the harmonium. Marian and Jim sing "The Little Old Church in the Valley" (runs 4:08).
  • Segment three: Marian and Jim sing "That Little Boy of Mine (runs 3:07).
  • Segment four: Teeny asks Uncle Luke for a baseball so she can join the boys' team. Marian and Jim sing (bit do not complete) "The King's Horses" (runs 3:54).
  • Segment five: Uncle Luke tells Teeny a tall tale about a game he once pitched. Marian and Jim sing "Oh, How I Miss You" (runs 4:07).

Introduction and main index to this site
WMAQ radio history | "Amos 'n' Andy" | "Fibber McGee and Mollie" | "The Breakfast Club"
Dick Kay | Television at the Merchandise Mart | 1970 television facilities tour | Channel 5 turns 20
The "Chicago School" of television | "Kukla, Fran and Ollie" | Dave Garroway | Mary Hartline
"Lights Out" | Sound effects | 1930 studio tour | WLS | "Empire Builders" | Barry Bernson
Floyd Kalber | The Queen of Love and Beauty | "Today's Children" | Staff announcers | Carol Marin
Ron Magers | Studs Terkel l "Chicago Tonight" | Channel 5 News scrapbooks |Roger Miller recalls
Zoo Parade | Clifton and Frayne Utley | Val Press | Len O'Connor | Johnny Erp | Bill Ray | Daddy-O
Experimental Television: 1930-1933 | Bob Deservi | Kermit Slobb | Ding Dong School | Quiz Kids
Bob Lemon | The Korshak Chronicles | KYW: The Chicago Years | WENR | O.B. Hanson | Renzo
Jack Eigen | Ed Grennan | The World's Best Cup of Coffee | Glenn Webster | Mr. Piano | Hawkins Falls
Chicago Television for Kids |
Radio Hall of Fame |The NBC News Night Report: 23 February, 1967
Audio and video downloads
About the Curator

Comments or suggestions? click here to send them to Rich Samuels

Created by Rich Samuels (e-mail to