Radio Recorders - Santa Monica CA.
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Radio recorders and AFRS during WWII By Ivan Saddler

It was 1942, I think. I was attending Specialists School at what was then known as Cal Aggie.  The school now called UC Davis had been converted to a Signal Corps training center.  We were being trained to repair the then in use radios and other electronic equipment..  One day we received an announcement that a new organization was being formed in the Los Angeles area and needed people who in civilian life had been occupied in the radio broadcasting industry.  That caught my eye because that is what I was doing before volunteering.

Soon I was on my way to Hollywood.  The outfit being organized was to be known as Armed Forces Radio Service.  The outfit was located at Sunset and Western Avenues.  The place was known as Fox Studios.  and yes, movies were still being made there.  It was also headquarters of the Army First Motion Picture Unit under the direction of Frank Capra.  AFRS was being headed by a former advertising executive named Col. Thomas H. A. Lewis.  He was also Loretta Young’s husband.

It soon became evident that ours was a waiting game.  Crews were assembling without knowing where they were going.  We were to ship out to our destination with our equipment.  We were to be a complete radio station with studio stuff and transmitters.  That was the rub.  Personnel were easily assembled, but equipment even with Army priorities, was hard to come by.  Thus we grunts played a waiting game.

We played poker, drove trucks and half-tracks, and smelled war gasses.  We even set up a temporary station at Camp Young, where soldiers were being trained for the invasion of North Africa.  Those things were not enough to keep us busy.  Some wag suggested that we record the history of AFRS.  That’s all it took to get the creative juices flowing.  The script as finished was called “AFRS, An Histerical History.”  I wonder whether a copy yet exists.  I believe the script was written by Hy Averback with lots of help.

Who would do the narration, play the parts and do sound effects was never in question.  Nor for that matter was where to do the show.  Radio Recorders was the organization which did most of AFRS recording.  They were then located a few blocks from the Fox Studios on Western Avenue.  Our contact was a very competent guy named Eddie DellaPina..  He arranged for this motley crew of broadcasters to record the show.

The script started something like this. “AFRS started when Bob LeMond and (name not remembered) were in a bar discussing--What were you discussing? Tits.  Dropping tits...”  At that point Rudy Rubin and I each dropped a Los Angeles telephone directory from about three feet to the floor.  The show got funnier as it continued.

The only time I remember the recording being played was at the infamous last meeting of the original crews.  It was at Brittingham’s restaurant the night before we were shipping out to Angel Island to go to our destinations in the Pacific and China Burma India. 

While I have emphasized the funny side of Radio Recorders, they were the backbone of the early success of AFRS.



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Aside from being musical legends, what do Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Louis Armstrong, Sam Cooke, Pat Boone, Bing Crosby and Igor Stravinsky have in common? To find the answer you must travel to the corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Orange Drive in Hollywood and visit the studio in which these epochal figures recorded some of their most memorable work.

To study history is one thing. To be part of it, is quite another. That's what Paul Schwartz discovered when he opened Studio 56 on the site originally occupied by Radio Recorders, one of the oldest recording facilities in Los Angeles. Founded in 1933, Radio Recorders had already achieved prominence in the field of broadcast  radio, when it also became the home of some of popular music's greatest hits. "Jailhouse Rock", "All Shook Up", "Loving You" and "Teddy Bear" are just a few of the block-busters that Elvis recorded at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd., now the headquarters of Studio 56. The building itself is a virtual time capsule. "You Send Me", " Mac The Knife", " Loveletters In The Sand", "Peter Gunn" and "Purple People Eater" are some of the memories captured within its walls.

To more fully understand the scope of Radio Recorders' operation in the 50's, consider the career of Don Thompson, one of the many electronic pioneers who worked there. Thompson, who engineered Bing Crosby's two biggest hits, "White Christmas" and "Sweet Leilani", also assembled 8000 radio programs, recorded close to 15, 000 radio and television commercials, and still found time to mix records for artists like Sam Cooke ("You Send Me") and David Rose ("Swingin' Shepard Blues") during his tenure at Radio Recorders.

The growth of the company at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd. can be traced through its most significant business deals. In October 1959, MP-TV Services, an affiliate of Radio Recorders acquired the rights to sound effect, jingle and commercial aid libraries of Standard Radio Transcription, Inc. The move solidified Radio Recorders' claim to being "The complete headquarters for programming ideas and production sound services."

In July 1960 Radio Recorders merged with Universal Recorders to become Radio Universal Recorders, Inc. The extensive facilities of each company were combined to constitute the largest recording studio in America. The new company offered state of the art technology for recording tape and disc, both stereo and mono, editing and mastering, pressing, magnetic film recording, dubbing, slide films and complete sound on film service. Simultaneously, the company opened the largest, most modernly equipped studio of its day at Sunset Boulevard and Highland Avenue at a cost of a then staggering $1million.

In April 1963, Radio Universal became a division of EMC Corporation, at St. Paul, Minnesota based firm specializing in industrial and educational communications and magnetic tape duplication. EMC continued the division until 1977 when it sold the Radio Universal assets, abandoned its headquarters at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd., and, two years later, returned to Minnesota entirely.

The ongoing tradition of the building at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd. is now in the hands of Paul Schwartz and his staff at Studio 56 who have already achieved distinction by recording the tracks for Evelyn King's Number One Urban Contemporary hit, "Flirt", produced by Leon Sylvers. The future of the studio is destined to reflect its colorful past-a-past that is perhaps best appreciated by some of those that worked for, or near, Radio Universal.

Thorne Nogar, who started in maintenance for the company in 1950, ultimately became director of recording, engineering all the Elvis sessions from 1955-61. Noar recalls the summer of 1957 when Elvis, his band and the Jordanaires were in Radio Recorders to cut " The Christmas Album": "We were having an awful heat wave at the time and Elvis and the band would come into the studio just dripping with sweat. They were obviously having a tough time getting into the holiday spirit. I couldn't blame them. After a couple of days getting nowhere, Elvis had an inspiration. 'Somebody get a Christmas tree in here, 'he said, and before you knew it there was a fifteen foot tree in the middle of the studio decorated with presents wrapped beneath it. We started cutting immediately and had that record in no time."

Jim Malloy, who also started in maintenance for Radio Recorders and assisted Nogar on the Elvis records before moving to RCA and winning a Grammy on his very first nomination for "Charade": "What I remember most about those days were the technical innovations. We made the first stereo album in the United States, 'Louis Armstrong Plays King Oliver', in 1957. In '58 we had the first two track and 3 track Ampex tape machines. Warren Dave and I also made the first stereo 8 track cassettes by hand at Radio Recorders."

Veteran producer and motion picture consultant Bones Howe: "I got my first job at Radio Recorders when Harry Bryant (a founder of the studio) finally hired me as a second engineer. I had badgered him incessantly and he finally gave in, even though he thought that a graduate of Georgia Tech, which I was, should be able to get a better job. I started for $72 a week and my first couple of sessions were with Thorny (Nogar) and Jim Malloy doing Elvis' "Teddy Bear" and "All Shook Up". Some start, huh?"

Lou and Anita Shulkin owned Lou's Quickie Grill located next door to 7000 and remember a constant parade of stars, who stopped in for a cup of coffee or the special of the day. Said Lou, "Everybody who was recording there (RR) stopped by. Mel Blanc, Jack Benny, Bill Cosby, James Garner, Herb Alpert, Lawrence Welk, Ronald Reagan, Martin Sheen, and on and on." Anita added, a "We also had hundreds of groups in here, but we never knew their names. And you know about Elvis, right? He never came in here, but we knew when he was recording because you'd see five or six black limousines come by in a row and ten or fifteen minutes later they'd call and order boxes of food to be delivered. It was amazing."

Studio 56 has inherited one of the most venerable legacies in the history of recording. Paul Schwartz and his staff see that past serving as prologue to an equally distinguished and memorable future.


from we learn....

Digital Excellence, Inc. has long been a pioneer in new media, first in recording and then in duplication. DE was one of the first companies to develop language teaching tapes and other media materials for major book publishers, and we were also among the first duplicators of open-reel tapes, cassettes, computer diskettes and videotapes. We now offer CD/CD-ROM and Laser Videodisc manufacture—as well as DVD authoring, mastering, replication and packaging.

Besides excellence in duplication and packaging, we're known for producing award-winning animated and live-action films, slide shows and filmstrips, multilingual videos, recorded books, CD-ROM soundtracks, and thousands of tape programs designed to motivate, educate, and entertain.

The Early Days

Founded in 1954 as the Educational, Musical, and Cultural Recordings Corporation (before long shortened to EMC), our corporate charter proclaimed the affordable new medium of prerecorded tapes and envisioned the creation and marketing of a catalog of programs. Among EMC's first releases was The Living Heritage Library (dramatizations and readings from the literature of ancient Greece and Rome, England, and the U.S.), a series of language teaching tapes, a Music Education Library and other offerings. EMC's early years proved difficult, however. A Custom Recordings Division was formed in November of 1955, but few clients had budgets big enough to develop EMC's ideas about the potential of tape recording into published programs.

An Improvement In Fortunes

The future got brighter in 1959 when Houghton Mifflin, a major textbook publisher, commissioned EMC to produce their first foreign language tape program. Soon other publishers became EMC clients, too—along with a growing number of sales and training firms, music companies, religious and governmental organizations who grasped the potential of sound recordings.

Expansion of Facilities

In 1961 EMC built new offices and studios in downtown St. Paul, expanding its duplicating and packaging operations. In 1963 EMC acquired the historic Universal and Radio Recorders complex in Hollywood, consolidating its seven separate locations into a single facility at 7000 Santa Monica Boulevard which continued operations until the end of 1977. Elvis Presley, Nelson Riddle, Andre Previn, Spike Jones and the City Slickers, Jack Benny, Connie Francis and Stan Freberg were among the top entertainers booked in our California studios. Numerous episodes of The CBS Mystery Theater were recorded there. Many film, television and radio producers still sing the praises of the vast music and sound effects libraries created in these studios during their heyday, as well as the two live echo chambers housed in a separate building which were connected to the studio patchbay via lines running under the street. EMC also established another Hollywood unit, The Film Designers Division, to create animated and live-action motion pictures, filmstrips and slide shows for a broader group of clients including the U.S. Navy, the Southern Baptist Convention, and Subaru of America, plus many ad agencies, television production companies and educational publishers.

Enhanced Custom Services

Besides pioneering in reel-to-reel duplication, EMC was among the first U.S. high-speed duplicators of custom loaded audio cassettes. Continued improvements in tape formulations and recording and duplication equipment were augmented by such EMC innovations as direct label imprinting on plastic using offset metal plates, a range of 17 stock cassette colors, imprinted location diagrams, imaginative new forms of tape packaging and the introduction of new services including creating music soundtracks, books, manuals and the like.

New Building, New Technologies

In 1982 EMC constructed new studios and manufacturing facilities in St. Paul, later expanded to 68,000 square feet, to include cleanroom duplication of 5.25" and 3.5" computer diskettes and NTSC, PAL and SECAM videocassettes. Direct label imprinting was introduced for disks and video. Video editing, audio for video services and product distribution, as well as ongoing improvements in studio and duplication technology, support our ongoing customer service commitment.

New Identity, Same Commitment to Customers

In 1996 EMC adopted a new name—Digital Excellence, Inc.—for its custom division. In 1997, this division became a separate operating entity. Today DE's soundtracks are produced using our Pro Tools 24 and Sonic Solutions digital audio workstations. The same high standards of customer satisfaction, creativity and state-of-the-art media reproduction distinguish DE's work for customers from coast to coast. We offer you the same creativity, innovation, and reliable manufacturing quality that's helped us make media history.




(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons (Watson & Best)
Recorded 08/23/1957 at Radio Recorders, Hollywood , CA
Producer: Bumps Blackwell

Everybody Loves To Cha Cha Cha (Cooke)
Recorded 01/07/1959 at Radio Recorders, Hollywood , CA
Producer: Bumps Blackwell
Arranged by: René Hall

You Were Made For Me (Cooke)
Recorded 11/26/57 at Radio Recorders, Hollywood CA
Producer: Bumps Blackwell

All Of My Life
Recorded February 1958 at Radio Recorders, Hollywood California
Producer(s): Bumps Blackwell

You Were Made For Me, You Send Me, Summertime
Date: June 1, 1957
Studio: Radio Recorders
Musicians: Cliff White -guitar, Rene Hall -rhythm guitar, Ted Brinson -bass, Earl Palmer -drums, Lee Gotch -background vocals, Pied Pipers -background vocals
Information: It started at 1:30pm


Stealing Kisses, All Of My Life, Win Your Love For Me
Date: June 6, 1957
Studio: Radio Recorders
Musicians: Cliff White -guitar, Rene Hall -Rhythm Guitar, Charles Blackwell -drums, Adolphus Alsbrook -bass, Jack Costanzo -percussion
Information: session sheet signed by Lou Adler



Dateline California  10/18.2004


Studio 56  is now

Radio Recorders

Partners Michael Dumas, Pride Hutchison and Paul Schwartz



Aside from being musical legends, what do Elvis Presley, Bobby Darin, Louis Armstrong, Sam Cooke, Pat Boone, Bing Crosby and Igor Stravinsky have in common?  To find the answer you must travel to the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. and Orange Drive in Hollywood and visit the studio in which these epochal figures recorded some of their most memorable work.


To study history is one thing. To be a part of it is quite another.  That is what Paul Schwartz discovered when he opened Studio 56 on the site originally occupied by Radio Recorders,  the oldest recording facilities in Los Angeles .  Founded in 1933, Radio Recorders had already achieved prominence in the field of broadcast radio, when it also became the home of some of popular music's greatest hits. "Jailhouse Rock", "All Shook Up", "Loving You", and "Teddy Bear" are just a few of the blockbusters that Elvis recorded at 7000 Santa Monica Blvd. , now the home of Studio 56.  The building itself is a virtual time capsule.  "White Christmas", "You Send Me", "Mac The Knife", "Love Letters In The Sand", "Peter Gunn" and "Purple People Eater" are some of the memories captured within its walls.



Dwight Yoakam                    Lucinda Williams                  John Cale

Keith Crouch                          Timbaland                               Missy Elliott

Brandy                                    Booker T Jones lll                 Boyz ll Men

Jody Watley                           Queen Latifah                        Toni Braxton

Johnny Gill                             Anita Baker                            LL Cool J

Al DiMeola                            Honey                                     Rocky Burnette

Billy Burnette                        Tim Conway                         Taj Mahal

John Purdell                           Stanley Clarke                     Jean-Luc Ponty

Phil Spector                            Kenneth Crouch                    Van Dyke Parks       

Sugar Ray                              Tim McGraw                         Kenny Lattimore

Ringo Starr                             Stevie Wonder                      Montell Jordan

Edgar Winter                          Keith Sweat                           Dionne Warwick

Heavy D                                 R. Kelly                                 Coolio

Rita Coolidge                         Gladys Knight                       Bone Thugs N' Harmony

Guns n Roses                         Magic Johnson                     George Thorogood

Ziggy Marley                        Jessica Simpson                      Jo Dee Messina

Dr. Dre                                   Snoop Dogg                            Christina Aguilera 

Johnny Cash                         Thomas Dolby                           Frank Zappa



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