The First Nighter Program (1930-1953)
The First Nighter Program
Comedy / Drama
Directed by Joseph T. Ainley
Hosted by Charles P. Hughes, Macdonald Carey, Bret Morrison, Marvin Miller, Don Briggs and Rye Billsbury
Cast: Don Ameche, June Meredith, Betty Lou Gerson, Les Tremayne, Barbara Luddy and Olan Soule
The First Nighter Program is an old time radio anthology series which was broadcast for twenty-three years from 1930 to 1953, and featured many stories from dramas to comedies. The program was produced and directed by Joseph T. Ainley.
Throughout its long run on radio the program was hosted by Charles P. Hughes, Macdonald Carey, Bret Morrison, Marvin Miller, Don Briggs and Rye Billsbury.
Although the program included stories from several different genres, it was perhaps best known for its romantic comedies. Several romantic ‘teams’ were featured in many episodes, including Don Ameche and June Meredith, Don Ameche and Betty Lou Gerson, Les Tremayne and Barbara Luddy, and Olan Soule and Barbara Luddy.
In the opening of the program the audience heard city sounds as the host strolled down Broadway toward his destination, the ‘little theater off Times Square’. The sounds would then change when he entered the lobby of the theater, took his seat, and then whispered the introduction to the night’s performance.
The radio show was created by writer Florence Ward at the request of the The Campana Company to give them a vehicle for radio commercials for their products. Campana was the program’s only sponsor for the first nineteen years of its run. Campana produced cosmetics and beauty products, and their sponsorship of the radio show led to their ‘Italian Balm’ hand lotion becoming the best-selling in the United States in the 1930’s.