Are you getting Blue Coal for Christmas?
You might have asked Santa Claus that question, when he took to the air on WBGF radio 1370 of Glens Falls at 6:30 pm Dec. 6, 1930, sponsored by Merkel & Gelman department store.
But to be certain, you would have wanted a second opinion, because only “The Shadow knows!”
The Glen Alden Coal Co., owner of the Blue Coal brand of anthracite coal, was national sponsor of the CBS radio drama “The Shadow,” among other radio shows.
Griffin Lumber Co. of Hudson Falls, the Glens Falls area distributor, sponsored “The Blue Coal Hour,” which included local content, on WBGF, a short-lived radio station.
“Blue Coal is Hot, Clean and Free from Slate,” a Post-Star advertisement touted the anthracite coal coated with a blue fuel oil dye to distinguish it from other brands.
“Mined, cleaned, prepared, sized and inspected, ‘blue coal’ comes to you always the same, always dependable, always the most satisfactory fuel you ever burned,” another advertisement boasted.
The “Blue Coal Hour” had interactive features.
Listeners, for example, could call “G.F.4.” in advance to vote for which selections the Adirondack Ensemble Singers would perform.
The mixed-voice quartet, comprised of two Glens Falls executives and their wives, had a repertoire of 31 selections for listeners to choose from.
Or, listeners could call in with Contract Bridge questions for card game expert Laura French Howland, who later was Hudson Falls Post Master, to elaborate on.
W. Neal Parker and Herbert H. Metcalf received a Federal Radio Commission permit to construct WBGF at 10 Numan St. in Glens Falls in April 1930.
The station went off the air in 1932.
A sheriff’s sale of “the equipment … a Victrola and a number of records,” scheduled for July 12, 1932, was canceled at the last minute when the partners were able to come up with enough money to pay off the judgement.
Parker and Metcalf had moved to Fair Haven, Vt, by that time, and by the fall Metcalf was living in New Jersey.
Other regular WBGF programs included “The Fashionaire On Munsingware” featuring Ethel Barrymore, “Kali-sten-ik’s Whistler,” sponsored by Walk-Over Boots, a twice-weekly limerick-writing contest sponsored by Erlanger’s clothing store, and the “Greenwich Merchant’s Hour.”
On Dec, 17-18, 1930, the station broadcast Glens Falls Kiwanis Club and Rotary Club meetings live from The Queensbury Hotel to promote the clubs to prospective new members.
In the late 1940s, Griffen Lumber Co. brought “The Blue Coal Hour” back on WWSC, a later Glens Falls radio station.
Photo: Glens Falls decked for the holidays in a view down Glen Street toward Boxer’s Drug Store on the intersection of Glen and Warren Streets from late November 1968. Provided by the Folklife Center at Crandall Public Library.