How Jack Benny Revolutionized Radio by Being the Butt of His Own Jokes

The Lovable Schlemiel Forged an Intimate Bond With Audiences While Creating a Template for Situational Comedy

Of all the 20th century’s great comics and clowns, none did more than Jack Benny to update vaudevillian shtick into a far more intimate and lucrative media form: broadcast radio comedy. Today’s podcasters, and even some strains of stand-up comedy, owe a debt to this mass-communication comic master.

Born Benjamin Kubelsky in Chicago, on Valentine’s Day, 1894, Benny was the son of Polish-Lithuanian immigrant parents who dreamed that their child would become a concert violinist. Benny had other ideas. After launching his entertainment career at 16 as a fiddler in a …

The Day the Lone Ranger Died

The Radio Connected Us to the World More Deeply Than the Technologies That Followed

The digital age, we are told, has made media more immediate, more democratic, more visceral than what came before.

I have my doubts. Was there ever anything more visceral …

Art Laboe

Without Art Laboe, I’m So Lonely I Could Cry

The Icon Who Coined ‘Oldies but Goodies’ Is No Longer on L.A.’s Airwaves

The town I live in is lonely. So lonely I could cry. So goes the refrain from one of Thee Midniters’ hits, and such is the feeling in my heart …

KCRW Traffic Reporter Kajon Cermak

A Woman Who Lives Out Loud

Kajon Cermak is KCRW’s traffic queen, reporting on Southern California’s roads on weekday evenings during All Things Considered. Before moderating a panel on the future of traffic in L.A., she …

KCRW News Producer Saul Gonzalez

Why Not Top Ice Cream with Sausage?

Saul Gonzalez is a producer and reporter at KCRW; previously, he was a producer and host for PBS. Before moderating a discussion about Mayor Eric Garcetti’s first year in office, …

Brenda Barnes

L.A.’s Classical Radio Maven Doesn’t Need to Turn Up the Volume. In Fact, KUSC’s President Is Just Fine With Silence.

On our way over to happy hour drinks from her downtown office, Brenda Barnes marvels at the glut of construction projects on South Hill Street. “Change,” she tells me, “is …