Pushed Into The Studio As Unwilling Substitute, Stays On To Career
A shining example of how fate, the master of destinies, takes an active part in everyday life, is shown in the story of how Peter Grant, popular KMOX announcer and assistant Program Director of the Voice of St. Louis, entered the field of radio broadcasting.
Peter, a graduate of the Washington University Law School, had just taken his state bar examination, which if he was successful would permit him to practice law. Yes, it would allow him to enter the profession which took five years of hard work at the University. Peter was sitting at home one Monday morning late in July 1930, wondering when he would hear about the examination he had taken a few weeks before. While at breakfast, the mailman brought a notice that he had passed the bar examination and was now entitled to practice law in the state of Missouri. Boy was he happy! Happy was no word for it. Peter was simply walking on air. Of course, he wanted to tell all his friends the good news, one friend in particular, David Flournoy, a continuity writer of KMOX. So hurriedly Peter finished his breakfast and immediately went to the studios of KMOX and told Dave the good news.
While Peter was at the station, a dramatization was about to be broadcast. The character actor who played one of the leading roles was late for the program. As this was the first time that the actor had ever been late, the program director waited until the last moment, expecting him to show up at any time. But time flew swiftly, and still the actor did not make his appearance. Five minutes passed. Three minutes passed. Then at two minutes before the program was to be broadcast the program director began to worry. Someone around the studio had to fill this leading part. Who could do it? He rushed in every office to see if he could find someone to substitute for the missing actor. He entered Dave Flournoy’s office, whom Peter Grant was visiting. “Dave,” he cried, “You’ve got to take this part. The play starts in a few minutes.” Dave replied “I’m not much of an actor but I’ll try.” Suddenly Dave had a bright idea.
Pointing to Peter Grant, he said, “Here’s the man that can do the job. He’s had a world of experience in dramatics at school.” Time was then short. In fact the announcer had already begun to announce the coming dramatization. The program director turned to Peter who was then bewildered and surprised at the sudden turn of events and said “Here’s your script. You take the part of John, a jovial fellow who enjoys practical jokes.” Too dumbfounded to refuse, Peter was pushed into the studio to appear before a microphone for the first time and to read a script which he had never seen before. Peter didn’t even know the story. He had to watch his cues and figure out what was to follow. However, with all these difficulties, Peter’s acting was splendid.
It seemed as if fate had given him his dramatic training at school for this one purpose. Yes, perhaps fate had a hand in making him president of the Thysus and Quadrangle Clubs, dramatic organizations at Washington University. Yes, perhaps it was fate who was responsible for his appearance in “Tame Oats,” “Rosita,” “Hi Hat,” Ship Ahoy” and “Si Si Senorita,” which were produced at Washington University. Yes, too, perhaps it was fate that brought Peter to the studios of KMOX that morning, and maybe fate had a hand in keeping the character actor from making his appearance. Who knows?
But it was not fate that made Peter one of the most popular and talented announcers on the staff of KMOX. It was not fate that earned for him the position as assistant program director of KMOX. It was not fate that gave him the difficult task of forming structure of announcing the Voice of St. Louis program which is heard for a full hour over the coast-to-coast network of the Columbia Broadcasting System every Sunday morning. No, fate did not take a part here, hard work was the guiding hand that led Peter to the position he now holds. Yes, ever since that fateful day when he substituted, he has stayed in the radio business. He has forgotten all about law, even though he is eligible to practice at any day. All of his efforts have been bent on the task of making himself more fitted for radio broadcasting, and his efforts have not been in vain for he now plays a very important part in the program presentations of KMOX, the Voice of St. Louis, one of the most powerful radio stations in America.
(Originally published in Radio and Entertainment 11/14/1931)