“The Trials and Tribulations of a Radio Uncle” might well be the title of Bill Durney’s six months as the “Uncle Bill” of the St. Louis Theatrical School program on WEW each Saturday morning. Hundreds of kiddies have been made “at home” at the microphone by Uncle Bill during this time and each time Bill has had little difficulty with nervous boys and girls who are facing what seems to their minds a demon in disguise.
Uncle Bill claims that he adopted the role of radio uncle easily because he’s been teaching children for quite some time. He’s known to many basketball followers as the coach of the Rock High School girls’ basketball team and that’s the only educational work outside of radio that this writer knows Bill to be in.
As might be imagined, Bill feels very paternal, or “Uncly” if you wish, with a large group of boys and girls around him. Yet despite this paternal feeling, he claims that his most embarrassing moment occurred when one of his “pals” kissed him! But how a nineteen-year-old fellow could feel paternal is a problem that someone else can solve - your writer won’t even attempt it.
This problem was the first of the “kiddie” programs that WEW has sponsored, coming into existence last September and continuing since then as one of the most popular, due, in no small part, to the work of Miss Marie Moser who directs and produces the presentations.
In the six months that this presentation has been made from WEW, Uncle Bill has not missed one scheduled performance with his pals, and the group he works with often numbers more than a score - never less than ten “pals” are on the program but most often there are twenty to twenty-five in the studio with Uncle Bill and Miss Moser. The presence of a large number of boys and girls may make a studio a pleasant place but they can certainly make it, as well, an unpleasant spot for a program conductor and announcer. Uncle Bill frequently introduces kiddies on these programs only to find that the boy and girl, or either, is not to be found - if they are, they’re behind several of their “pals.”
Uncle Bill is really in a place he likes on Saturday mornings, and you’ve never seen a happier “Uncle” than Bill when one of his “Pals” brings him flowers.
(Originally published in Radio & Entertainment 4/15/1933)