March 2014 Reader Survey

2014 Reader Survey

Here are the results as of Saturday. I’m guessing the figures may change a bit, but not too much.

Question 1: Walter Winchell gets 60% keep and 40% throw.

Question 2: Louella Parsons rates slightly higher, 62% keep, and 38% throw.

March 2014 Reader Survey

Question 3: 1944 on the Radio gets 66% keep and 34% throw. (And yes, I inadvertently asked this question twice as I was having trouble designing the survey through Polldaddy. The results were exactly the same both times.)

Question 4: Life magazine gets 86% keep and 14% throw.

Final remarks:

First of all, the Daily Mirror got some very nice feedback and so did Mary Mallory:

Love, love, love your blog. Benito and I bought Mary Mallory’s “Hollywoodland” and we’re enjoying the heck out of that, too.

In my opinion, Mary’s contributions are the best part of the blog.

Mary Mallory is a gem. I like the old vs modern L.A. stuff you have done.

As for Walter Winchell, one commenter said:

I prefer postings that are Los Angele-centric. Walter Winchell, for example, is too far afield. Radio posts are uninteresting. Louella Parsons is okay, but I prefer more Hollywood “news” and scandal, mystery photos, trivia illustrated nicely, etc. Los Angeles police history, mob stuff. Interesting personalities from the 1920s to the 1960s, whether obscure or famous.

No one else mentioned Louella Parsons specifically, although one person said: GO BACK TO HEDDA HOPPER ET AL

Here’s what one reader said about the radio shows:

I’m here for the stories – all these radio things are nice, but they’re filler.

Another person said:

In terms of radio, this is just about the ultimate timeframe. Beginning in ’47 TV began to take over and radio began to lose its audience. Thus, the RADIO PROGRAMS became more routine and less effective. the stars left the stations and went to the tube. however, the music form that time is still powerful and serves to make one realize it was an artistic pinnacle for all to listen.

Let me answer a few questions because they keep coming up.

First, Hedda Hopper isn’t coming back. If you want to read her, there are lots of her columns on the blog I did at The Times. She’s not a great writer, she is almost always wrong on future casting of movies and she shills mercilessly for some of her favored few. And she’s a weak writer. When compared to Winchell and Parsons, Hopper is pretty small potatoes.

Second, the mystery photos cannot ever be the way they were when the blog was at The Times for the simple reason that I can no longer rummage through the paper’s photo library for images to use on a personal blog. Frankly, it was getting more difficult to find photos that I hadn’t already used.

The reason I conducted this survey (and the one last year) is to gauge what interests the readers, but also to figure out how to reduce the blog’s impact on my time – remember that in addition to a full-time job I’m also trying to write a book.

Last year, I structured the blog so that I was writing four days a week, with Mary on Monday, and staying dark on the weekends when readership is the lowest. Posting Walter Winchell, Louella Parsons and the radio shows meant I was posting seven days a week, which is exactly what I was trying to avoid.

That said, even if I were doing the blog as before, I probably would only hit the highlights on the current (as of March 1944) Charlie Chaplin trial because there’s just too much of it given the time I have for the blog and I don’t think readers would find the daily coverage all that interesting.

So here’s what I’m thinking:

The commenter is right in saying that Walter Winchell is far afield from Los Angeles. I ran his columns as an experiment because I found them interesting. I expected him to focus more on the New York stage, movies playing in New York, visiting celebrities and that sort of thing. He does this, but he focuses far more on politics than I anticipated. This is a blog about Los Angeles history, so unless there is a groundswell of protest, I think I’ll put Winchell on vacation for April at least, even though he’s about to get into a nasty fight with some members of Congress, which I find interesting.

Louella Parsons is a different matter. She was based in Los Angeles and wrote for the Examiner. Because neither of the local Hearst papers, the Examiner and the Herald-Express, are online, the syndicated version of Parsons’ column is as close as I can come to getting anything from the Examiner. So Louella is staying.

I find it fascinating to listen to the old radio shows in chronological order. I’m a longtime fan of OTR (old-time radio) so I’m familiar with some of the old shows, but I have never gone day by day. The radio shows were done live and although they were rehearsed, there’s lots of adlibbing and blown lines (maybe a few of you caught the audience breaking up when Lou Costello blew a line by saying that Linda Darnell was going to escort him to the “restroom” instead of the “rest home”).

But despite one commenter’s remark that the radio shows are “filler,” it’s a lot of work to track down the shows, first to determine what aired on a specific date, then to find out what survived and whether it’s online. There are some days when all I can find after a lot of searching is an episode of “The Lone Ranger” or “Jungle Jim.”

Under the circumstances, unless there is a groundswell of protest, I think I’ll put the radio shows on vacation. I have done scattered days through the year, so they will turn up, but I’m not going to do any more for now.

Life magazine was, as I expected, quite popular, so it’s a keeper.

To sum it up, unless there is a large protest, Walter Winchell and the radio shows are going away.

And to reduce the impact on my time, weekends will be dark starting in April.

So if I’m taking away, what am I adding?

To the commenters who want more local coverage, more about the LAPD and Hollywood scandals, you will not be disappointed.

The Parker Center Cop Shop Files had to go on vacation because if you remember from the March of Tears to Windows 8 earlier this year, my scanner and my computer wouldn’t talk to each other. It took me about a month, but I solved the problem, so that material will be coming back. When the dust finally settled, I got everything to work on Windows 8 except for one old piece of software that dated to Windows 95. It had been buggy on Windows XP but allowed me to correct the perspective on photos. I’ve switched to Gimp, which has a similar feature. So all my technical issues are apparently ironed out.

I’ll be doing more coverage of Los Angeles in general (I miss it as much as you do) and….

I’m going to try doing more on books and authors….

And as an experiment, I’m thinking of adding another Hollywood gossip columnist who is forgotten today. (I mean a 1944 Hollywood gossip columnist, since we’re doing 1944),

Stay tuned!

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About lmharnisch

I work at the Los Angeles Times
This entry was posted in 1944, Books and Authors, Columnists, Film, Hollywood, LAPD, Mary Mallory, Radio and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to March 2014 Reader Survey

  1. Jo Anne says:

    I understand your thinking because my friend Gary D. Hamann, at GDHamann@juno.com, and he has been working on Books about Stars and Columnists for over a decade. It is time consuming and tedious work, so whatever is easier for you we will (must) handle it. I personally thank you for this great service.

  2. cathsparks says:

    Thank you for all your hard work, Mr. Harnisch. Mirror content is one of the highlights of my daily reading. :)

  3. moviepas says:

    Well there is Hedda Hopper and the British-born Sheila Graham both of whom had a following and I would like to read their columns. Maybe you can dig out radio shows they all conducted including the doctor’s wife, Parsons.

    Anything on the founding fathers(the city) and film studios in LA & surrounds is always of interest to me.

    I save the pages to my HDD along with the radio shows. I even have forwarded some pages to a friend who likes those I have sent him.

  4. DeweyWebb says:

    Joyce Haber? Forgotten?

  5. LC says:

    Thanks for all your hard work, I’m sure that whatever you decide to share with us, past or present, we will not be disappointed.

  6. Gary McVey says:

    For every one of us who replied, there are hundreds who read the questions and shied away…multiply the answers coverage by roughly 100-200 before making drastic decisions about any of this…

  7. davidlatta says:

    As someone with a tremendous interest in LA history but far removed from the action (in Sydney, Australia, of all places!), I’ve been a close follower of your work since the Times’ days. Like anything, there’s stuff I spend a lot of time on (and archive for some as-yet unspecified use) and stuff I merely scan but I appreciate your efforts and truly love your work. Keep it up.

  8. Sam Flowers says:

    i am not happy with the removal of OTR but if that is what you want that’s OK, because you are the boss. Likewise for LAPD material. You can’t make everybody happy.

    • lmharnisch says:

      Sam, there will still be some radio shows because I did scattered dates all the way to December. Figuring out which shows aired on a specific date and then finding the shows on the Internet is more work than I can handle. I like the OTR too, but there are only so many hours in the day.

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