Superman on Radio & Audio
Superman Radio Series - Story Reviews
1946: The Phony Song Publishing CompanyReviewed by: James Lantz
Original Broadcast Dates: December 04, 1946-December 13, 1946
"The Phony Song Publishing Company"
Our story begins the suburb of Willow Heights shortly after 11:00 PM. Sheriff Johnson has just received a telephone call that has shocked him. Daily Planet editor Perry White has just been shot. Doctor Wilson, a neighbor of White's, is tending to him. Fortunately, the bullet just grazed him. All Perry tells the sheriff and doctor is that they must find Poco, White's fat chef that speaks only in rhyme. Perry then loses consciousness. Later, cub reporter Jimmy Olsen goes to see the chief, who is still agitated over Poco's disappearance. Sheriff Johnson and private detective Candy Meyers have had no luck in finding him so far.
Perry has finally regained his composure. He tells Jimmy that Poco had been borrowing large sums of money despite getting a very good salary and not having a family to support. Earlier tonight, Poco had asked for another fifty dollars, but Perry had refused to give it to him until he explained why he needed it. The fat cook said that he cannot say what the cash is for because it is a secret. He also babbled about becoming famous. However, Perry still wouldn't give Poco the funds necessary for whatever it is that he is doing. Desperate, Poco had then turned a gun on himself. Perry tried to take the weapon from him as it was being fired. The next thing Perry knew, Doctor Wilson was checking him, and Poco was gone.
Sheriff Johnson and his deputy Ed Smith are now at the railroad platform. They suddenly hear a cry for help in a locked refrigerator car on a moving freight train. Poco is the person inside. Johnson calls the Brookhaven Train Station, but he learns that the locomotive switches off at Branch Junction to go to Benson City. It won't be there until morning. Poco will freeze to death before he arrives.
The building superintendent of Clark Kent's apartment has just given a message from Jimmy Olsen to Bruce Wayne. (Remember, Clark must pretend to be injured after the explosion in last week's serial.) It tells them of Poco's peril. Clark and Bruce then change into their costumed identities of Superman and Batman. The pair of heroes find the train and take Poco from the refrigerator car in the nick of time. The doctor later says that the rhyming chef must rest and cannot speak with anyone now. However, as dawn approaches, Jimmy, who is staying at Perry White's home, hears a noise. He and Perry go to check on Poco only to find that he has disappeared. Where has Poco gone?
An intense search for Poco is still going on in Willow Heights. Superman later finds him in some woods not more than three miles from Perry White's house. Poco tells the Man of Steel that he had run away because he was scared that he had killed Mister White. Superman reassures him that Perry is very much alive and worried for the rhyming chef. This encourages Poco to return to the editor's home. However, he will only tell Jimmy Olsen the reason why he's borrowed money from Perry, and he makes the cub reporter promise to keep everything told to him a secret. The fat, little cook says that he is a millionaire. A steel box hidden behind a grandfather clock will prove this. What contents are inside it?
Poco has just showed Jimmy a letter from Metropolis Song Publishing Company. Professor L.C. Blessing, the head of the operation, wrote asking for fifty dollars to pay for the last of the publishing costs for a song Poco composed called "Dizzy Lizzie." Poco has given a total of four hundred and fifty dollars to Blessing's outfit. Sensing that his friend is the victim of a scam, Jimmy makes Poco promise to not send any more money to the people that run the Metropolis Song Publishing Company. Jimmy won't tell Clark Kent, Superman or Perry White what Poco had said to him, but he will need the aid of Beany Martin, head copy boy for the Daily Planet, to get Poco's money back. The two lads may walk into great danger in their efforts to help the fat rhyming chef.
Professor L.C. Blessing is in his office discussing business with his henchman Froggy when Jimmy and Beany arrive. Blessing says that he'll give the boys a share of the "Dizzy Lizzie" profits for two hundred and fifty dollars. Despite knowing that Blessing is a racketeer, they agree to the deal.. While the pair of youths go to the bank for the money in marked bills, Froggy and Blessing see an article in the Daily Planet written by Jimmy. This changes things a bit for two con men, but Professor Blessing has a plan to rid himself of both Jimmy and Beany.
Blessing has just telephoned the Daily Planet in an attempt to learn the truth about of Jimmy Olsen. This worries Clark Kent. He even asks copy girl Mary Hinick if she heard anything about the story that the cub reporter and Beany went to investigate, but she knows nothing. Meanwhile, Blessing and Froggy are onto the boys' ruse. They know the money used to pay them is marked to be traced by the police. An ashtray with a smoldering cigar is suddenly knocked over as the boys run into Professor Blessing's office. A fire starts. Now, the gigantic Froggy is pointing a gun at Beany and Jimmy, and he has every intention of using it.
Jimmy and Beany have been knocked out and tied up instead of killed. The fire is spreading rapidly. They are now attempting to knock the telephone off the nearby desk so they can call Clark. All they need to do is dial the operator with a pencil that is between Jimmy's teeth. Meanwhile, the fire department is trying to put out the blaze and believes that everyone evacuated the building. Clark, in the meantime, is still worried about both Beany and Jimmy. Suddenly, a call from the latter arrives. Unfortunately, he loses consciousness in the middle of talking. Can Superman save his young friends? Only next week's serial in The Adventures of Superman can reveal the fate of Beany and Jimmy. Be sure not to miss "The Phony Housing Racket," gang, to find out what happens.
"Oh, What did I ever do to deserve this?"
Those words from Jimmy Olsen in chapter four are exactly what I felt when I heard Poco singing "Dizzy Lizzie." The story of "The Phony Song Publishing Company" is not a bad story. I just wish another character besides the irritating Poco was involved. Had someone like Beany, Mary Hinick or a friend of the Daily Planet staff fallen victim to Professor Blessing's racket, I certainly would have cared about their plight more. As it was, I found myself wishing for the worst possible fate to happen to Poco as the serial progressed. I haven't loathed a character in the Superman radio shows so much since Tumbleweed Jones wandered into the initial 1940-1942 episodes. At least Tumbleweed had some scraps of dignity and could make great fudge.
"The Phony Song Publishing Company" is a pretty basic serial of Superman and his friends fighting racketeers and swindlers, but its simplicity is what makes it work so well. I'm happy that the writers chose a more down to Earth direction for this and last week's story after the awful, unnecessary space adventure that was "The Disappearance of Clark Kent." There wasn't much of a challenge for Superman, but this arc was still entertaining in spite of a certain rhyming pain in the neck.
Lois is still absent from the The Adventures of Superman radio serials as of "The Phony Song Publishing Company." According to Perry, she is in California visiting her sister Diana. (She was covering a story in "The Disappearance of Clark Kent.") While the fact that Joan Alexander is not present in this story is not as evident as the previous one, I must admit, however, a certain amount of curiosity as to why she was not in this saga. Perhaps she really was with family, or there was another reason. Whatever the case may be, I can't wait for Lois Lane to return to the Daily Planet.
I think the thing I loved the most about "The Phony Song Publishing Company" was the fact that Jimmy and Beany work together. I had mentioned some time ago that Beany was a character that deserved more exposure. Announcer Jackson Beck, who also portrayed Poco, (I won't hold that against him as I blame the writers for creating him.) does a spectacular job in the role of the head copy boy. I enjoyed hearing him assist Jimmy, and I honestly hope that the two boys team up again.
All in all, despite wishing that someone besides Poco was the center of this story, "The Phony Song Publishing Company" was a great adventure story that will be sure to take your imagination to Metropolis on a rainy afternoon. Let's hope this happens again when Superman goes up against "The Phony Housing Racket" in seven days or so. Be sure to be here next week, Superfans, to see if the Man of Steel can save Jimmy and Beany. Until we meet again, don't touch that dial, and remember to keep smiling and look up in the sky.
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