Amos and Andy

The one series that, more than any other, caused people to go buy a radio. To today's audiences, it's hard to imagine the impact that Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll's characters had on the public imagination at the time. (And to today's audiences, the broadly drawn "Negro" accents -- as portrayed by two white men, no less -- can be difficult to accept.)

But at the start of the great Depression, the ongoing daily episodic adventures of Amos and Andy kept everyone tuning in to find out what would happen next. In it's 15-minute format, it was less of a broad situation comedy and much more of an ongoing drama with humorous elements. Very few early episodes survive in audio form, but most exist as scripts, and reading them one after another is the best we can do get a sense of this pioneering radio program.

Gosden and Correll first experimented with these character types in "Sam and Henry", a Chicago-based show from 1926, before radio networks even came into existence. Their Amos and Andy refinement, including a large supporting cast all voiced exclusively by the two actors, was NBC's biggest hit for a solid decade. in 1943 with ratings dropping, it was re-tooled into a half-hour sitcom format, and many audio copies of this version survive today.

In the 1950s a TV edition was attempted using black actors, but Gosden and Correl continued doing the voices on various radio formats, all the way until the final broadcast of "The Amos and Andy Music Hall" in November of 1960.

Read more about them at Liz Mcleod's definitive resource or at