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The Origin of a Broadcast Legend: The Lone Ranger

If one wants to tell the history of anything it would make sense to start at the very beginning wouldn't it? In other words, where did the first faint glimmer of the idea appear? Not where did it start but what was the spark that lit the flame that grew into the actual beginning. This holds true, in a way known by a few, for a program that grew into one of the greatest legends in broadcasting, "The Lone Ranger".


It is widely understood that the first Lone Ranger radio broadcast was in January 1933. How many know of the situation that led up to that momentous occasion? In his book, "Who Was That Masked Man?" author David Rothel relates on page 38 the details of a conversation he had with James Jewell. David asked Jewell to "Tell me about the creation of 'The Lone Ranger' radio program". Jewell relates that he had written the script for a children's show, to be sponsored by Awrey Bakeries of Detroit, to be called "Curly Edwards and HIs Cowboys". It grew out of a seven days a week series he was developing for WXYZ called "The Manhunters". After listening to the first and only broadcast of this script, Trendle liked the western theme. He liked the idea of a western program but wanted a more serious theme; one that would be popular with both young people and adults.


In the conversation Jewell relates that Trendle and members of the station staff heard that one broadcast and after it's airing decided they liked the western theme but they wanted a more mysterious title for the show. The title "The Lone Star Ranger" was suggested by Harold True, station announcer, but was discarded since, as Jewell pointed out, Zane Grey had already used it as the title of one of his books and was copyrighted. True suggested "The Lone Ranger", leaving out the word star. This was decided on as the title of the western program to be developed. Trendle liked the western theme but wanted something more substantial than what was in the Curly Edwards script. It was out of this meeting the program, that was to become a legend, grew. It was this western program whose children's theme did not meet with Trendle's approval that produced the spark that was to lead to the program we all know as The Lone Ranger.

So far as is known only one copy of this "Curly Edwards" script was typed and no copies were made. This typed original of that spark that gave rise to The Lone Ranger is going to be on permanent display for all fans to see in the history of the Lone Ranger exhibit, titled "Hi-Yo Silver", in the Wabash County Museum in Mt. Carmel, Illinois. The first time it will ever be on public display is at the grand opening later this year. The date has been set for September 12, 2020. On display for your enjoyment will be not only this historic concept script but also the actual original script of the first Lone Ranger radio broadcast that George Stenius (he later changes his name to Seaton) actually held in his hand and read from on that momentous occasion. The script is complete, fourteen pages, with penciled notations in his own hand.

Here are steps one and two of the development of this broadcasting legend and they will be together permanently for all to see and appreciate. These together with the original studio door, original call board and other artifacts from the original Detroit studio makes this exhibit a must see for all Lone Ranger fans. This exhibit is the only place you will be able to view the original of these scripts and to do it within portions of the actual studio in which they were first read in 1933.

Everette Humphrey June 2020

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