On March 19, 1928--85 years ago today--the most popular program of radio’s golden age made its debut in Chicago. The show was “Amos ‘n’ Andy.” The title characters were two African-American men who had moved from the South to a big city in the North.
Amos was played by Freeman Gosden, and Andy was played by Charles Correll. Both men were white. They did their show in what they considered Southern black dialect.
Gosden & Correll had been doing a similar program called “Sam ‘n’ Henry” on WGN. When they moved to WMAQ on this date, they had to change the names of their characters. Within a year, “Amos ‘n’ Andy” went national. Within another year, it was the biggest thing on radio.
The original show ran six days a week with continuing story lines like a soap opera. Listeners really got involved. The program was so popular that many theaters would halt their movies at “Amos ‘n’ Andy” time, and pipe the radio broadcast right into the auditorium.
As time passed, most episodes revolved around the head of the local lodge.