Hit of the Week – Phantom Dancer Show 6 August 2019


This week’s Greg Poppleton Phantom Dancer feature is a set of famous cardboard records from 1931. These are Hit of the Week cardboard records.


The Phantom Dancer will be online right after the 6 August 107.3 2SER Sydney live mix at 2ser.com.
Hear the show live every Tuesday 12:04-2pm and Saturday 5 – 5:55pm on 107.3 2SER Sydney


Hit of the Week was a US record label founded in 1930 that sold low-priced records made of resin coated cardboard rather than the usual shellac.

After August 1931 they were extended play discs advertised with ‘up to twice the playing time of the average record’.

They also used two long outdated industry practices not used since before 1910:

1. some of the records had the songs announced or contained advertising about ‘Hit of the Week’ records. (The company that brought out Hit of the Week records also produced low cost advertising discs).

2. All of the records were recorded on one side only.

The playing side of the cardboard records was coated with Durium, a lightweight synthetic resin. The unrecorded side was uncoated and the unprotected cardboard absorbed moisture from the air. Therefore the discs have a propensity to curl. They now often require the use of a clip or weight around the turntable spindle to keep them flat during play.

Apart from some low-frequency rumble due to their texture, Hit of the Week audio fidelity was equal to or better than most ordinary shellac records., as you’ll hear in Set 4 of this week’s Phantom Dancer.

A few releases had the performer’s portrait printed on the uncoated paper side, or were imprinted there with advertising matter. They were issued in flimsy rice paper sleeves, few of which have survived.

A new issue featuring a current hit song was released every week. They were sold at newsstands. Previous issues could be obtained by mail order. Retailing for 15 cents each, later raised to 20 cents, Hit of the Week records were by far the lowest-priced records in the US at that time.


The first regular issue was released in February 1930.

By mid 1930, up to half a million copies of each week’s issue were produced. But sales quickly slumped as the Depression worsened.

In March 1931 the company went into receivership and in May it was purchased by the Erwin, Wasey & Company advertising agency. They debuted a new format debuted in August, featuring two songs or dance tunes on each single-sided disc and a total playing time of about five minutes, but the label remained unprofitable.

The final Hit of the Week issue was released in June 1932.

After the demise of the label, some limited use was made of smaller (often only four inches in diameter) records made of the same material, mostly for giveaway advertising novelties. Specimens of one of the most common advertising records, which invited the recipient to come see the new 1932 Chevrolet automobile, are usually found with a mailing label and postage on the uncoated back side.

Musicians who recorded for Hit of the Week included Gene Austin, Duke Ellington (under the pseudonym “Harlem Hot Chocolates”), Ben Pollack, Eddie Cantor (on a special 25 cent “Durium De Luxe” issue), Morton Downey, and Rudy Vallée. Most of the arrangements were performed by studio musicians in New York, led by Adrian Schubert, Bert Hirsch, Vincent Lopez, Don Voorhees and Phil Spitalny.

Jazz solos by instrumental stars including Bunny Berrigan, Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang enlivened some recordings.

Two of the recordings on this week’s Phantom Dancer are tailed with football songs, trying to appeal to the young, male university market.

The vocalists who recorded with the studio bands included several popular radio singers of the day including Ralph Kirbery and Helen Rowland.

In the UK, a similar series was issued on the Durium label with songs by Al Bowlly and more.


This week’s Phantom Dancer video of the week is from the late 1940s, an unidentified woman reading to paper tape. Enjoy her story!


Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney, Live Stream, Digital Radio
Community Radio Network Show CRN #397

107.3 2SER Tuesday 6 August 2019
After the 2SER 12 noon news, 12:04 – 2:00pm (+10 hours GMT)
National Program:
Edge FM Bega Monday 3 – 4pm
7MID Oatlands Tuesday 8 – 9pm
2ARM Armidale Friday 12 – 1pm
3MGB Mallacoota Sunday 5 – 6am
1ART ArtSoundFM Canberra Sunday 7 – 8pm
7LTN CityPark FM Launceston Sunday 5 – 6am
and early morning on 23 other stations.

Set 1
1945 – 46 Radio Spotlight Bands
Nightmare (theme) + Bedford Drive
Artie Shaw Orchestra
‘Spotlight Bands’
Santa Ana AFB Ca
Mutual Network
3 Oct 1945
Chickery Chick
Gene Krupa Orchestra (voc) Anita O’Day
‘Spotlight Bands’
AFRS Re-broadcast
This Love of Mine + Close
Tommy Dorsey Orchestra (voc) Frank Sinatra
‘Spotlight Bands’
Blue Network
17 Jan 1942
Set 2
Cocoanut Grove 1932-34 Radio
Theme + You’re Blase + Sophisticated Lady
Vincent Valsanti aka Ted Fio Rito Orchestra
‘Cocoanut Grove’
TRANSCO Radio Transcription
The Vamp
Phil Harris Orchestra
‘Cocoanut Grove’
TRANSCO Radio Transcription
Gooby Gear + Music in the Moonlight (theme)
Jimmie Grier Orchestra (voc) Donald Novis
‘Cocoanut Grove’
TRANSCO Radio Transcription
Set 3
1941 Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street
Open + Magic Carpet
Paul Lavalle’s Woodwind 10
‘Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
14 Aug 1941
Flow Gently Sweet Afton
Diane Courtney
‘Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
14 Aug 1941
Twirl Away
Lumel Morgan Trio
‘Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
14 Aug 1941
Home Town Blues
Henry Levine’s Dixieland Octet
‘Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street’
14 Aug 1941
Set 4
Hit of the Week Records
Me + Football Song
Sam Lanin Orchestra with vocals
Hit of the Week Record
Love Letters in the Sand + Football Song
Sam Lanin Orchestra with vocals
Hit of the Week Record
Pardon Me, Pretty Baby
Sam Lanin Orchestra (voc) Paul Small
Hit of the Week Record
13 Aug 1931
Set 5
Louis Armstrong Big Swing Band on 1940s Radio
Open + I Never Knew
Louis Armstrong Orchestra
‘Spotlight Bands’
Blue Network
Dalls TX
17 Aug 1943
I’ve Got Plenty of Nothing
Louis Armstrong Orchestra (voc) Ada Brown
Lazy River
Louis Armstrong Orchestra
‘Spotlight Bands’
Blue Network
Dalls TX
17 Aug 1943
It Had To Be You + Close
Louis Armstrong Orchestra
‘Spotlight Bands’
Tuskagee Alabama
AFRS Re-broadcast
5 Oct 1944
Set 6
Trad Bands on 1940s Radio
Open + Medley
Bud Freeman Summa cum Laude Orchestra
Panther Room
Hotel Sherman
WMAQ NBC Red Chicago
20 May 1940
That’s a Plenty + Relaxin’ at the Trouro
Muggsy Spanier
Home Recording
Blue Note
WMAQ NBC Chicago
18 Oct 1953
Big Butter and Egg Man
Miff Mole and the Nixieland 6
‘For The Record’
30 Oct 1944
Set 7
Chuck Foster 1938-40 Radio Transcriptions
Oh, You Beautiful Doll (theme)
Chuck Foster Orchestra (voc) CF
Radio Transcription
I Found My Yellow Basket
Chuck Foster Orchestra (voc) Dorothy Brandon, CF and The 3 Ds
Radio Transcription
Listen to My Heart
Chuck Foster Orchestra (voc) Dorothy Brandon
Radio Transcription
How Srrange
Chuck Foster Orchestra (voc) Dorothy Brandon
Radio Transcription
Set 8
Early Charlie Parker on 1940 and 45 Radio
Honeysuckle Rose
Jay McShann Orchestra (alto sax Charlie Parker)
Radio Transcription
KFBI Witchita Kansas
2 Dec 1940
Floogie Boo + St Louis Blues
Cootie Williams Orchestra (with Charlie Parker)
‘One Night Stand’
Savoy Ballroom
AFRS Re-broadcast
12 Feb 1945
I Found a New Baby
Jay McShann Orchestra (alto sax Charlie Parker)
Radio Transcription
KFBI Witchita Kansas
30 Nov 1940

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