Paul Carson, The Musing Organist
Paul Carson was the creator and performer of the popular NBC Pacific Coast Network program “The Bridge to Dreamland.” The program featured organ music and poetry, with Carson providing the music and reading poetry written by his wife.
Carson was a native of Bridgeport, Illinois, and the son of a clergyman. He learned to play hymns on a small reed organ at age five, and was soon playing the organ during his father’s services. He studied music at Northwestern University, but left to drive ambulance in France during World War I. When the Armistice was signed, he was transferred to the overseas entertainment committee, and traveled throughout France and Germany entertaining U.S. troops still stationed there.
When he returned to America, he settled in Los Angeles, and found himself quickly in demand as a church organist. But he also found work playing in some of that city’s largest silent film theaters, and appeared on some of Los Angeles’ first radio stations. As radio grew, he was more and more in demand, and found he enjoyed the work. He moved to San Francisco in the mid 1920’s when offered a position with the NBC network. “Bridge to Dreamland” was his most popular program, but he also performed on a variety of other early network programs, including “Memory Lane,” and was heard nationally each year on the broadcast of Easter sunrise services from Mt. Davidson.
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All articles copyright © 1997-2006 by John F. Schneider. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with the generous permission of the author.