Voices Out Of The Fog

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Hugh Barrett Dobbs

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happytimer_sticker_200pxHugh Barrett Dobbs was a physical education instructor who was hired by KPO in 1925 to do an early morning kfrc_dobbsie-ad_feb-1932_x200wexercise program. Before long, another program was developed, “The Sperry Flour Happy Hour,” which became the “Ship of Joy” program (later the “Shell Ship of Joy”). The program gained great local popularity, and later became a regular offering on the NBC Pacific Coast Network.

The Ship of Joy was a mythical cruise “from Good Cheer Dock to the Isle of Happiness.” It would be considered gushy sentimentalism by today’s standards. Part of each program was the wishing well ceremony, where the audience would be asked to place hand over heart, and “send out a wish to somebody � somewhere � who may be in sickness or trouble. Everybody � WISH!” Listeners were told to throw their right arm “high into the air in a vast wave of good will.”

When NBC cancelled the program in 1939, Dobbsie brought it to KOMO in Seattle, where it continued to be popular for many more years.

The Shell “Happytimer” sticker (above left) was one of the earliest promotional tie-ins between a program and its sponsor; in the late 1920s, countless automobiles displayed the sticker, emblematic of devotees of Shell Gasoline and the “Ship of Joy.” Early in 1932, Dobbsie moved to KFRC and the CBS Pacific Coast Network, announced with a full-page advertisement (above right) on the back cover of Broadcast Weekly magazine.

Hugh Barrett Dobbs was elected to the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in 2006 as a member of the first group to be inducted.

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