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Don McNeill and His Breakfast Club

2 Ratings: 1.5
A book by John Doolittle.

Before morning talk radio, before Garrison Keillor and Lake Wobegon, before Oprah, Jay, Rosie, and Dave, there was Don McNeill and his Breakfast Club. From his first broadcast in June 1933 until his sign-off in December 1967, Don McNeill presided as … see full wiki

Tags: Books, John Doolittle
Author: John Doolittle
Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press
Date Published: May 2001
1 review about Don McNeill and His Breakfast Club

Don McNeill's morning radio show THE BREAKFAST CLUB "made a neighborhood" out of America.

  • Mar 2, 2010
  • by
 Don McNeill's BREAKFAST CLUB broadcast from 8:00 until 9:00 a.m. every weekday from 1933 until 1968. Except for when it went on the road, sometimes as far as Europe. No other radio series has lasted remotely so long. It was innovative: a minute for prayer, its own orchestra, a string of excellent singers. Don refused to follow radio practice (set up for censorship) of speaking from a script. He promoted products of of well known sponsors. THE BREAKFAST CLUB was the flagship morning network program for decades of otherwise struggling ABC News. 

After he retired, McNeill told President Jimmy Carter that he had turned all of America into one neighborhood, one big family. Several times future President Ronald Reagan was on the show, way back when he was best known as a spokesman for General Electric.

McNeill gloried in the title, "King of Corn." He was corny, decent, kind, low-key and put his audiences at ease. He pioneered broadcasting before live audiences. And who were his audiences? According to Don McNeill: "... not the America of the tabloids, divorce court, or sophisticates, just ordinary people ... friendly, religious Americans who are happy and proud of their work" (Ch. 8, p. 90).

Book's author John Doolittle was Associate Professor of broadcast journalism at American University when he wrote DON MCNEILL AND HIS BREAKFAST CLUB for the University of Notre Dame Press. Notre Dame, by the way, was one of four universities awarding honorary doctorates to McNeill and one of two where he later taught in retirement. In his day Don McNeill was a household word. His children (one of whom, Don, became a Catholic priest stationed at Notre Dame) and grandchildren made appearances on the show. Don's strength was his wife Kay, whose last years were spent with Alzheimer's. A great time in the history of American radio!  -OOO-

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March 07, 2010
This is fascinating, Patrick! Thank you for sharing :)
March 03, 2010
Thoroughly enjoyed your review. I loved radio in that area. In those days lots of stations were "full service" stations with some network programming, some local and a variety of programs including music news and sports. I am old enough to remember NBC radios "Monitor" on the weekend which I also used to enjoy. Thanks for remembering!
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