Music and radio seems like a natural combination, but getting the two to work and play well together was actually quite a feat. The early broadcast equipment simply could not carry the fidelity that musicians felt their art deserved, and home radio sets weren't much better.
Technology would improve quickly, especially as radio became a commercial success. Music was still rather difficult. Recorded music, recorded anything, for broadcast was rare, partially due to network policy but also because of the limitations of recording equipment.
Music was broadcast live from the studio, which imposed its own limitations. When Big Band Jazz became popular, broadcast studios had to be large enough for the group to assemble and perform, even though most studios were little more than sound tight caves.
Most musicians, especially jazz musicians, perform better in front of an audience, particularly one that is dancing. The solution was the remote broadcast. The network would provide an announcer and an engineer, and the show would be transmitted back to the studio for broadcast, usually via telephone lines.
By the 1950s, recording technology made the remote broadcast less of a necessity, but the shows were still popular with both performers and audiences. NBC, in cooperation with the United Federation of Musicians, began broadcasting The All Star Parade of Bands during mid Fifties as an advertising vehicle for the Treasury Departments Savings Bond Program.
Savings Bonds were created during the Great Depression with the dual purpose of raising capital for the government and providing savers with a very safe investment option. Savings Bonds became Defense Bond and War Bonds to fund the War Effort, but returned to their status as Savings Bonds in peacetime. They were a great investment, offering “$4 for every $3 invested", not to mention that they were backed by “the full faith and credit of the U.S. government."
The All Star Parade of Bands came from Jazz venues across the country, used several different announcers, and featured some of the biggest acts in Jazz. Artists who appeared included the Dorsey brothers, Tommy and Jimmy, Les Brown and His Band of Renown, Satchmo himself Louis Armstrong, Stan Kenton, Bobby Troupe and Julie London, Carmen McCrae, Count Basie, the Teddy Wilson Trio and Sarah Vaughn.
Since announcers and venues changed constantly throughout the run of The All Star Parade of Bands, each program has its own flavor, the only real constant are the entertaining plugs for the Savings Bond Program, and of course the marvelous music.