It seems a little strange to think of Chicago as a Navy Town. Chicago is a place of big business, the City With Big Shoulders, practically the capital of the Midwest. Chicago is a Navy town, not just because it lies on the shores of Lake Michigan. Just to the north of Chicago is the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, where so many Sailors and Officers received the technical training they needed to help win the War.
To support Chicago's navy heritage, the Wrigley Chewing Gum company sponsored The First Line over WBBM. The First Line was an informational variety program celebrating the efforts of the US Navy in WWII. The War was a difficult time for Wrigley's because of sugar rationing. The program kept chewing gum in the minds of listeners, but when the War ended, a new program was needed.
In November of 1945, Island Venture hit the airwaves. The program chronicled the adventures of two "Navy Heroes" who returned to the Central Pacific to start an air freight company to serve the smaller islands. Naval Aviator Gil Perry and his sidekick Trigger Brett were fairly standard radio heroes, and the regular cast of characters they dealt with would not have been out of place on any number of detective shows or Westerns of the era. The island natives they dealt with sounded a lot more like Tonto than Polynesians.
Two factors made Island Venture stand out. First was that it was about ex-Navy men putting their training to good use and having wholesome adventures every week. This fact was not only part of the plot of each episode but figured prominently in the introduction to each broadcast. The biggest hook for Island Venture was its exotic location, the fictionalized islands of the central Pacific.
Before the War, Pearl Harbor and Hawaii was only a place people read about in National Geographic magazine. James Michener's Pulitzer Prize winning book, Tales of the South Pacific, would not be published for two more years, but tales of the beautiful islands in the South Seas were already beginning to capture the imagination of the folks back home. There was definitely more out there than the horrors and brutality of the War.
Island Venture celebrated a pair of veterans who sought adventure in foreign lands, but these were every inch American boys. They were helpful and fair to the natives, and many of their fights were against nefarious forces who might bring War back to their beloved island paradise.
Island Venture was ahead of its time. When it came on the air, there were still a number of our boys still serving in the South Pacific, awaiting their chance to rotate home. Nostalgia for the tropics would come, as seen in Michener's book, the musical South Pacific which it inspired, the TV show Adventures In Paradise with Capt Adam Troy on the decks of the Tiki III, and on radio's Bold Venture. Although the Bogart and Bacall vehicle was set in the Caribbean rather than the South Pacific, the island vibe was an important part of the mix.