Clara, Lu, and Em

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Clara, Lu, and Em was a radio daytime soap opera. It began on June 16, 1930 over WGN-AM Chicago, Illinois. It continued in various forms through the 1930s and early 1940s on the NBC Blue Network and CBS, finally airing as a syndicated series in 1945.[1] The program became the first network daytime radio serial when it was moved from its original evening time slot to days.

The drama series began as a Northwestern University sorority sketch by Louise Starkey (Clara), Isobel Carothers (Lu) and Helen King (Em). Their friends suggested they go on the radio, so the trio approached WGN and did their first shows for no pay.


As interest grew, they were sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive and were heard evenings on the NBC Blue Network from January 27, 1931 to February 12, 1932, before moving to weekdays from February 15, 1932 to March 23, 1934. From March 26, 1934 to January 10, 1936 they ran on the NBC (Red) network. Later in 1936 they returned to the NBC Blue Network, doing a weekly evening series, with music by Ted Fio Rito.

Characters and hiatus[edit]

Storylines centered on three women who lived in a small-town duplex. Clara Roach and her family lived on one side of the duplex, Emma Krueger lived with her family on the other side. Widow Lulu Casey lived upstairs with her daughter Florabelle. When Isobel Carothers suddenly died January 8, 1937 at age 32, Louise Starkey and Helen King decided not to continue.[2]

Return on CBS[edit]

When the program returned with Starkey and King in 1942 on CBS, another of their Northwestern University friends, Harriet Allyn, portrayed Lu. The show ran three times a week during the daytime.

Syndicated version[edit]

In 1945 a syndicated version of the show had a brief run. Allyn continued in the cast as Em, along with Fran Allison as Clara and Dorothy Day as Lu.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Dunning, John (1998). On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio (Revised ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press. pp. 112–113. ISBN 978-0-19-507678-3. Retrieved 2019-02-07.
  2. ^ Thompson, Edgar A. (August 1, 1941). "Riding the Airwaves". The Milwaukee Journal. p. 2. Retrieved 7 April 2015.

Listen to[edit]