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It Pays To Be Ignorant

It Pays To Be Ignorant

This is the home of a web page dedicated to the radio show It Pays To Be Ignorant. More will be added in the future.

It Pays To Be Ignorant Cast

Air Dates

    Own Show

  • 6/25/42 - 11/19/42    Mutual      8:30 East / 5:30 West
  • 11/23/42 - 2/21/44    Mutual      7:30 East
  • 2/25/44 - 1/25/46      CBS         9:00 East / 5:00 West
  • 5/3/46 - 9/13/46        CBS         9:00 East / 5:00 West
  • 9/20/46 - 2/6/48        CBS       10:00 East / 6:00 West
  • 2/28/48 - 7/3/48        CBS       10:30 East / 7:30 West
  • 7/10/48 - 1/1/49        CBS         9:30 East / 7:30 West
  • 1/9/49 - 6/26/49        CBS       10:30 East / 7:30 West
  • 7/5/49 - 9/20/49        CBS         9:30 East / 6:30 West   Summer Replacement (Strike it Rich/Life With Luigi)
  • 7/5/50 - 9/27/50        CBS         9:00 East / 6:00 West   Summer Replacement (You Bet Your Life/Harold Perry Show)
  • 7/4/51 - 9/26/51        NBC         9:00 East / 9:00 West   Summer Replacement (You Bet Your Life)

    Segment on Kate Smith Show

  • 10/22/43 - 5/25/47     Off and on

    Segment on other shows

  • 4/22/45    Radio Hall of Fame
  • 9/22/46    Stars in the Afternoon

The Show

It seems like it is the most loved and hated show from the Golden Age of Radio, It Pays To Be Ignorant. I have received numerous comments from people today saying this is their favorite old time radio show. And on the other hand John Dunning in his work “The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio” referred to it as moronic. Its first airing was on June 25, 1942 on the Mutual Broadcasting System. Its last airing was on radio and TV during the summer of 1951 as a summer replacement for You Bet Your Life starring Groucho Marx. It starred Tom Howard as the host with panelists, Lulu McConnell, George Shelton, and Harry McNaughton. Although some people label it a spoof of intellectual quiz shows like Information Please it stood on its own as a unique show in the era of Old Time Radio. 

It Pays to be Ignorant came from an idea from Bob Howell and his wife Ruth Howard Howell. Ruth the daughter of Tom Howard sent the idea to her father who got the show on the air. Ruth and Bob came later to write the show. When Ruth’s husband died she became the head writer. Tom and Ruth Howard might be the only father and daughter team in all of radio.

The show assembled a great cast, all who had experience. Tom Howard was a long time vaudevillian. During his career he teamed up with George Shelton. They did 55 short films for Educational Pictures together and starting in 1933 appeared on Rudy Vallee’s Fleischmann’s Yeast  radio show. In 1935 they appeared for 27 consecutive times on this show. In 1941 they did a 5 minute series called Howard and Shelton for Royal Crown Cola. Harry McNaughton came from a British background and before Ignorant was on Phil Baker’s radio show as Bottle the Butler. Finally Lulu McConnell, who only had a few guest spots on radio that I could find, she had extensive experience in the theater even on Broadway.

As we stated before it started on WOR for the Mutual Broadcasting System for Piels Beer. The show from 43-10-04 gives us the best example of what the show was like from the WOR era. In 1944 it switched to CBS
It Pays To Be Ignorant Ticket
where it was sponsored by Philip Morris Cigarettes. It was during this time that Johnny Roventini joined the staff and would call out Call for Phillip Morrrrriiiiiiiiissss. He also did some announcing of guests and announcing prizes on the show. A good example of this era is 47-03-07. This is the most unusual show I have found. Philip Morris was switching its sponsorship from It Pays to be Ignorant to the Milton Berle Show. So they had Milton Berle on the show to announce this. Certainly an uncomfortable position for the It Pays to be Ignorant staff. Unfortunately most of the shows that are available to us come from AFRS and in my opinion are butchered. Whoever edited these shows destroyed them. The most unique relationship that was established was with Kate Smith. From 1943 thru 1947 the It Pays to be Ignorant staff were frequent guests on her show. They would perform 1 question usually on her show. In 1944, while Lulu McConnell was ill, Kate Smith substituted for her on It Pays to be Ignorant for 2 shows. 

The BBC even got into the act by doing a take off It Pays to be Ignorant called Ignorance is Bliss. It was on BBC’s Light Programme station and started in April 1, 1946. It starred Stewart MacPherson as the host with panelists Harold Berens, Gladys Hay, and Michael Moore.

It Pays to be Ignorant Questions Asked


Below are some shows.
  1. Iptbi_43-10-04_What_is_a_Reigning_Beauty.mp3
  2. Iptbi_44-01-10_What_is_a_Cubit.mp3
  3. Iptbi_44-01-17_What_is_a_Long_Neck.mp3
  4. Iptbi_44-02-07_Why_is_a_Watch_Dog_Smaller_in_the_Daytime.mp3
  5. Iptbi_44-04-14_What_is_a_Nightmare.mp3
  6. Iptbi_44-04-21_How_Do_You_Keep_a_Back_Door_From_Slamming.mp3
  7. Iptbi_44-04-28_When_Is_a_Watermelon_a_Vegetable.mp3
  8. Iptbi_44-05-12_Is_it_Bad_Luck_to_Postpone_a_Wedding.mp3
  9. Iptbi_44-05-19_What_Is_Worse_Then_Raining_Cats_And_Dogs.mp3
  10. Iptbi_44-07-14_How_Do_You_Keep_Milk_From_Souring.mp3
  11. Iptbi_44-08-03_Missing_Intro.mp3
  12. Iptbi_44-08-11_What_is_an_Optimist.mp3
  13. Iptbi_44-08-18_What_is_an_Optimist.mp3 - A different show than above
  14. Iptbi_44-08-25_What_is_an_Optimist.mp3 - A different show than above
  15. Iptbi_44-09-01_What_Did_the_Dog_Say_When_He_Sat_on_the_Sandpaper.mp3
  16. Iptbi_44-09-08_How_Can_You_Tell_A_Jersey_Cow.mp3
  17. Iptbi_44-09-15_What_is_the_Best_Way_to_Keep_Bills_Down.mp3
  18. Iptbi_44-09-22_Why_is_Marriage_Like_Taking_A_Bath.mp3
  19. Iptbi_44-09-29_Why_Do_Some_People_Eat_With_Their_Knives.mp3
  20. Iptbi_44-10-06_Why_do_People_Eat_Garlic.mp3
  21. Iptbi_44-10-13_Do_Married_Men_Live_Longer_Then_Single_Men.mp3
  22. Iptbi_44-10-20_Why_Does_A_Chicken_Cross_The_Street.mp3
  23. Iptbi_44-10-27_Can_A_Letter_Box.mp3
  24. Iptbi_44-11-03_What_is_a_Swimming_Pool.mp3
  25. Iptbi_44-11-10_What_Happens_When_You_Eat_Garlic.mp3
  26. Iptbi_44-11-24_Why_is_Kissing_A_Girl_Like_Opening_a_Bottle_of_Olives.mp3
  27. Iptbi_44-12-08_What_Kind_of_a_Person_Lives_The_Longest.mp3
  28. Iptbi_44-12-15_What_is_a_Duck.mp3
  29. Iptbi_44-12-22_What_is_a_Blotter.mp3
  30. Iptbi_44-12-29_What_is_a_New_Years_Resolution.mp3
  31. Iptbi_45-01-05_What_Do_We_Call_The_Inhabitants_Of_Egypt.mp3
  32. Iptbi_45-02-10_What_Do_You_Call_a_Man_Unlucky_In_Love.mp3
  33. Iptbi_45-02-23_What_Is_a_Flirt.mp3
  34. Iptbi_45-03-16_What_is_Liberty.mp3
  35. Iptbi_45-03-23_Why_Is_a_Room_Full_Of_Married_People_Empty.mp3
  36. Iptbi_45-04-06_Do_You_Believe_In_Clubs_For_Women.mp3
  37. Iptbi_45-04-27_What_Is_a_Detour.mp3
  38. Iptbi_45-05-25_What_Is_Liberty.mp3
  39. Iptbi_45-06-01_What_Is_a_Shyster_Lawyer.mp3
  40. Iptbi_45-06-22_What_Is_a_Female_Bachelor.mp3
  41. Iptbi_45-06-29_What_Is_The_Difference_Between_a_Married_Man_and_a_Bachelor.mp3
  42. Iptbi_45-07-06_What_Is_a_Bigamist.mp3
  43. Iptbi_45-07-20_Who_Was_Rip_Van_Winkle.mp3
  44. Iptbi_45-08-04_What_Are_Millionaires.mp3
  45. Iptbi_45-08-24_What_Is_Etiquette.mp3
  46. Iptbi_45-09-07_What_Is_Love.mp3
  47. Iptbi_45-09-21_When_Is_a_Watermelon_a_Vegetable.mp3
  48. Iptbi_45-10-05_What_Is_A_Window.mp3
  49. Iptbi_45-10-12_What_Is_Alimony.mp3
  50. Iptbi_45-10-19_What_Is_a_Cowhide_Used_For.mp3
  51. Iptbi_45-11-09_How_Does_A_Stove_Feel_When_Its_Full_of_Coal.mp3
  52. Iptbi_45-11-23_What_Is_a_Windowscreen.mp3
  53. Iptbi_45-11-30_What_Is_a_Russian_Dancer.mp3
  54. Iptbi_45-12-07_What_is_A_Mother_in_Law.mp3
  55. Iptbi_45-12-21_Why_Does_The_Subway_Have_To_Raise_The_Fare.mp3
  56. Iptbi_46-01-04_What_Did_The_Baggy_Pants-leg_Say_To_The_Other.mp3
  57. Iptbi_46-01-11_Why_Are_Women_Like_The_Ocean.mp3
  58. Iptbi_46-02-08_What_Is_a_Bargain_Sale.mp3
  59. Iptbi_46-02-22_What_Does_A_Bee_Get_In_Flowers.mp3
  60. Iptbi_46-03-01_What_Is_a_Fox.mp3
  61. Iptbi_46-03-08_What_Happened_In_1776.mp3
  62. Iptbi_46-04-26_What_Is_An_Echo.mp3
  63. Iptbi_46-05-17_What_Is_a_Nightclub.mp3
  64. Iptbi_46-06-21_What_Is_a_Nightclub.mp3 - A different show than above
  65. Iptbi_46-06-28_Where_Do_Bugs_Go_In_The_Winter.mp3
  66. Iptbi_46-08-23_What_Is_The_Best_Way_To_Raise_Cabbage.mp3
  67. Iptbi_46-08-30_What_is_a_Bargain_Sale.mp3
  68. Iptbi_47-01-24_What_is_a_Misleading_Figure.mp3
  69. Iptbi_47-03-07_What_Are_Women_Wearing_in_Shoes_This_Year.mp3
  70. Iptbi_47-03-28_What_Is_a_Dentist.mp3
  71. Iptbi_48-02-05_Why_Do_Wedding_Bells_Ring.mp3
  72. Iptbi_48-09-18_What_Is_A_Blotter.mp3
  73. Iptbi_48-10-23_Why_Is_a_Man_Like_a_Worm.mp3
  74. Iptbi_48-10-30_What_Is_a_Love_Seat.mp3
  75. Iptbi_49-01-23_How_Can_You_Make_a_Woman_Keep_Her_Mouth_Shut.mp3
  76. Iptbi_50-09-13_Why_Is_a_Man_Like_a_Worm.mp3
  77. Iptbi_51-07-04_What_Happens_When_a_Race_Track_Gets_Flooded.mp3
  78. Iptbi_52-01-13_What_Happens_When_a_Race_Track_Gets_Flooded.mp3 - A different show than above
  79. Iptbi_52-11-06_What_is_a_MotherInLaw_Sandwich.mp3
  80. Iptbi_xx-xx-xx_What_is_a_Gentleman.mp3
  81. Iptbi_xx-xx-xx_What_Is_A_Hospitable_Dog.mp3
  82. Iptbi_xx-xx-xx_What_is_a_Revolver.mp3
Kate Smith Shows
Miscellaneous clips.
For any questions, comments, or corrections, please contact:
Bruce Forsberg

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