Family History#2 Great Depression. Arrival In LA. 1940s Radio Row. Radio City. Sunset and Vine. KNX. CBS. Tom Breneman. NBC Building.

Part of an ad for the historic Avon theater, where Frank LaRocca worked

Two LaRocca brothers, Frank and Joseph, move to Los Angeles.

Decatur Daily Review Aug. 23, 1925

Frank was a violinist and music director in Decatur, Illinois.

My research shows that Frank, along with his wife Rose, moved to Los Angeles in about 1930. The couple resided at 2303 Gatewood.

  1934 Ned and Virginia and their 9 year old Donna, joined Frank and Rose in Los Angeles. The family moved into a house about two blocks away from Frank and Rose at 2234 Shoredale Ave.

(Per LA phone directories seen in the LAPL and voter registration ancestry.com)

This neighborhood is very close to Elysian Park and the LA River and was well before “the 5” freeway was built.

 Brothers Frank and Ned are listed as “music teachers” in the LA phone directory in the mid-1930s. 

1937: Frank is admitted to Methodist Hospital with peritonitis/perforated duodena. After one week in the hospital, Frank dies, having contracted pneumonia two day previous.

He was buried in his home town of Peoria, Illinois. Per Frank LaRocca’s LA death certificate I purchased.

  In the late 1930s, A “Radio Row,” was forming along the section of Vine Street between Hollywood Blvd. and Sunset Blvd.

1938: NBC Radio aka “Radio City” opens their new location in a sensational Streamline Moderne building on Sunset and Vine.

1940s NBC building on Sunset & Vine Architect John C. Austin Note the “RADIO CITY NBC” moniker
Austin was also the architect for the Griffith Observatory.



 1938: CBS radio aka “Columbia Square” opens just down the street. It’s the new home to KNX Radio.

  There is a need for music, of course, in all types of radio shows: comedy, drama, singing, symphony, advertisements, theatrical presentations, news, public service announcement, etc.

Nearby Hollywood and Vine was the Pantages Theatre (1930) and El Capitan (1926).

Tom Breneman broadcast his popular show “Breakfast In Hollywood” from his restaurant. I’ve listened to a few saved radio broadcasts and Breneman asks “where are you from?” it seems like a combination of locals and tourists.

Tom Breneman’s Hollywood Restaurant and hotels.

Night shot of Sunset & Vine. NBC on the right side.

Still from footage shot in front of the Radio Room 1940s.

1948 Taken from NBC No more Tom Brenamen! I don’t know when it became a TV station KECA but it must be 1948 is quite early in the entrance of Television into American homes and the revolution that occured with Television set purchasing and viewing at home in the 1950s.

All these images were found with a google image search. Please contact me for attribution.

*Thank you Raul Morena for his online video “Great Tour of Radio Row in Hollywood.” His website is Eyes of a Generation*

Ned LaRocca continued to work at NBC and CBS throughout the 1940s and made an important contact with Leith Stevens, conductor and composer. Stevens would give Ned employment when radio declined as popular entertainment.


Architect is Swiss-born William Lescase. CBS Columbia Square

CBS radio aka “Columbia Square” opens just down the street. It’s the new home to KNX Radio.

  There is a need for music, of course, in all types of radio shows: comedy, drama, singing, symphony, advertisements, theatrical presentations, news, public service announcement, etc.

 A veteran performing harpist, Ned was able to find a steady paycheck at both NBC and CBS.

He was at the right place at the right time with the right qualifications.

He probably felt lucky as I’m sure it was a competitive environment during the Great Depression.

This article dated July 7, 1938 from the San Fernando Valley Times. Note the mention of future Warner Bros. starlet Jane Harker, niece by marriage to Donna LaRocca’s Father Ned.



Salt Lake City Tribune July 19, 1945. Paige Young’s 2nd cousin. Name would eventually get shortened to Jane Harker.

.

Studio 1 CBS Close up of harpist in the Wilbur Hatch Orchestra 1940-41 Photo by “Dick” Whittington Studio

Could the harpist in this photo be Ned LaRocca?

From the book “Commercial Los Angeles 1925-1947” Photos by the “Dick” Whittington Studio. Photo is distorted from the original. Collection of the author.

Old postcard when these spectacular buildings were brand new. Ned LaRocca worked at both networks in radio and later early TV.
Description on back of postcard.

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