Beginning in 1968, Bill Cosby began his long association with The Coca-Cola Company with a now-forgotten daily syndicated radio series, “The Bill Cosby Radio Program” that introduced sus to a lot of characters we would go on to know and love, like The Brown Hornet. Over 350 of the daily 5-minute comedy inserts were produced by Frank Buxton (who also doubled as the announcer and Bill’s “straight man”) and syndicated to over 200 teen-oriented (top 40) radio stations all over America on LP record by The Coca-Cola Company and distributed by McCann-Erikson (Coke’s ad agency). Bill and Frank improvised each episode, with sound effects provided by Jack Benny’s sound man, Gene Twombly.
Regular features on the show included: ANIMAL INTERVIEWS – Professor P.W. Hooker, friend of wildlife, visits the zoo (usually) each Monday to talk with another animal. CAPTAIN OH-WOW! – Bill, as Captain Oh-Wow, answers listener mail, some real, some not. Before the format change in mid-season (see Programs section), Captain Oh-Wow appeared every Wednesday. COYOTE CALHOUN – A singer (Bill) whose biggest hit (???) is something called “Hoo-Ray for the Chickens!” He accompanies himself on harmonica (which someone keeps putting peanuts in). SNOOPING SNEAKERS – Frank Buxton, as Sneakers, interviews Cosby, who takes on the identities of, let’s say, UNUSUAL interview subjects. THE BROWN HORNET – A bow to the golden age of radio superheroes, with Cosby playing both The Brown Hornet and his never-speaking-above-a-whisper sidekick, Leroy, in a spine-tingling serial where nothing much ever happens. The Hornet and Leroy have an arsenal of ineffective weapons at their disposal, ride around the city in the very fast car, The White Beauty, and are always accompanied by Weaver, a vicious dog. Buxton plays the part of the over-the-top announcer, whose name changes with each episode…. listen to the Adventures of The Brown Hornet show here >