On the Air 1937

On the Air 1937

Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

March 31st, 2008, 3:07 am #1

Since we have been talking radio a bit lately I think even non-radio guys might find this tid-bit of history interesting.
It's a brief look at radio during it's "golden age" back in the 1930s.
Yes it's kind of dorky- but I guess some day people will think we are dorky.
I thought the '37 chevy with it's running board antenna was interesting.
People use to go to a lot of trouble to listen to radio.

http://www.archive.org/details/OntheAir1937
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Bob
Bob

March 31st, 2008, 5:09 pm #2

I don't have the tech background to know much of the jargon (you and Brandon leave me in the dust on that), but anyone could follow this explanation. And, as a person who enjoys both music and things from the past, I did enjoy the clip. I'd think it would have been very interesting to work in the emerging technologies and facilities of radio and TV way back then.
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 1st, 2008, 1:15 am #3

Yes, radio was a different world back then before TV. It was people's primary source of entertainment and a lot of money and effort was spent on programming- not just playing records or audio files like they do now- the networks and even many of the larger stations had live orchestras and singers. Even the smaller stations would have live local people come in to play or sing on the air. And the announcers- even the technicians really did dressed up like that to give it 'class'.

If you liked this you'd probably like a 1975 movie called "The Night That Panicked America". It is a recreation of Orson Wells's 1938 play "War of the Worlds"- which you have probably heard about- it was a live play put on to sound like a newscast reporting that Martians were invading the world. Many people who tuned in in the middle of the program didn't realize it was a fictional play and through we were really being invaded. Any way- it was a interesting look at how live radio dramas were created back then with the sound effects and everything.
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Brandon
Brandon

April 1st, 2008, 1:29 am #4

Radio drama pretty much died out in the United States in the late 1950s except for CBS radio's Mystery Theater which ran from 1974 to 1982 and a religious show out of Chicago called Unshackled which I believe is still in production.

Interesting that it did not die out in Britain where the BBC has continued to produce radio dramas.

In the U.S. the last broadcasting tie to old time radio is the soap opera Guiding Light which started on radio in 1937. It started on TV in 1953 and for a few years the actors did the show for tv and then did the same show for radio.
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 1st, 2008, 2:19 am #5

Well I was lucky enough to get in on the tail end of the great radio era- I remember as a kid listening to "Fibber McGee and Molly", "The Great Kiltersleeve" and "Our Miss Brooks" on my little Philco radio when going to sleep back in early 1950s. For several years many old radio programs also had TV-versions at the same time and even as a little kid I realized this was an amazing time- the ending of one era and the beginning of another. By the mid-50s almost all the old radio programs were gone but CBS still carried soap operas until about 1960-61- It was a big deal about all the plot-stories being wounded up on that last day. I always marked this as the end of the old radio era.
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Brandon
Brandon

April 1st, 2008, 3:55 am #6

Yes Nat, you are correct most radio historians date the end of the radio drama era as the day CBS cancelled all their radio soaps which was November 25, 1960.
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Nat
Joined: January 1st, 1970, 12:00 am

April 1st, 2008, 3:03 pm #7

Well I was pretty close. I knew it was in that 60-61 winter because it was just before we moved to a new house which was early '61. My parents always listen to that station and it was where I got my first job in 1964.

The sad thing is that so much old radio history is lost forever. Only a fraction of the thousands of radio programs still exist as recordings- and none before the 1930s. And all the people who were a part of it are gone too. I got in the business just as the the radio pioneers were retiring. I really enjoyed hearing their tales about the early days when everything was new and experimental and nobody really knew what they were doing. It was like the wild-west in the early '20s- there were few rules and anybody who wanted a radio station could get a license just by asking. Many people had little 5 and 10 watt stations they just ran as a hobby. All these guys are gone now and with them so much unwritten history.
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Bob
Bob

April 2nd, 2008, 4:05 pm #8

Since we have been talking radio a bit lately I think even non-radio guys might find this tid-bit of history interesting.
It's a brief look at radio during it's "golden age" back in the 1930s.
Yes it's kind of dorky- but I guess some day people will think we are dorky.
I thought the '37 chevy with it's running board antenna was interesting.
People use to go to a lot of trouble to listen to radio.

http://www.archive.org/details/OntheAir1937
This morning, I was watching the History Channel and there was a program about Sam Perkins and Sun Records. When trying to set up his own recording company, Perkins needed a sound board but didn't have much money. His search led him to a station in North Carolina that had an old sound board -- RCA Model 76D -- that they sold to Perkins for $500. Perkins rehabbed the board and used it to record some of the early pioneers of Rock n Roll (e.g., Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis). Sun's success required replacement of the sound board by the 1960's, but Perkins kept it in storage and it is now on display in a museum in Brandon's town, Memphis. I'm not the audiophile that some here are, but I found this interesting.
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Brandon
Brandon

April 2nd, 2008, 8:15 pm #9

Hi Bob,

You mean Sam Phillips.

Besides Sun Records, Sam also bought and sold radio stations.

I rented tower space from him one time in a strange deal where I leased the land and then he subleased the land to have his tower on it. The landowners would not deal with him, so that is why we had that arrangement.

Interesting man, very eccentric. He used to do his tower maintenance reports himself. It was really strange being out there at the tower site with him knowing he was the man who discovered Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Roy Orbison among others.
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cool beans boi
cool beans boi

April 2nd, 2008, 10:21 pm #10

Since we have been talking radio a bit lately I think even non-radio guys might find this tid-bit of history interesting.
It's a brief look at radio during it's "golden age" back in the 1930s.
Yes it's kind of dorky- but I guess some day people will think we are dorky.
I thought the '37 chevy with it's running board antenna was interesting.
People use to go to a lot of trouble to listen to radio.

http://www.archive.org/details/OntheAir1937
This is awesome. I love this old time stuff.
These were the days when a few big stations got most of the audience, but the dial was crowded with many stations.
I read an article from 1930 that when WJZ (now WABC) wanted to go to 50K many stations objected fearing interference.
On a related note I have been reading a lot of stuff about the Old DUMONT TV network. Fascinating.
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