My Dad. He's worked in it since 1950.
For me, it actually started with randomly twisting the AM dial at night, after the Red Sox game was over. I'd pick up stations from all around the East and Midwest, and one night when I was about 11, I stumbled across the CBS Radio Mystery Theatre, which had just begun airing. This was my first exposure to radio drama, and while I was kind of unsettled by the spooky stuff, I figured there had to be more of it somewhere -- so I kept twisting and tuning until I found a couple of stations in Boston that aired reruns of various vintage shows.
One of the real highlights of those days was a special weekend put on by WBZ out of Boston, where they ran Old Time Radio pretty much continuously -- and I listened to as much of it as I could. The year after that, NBC radio celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special series of shows that really got me hooked -- it was the first time I had any kind of real historic context for the stuff I was listening to, and it got me to where I wanted to start looking for books and articles.
Around that time, our local public radio station started airing reruns of "The Great Gildersleeve," "Duffy's Tavern," "The Aldrich Family," and "You Bet Your Life," which gave my my first exposure to these specific programs -- and not long after that, I saw an ad in a magazine for Radiola records and cassettes. I sent away for one -- containing two episodes of "Fibber McGee and Molly," and it must've cost me all of $3.79. And that was the start of a collection that now numbers over 5000 hours and takes up pretty much my entire office. (I have yet to convert to digital formats. I hear they save space...)
So anyway, that's how I got hooked -- how about you?
The humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error. -- William Jennings Bryan
My Dad. He's worked in it since 1950.
When I was a kid in the 1960s, we spent our summers in a little cabin up near Eureka in northern California. We didn't have a TV set there, but we had a wood cabinet tube type table radio and we'd listen to KGO in San Francisco at night. That was news/talk, but it began my fascination with radio in general and it was a short step to the Golden Age of radio from there.
Does anybody remember Ira Blue? His theme music was "Rhapsody in Blue" and I can't hear that without thinking of him.
Talk to the hat, pal.
I was living in Germany in 1987 and the Armed Forces Network played The Falcon and Johnny Dollar back to back every night just before I went to bed. I was hooked.
That which does not kill me makes me stronger.
Nietsche is dead.
- Roger McCarthy
My earliest memories trace back to my grandfather's large
wooden, almost "cathedral-arched" radio, and the sounds emitted
competed with my fascination with the glowing tubes seen through
space bar/holes cut in the hardboard back. I developed an interest
in history; especially WWII: FDR's fireside chat recordings; Churchill's
inspiring oratory; and CBS icon Ed Murrow's London broadcasts,
all of which captivated and revealed the power and grandeur that
is radio; along with the nobility and heroism of that time. In high
school, I got hooked on jazz and big band swing, thanks to local
Chicago stations that kept the flame burning bright. In the Army,
I once "owned" a M109A1 high powered field radio that was used to
listen in on communist transmissions. Bolted onto a jeep, we ran
"radio ambushes" along the Yugoslavian-Greek border. I also found that
I could pick up WCFL in Chicago from Macedonia by bouncing around
Panama Canal ship tanker traffic signals. "Radio Free Europe" broadcasts
shot past Warsaw Pact signal blocks, which I caught with a fairly cheap
portable set purchased at a PX. I wired the set's back and connected
the loose end tie to a barbed wire security fence, laying out a huge
rectangular antenna. Since those days I've found that I need to
scrounge around for local old-time broadcasts here, but some good
programs like, "When Radio Was" regularly play at midnite over WBBM
79* AM. I seem to have missed the entertainment sit-com/drama stuff,
so have learned a great deal by reading the FL threads posted by our
highly knowledgable members! Thanks a bunch guys.
Traveling across country with my adopted grandpa (who ALSO got me into swing dancing and vintage wear). Man is a zoot suiter, ex-army air corp, shrapnel in his tooshie toting contradiction of a cool person.
He popped some into his tape player and we went from California to Oklahoma listening to oldies like that. I wish I could remember what it was, but I was 4.
I live in the DC area and WAMU (NPR) is a local station. I listened to the re-broadcasts of radio shows quite a bit in college and some in high school.
Also, one of my roommates in college had a bunch of old radio show on cassette tapes. I think he had quite a few of the Groucho Marx "You bet your life shows."
I still remember two episodes. In one, the contestant was either an actress or model or both. Groucho was just stunned and probably smitten. You could just hear it in his voice. He practically stammered over a few words.
In another episode he featured a newly engaged couple and a young kid, I think the kid's name was Doogie or Dougie. My roommate back then said he thought "Dougie" went on to become a famous surfer and surfboard designer. Anyways, Groucho asked the couple about their early courtship and the woman said "Well, he came over to my house for dinner one night, and sometime later on, I went to his house for dinner." Groucho asked Dougie, "Dougie, well what do you think of that?" Dougie said "Sounds like they were really hungry!" I still laugh about that. I might have to see if that episode is out on CD.
The single item that pulled me into old time radio was a certain 1938 broadcast by Orson Welles.
I couldn't believe that a radio broadcast could cause such an uproar, and when I found out it was available, I knew I had to listen to it. When I finally did (late at night, with the lights off) I got chills. Next thing you know, I was listening to the Mel Blanc show, then Jack Benny, then the Camel Caravan, and here I am now listening to a speech by FDR.
Everything will be okay in the end. If itís not okay, itís not the end.
-Whoever said that
I will return...
For me it was the records of OTR at my library when I was about 8 years old. I saw this picture of a man wearing a cloak and wearing what looked like a red scarf and I had to know more.
From such small beginnings began an obsession that lasts to this day.
We had a local station that would play recordings of the old shows back in the very early 70's.
At the same time I found a bunch of 78's from my parents days, and picked up an old wooden Zenith tabletop radio/phono at a garage sale on my block.
(I wish I still had that combo)
That was all it took to get me started.