Friday, August 29, 2008

Radio -- Television Without Pictures

Television came into being in the late 1940s but few people had sets to receive the programs. I'll write about that in another post as this one is concerning radio.

Our entertainment in the 1930s and 1940s came from a small box that sat on a table in the living or dining room. Some had large radios that were floor models and more powerful to pull in stations far away. I remember our family radio in the dining room which became the center of our evenings. We could play games and listen to our favorite radio show at the same time.

We had only AM stations as FM hadn't been invented yet. All sets and car radios were tube types which took a little time to warm up before you could hear anything. Tubes had to be replaced when they burned out.

The "stars" of radio then were Fibber McGee & Molly, Lum & Abner, George Burns & Gracie Allen, Jack Benny, Red Skelton, Fred Allen, Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Milton Berle, Perry Como, many Big Bands, and others. You never lacked for anything to listen to and wouldn't be embarrassed by anything said on the air. Each radio program was sponsored by ONE (1) sponsor. You identified with the star and the sponsor. Lux, Kraft, Chesterfield, Jello, Texico, Chase & Sanborne, etc. Now on television we have 10 commercials at every break and you really don't know who is sponsoring the program. Stars salaries have risen so much that it takes a lot of companies to put on one program.

There were dramas and adventure shows. One of my favorite was "The Lone Ranger". I remember sending off 10 cents and a box top for a map of the area he worked his magic so you could follow him through this place and that -- like you'd see on TV.

The picture was in your head. They would describe something and you'd come up with the picture. Imagination! You lost a lot and gained a lot when television came out.

When I was in college at Pasadena Nazarene College in Pasadena, California, we went to Hollywood on weekends to see TV and Radio shows by being in the audience and putting laughs on the program. The last radio show I went to was "The Bob Hope Show" at NBC. He interacted with the audience after the show. One person mentioned that his friend Bing Crosby wore a hair piece and wondered if Bob did. Mr. Hope asked him to come up on stage and each would pull the hair of the other. Brought some laughs on that one. "Our Miss Brooks" was another radio show we attended and got a chuckle out of Eve Arden playing a single person prominently pregnant at the time.

Radio now is mostly music and you listen most of the time in your car. Lots of types of music to choose from - your pick. Those were the days, my friend. I thought they would never end. But everything does.


Goofy Dick said...

Yep, I remember those good old days of listening to "The Lone Ranger", then there also was "The Green Hornet","Superman", etc. I loved watching the "eye" on the front of the radio as you tuned to a station. Lots of good memories!
Thanks for bringing back some good memories.

Ginny said...

I, too, remember all of those radio shows. When my husband was about ten years old, he saved oatmeal box tops to mail off for a cowboy outfit. His mother made him eat all of the oatmeal before he could use each boxtop. Thanks for your concern about my lack of blogs as of late. I have been working on another book to get it finished by October for some local shows. Should have a bit more time now.