Our kids think it’s unusual. In fact, the youngest said, “You live in the wrong era.” Despite that candid criticism, I find myself drawn to old-time radio on satellite when I’m driving… and while sitting at my desk doing thought-free work. These are programs that predate television – most originally aired in the 1940’s.
My favorites are suspense dramas: “The Whistler,” “A Man Called X” and the cleverly titled “Suspense” – which features well-known stars. I also enjoy comedy like “The Burns and Allen Show,” along with “The Bickersons,” starring Don Ameche and Frances Langford.
The thing that intrigues me the most is the way talent on those shows had only their voices to engage the audience. That required diction command, inflection range and expert timing, along with the skills required of all actors to elicit emotion in their performances. Add in that these were delivered live – often in front of studio audiences – and you have to appreciate the dedication these professionals gave to their craft.
When I was a teenager, one of my friend’s fathers shared stories about growing up during the Depression. Gathering the family in front of the radio to listen to these original shows was a weekly tradition he said everyone enjoyed. His favorite was “The Shadow,” whose introduction became a part of the American lexicon: “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”
This is not to say I don’t listen to other things on radio. Sports talk – “Mike and Mike in the Morning” on ESPN radio and local programming – still capture the majority of my attention. When it comes to music, I prefer the 70’s and 80’s music channels on XM Radio. Maybe my daughter is right.