For anyone who is interested in the history of radio and entertainment, research into the “Golden Age of Radio” will probably prove to be extremely interesting. Before television and the Internet were invented, radio was the best mode of mass communication, including entertainment. There were scores of radio shows dedicated to the telling of fictional stories that intended to amuse and captivate audiences—exactly like the visual media of today strives to do. Radio shows were broadcasted on several different stations and these auditory programs targeted numerous audiences and spanned various genres. There were soap operas geared at women, “Little Orphan Annie” for children, and even comedies that still come across as hilarious today, such as the ranting between a warring married couple in “The Bickerson’s.”
One of the most enthralling forms of Radio Theater was the genre of mystery. Just like today’s television shows, in the 1930s and 1940s there were many radio shows that dealt with subjects such as crime, cops, and the underworld. Just as we currently have “Law and Order” and “CSI,” radio audiences of the 1930s-1950s were able to tune in and get wrapped up in the world of fictional sleuths and hoods. Crime stories have been popular since early society and even before radio was invented there were many cheap “penny dreadful” publications that promoted such stories as well as actual novels. Even established and respected authors like Charles Dickens added many crime aspects to the plots within his books. Yet radio brought those stories to life via talented “voice actors” that could read the scripts with so much emotion that listeners actually felt suspense, excitement, or even dread.
Radio shows were hugely popular before television became a staple of Americana in the 1950s. By the 1960s televisions were so infused with mainstream society that radio shows either ended or moved their characters onto television.
Fortunately, Internet media has made it possible to use new technology to preserve—and even revive—old fashioned forms of amusement that made the names of several top media corporations of today. For example, CBS is now best known for the much watched television channel. However CBS was a pioneer of radio during the early 20th century and the company is proud of its historic past in the field of communication. Currently, CBS supports a website that allows visitors to listen to “Radio Mystery Theater,” a program that consists of radio shows written from 1974 to 1981. These entertaining mysteries are a direct ode to the type that were broadcasted during the Golden Age of Radio. According to the website:
“During the Golden Age of Radio, listeners gathered by their radio to enjoy their favorite programs. Radio Mystery Theater (1974-82) was a resurgence of the nostalgia of those radio days.”
Yet, there are also many sources were one can find information and even recordings of the actual radio shows that were popular during the Golden Age of Radio. OTRCAT.com has an impressive collection of radio shows from seemingly all genres and offers many of the recordings for purchase while Radiolovers.com allows people to access many old radio shows free of charge.
OTR.net had the most impressive collection of old time radio shows of any website. Seemingly any episode or every show that was ever broadcasted can be easily found and listened to via this link: http://www.otr.net/
Although this form of media is outdated and from the past, many of the plot lines are still engaging and many of the characters are still relatable. Anyone who is interested in fictional writing or radio history will find interest in the websites provided that offer introduction to a media form that is still deserving of an audience.