So many people have wonderful memories of sitting around (yes, and even looking at) the family radio. They were listening to programs such as The Shadow, One Man’s Family, Amos and Andy, Lum and Abner, Our Miss Brooks, Lux Radio Theatre and so many more. You can listen today!
Radio fans would be surprised to learn how much-recorded material survived in one way or another. Sadly, far more was never recorded or if it was, it was destroyed.
For years, dedicated collectors have scoured attics, garage sales, thrift stores and other places to find old transcription discs of undiscovered OTR treasures. What they have found is available to fans today.
By far, the most common way of listening to OTR is on audio cassette. But CD’s are becoming more and more common and the mp3 technology puts dozens of shows on one disk.
How does one find radio shows today?
There are several ways to locate these shows today. Here are the most common.
Sprinkled around the country are a number of Old Time Radio (OTR) clubs devoted to preserving the rich legacy of these shows. These clubs typically have lending libraries of radio shows that members can borrow for about 50 cents per cassette tape. The borrower can keep the tapes for 30 days or so and even make a personal copy if so desired.
These clubs usually put out a newsletter on OTR and some have monthly meetings with programs about various programs or performers.
Some of the clubs sponsor an annual convention where they gather surviving actors and sound effect artists. These aging, highly talented individuals perform the shows just the way they did back in radio’s Golden Age, often including live music. It is truly fascinating.
As one might imagine, even this era is coming to a close as these performers all age and/or pass on. Now is the time to check out this evaporating opportunity to talk with the people who really were radio.
These clubs are
- The Radio Enthusiasts of Puget Sound. This group is based in Seattle with members all over the country. They have a very nice lending library and one of the best, most intimate and friendly conventions anywhere-held the last weekend in June. For folks in the Northwest, there are regular monthly meetings too. They can be reached on the internet at Repsonline.org. The REPS site has many links to other radio related interests.
- SPERDVAC is based in Los Angeles and they too have a lending library, frequent meetings and an annual convention in November.
- The Friends of Old Time Radio host an annual convention in Newark, NJ each October.
- The “One Man’s Family” Family. A small but passionate group, OMFF is dedicated to this long-running and highly rated program. They have had 4 Family Reunions, have a great lending library and put out an informative newsletter called Family Ties.
There are many large collectors who turned their hobby into a small business and they sell copies of shows. We won’t attempt to list them here, but they can be found by doing OTR type searches on the internet.
Sporadically, one might find a display of OTR shows in a store, or hear them advertised on the radio. This isn’t a bad way to find shows, but it is by far the most expensive.
There are several sites which broadcast Old Time Radio. You’ll find links on the Repsonline.org site or a search of your own will likely get you good results. By the way, we’ve been told that the most rapidly growing special interest group at Yahoo.com is the old time radio gang.
Not just “old folks”
One last word. If you connect with any OTR group, don’t expect to find a bunch of retired folks just reminiscing. This hobby has attracted many young people who are fascinated by the imagination required in the “theater of the mind.”
This suggests that the preservation and protection of this wonderfully entertaining and historically significant material will continue for years to come. That’s good!
Editor’s Note: See more links at Suddenly Senior’s “222 Best Senior Sites” under Old Time Radio Programs.
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