My favorite hobby is collecting and listening
to Old Time Radio programs. I began collecting these vintage shows
in 1972 while stationed in Yokohama, Japan where there was no
English speaking Television, only the radio station , Far East
Network (FEN) part of the Armed Forces Radio Service. This space
will be used in the future to provide a list of my collection in
data base form for people who are interested in trading.
Below is a short essay I wrote on why I got
started in this unique hobby.
Return With Us Now to Those
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Every day after school I hurriedly ran home to
plop myself down on the floor in front of the Crosley Radio.
Where, every afternoon, I was transported to another world. A
world made up entirely of a child's imagination. I can
"see" them now, my favorite heroes; The Lone Ranger and
his faithful Indian companion Tonto; The Green Hornet and his
partner in crime fighting, Kato; Tom Corbett, Space Cadet; or
Commander Corey of the Space Patrol and his sidekick Cadet Happy
as they shot across time and space; and Superman as he sped
across the sky in search of some wrong that needed righting.
Those afternoon adventure heroes are alive today, with a form of
immortality, because of my memories and imagination.
The Radio I loved so well is gone forever. But
not forgotten. As long as I live I will reflect with fondness on
those simple and far more innocent days. Simple and innocent
because the good guy always won and the theme for all the shows
was that it is wrong to hurt people and right to help them. How
much simpler could life be?
Most people alive today cannot understand the
joy I had, as a child, in using my imagination to propel me into
strange far off places on adventures of a life time. Anyone who
grew up with Television, as their nanny, could never live those
adventures in quite the same way. TV unlike Radio has made our
imaginations lazy and in doing so taken over the duties of entertaining
us. With TV all you have to do is set back and say
"entertain me" and it's all done for you. Not so with
the Old Radio shows they gave us the tools for fueling our
imagination. These shows required us to use our imaginations to
complete the story line. We had to become part of the adventure
for it to work. The best shows of the day were those programs that
required us to use our imagination the most. When the bespeckled
man in the business suit ducked into a phone booth, as Clark
Kent, and reemerged as Superman saying "Up, Up and
away" accompanied by a swishing sound you needed no TV
screen to see Superman fly away to rescue Lois Lane or you as
Jimmy Olson. Or when Sherlock Holmes said to Dr. Watson
"Come Watson, the game is afoot," you could see Holmes swing
his cape around his shoulders and rush off on a new case and you as Watson
With this fondness for the Old Radio programs I
have managed to collect many of them and listen to them whenever
I can. Foremost among my collection is, without a doubt, the most
famous Radio broadcast of all time, H. G. Wells' "The
War of the World's," on the Mercury Theater on the Air. That
"panic broadcast," of Halloween 1938, virtually scared
our nation right out of its wits. The young actor, Orson Welles,
who went on to become a Radio and motion picture legend, leaped
into fame and stardom with this one show. At the end of the
program he tried to calm the public by closing the show with this
"This is Orson Welles, ladies and
gentlemen, out of character to assure you that The War of the
Worlds has no further significance than as the holiday offering
it was intended to be. The Mercury Theater's own radio version of
dressing up in a sheet and jumping out of a bush and saying Boo!
Starting now, we couldn't soap all your
windows and steal all your garden gates, by tomorrow night . . .
so we did the next best thing. We annihilated the world before
your very ears, and utterly destroyed the Columbia Broadcasting
System. You will be relieved, I hope, to learn that we didn't mean
it, and that both institutions are still open for business. So
good-bye everybody, and remember, please, for the next day or so,
the terrible lesson you learned tonight. That grinning, glowing,
globular invader of your living room is an inhabitant of the
pumpkin patch, and if your doorbell rings and nobody's there,
that was no Martian . . . it's Hallowe'en."
My collection of Old Time Radio programs allow
me to return to those thrilling days of yesteryear.
Today, I don't have to wait for Saturday morning to listen to Sky
King, I can pull out a tape and put it in my tape player, close
my eyes, and become a part of my favorite adventure whenever I
These programs are as good today as they were
when they were first aired. Surprisingly most of them are not out
of date. On Dragnet when Sergeant Joe Friday and Officer Frank
Gannon track down a burglar or a ring of jewel robbers it is as
though it were happening today. Only the occasional mention of a new 1953
Ford or Chevrolet being used by the suspects gives any hint as to
the age of the show.
The very spirit of Radio is the imagination,
the opposite of television. Radio is called the
"theater-of-the-mind," where one little boy was stimulated
into using his "mind's eye" to see the action coming
across the airwaves into that Crosley and inspiring a fertile
imagination. If it sounds as though I have a love affair with
Radio I do. I fell in love with Radio at a very early age, and
though the Radio I loved is lost to me, my love for it is not.