There used to be only two ways to listen to old-time radio in the early days of old-time radio. You could listen to a table model or you could listen to a floor model like the one pictured.
I will never forget visiting my grandparent’s house in Missouri, in the 50’s and listening to their floor model radio, as we listened to radio stations broadcasting out of Kansas City and Des Moines, Iowa. The sound was special as the voices really jumped out at you on such a large radio. It was fun listening to the Kansas City Athletics baseball games being broadcast over the airwaves. The Athletics lost most of the games but the chance to listen to listen to such a powerful radio was something I will never forget.
Old Time Radio Died 60 Years Ago
Nowadays we can listen to old-time radio shows in many different ways. Old time radio is said to have died 60 years ago, on September 30, 1962, but it can be listened to in a myriad of ways today.
Even before the day old-time radio “died”, there had been bakelite radios built to listen to the shows, Then transistor radios and cassette players started playing the old-time radio shows we loved so much.
MP3 CD Breakthrough
Then the shows could be heard on regular audio compact disc players in a sound system or a portable CD player. A major development occurred when the MP3 CD was invented, which enabled a MP3 CD to hold about 50 half hour old-time radio shows. Before the advent of the MP3 CD, owing a lot of old-time radio shows was cost prohibitive since cassettes and CD’s could only play a couple of shows on a tape or a CD.
The sales of MP3 CD’s filled with old-time radio shows accelerated when ebay.com had dealers, who had recorded the shows from a master copy and burned copies of the shows onto a MP3 CD and began selling them to old-time radio fans, much cheaper than a regular CD or cassette.
Cassette Dealers Stuck With Inventory
One bad thing about the popularity of the MP3 CD’s was that old-time radio dealers online, who had a backlog of cassettes to sell found it hard to sell their inventory, since old-time radio fans were flocking to the new technology.
The prices were too low for the old-time radio fans to ignore. For example I bought over 800 Jack Benny Shows for $12 total after shipping and 360 Amos and Andy shows for $7.
This very minute ebay.com lists 3,393 items if you type on old-time radio shows in the search box. This search includes 1,197 CD’s, 13 cassettes and 8 records.
Ways To Listen To Old Time Radio Today
MP3 player with speaker – There are some fine speakers out there that can produce a big sound. I have the Altec Lansing speaker pictured below. The sound is great for such a little speaker, but the cord is very flimsy and is about to break, so my speaker may not be long for this world:
MP3 Portable CD players – These look like a regular portable CD player, but play MP3 CD’s which a regular portable CD player won’t play.
Portable DVD players – You can play MP3 CD’s on these players, even though they are known more for their ability to play movie DVD’s.
DVD players – MP3 players can be hooked to a DVD player via a USB cord and anything on your MP3 player can be played on your television. A complete list of everything on your MP3 player will show up on the screen and you choose which old-time radio show to listen to. This is by far the best sound I have heard listening to an old-time radio show. It is great for listening to shows with a lot of action like detective shows and westerns. Can’t wait to hear Gangbusters with all that racket. A flash MP3 player can connect directly to the DVD player.
MP3 Radios – Some radios now have MP3 capability via a line in or in the case of an I-Pod a dock to listen to the shows.
Sound systems – Some sound systems can now play MP3 shows via MP3 discs or using a FM transmitter which if tuned to the correct frequency will play anything in your MP3 player.
Car MP3 players – There are some cars today that have MP3 line in on the dashboard, so you can listen to old-time radio shows, while others can play the shows with a FM transmitter in the car tuned to the correct frequency on the car radio.
Note: Dialing in the right frequency with a FM transmitter is an exact science. I have had difficulty with shows cutting in and out, when using a FM transmitter. They can be very frustrating, unless they are making them better today.
MP3 players – A built-in speaker on some MP3 player enables the listeners to hear the shows from the MP3 player itself, but the ones I have heard don’t have that great of a sound.
Computers – You can listen to thousands of free old-time radio shows at such sites as archive.org, otr.net. radiolovers.com and too many more to mention them all.
So there are a multitude of ways to listen to old-time radio shows today. The old-time radio cassettes can even still be played on the few cassette players still being produced. This is a great time to be an old-time radio fan, with so many ways to listen to the shows.
Happy old-time radio listening!!!