Television Killed The Old Time Radio Star

Families would gather around the radio during old-time radio days and listen to the shows together.

Old time radio was broadcast over the radio networks from 1926-1962. Old time radio died on September 30,1962, when the last scripted shows Yours Truly Johnny Dollar and aired on September 30, 1962.

Anyone that was born that day would be 52 years old today, since the 53rd anniversary won’t be observed, until September 30 of this year. A 10-year-old that day would be at least 52 years old today. Anyone in their 40’s or 50’s in 1962 would be in their 80’s, 90’s or even 100 years old today. For instance my dad was 48 years old in 1962 and is 100 years old exactly now.

The advent of television spelled the end of old-time radio, even though it was a slow death, as old-time radio hung on for several years, after the emergence of television. The best thing about old-time radio is that the listeners get to use their imagination, as they listen to the shows.

Old-time radio ruled for many years, but television killed the radio star.

 

I was about 10 years old when I first remember listening to old-time radio shows. Dragnet was one of my favorite shows and also remember listening to Bob Hope. My mother liked to listen to shows like Stella Dallas, Pepper Young’s Family, Lorenzo Jones, Just Plain Bill, Whispering Streets and Edge of Night, which ran from 1937 to 2009 on radio or television and sometimes simultaneously.

 

Don McNeil 1907-1996 (Hosted Don McNeils Breakfast Club 1933-1968

I will never forget the opening song to each show.

Good morning, breakfast clubbers,
   Good morning to ya.
   We get up bright and early,
   Just to how-dy-do ya.

These are some of my favorite old-time radio shows that I have listened to the most:

Charles Correll and Freeman Gosden of Amos and Andy Show

Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll were the stars of Amos and Andy from 1928-1960 on network radio. Correll and Gosden portrayed black characters from the radio studio. They had to use multiple voices, for the different characters in the shows. The radio series outlasted the television version of the show, since the television version ended in the middle 50’s.

The source of most of the humor on the show was from the Kingfish character, who duped the Andrew H. Brown character out of his money. The fights that Kingfish had with his wife Sapphire and mother-in-law who he lovingly referred to as the battle-axe were legendary.

Chester Morris & Joe Stone

Boston Blackie 1945-1950

Boston Blackie was portrayed by Richard Kollmar, who was the husband of columnist and TV celebrity Dorothy Kilgallen. The best part of the show for me was the interplay, between Blackie and Inspector Faraday, who thinks every crime committed on the show was done by Blackie since he was an ex-con turned detective.

William Bendix 1906-1964

Life of Riley 1941-1951

Chester A. Riley was a bumbling oaf who seldom did anything right on the Life Of Riley old-time radio series, but he was also one of the most likeable characters ever on radio. These shows are timeless, and just as funny today as they were 63 years ago, when the last show aired. Riley’s character was famous for saying “What a revoltin’ development this is”. He is paid a visit by the local undertaker Digby O’Dell who likes to use funeral jargon, when speaking to Riley like saying “Mummies the word”, instead of mum’s the word.

I have listened to the show above from You Tube and it is one of my favorites.

Harold Peary as the Great Gildersleeve

The Great Gildersleeve is one of my favorite old-time radio shows. Harold Peary was the perfect actor to portray Gildersleeve. He plays the water commissioner in a small town and the other characters make the show even better, from his son Leroy, to Peavy the druggist and Judge Hooker his friend/enemy depending on what was going on in a particular episode.

Old-Time Radio Websites

The best old-time radio website is otrcat.com. The website has a free show to listen to of most shows mentioned on the website. It has a lot of information about each show, plus if you right-click on save as link you can download a show to your computer for free.

http://www.otrcat.com/index.php

I found out in the 90’s that you could buy MP3 CD’s of the old-time radio shows and collected 17,000 episodes of old-time radio shows. The shows are on 178 MP3 CD’s and total over 8,000 hours of listening. It sounds like an expensive hobby, but I bought over 850 Jack Benny shows for only $12. This is my complete collection:

List of Old Time Radio Shows

This is a list of my old-time radio shows and the first number is how many episodes of a show I have in the collection and the last number on the right is the total number of hours of that show:

No. Of Shows CDs Name of Show Hours Total

44 same CD Maisie 22:00 22:00

1 same CD Breakfast Club 1:00 23:00

1 same CD Candid Microphone 1:00 24:00

2 same CD Groucho Marx 1:00 25:00

9 same CD Martin and Lewis 4:50 29:50

36 same CD My Favorite Husband 18:00 47:50

5 same CD Nazi Eyes 2:50 50:40

2 same CD Pete Kelly\’s Blues 1:00 51:40

869 9 Jack Benny 433:00 1135:40

100 1 Jack Benny 50:00 101:40

70 1 OTR Sampler 35:00 136:40

62 1 My Favorite Husband 31:00 167:40

296 2 Bob and Ray 100:00 267:40

360 4 Dragnet 180:00 447:40

190 2 Burns and Allen 95:00 542:40

138 2 Fred Allen 69:00 611:40

182 2 Life of Riley 91:00 702:40

199 1 Red Skelton 98:00 1233:40

96 1 Phillip Marlowe 48:00 1281:40

230 1 Cavalcade of America 115:00 1396:40

52 1 Damon Runyon Theater 26:00 1422:40

79 1 Gangbusters 39:50 1462:30

114 1 Inner Sanctum 57:00 1519:30

41 1 Mel Blanc 20:50 1540:20

101 1 Our Miss Brooks 50:50 1591:10

209 2 Christmas Collection 104:50 1696:00

106 1 OTR CAT Sampler 53:00 1749:00

54 1 The Bickersons 25:00 1774:00

52 1 Box 13 26:00 1800:00

381 4 Family Theatre 190:50 1990:50

60 20 cass Walter Cronkite 60 Best 30:00 2020:50

64 1 Abbott and Costello 37:00 2057:50

76 1 Bob Hope 38:00 2095:50

164 1 Groucho Marx 82:00 2177:50

60 1 Ozzie and Harriet 30:00 2207:50

249 3 This Is Your FBI 124:50 2332:40

290 1 Easy Aces and Mr. Ace 75:00 2407:40

510 6 Great Gildersleeve 255:00 2662:40

105 1 Phil Harris-Alice Faye 52:50 2715:30

95 1 Nick Carter 47:50 2763:20

734 7 Fibber McGee and Molly 367:00 3130:20

189 2 Command Performance 12:00 3142:20

2 1 2 Complete Broadcast Days 36:00 3178:20

183 1 Variety CD 91:50 3270:10

78 1 Richard Diamond 39:50 3310:00

102 1 You Bet Your Life 56:00 3366:00

30 1 Mike Shayne 15:00 3381:00

95 1 Sampler CD 47:50 3428:50

82 1 Jack Webb Collection 41:00 3469:50

52 1 Damon Runyon Theater 26:00 3495:50

255 1 Lum and Abner 64:00 3559:50

25 1 Rocky Forturne 12:50 3572:40

33 1 Milton Berle 16:50 3589:30

45 1 Big Band Remotes 22:50 3612:20

240 1 Easy Aces 60:00 3672:20

51 1 My Friend Irma 25:50 3698:10

539 10 Lux Radio Theater 535:00 4233:10

57 1 Dinah Shore Collection 28:50 4262:00

146 1 Couple Next Door 36:50 4298:50

38 1 Honest Harold 19:00 4317:50

64 1 Gangbusters 32:00 4349:50

186 1 Your Hit Parade 50:00 4399:50

146 1 Couple Next Door 36:50 4436:40

49 1 Richard Diamond 24:50 4461:30

71 1 Adventures of Maisie 35:50 4497:20

75 1 Father Knows Best 27:50 4525:10

182 2 Boston Blackie 91:00 4616:10

68 1 Nightbeat 34:00 4650:10

931 4 Lum and Abner 232:00 4882:10

201 2 Red Skelton 100:50 4983:00

367 3 Amos and Andy 183:50 5166:50

Part of shows 1 Bloopers and Outtakes 12:00 5178:50

65 1 Broadway Is My Beat 32:50 5211:40

101 1 Our Miss Brooks 50:50 5262:30

24 1 Martin and Lewis 12:50 5275:20

104 1 OTR CAT Sampler Vol. 2 52:00 5327:20

62 1 Sam Spade 31:00 5358:20

485 5 Gunsmoke 242:50 5601:10

94 1 Let George Do It 47:00 5648:10

81 1 Duffy\’s Tavern 40:50 5689:00

181 1 Mary Noble 40:50 5648:50

414 4 Bing Crosby 212:00 5860:50

68 1 Birthday CD 34:00 5894:50

129 1 Bill Stern 30:00 5924:50

117 1 Johnny Dollar Vol. 4 47:00 5971:50

61 1 Radio City Playhouse 30:50 6002:40

48 1 Railroad Hour 24:00 6026:40

88 1 Words of War 44:00 6070:40

88 1 Christmas Collection 44:00 6114:40

48 1 Nightwatch 22:00 6136:40

124 1 Christmas-Cinnamon Bears 50:00 6186:40

79 1 Jimmy Durante-Martin & Lewis 39:00 6225:40

48 1 Nightwatch 24:00 6249:40

81 1 Broadway Is My Beat OTR CAT 42:00 6291:40

232 1 Perry Mason 58:00 6349:40

25 1 Stand By For Crime 12:50 6362:30

96 1 Hopalong Cassidy 48:00 6410:30

94 2 Screen Director\’s Playhouse 47:00 6457:30

34 1 It Pays To Be Ignorant 17:00 6474:30

99 2 My Favorite Husband 44:50 6519:20

19 1 Curtain Time 9:50 6529:20

104 1 Guest Star 25:00 6554:10

175 2 Screen Guild Theater 87:50 6642:00

92 1 Theater Of Romance 46:00 6596:00

34 1 Bright Star 17:00 6613:00

205 2 Escape 102:50 6715:50

31 1 Nero Wolfe 15:50 6731:40

30 same Crime Club 15:00 6746:40

141 1 Grand Ole Opry 50:00 6796:40

122 1 Christmas Shows-Cinnamon Bears 61:00 6857:40

53 1 The Lineup 106:00 6963:40

258 3 Calling All Cars 129:00 7092:40

929 7 Suspense 464:50 7557:30

41 1 Six Shooter 20:00 7577:30

79 1 OTRCAT Sampler #5 43:30 7620:30

229 2 Wild Bill Hickok 47:00 7667:30

22 1 Arthur Godfrey 11:00 7678:30

61 1 Eddie Cantor 30:30 7719:00

29 1 My Little Margie 14:30 7733:30

102 1 Bickersons – Blondie 51:00 7784:30

174 2 Bob Hope 87:00 7871:30

56 1 Frances Langford 28:00 7899:30

85 1 Mr. District Attorney 42:30 7942:00

31 1 Henry Morgan 13:00 7955:00

68 1 I Was A Communist For FBI 34:00 7989:00

78 1 Information Please 39:00 8028:00

36 1 FBI In Peace And War 18:00 8046:00

49 1 Edward G. Robinson 24:30 8070:30

17225 178 8070:30

The 17,225 is the number of episodes…178 is number of MP3 CD\’s the shows are on…The 8070:30 is the number of total hours of old time radio in the collection.

 

What Old Time Radio Means To Me

I was born in 1944 and lived the first 18 years of my life, during the old time radio era, which ended on September 30,1962, when the last two dramatic shows, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and Suspense were broadcast for the last time.

There are no recollections in my mind, of our family gathering around the radio, like the family pictured above, but I still can recall hearing some of the programs. I can remember hearing Dragnet, Bob Hope, Arthur Godfrey and the Breakfast Club with Don McNeill. I can also recall my mother listening to the soap operas of that era, as she listened to Just Plain Bill, Stella Dallas, Lorenzo Jones, Pepper Young’s Family and One Man’s Family.

1960 would see the last five soap operas leave the radio airwaves, including Ma Perkins and Young Doctor Malone.

Arthur Godfrey was the most popular talk show host during the old time radio era.

Arthur Godfrey Time and Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club were the two best-known early morning shows and  were often heard in our house in the mornings, though they must have been on at the same time at some point.  The last Breakfast Club was broadcast in 1968, while the last Arthur Godfrey Time was broadcast in 1972.

There was something about Arthur Godfrey, that made him seem like a family friend and he could sell anything, since he came across as being someone you could trust.

Interest in Old Time Radio Rekindled In 90’s

My interest in old time radio became rekindled in the 90’s, when my mother let me listen to a set of old time radio shows. I bought a few tapes of my own, but didn’t really start collecting old time radio shows, till I found that I could buy MP3 CD’s of old time radio shows on eBay for nominal prices.

That is when I became serious about collecting old time radio shows. Previously cassettes and regular compact discs could hold very few shows, but the MP3 compact discs made it possible to record fifty half-hour shows onto one MP3 CD. I also bought the shows at MP3 CD sellers online, who were selling the shows for bargain prices. For instance, I was able to buy over 800 Jack Benny shows for only $12. To buy that many shows on a cassette or regular compact disc would have cost hundreds of dollars, before the advent of MP3 CD’s.

One key to buying old time radio shows is to always go to lowest price plus shipping, when searching for shows on eBay. For instance 441 shows of  Boston Blackie and The Shadow on a DVD can be bid on for only 99 cents and this price includes shipping. The price could still go up, but probably not that much, since there are only three days left in the bidding, on this particular DVD.  DVD’s hold even more shows and enable a collector, to build a large collection even faster.

I also bought a lot of shows from otrcat.com, which offers a complete sample show to listen to, of almost every show available at the website. The site also has excellent descriptions of each show, so you will know the history of that show before buying it.

The front page of the website has a New Additions feature, that sells shows that have added previously unheard episodes or obscure shows, not usually sold online by any dealer.

http://www.otrcat.com/index.php

Record Keeping, Playing MP3 CD’s

I have a filing system with my collection, with about 175 MP3 CD’s inside one large folder, which holds over 17,000 shows. I keep a notebook folder with loose leaf paper, with a sheet of paper for each show. I write the name of the show, the name of the episode and when it was listened to. That prevents me from listening to the same show more than once, unless I like the show enough to listen to it more often.

At first I listened to the episodes on a portable MP3 CD player, but later switched to a MP3 player, which plays the shows after the digital  files for the shows have been uploaded into the MP3 player. Once they are in the MP3 player, the names of each episode is shown in a list on the MP3 player. After listening to the show, the show can be deleted from the MP3 player, to avoid having to go through so many shows to find one particular episode.

When I select a MP3 CD to listen to I insert the CD into the CD drive on the computer. It then shows up in the Windows Explorer files and I send the shows I want to my MP3 player, which has been connected to the tower. I can manually highlight the shows I want transfered to MP3 player and after writing the information for each episode of that show into the notebook, then manually drag the episodes of that show, into the MP3 player. In my case I use the Sony Content Transfer folder as the ultimate destination on the desktop, which is really the MP3 player.

I have a list of all my shows and how many episodes and how many CD’s and hours there are of each episode.

For example, there are 869 Jack Benny Shows in my collection on 9 MP3 CD’s which total 433 hours of Jack Benny shows.

My Favorite Old Time Radio Shows

My favorite old time radio show is This Is Your FBI, which tells true stories of FBI cases of that era and especially features stories of soldiers, who have returned from war who have been swindled out of their money, by con men who conspire to take their money.

The shows feature both the criminals making their plans and squabbling among themselves and the FBI agents working to capture the criminals. The shows are easy to listen to and keep your attention, since the shows are so well-written.

 

Boston Blackie is one of my favorites, because I enjoy the interplay between Blackie and Inspector Faraday. The inspector immediately suspects that Blackie committed whatever crime is being committed, because of Blackie’s criminal history as a safe cracker. However, the inspector is always proven wrong by the end of the story.

 Night Watch was a precursor to COPS, with the main difference, that it is an old time radio show from the 1950’s that uses a reporter in the police car to record every word spoken during a night on patrol.

The show will touch the listeners emotionally, as it touched me. One of the episodes is about a lady who leaves her kids in the car, while she goes into a bar. The older child is trying to watch out for the younger child.

Another emotional part of the shows is when parents are told, that their child is in trouble for breaking a law. This show is one of the more riveting shows of old time radio but it wasn’t on the air long, so all we can do is enjoy the shows, as the policemen question the victims and criminals to get to the truth of whatever situation is being heard. This is true reality radio at its best.

  The Great Gildersleeve is my favorite comedy of old time radio days. Harold Peary’s portrayal of Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve is right on the money. His character was first heard on Fibber McGee and Molly, but he later had his own show with him, as the water commissioner of Summerfield, less than two years after his first appearance on Fibber McGee and Molly.

  Gildersleeve’s home consisted of his nephew Leroy and his niece Marjorie and the cook named Birdie. Gildersleeve comes off as a bombastic oaf, who likes to be in charge of whatever is going on at the time. He also has an eye for the girls and is intent at Christmas time to maneuver the girls, to where they will be standing under the mistletoe.

  I never tire of hearing the same Christmas shows, since they represent so well, what Christmas was like in the 1940’s and 1950’s. It is funny hearing Gildersleeve worrying about how much someone is spending on his Christmas present. He is determined to spend not one penny more than what someone spends on him

Richard LeGrand who portrays the local druggist Richard Peavey is one of my favorite characters on the show. The mild-mannered Peavey is an excellent contrast, with the more in-your-face Gildersleeve. His drugstore is an oasis away from the turbulent Gildersleeve home, which always seems to be in chaos.

Judge Hooker played by Earle Ross and Gildersleeve have a tempestuous relationship, that keeps them from being on good terms most of the time. He is also the opposite of Mr. Peavey and I can’t recall the two of them interacting much on the show.

The show to me seemed to lose its spark, when Harold Peary left the show. I have nothing against Willard Waterman, who was in a lose-lose situation trying to replace Peary, but nobody could really replace Peary.

I have only listened to 38 of the over 500 shows in the series.

CBS Radio Workshop was one of the most innovative shows during the old time radio era. I liked Program #6 The Voice of the City in which life on New York streets was recorded. I also enjoyed Evening on Broadway and it probably better depicted the sounds, of people talking to each other on a busy sidewalk.

The Enormous Radio program in the series of shows on the CBS Radio Workshop was about a radio that picked up the conversations of neighbors, instead of regular radio programs.

Ex-Urbanites was a dramatic presentation of how city-dwellers moving to the suburbs, found out that the suburbs were not as great, as they expected and the travel especially became a burden.

There are too many excellent programs to mention them all, but this first link will take you to where you can read about the CBS Radio Workshop and the second to a website, where you can actually listen to the shows.

http://www.digitaldeliftp.com/DigitalDeliToo/dd2jb-CBS-Radio-Workshop.html

http://archive.org/details/CBSRadioWorkshop

Those who want to only listen to the shows and are not interested in buying them for themselves, there are many websites, that make it possible to hear hundreds and in some cases thousands of shows for free.

Archive.org is one of the best sites online to listen to free old time radio shows.

http://archive.org/search.php?query=old%20time%20radio

OTR.net has over 12,000 free old time radio shows to listen to, including 442 Fibber McGee and Molly shows, 610 Jack Benny shows, 468 Great Gildersleeve shows and 406 Gunsmoke shows.

http://otr.net/

Radiolovers.com does not come close to the content of the above two websites and you will notice many of your favorite shows, that are missing from the list of shows. However there are some lesser-known shows that are on the list, that may not be found elsewhere on the internet.

http://radiolovers.com/

Oldradioworld.com has a lot of the same shows found on the other websites, but still a good resource.

http://www.oldradioworld.com/

Oldtimeradiofans.com has some soap operas that aren’t mentioned in some of the other websites.

 http://www.oldtimeradiofans.com/

The following website is the best resource for old time radio information, since it lists most of the shows, that were ever broadcast on old time radio. The site may not be all-inclusive, but it is the closet thing out there. There are lists of  old time radio programs and who was heard in each show and a list of actors that tells how many shows and lists the shows they were heard in.

http://radiogoldindex.com/

This website has a wealth of information about old time radio.

http://www.digitaldeliftp.com/DigitalDeliToo/dd2home.html

This link within the above site takes you to a list of program logs that can be found. This list doesn’t include some of the better-known shows.

http://www.digitaldeliftp.com/DigitalDeliToo/dd2-jukebox-main.html

This is what the Mel Blanc Show page looks like:

http://www.digitaldeliftp.com/DigitalDeliToo/dd2jb-Mel-Blanc-Show.html

To my knowledge there is no other website that has this many old time radio photos and ads. Someone could literally spend hours at this website.

The home page for the above sites has even more links to more old time radio information, plus has a lot of information about other nostalgic topics.

http://www.digitaldeliftp.com/

What old time radio means to me can be found in the old time radio shows, that remind me of a simpler time, when families ate dinner together at home and not at a crowded restaurant, except on special occasions.

What old time radio means to me…..

 Listening to Gildersleeve arguing with Judge Hooker or Fibber McGee over the price of a Christmas present.

 Listening to Kingfish trying to pull a fast one on the gullible Andrew H. Brown on Amos and Andy.

Listening to Joe Friday questioning a witness or criminal on Dragnet.

Listening to Mrs. Brooks the teacher talk in the car, as her student Walter Denton drives her to school. How many students drive their teachers to school today?

Listening to the criminals on This Is Your Life plan their next crime.

Listening to the sounds of Broadway on CBS Radio Workshop.

Listening to a live big band radio remote, when big band era was thriving.

Listening to the incessant doorbell ringing on Fibber McGee and Molly.

Listening to the contents of the closet crashing to the floor on Fibber McGee and Molly.

Listening to Boston Blackie and Inspector Faraday make sarcastic remarks toward each other.

Listening to Richard Diamond serenade his girlfriend Helen, after solving the crime for that show.

Listening to the Bickersons bickering with each other endlessly on The Bickersons.

Listening to Chester A. Riley act like a nincompoop in front of family and friends on Life of Riley.

Listening to the great organ music on Nick Carter.

Listening to Groucho Marx ask the same question over and over to a You Bet Your Life contestant.

Listening to Johnny Dollar itemizing his expenses out loud on Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.

Listening to the great sound on Gunsmoke…probably the best sounding old time radio show.

Reality Radio : Broadway Evening 7-25-36

It is amazing that we can hear the sounds of New York City during the summer of 1936 seventy-six years later. 

This is reality radio long before the reality shows of today were even dreamed of. You can hear conversations between the people on the sidewalks in the Broadway area. 

You can hear the sounds of sirens and honking horns, not to mention the many other sounds heard in the Broadway Evening old time radio program, which was an episode of the Columbia Workshop in the summer of 1936.

A lady can be heard ordering two fried eggs and bacon and the clerk repeats order to cook saying two eggs over and bacon well. 

You can hear other orders being made. It almost makes you feel like you are there. The noise is a little chaotic with all the orders being made.

Later, you can hear someone tell about seats being available in the balcony for a play. Then you can hear the actors speaking their parts in the play.

Some might be bored with this kind of program but to me it is reality radio, which takes us back to a better time.

The show can be heard by going to Broadway Evening the second show on list of Columbia Workshop shows:

http://matineeclassics.com/radio/1936/columbia_workshop/

 

Old Time Radio 101: Guide To Collecting Old Time Radio Shows

A family gathered around the radio to listen to an old time radio program during the heyday of old time radio.

Ninety one years ago KDKA in Pittsburgh went on the air, becoming the first commercial radio station, broadcasting its signal in 1920.

By the end of 1923, hundreds of radio stations were now broadcasting. An estimated three to four million radio sets were able to pick up the broadcast of the funeral, of President Woodrow Wilson on February 26, 1924.

The Grand Ole Opry will broadcast its first program in 1925, with it being broadcast continuously for 86 years. Sam and  Henry first heard in 1926 would become Amos N’ Andy in 1928 and remain on radio until 1960, to be come the longest running old time radio show.

With NBC being founded in 1926 and CBS starting the next year in 1926, networks were now in place, to broadcast nationwide radio series. The Goldbergs went on the air in 1929 and would run till 1950.

Radio listeners would hear the homespun humor of Lum N’ Abner for the first time in 1931, making this year the 80th anniversary of their first show.

Jack Benny and Fred Allen and other comedians debuted on network radio in 1932 paving the way for other comedians in coming years.

The horror and thriller genre would present The Shadow for the first time in 1932, while Just Plain Bill and One Man’s Family debuted from the soap opera genre. Action heroes Buck Rogers and Tarzan were also first heard in 1932.

Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club first aired in 1933 and would remain on the air through 1968. I can still remember the song from the opening of the show, as best I can remember:

“Good morning Breakfast Clubbers, howdy do you, first call to breakfast to all of you out there, America’s first call to breakfast”.

The Lux Radio Theater would begin its 22 year run in 1934. It was regarded as the best of the theater type shows, in which famous actors would present a film in spoken form.

Bob Hope and Fibber McGee and Molly hit the airwaves in 1935. The shows were debuting so fast, that it is not possible to continue the chronology, due to time and space limitations. There would be at least one new show debuting on network radio through 1959. 1961 and 1962 would be first years with no new radio programming being introduced. Old time radio for all practical purposes died on September 30, 1962 when Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar aired their last episodes. They were the last scripted shows broadcast on network radio. Some radio variety shows like Arthur Godfrey remained on the air, non-scripted shows had disappeared from the old-time radio scene.

Television and movies brought about the demise of old-time radio. People that used to gather in their living rooms, to hear old-time radio programs, now gathered to watch television. If they weren’t doing that they were watching movies at the local movie house, or watching movies from their car at a local drive-in movie theatre.

Old Time Radio Shows Can Still Be Heard

Collecting old-time radio shows used to be cost prohibitive, for the most part for collectors. Then MP3 recordings changed all that by letting old-time radio fans listen to as many as 50 half-hour programs on one MP3 disc. Some online old-time radio dealers would sell a disc like that for as little as $4.

That is only reason my collection of old-time radio shows numbers around 18,000. I have a notebook that shows what shows I have listened to and when. With that many shows, there is no reason to listen to the same show twice.

The easiest way to record these shows and drag and drop them into my MP3 player, is to go to My Computer, open up the files on that MP3 CD and drag and drop them into my Sony MP3 player software, which processes the shows, after they are dropped into the icon for the MP3 player. I thought it would be more complicated than it was, but it is relatively easy. While the shows are copying, I write the show dates and titles of the shows I am recording onto the MP3 player, into the notebook.

Online Radio Dealers

Old time radio dealers can be found on the internet to buy the shows from, but the shows can bought at ebay.com for good prices, from most ebay dealers.

It is best buy the shows on MP3 CD’s unless you know how to breakdown a MP3 DVD, which I don’t know how, or you may only be able to play it on a computer. One thing to remember is that MP3 CD’s cannot be played on a regular CD player.

If you do know how to handle a MP3 DVD there is a set of 930 shows of Suspense currently on ebay for $4.89 with a shipping charge of $1.79, which comes out to $6.68 for 930 shows, or about 7 cents an episode.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/SUSPENSE-Old-Time-Radio-Shows-930-Episodes-MP3-/200649713915?pt=Music_CDs&hash=item2eb7a7a8fb#ht_2759wt_932

This is the most informative site for finding great descriptions of each old-time radio show and finding those MP3 CD’s for sale. For instance this is the Great Gildersleeve page which includes a free sample of one of the shows. The website adds previously unavailable episodes every month. It is great that 49 years later after the death of old-time radio, that missing episodes are still being found.

http://www.otrcat.com/great-gildersleeve-p-1337.html

The following online dealer also offers MP3 CD’s with updates, including episodes of shows found recently, that were previously missing.  The best thing about this site is that the price you see is the price you pay, since there is no shipping fees at this site.

http://dadsotr.com/index.html

Thousands of Free Show Online

There are also thousands of free shows that can be listened to online immediately for no charge. This is one of my favorite places for listening to free shows.

You can find 12,369 free shows to listen to. There are 610 free Jack Benny shows alone to listen to and 973 Lone Rangers shows.

http://otr.net/

Archive.org is another great place to listen to free old-time radio shows, but there is also a wealth of other content at the site, that may be of interest to readers.

http://www.archive.org/search.php?query=old%20time%20radio%20AND%20mediatype%3Aaudio

Best Source For Old Time Radio Shows Information

For information on 100,645 old-time radio programs, the best place to search is the Radio GOLD Index. The site features descriptions of  individual episodes of shows, including the stars of each episode and the announcer.

The name of any star can be typed in the search box and a list of any episodes they appeared in will show up on the screen. However, the site will be missing some episodes of shows, so it is not a complete listing.

The best source for information of shows in book form is John Dunning’s On The Air The Encyclopedia of Old Time Radio printed by Oxford Press. The list price is $55, but I found it several years ago at ebay for $25. It was in perfect condition for that price, looking like it had never been opened.

Amazon has 38 reviews of the book with 32 being 5 star reviews and 4 being 4 star reviews. The 840 page book lists the days of the week the show was on, a list of cast members and what networks the show appeared on, in addition to a review of each show, with the more popular shows receiving longer reviews.

There is a Kindle edition of the book for $19.22.

http://www.amazon.com/Air-Encyclopedia-Old-Time-Radio/dp/0195076788/ref=sr_1_12?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317751599&sr=1-12

Old Time Radio Poll

The last old time radio show aired on September 30,1962. Next year marks the 50th anniversary of Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar being the last old time radio shows to be broadcast.

The poll today breaks down by age groups of people who have heard old time radio shows either live from 1920’s till September 30, 1962 or media such as MP3 CD’s and downloads:

Old Time Radio: Night Watch

Night Watch was a radio version of COPS except you don’t see the cops in action but you do hear everything that happens when a criminal is being questioned by the cops.

These are true stories recorded as they happen by a police reporter who rides in the patrol car with the officers. This to me is the most realistic old time radio program since there are no actors and what you hear are the actual words of the cops, criminals, witnesses and parents when juveniles are involved.

One of the stories is about a mother that leaves her two kids in the car on a cold night so she can go in a bar. The police are alerted and check on the kids and question the mother.

Another story is about a man stealing bedding from a nearby motel to take back to his trailer.

This show is not mentioned much in old time radio circles but if there was ever a reality radio show Night Watch would be the one most remembered.

This is a very good description of the shows:

http://www.radioarchives.org/sets/RL08.htm