Those Great Days Of Early Radio

It is hard for us nowadays, with our access to television, the internet, and radio, to imagine a time when none of these things was available.  There were no music programs, discussions, or game shows.  Entertainment had to be created by the people in each household, so it is not hard to imagine that many homes were fairly silent.  Concerts were fairly few and far between, and those living in rural areas might not have the opportunity to hear much music except at infrequent dances.  This all changed when radio began to be broadcast during the beginning of the 20th century.  The time between the 1920s and 1950s is often referred to as the Golden Age of Radio, and even today, many people look back nostalgically at the old shows.

A Doorway To The World

The first news broadcast on the radio was heard in 1920, and soon other stations began broadcasting not only news, but music and various programs.  While early programming tended to be fairly sketchy, is was not long before more professionally produced shows began to appear.  There were many comedy programs that undoubtedly took the place of the old vaudeville performances, and brought entertainment to those who lived far from cities.  Comedy shows such as ‘Fibber McGee and Molly’, ‘Amos and Andy’, and ‘The Goon Show’ undoubtedly lifted spirits during the Great Depression.

Mystery shows abounded, too, and families turned in regularly to hear the latest exploit of ‘The Shadow’ and follow the tribulations of Sgt. Friday on ‘Dragnet’.  Perhaps one of the greatest gifts of radio was that it stimulated the imagination.  Just as when reading a book, you form your own mental images of the characters and locations, so it was with radio.  Rather than having the pictures presented to you, as happens with television and the internet, everyone was free to imagine exactly what they wished.  Besides, news, comedy, concerts, and mysteries, early radio also introduced the soap opera (you will have to decide for yourself whether this was good or not).

Radio Still Has A Place

While it is quite true that much of radio’s audience switched to television when that became available in the 1950s, even with the internet today, radio still has a place in the lives of most people.  It is possible to experience radio programs from all parts of the world, and if you are learning a foreign language, you can pick up programming from a faraway place to help hone your skills.  It is unlikely that you would be able to listen to folk music from Thailand or a concert given in Chelyabinsk anywhere else.

Radio is also extremely important during emergencies and disasters.  When electric power is lost, a battery powered, solar, or crank radio can be the only means by which to keep in touch with the ongoing situation.  Once the lines are down, television and internet will not be available.  A small radio can also be taken along on camping or hiking trips, and a battery radio should always be kept in with emergency supplies.