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Golden Age of Radio

Updated on August 12, 2015

Before DVD, video tapes,” The Silver Screen” and television was “The Golden Age of Radio”. Most agree it was between 1929 and 1957 and it was during this era radio became an integral part of American daily life. It allowed the general public to have at their fingertips news, music, and other entertainment. The best part of all, it was free as long as you could afford a radio.

From 1933 to 1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt using this media delivered his famous “Fireside Chats”. President Roosevelt spoke about important issues of the day relevant to the lives of all Americans such as unemployment, the economy and national defense.

The radio indeed revolutionized the world, but it offered more than access to news. It also brought entertainment. If you don’t remember the Golden Age of radio, surely your parents or grandparents do. There was the ageless humor of comedians like Jack Benny, George Burns and Gracie Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly, the Great Gildersleeve and many more.

Musical variety shows were popular as were serial comedies and dramas. The effect of how strong the radio’s influence on America had become was well documented on October 30, 1938. A young Orson Welles produced a radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’ ”The War of the Worlds”, scripting it like a live news report. Thousands of Americans who tuned in late panicked, believing Martians were really attacking America. These programs became more real to an audience because radio forced listeners to use their imaginations.

Radios of the day were made of wood, and were usually "tombstone," or cathedral-shaped, table top models. But there were also floor-model consoles with beautifully-crafted cabinets. However, with the advent of television, radios were put in storage or relegated to attics. But a surprising number of them have survived, and are treasured by collectors.

Not only are the radios themselves being sought after, so are the shows. Shows like “yours’ Truly, Johnny Dollar”, “Gun smoke”, Superman, Groucho Marx, the Avenger, Sherlock Homes, and many others became collectors’ items. They were recognized as American treasures and many began collecting them for posterity.

People can still listen to these old shows, either online or by purchasing them on cd’s. Many websites are dedicated to preserving them where they can also be purchased.


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    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      I think many comedians today have been influenced by these greats from the past.

    • trusouldj profile image

      trusouldj 6 years ago from Indiana

      I was listening to "Our Miss Brooks" this morning on the way to work. I love Gale Gordon. I can't help but to wonder if Jerry Stiller (Seinfeld/King of Queens) was influenced by him.

    • jstankevicz profile image

      jstankevicz 7 years ago from Cave Creek

      There is a huge fan base for old time radio shows. I've been collecting episodes for years. This is a perfect form of time travel. Sit back, relax and let the old time radio show transport you to 1940!

    • rawrpanda profile image

      rawrpanda 7 years ago from New Hampshire

      as a class project, my whole english class is going to be making a old time radio show. :) i saw this and was likee woahh old time raido shows! haha XD sry. but i like it haha!