12 August 2006

Things Radio Taught Me

I love vintage radio and comedy. I listen to shows every day on my ipod or via the internet.

The other day I was trying to figure out just how long I have been interested in vintage radio, and came up with this: about 34 years.

It all started when I was a teen, probably about freshman or sophomore year in high school. Why did I get started? Have no idea. I do know the first show I heard on radio was "The CBS Radio Mystery Theater" hosted by E.G. Marshall. (I got a chance to interview Mr. Marshall and told him about those happy times.)

Imagine my surprise years later when I found out there had been comedies and dramas on radio for about 50 years before "CBS Radio Mystery Theater." I said "What? You mean there were other radio shows?" Ah, for those innocent days.

Anyway, I was also recently thinking about the things I learned about the world listening to those great vintage shows. Here is a list, in no particular order:

1: Times were simpler then. Much.

2: The word "menu" was pronounced differently. I pronounce it "MEN-you"; most people in the 1930s and 1940s (on radio) pronounced it "MAIN-you."

3: Nearly everyone who wrote for radio did not know the proper use of "imply" and "infer" often having characters say "Are you inferring that I did such and such?"

4: Even the most complex mystery can be solved in 30 minutes -- with time to spare for two commercials.

5: The writing in radio is hundreds of times better than the best television writing today.

6: Three women actors have been unjustly forgotten: Marion Jordan ("Fibber McGee and Molly," pictured), Gracie Allen ("Burns and Allen") and Mary Livingston ("The Jack Benny Show.")

7: Add Bea Benaderet to the above list, and make that four.

8: America was one big country during the war, not the splintered fragments it has since become.

9: Women were not considered very bright in the 1920s and 1930s. They somehow got smarter during the war, though. Hmmm....

10: Theater of the mind (which is how radio is often described) is way better than CGI.

11:
Theater of the mind can be really believable. ("War of the Worlds.")

12: Black characters could be played by white actors and no one could tell the difference ("Amos and Andy," and "Beulah").

13: Racism was prevalent in the early years of radio, too.

14: It is said that you could walk down a residential street when "Amos and Andy" was being broadcast and hear an entire episode from all the radios in all the houses tuned to the same station.

15:
The funniest things that happened on radio were unscripted. (Most shows were aired live.)

16: Gale Gordon was in, like, a million radio shows. (Co-starring with Lucille Ball on radio in "My Favorite Husband"; later to co-star with Ball on television in "The Lucy Show.")

17: Hollywood was the place to be in the 1930s.

18: Writing can be good even without the use of obscenities.

19: For some reason, radio actors were not allowed to say the word "lousy." They would say, "That was lou-, uh, bad."

20: According to some science fiction stories, we would be living on the moon in 1964.

21: According to one science fiction story, the world would blow up in 1979. Whew!


1 comment:

mass bradley said...

Right On!
I lurve this stuff-- and am addicted to "Tom Corbett, Spaaaaace Cadet!"-- sponsored by Kellog's 'Pep!' cereal, of course...
If you get XM radio, they've got 24 hours a day of this and other great programs on channel 164.
(Lots of mysteries and spooooky things too-- I never knew that ol' Vincent Price was master of all media back then!)
Could you publish a list of your fave OTR sites?