Do you have memories of sitting with your parents listening to the radio at night, Well, now you can listen once again to the old radio shows you remember from your childhood Radio was taken over by television for quite a while, and now the internet threatens to take over TV as more shows and movies are available online.
Radio was for all intents and purposes replaced, the internet, has now brought new life to it. You can download a copy of an old radio show from these pages, in fact a internet search will find you a copy of most of the radio shows you remember as a child, check out our links to the old radio shows you remember.
Welcome to Pastreunited, here you will find hundreds of videos, images, and over 80 pages about all aspects of the 20th century. A great deal of the content has been sent in, other content is the work of numerous writers who have a passion for this era, please feel free to send in your memories or that of your family members, photos and videos are all welcome to help expand pastreunited's data base.
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Welcome to OldRadioWorld.com!
Here at OldRadioWorld.com you will find some of the most popular radio programs of the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. Before television, radio provided entertainment by presenting radio plays and programs of mystery, intrigue, and comedy. Of course, news was present as were many soap operas.
I have been a big fan of Old Time Radio over the years and my preferences for programs have evolved, but one thing still amazes me, the sound effects and how the sound men created them. The nine minute video, below "Back of the Mike", begins with a child listening to the radio and his imagination is put on the screen.
The camera then goes to a 1930s era radio sound studio where the program is originating. This video gives you an insightful look at how those intriguing and astonishing sounds were created. Radio has been around for a long time and although there are more commercial radio stations on the air than ever before, there isn't really much worth listening to unless you like lots of commercials and little creativity.
For anyone who grew up listening to old time radio shows today's entertainment can seem a world away from the good, clean fun of the radio. The good news is that this variety of entertainment is definitely making a strong comeback, and it's ironically taking place right online. The information super highway is leading the way for the comeback of an age old entertainment channel-radio. Listening to the radio in the 40's and 50's people had a brand new way to hear news and stories in their home.
One of the most popular forms of old time radio were mystery shows that would sometimes be broadcasted over several days in some cases. These mystery shows would involve either a murder or crime taking place and the mystery would be solved by the person narrating the "case." These shows were largely popular at the height of old time radio and they are now making a comeback right on the internet where users can stream or download real old time broadcasts of these shows.
While there are some variations of these broadcasts on services like iTunes it's really a better idea to use a site online that is dedicated to old-style radio broadcasts to make sure you get the highest quality audio recordings. Today's entertainment in contrast to the old style radio shows is significantly different. Broadcasts used to be clean, universal fun for everyone who listened in and the good news is that you can now bring back that same good quality entertainment for the entire family with nothing more than an internet connection, a home computer and some speakers to play the audio on.
If you're worried you don't have the knowledge to make one of these online sites work for you, rest assured it's quite easy. Most of the online sites that offer downloadable or streaming broadcasts will let you use a media player that is most likely already installed on your computer.
If not you can download a free media player like VLC or Winamp to play the audio from the site. If you're interested in getting access to entertainment that's still wholesome without sacrificing entertainment value then checking out some dedicated old-time radio sites is a great way to get started. There is a growing demand for old time radio shows that reflect the values and entertainment of their day and there's no better way to satisfy this need then by going right online.
There's nothing like stepping back in time and listening to old-time radio shows. For some people, it's a trip down memory lane. For many others, it's a whole new world since they've never had an opportunity to experience the programs before. Horror was a genre uniquely suited to American radio of old time. In the 1930s and 1940s, radio had a profound hold on the imaginations of listeners, which horror programs could readily exploit.
With just a few well-chosen sound effects or choice lines of dialogue, radio could evoke a mad scientist's lab, to a planet filled with aliens or a swamp filled with creatures ready to eat the unwary visitor. The large majority of radio programs that featured horror did not specifically focus on this genre, but mixed such stories with mystery and suspense thrillers.
The most popular radio programs from the Golden Age of Radio that featured horror were Lights Out, Inner Sanctum, and Suspense. Lights Out was the first of these programs to air, first hitting the airwaves in 1934 and continuing on various networks until 1947 before making the transition to the more popular televison. Although the program was created by Wyllis Cooper, the show would become most associated with Arch Oboler, who took over the show in 1936.
Lights Out attracted some publicity in 1938 when Hollywood horror star Boris Karloff appeared for five consecutive episodes. Its most notorious episode may be "Chicken Heart" about an ever-growing and still-living chicken heart which, because of a scientific experiment gone horribly wrong, eventually engulfs the world.
Even though Inner Sanctum (which aired from 1941 to 1952) focused primarily on mystery stories, it also featured many horror-themed programs, such as an adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's classic short story "The Tell-Tale Heart". It was most famous for its sardonic host, "Raymond," and its trademark sound effect of an eerie creaking door. "Raymond" would go on to influence several generations of horror hosts, including the Crypt Keeper from the "Tales from the Crypt" comics to Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Suspense (1942-1962) similarly focused primarily on crime stories, albeit with a dark bent that edged many of the stories into horror territory.
The program was most noted for the high level of its writing and production values, which attracted many film stars to the show. The Hollywood stars who appeared on the show included Humphrey Bogart, Cary Grant and Henry Fonda. The most famous Suspense program is "Sorry, Wrong Number" in which an invalid woman overhears a murder plot over a crossed phone line.
The popular story was done seven times over the course of the program's run and was adapted into a successful film starring Barbara Stanwyck and Burt Lancaster. Nowadays, horror has become primarily a visual genre due to the movies and TV. However, for those who would like to sample the sound of horror from the Golden Age of Radio, many episodes of old-time radio shows are waiting for you on the Internet.
People forget there was a time before television, cable and internet. Families would gather around their radios and anxiously await their favorite programs. Radio shows included comedy, romance, games shows, music, and many other formats. Music shows such as the Grand Ole Opry became national past-times. The program debuted in 1939 and quickly became the most popular show of it's time.
It included not only country music singers and groups, but also comedians such as the beloved Minnie Pearl. Gospel music radio shows were also popular featuring such groups as the Blackwood Brothers Quartet. Nothing shows the impact of the radio on gospel music any more than Albert Brumley's song "Turn Your Radio On". Many westerns started out as radio shows.
William Conrad played sheriff Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke from 1951 to 1962. Roy Rogers and The Lone Ranger were also popular radio westerns. An act that surprisingly was a huge hit on the radio was ventriloquist Edgar Bergen and his side-kick Charlie McCarthy.
They were given their own show in 1937 and it ran until 1956. Audiences loved their banter so much, they sometimes forgot it wasn't actually two people. Another favorite radio show genre was the mystery show. These included Ellery Queen, Charlie Chan, The Thin Man, and I Love a Mystery. A favorite of the genre was Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce playing Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
They had already played the roles on film but recreated them for radio in the 1940s. Of the 218 episodes they recorded only about 50 remain. Jeff Regan, played by Jack Webb, was another popular radio detective. Webb had previously played radio detectives Pat Novak and Johnny Modero. He later played Sergeant Joe Friday on the Dragnet radio and television series.
And who well ever forget the voice of actor Frank Readick asking, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows". For years these shows had faded into obscurity. It was nearly impossible to find a way to conveniently access copies. But thanks to the internet, it's now possible to listen to these radio shows once again. Whether you prefer the comedy of Jack Benny, classical music, or roaming the streets of Dodge City - it's all available in old-time radio shows.
If there is one thing you can say about old time American radio or OTR is that: there are geniuses during that time who invaded the airwaves, and they have left indelibly marks the face of on-air broadcasting forever. Some of the names of these geniuses have been etched through the annals of history; but there are also a few forgotten souls who are much less remembered by the modern audience. Nonetheless, their profound contributions can still be traced through modern radio programming.
A few of these personages are: 1961. Alan Shepherd. Although not as popular as Neil Armstrong, Alan Shepherd ( 1st American in space and 5th man to walk on the surface of the Moon) managed to captivate everyone's attention by broadcasting his flight to the outer space. And listeners took heed by listening to their car radios, portables or any form of audio receivers.
TV broadcasting may have been the big thing during the 60s, but the portability of radios became the craze as well. Old time American radio suddenly gained more listeners. 1926. Arthur Bagley. Known as the Network Radio's First Morning Man, Bagley peppered his NBC listeners with his show called Tower Health Exercises and provided funny commentaries with the help of his old time radio sidekick, the Goofus Bird. Soon after that, almost all morning broadcasts followed Bagley's show format. 1940.
Bob Hope. Hope has always been a famous actor. But it was in the 1940s when he managed to endear himself to the world, most especially to the troops fighting in the second World War. In the earlier part of the decade, Hope had a running gag on the radio with his fellow comedian Jerry Colonna, which made him a common household name. 1945. Dorothy and Dick.
If Regis and Kelly were on air back then, Dorothy Kilgallen and Richard Kollmar would have given them a run for their money. This duo had a huge number of faithful listeners for several seasons, and may have set the highest standards on the she said / he said dialogues for the old time radio. 1930. Jessica Dragonette.
This majestic soprano was the favoured crowd pleaser. But aside from singing the scales effortlessly, Dragonette managed to stay on air despite being constantly at odds with network officials over program formats and sponsors who wanted to have a say in what she was to sing on air. Needless to say, the woman's voice and resolute became legendary afterwards. 1930. Sherlock Holmes. One of the more endearing personages of old time radio of America, Sherlock Holmes, voiced over by William Gillette became one of the more successful Great Depression dramas.
Radio was not invented by one person. It was a procession of individuals who contributed to its emergence. But to begin, understand that before radio it was impossible to communicate with millions of people at one time. As radio became popular, it became the first live, ubiquitous means of communication. Wireless communication was first proposed by James Maxwell in 1864. His research suggested that invisible frequencies could travel through the air! Heinrich Hertz proved in 1887 that Maxwell was right by succeeding in transmitting a signal a short distance.
Maxwell, however, did not see the potential of this experiment. The next major contribution came from Guglielmo Marconi. He improved Hertz’s primitive transmitter and added a telegraph key. His breakthrough came when he transmitted a signal for a distance of two miles.
In anticipation of a rewarding future for wireless transmission, Marconi founded the Wireless Telegraph and Signal Company in 1897. Marconi only thought wireless would benefit communication between ships at sea and monitors on shore. Canadian Reginald Fessenden improved Marconi’s design. Marconi design worked in electrical spurts which was sufficient for a communication technology like the Morse Code.
Fessenden created a wireless system that did not work in spurts. Rather he developed system that created a continuous carrier wave which allowed him t transmit his voice reading biblical scripture and music. and play sacred music on the violin on Christmas eve in 1906. But Fessende was not able to exploit his invention as a commercial venture. American Lee DeForrest was able to improve on the work of Fessenden and create a commercial company which aired commercial radio broadcasts.
His Audion or triode vacuum tube improved the clarity and transmission strength of Fessenden’s continuous carrier wave. It was sad that DeForrest did not credit th people whose work he built upon including Thomas Edison, John Flemming, and, of course, Reginald Fessenden. It is a strange footnote in history that Lee DeForrest could not really explain clear how his invention worked. This would haunt him later on. Edward Howard Armstrong took DeForrest’s Audion and feed the emitted signal back into it to create what he called “regeneration.” This accomplished two significant things: one, the signal became actually strong enough to run into an external speaker.
Two, it mad radios much, much smaller in their size because the circuitry became correspondingly smaller too. Unfortunately for Armstrong, he was slow in applying for patents for his invention and lawsuits between he, DeForrest, and Fessenden and Marconi clouded all the wonderful things that resulted from all of these inventions. The First World War ended all the disputes for a while. After the W General Electric bought Marconi’s company since GE wanted to build radio equipment. Westinghouse, A.T.&T and GE got together to create Radio Corporation of America.
But RCA limited their interest like Marconi to maritime and international communication Radio technology improved. Armstrong created a new type of turn called the “super-heterodyne receiver” which better amplified the radio signal and offered improved sound. Interest in radio grew. The companies that designed and manufactured equipment realize that the public needed a reason to purchase the equipment. So these same companies opened radio stations. One of the most famous is KDKA in Pittsburgh began to broadcast in 1916. The government got involved in regulation.
One interesting piece legislation was the Wireless Ship Act which required passenger ship to have a wireless operator on board. Had it not been for a wireless operator, the Titanic disaster would have been much worse since the people in the lifeboats were rescued within hours of the sinking of the ship. But as a result, the Radio Act of 1912 was passed to underscore the importance of radio in assuring public safety at sea. This law stirred up more interest and radio continued to grow. The number of radio licenses issued in the 1913 was 322. The number of radio licenses issued in 1917 was 13,581. During the 1920’ radio took off. People across the nation found useful information being transmitted. Farmers could keep up with teal market prices. People could reconnect with their roots. Barn dances were broadcast.
New forms of entertainment emerged like the Grand Old Oprey, which began as a barn dance in 1925. In 1922 , there were two frequencies used for radio transmission - 833kHz and 740 kHz. Interference was a major problem. This led t chaos among stations. Early attempts to regulate radio were unsuccessful. But in 1927, the Radio Act was passed and it did establish the idea that no one could own a radio frequency and that Government held the responsibility to manage the airwaves for the benefit of the public. AA&T’s monopoly of telephone and radio led to AT&T selling its radio stations to RCA in 1926.
RCA then formed the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) and shared ownership of 50% wit GE’s 30% and Westinghouse’s 20%.. The Federal Radio Commission was established under the Radio Ac of 1927. It used its authority to reduce the number of radio stations and encouraged the growth of about 24, 50,000 watt,clear channel radio stations. This was consistent with AT&T’s earlier vision on radio station linked by telephone lines transmitting the same radio shows. The FRC wanted large, national radio stations as opposed to small, local stations. In 1927, several more network competitors emerged to challenge NBC.
One of them, we know well. It was the Columbia Phonograph Record Company but today we know it as just CBS. Most of the programming of the late twenties was musical programming. To break up the music, small comedy skits were introduced. The most famous was the Amos ‘n And Show which at one point had a market of over 40 million people. Commercials became more and more common too. By 1932, CBS and NBC aired 12, 546 commercial spots in 2, 365 hours of programming.
In 1934, a third network entered call the Mutual Broadcasting System (MBS). It only ceased operation in 1999. But many of its stations are still on the air like WOR in NYC. By 1935, 18.5 million families or over 50 million people were into radio. About 60% of homes had radios. To supervise all of this, the Federal Communications Commission was created in 1934. It replaced the Federal Radio Commission. And just in time. Radio stars were emerging like George Burns and Gracie Allen, Jack Benny , Al Jolsen and Nelson Eddy.
Serial melodramas ran during the day and were often sponsored by soap companies, hence the name soap operas. Roosevelt used his radio “fireside chats” to push though his social programs in the 1930’s. As the country moved towards World War II, newspaper companies began to dispense news through their own radio stations. Radio at the time was the only live , simultaneous source of mass communication we had in this country.
It is estimated that the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, 62 million Americans listened to President Roosevelt declare war on Japan. During the Second World War, the U.S. government did not take over the radio stations as they had during W.W.I. Instead they created the Office o War Information to determine how much information about the wa would be shared with the Public. To counter the propaganda being broadcast by Germany, Italy and Japan, the U.S. government create the Voice of America to broadcast our world vision to people outside of the United States. Up until 1970, radio was primarily AM or amplitude modulation.
FM would have died back in the 1930’s had it not been for Edward Armstrong, the creator of regeneration and the super-heterodyne tuner. He spent most of his later years selling the Public on FM. He showed off his FM invention in 1935 and was successful in gaining FCC approval to build a huge 50, 000 watt FM station . He finished in 1939.
He then managed to convince GE to build and sell FM radios. His FM was not stereo. But it was much clearer than AM. FM grew slowly and had many setbacks. After W.W.II, AM radio stations grew in number. But television emerged after the 1939 World’s Fair and really took off after World War II. Interesting to note that NBC and CBS - both leaders in radio became leaders in the new television industry too.
Many of the problems that early radio endured were avoided with TV since TV followed roughly the same format as radio. Since both had much the same show format, people opted for TV since it had the video component as well as the old audio component. TV first made its major encroachment during the evening, when people were home and could physically take time to look at the TV tube for entertainment. Radio stations increasingly focus on the daytime operations. TV became associated with a national audience this affected advertising. Radio became associated with local audiences; this affect advertising, too.
In the 1950’s radio networks began to play more and more music. I part because it was cheap. But mostly because the stars of radio an their respective radio shows had become TV stars and their radio shows became TV shows. To differentiate radio from TV, music was emphasized. The top 40 format was introduced by Todd Storz . Gordon McLendon introduced new ways to promote radio with his “Opps I am sorry” ads and his Walking Man/Woman campaigns.
The clock became a way to slice up a show; everything would happen a appointed times - news, weather, music, etc. all became located on clock. During the 1960’s AM began to decline. People began to demand better fidelity and complained more about AM interference. The short music format of top 40’s gave way to longer songs by 60’s artists.
FM stations allowed the music industry to introduce new artists. The record companies liked this very much since it was difficult to break an artist into that top 40 rotation. During the 60’s and into the 70’s FM became associated increasingly with greater and greater musical diversity. While AM has plenty of support with its top 40, news, and sports formats, FM is really became more popular since FM stations would really play anything that they thought they could develop an interest with the public.
By 2000, 85% of radio listeners listened to FM radio even though there were more AM stations than FM. The future may hold even newer forms of radio as satellitedelievered national radio is being tested. Companies like Sirius and XM are trying to interest the pub in satellite based radio. But the question remains about how these new services will be paid for.
OK, I knew it would happen. When I started this article, I expected three questions would be asked: "When did ham radio start?"; "Who was the first ham?"; and "Where did the word 'ham' come from?". To answer these questions, let's set the Wayback Machine to Warp Factor 9, and head back 100 years. Practical "wireless" had its start in 1896, when Marconi first sent a signal over a distance of two miles.
By 1899, he succeeded in sending a wireless message across the English Channel, a distance of 32 miles. The year 1899 also marks the first construction project, which appeared in "American Electrician" magazine.
In December, 1901, Marconi was able to bridge the Atlantic, a feat which caught the world's attention and fuelled the imagination of thousands of potential amateurs, who took their first steps into wireless. In the early days, everything was "spark". What exactly was spark? Well, sit down some summer night, listen to your AM or SW radio, and count the static crashes. Now turn on the vacuum cleaner, or an electric shaver, and listen to your radio again. Hear that noise? In short, spark wireless was merely a form of "controlled static". A high voltage inside a spark coil would jump across a gap, which was coupled to an antenna. The spark was keyed on and off to transmit the code.
The signal generated was extremely broad. A "state of the art" 1906 spark transmitter operating on 400 meters (750 khz) would actually generate a signal from about 250 meters (1200 khz) to 550 meters (545 khz). Receivers were no better, before 1912 all systems were basically unamplified detectors. Tuners were primitive or nonexistent. As might be expected, by today's standards, the early wireless stations were terribly inefficient.
Transmitting ranges varied from as little as 600 feet with a 1/2 inch coil to perhaps 100 miles from a kilowatt station and a 15 inch spark coil. Ships at sea with 5 kw transmitters might get as much as 500 miles maximum range. It was into this world that the early amateurs ventured. Actually, if we were to concentrate on the years prior to 1908, it would be more appropriate to say "experimenters" rather than "amateurs".
For in the first decade of wireless, there was little or no interest in personal communications with other stations; rather, the concentration was on technical development, either in the interest of pure science, or (more often than not) with an eye towards cashing in on this new medium. Experimenters were disorganized and, with the exception of those immediate stations with whom they ran tests, had no knowledge or interest in other pioneer stations.
Any true "amateurs" prior to 1908 have been lost in pre-historic obscurity. By 1908, however, the face of wireless began to change. Technical developments had reached their first plateau, and a number of major competitors had formed the first "wireless trust"--United Wireless. With a temporary truce in effect, equipment was now more readily available to the public.
Along with this, new magazines, such as "Modern Electrics", were formed with wireless communication as the primary thrust. The circulation of "Modern Electrics" jumped from 2000 to over 30,000 in just two years. The year 1908 also saw the first "handbook", "Wireless Telegraph Construction for Amateurs". It is difficult to know exactly how many amateur stations were on the air in this completely unregulated, laissez-faire era, but reliable estimates put the number of "major" stations (i.e. those capable of communicating over 10 miles) at 600, while "minor" stations with a one or two mile range probably numbered 3000 or more. Thus, if a year had to be arbitrarily chosen as the start of amateur radio, it would probably be 1908. As for the "first" amateur, that's a harder one.
Without licensing, regulations, or a written record, there will never be a definitive answer to this question. However, the Wayback Machine has come up with the name W.E.D. Stokes, Jr.. He was a founding member and the first President of the first amateur radio club--the Junior Wireless Club, Limited, of New York City. This organization was formed on January 2, 1909. Other founding members who might lay claim to the title "first amateur" were George Eltz, Frank King and Fred Seymour.
Later the same year, the Wireless Association of America, and the Radio Club of Salt Lake City were created. By 1910, wireless clubs were springing up all over the country, and the first call book-"The Wireless Blue Book" was published. Since there were no regulations in this period, the call signs listed in the Blue Book were self assigned--which brings us to our third question-- where did the word "ham" come from?
Legend has it there was a phenomenal station on the air with a 5kw station, who could be heard at all hours of the day and night at distances of over 500 miles. The station operator used his initials for his call-sign-H.A.M.. I don't know if this is the real story, but I've always liked this explanation best. Amateur radio continued to grow. By 1911, Modern Electrics had a circulation of 52,000, and there were 10,000 amateurs in the country. With thousands of stations on the air, both amateur and commercial, interference was becoming a serious problem, especially in marine communication. Ships, because of their restricted antenna length, were limited to frequencies between 450 and 600 meters (666 to 500 khz).
As we have seen, one spark station could take up this entire spectrum. Thus, it was imperative that all stations cooperate and stand by when the others were transmitting. Sadly, this often was not the case. In addition to interference between amateurs and commercial stations, there was more interference and sometimes deliberate jamming between commercial stations of different companies. Prodded by the Navy (which was using inefficient and outdated equipment and thus suffering from excessive interference), the U.S. Congress was starting to take a serious look at wireless regulation.
However, before they could take up proposed legislation, an incident happened that would quickly and dramatically alter the structure of the wireless spectrum. On April 15, 1912, the R.M.S. Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank. Thanks to wireless, and the first S.O.S. in history, 713 lives were saved. However, it has been argued that the number of survivors could have been doubled or even tripled, if there were stronger wireless regulations in effect. We are going to leave the Wayback Machine hovering over the year 1912, keeping a sharp eye on the Titanic, and on a 22 year old experimenter in Yonkers, N.Y., who would soon make some major contributions to radio.
Monday, April 15, 1912, 12:30 AM. The Wayback Machine is over the North Atlantic, at 41 degrees 46' North, and 50 degrees 14' West. Down below is a majestic ship, the largest and most luxurious ship in the world, on its maiden voyage. In the wireless room is a 5kw Marconi station, and before it sit two tired operators, who make $20 per month, not as employees of the shipping line, but rather as employees of the Marconi Company.
The in basket is still full of messages, everything from personal telegrams to stock market quotations. They are so busy working Cape Race, Newfoundland, that they didn't even notice the slight grinding jar 30 minutes earlier. As the two wireless operators, Jack Phillips and Harold Bride, passed the routine traffic, the Captain came in, said the ship had struck an iceberg, and told them to send a distress call at once. The blue spark jumped across the gap as Phillips sent "CQD" (come quick danger). "Send S.O.S." Bride said, "It's the new call and it may be your last chance to send it".
Thus began the moment in history that changed radio. Two hours later, Jack Phillips and over 1500 others were dead, the "Titanic" lay at the bottom of the ocean, and 713 survivors huddled in half filled lifeboats waiting to be rescued. The tragic errors in the story of the "Titanic" pointed out the need of wireless regulation. The first ship to answer the distress call was the German Liner, the "Frankfurt". While the "Frankfurt" wireless operator was informing his captain, the "Carpathia" and Cape Race chimed in. When the "Frankfurt" operator came back to get more information, Phillips tapped back "SHUT UP, SHUT UP, YOU FOOL. STAND BY AND KEEP OUT".
While this would seem bizarre by our standards, it made perfect sense to the operators of 1912. The "Titanic", "Carpathia", and Cape Race were equipped with Marconi operators and stations, while the "Frankfurt" utilized the services of Marconi's German competitor, Telefunken. This commercial war was extended down to the individual operators. No routine traffic would EVER pass from a Marconi station to a rival, and, even in an emergency, if Marconi stations were available, the others would be shut out.
The wireless controversy would continue after the "Carpathia" picked up the survivors. A wireless message was received, allegedly from the "Carpathia", which said "ALL PASSENGERS OF LINER "TITANIC" SAFELY TRANSFERRED TO THIS SHIP AND "S.S. PARISIAN". SEA CALM. "TITANIC" BEING TOWED BY ALLEN LINER "VIRGINIAN" TO PORT". Other wireless messages appeared, also stating that ALL passengers were safe, and the ship was being towed in.
There was just one problem--these messages were not coming from the "Carpathia". For one thing, her wireless had a maximum range of 150 miles. For another, the "Carpathia" wireless operator had made only a few transmissions to the "Olympic" (sister ship of the "Titanic" and another Marconi operation), in which he tapped out the list of survivors, some coded messages from Bruce Ismay, President of White Star Lines, then shut down his station. So complete was the radio silence from the "Carpathia", that they refused to answer the calls from Navy cruisers sent to the scene by President Taft. The White Star Line, owners of the "Titanic", were still insisting that everyone was safe and the ship had not sunk.
But even as they made these claims, they had all the horrific details from the "Olympic". And so would the rest of the world, thanks to a 21 year old operator named David Sarnoff, who managed to detect the faint signals of the "Olympic", and broke the story. Faced with the truth, and hounded by thousands of reporters and outraged relatives of passengers, the White Star Liner officials finally broke down and revealed all. Meanwhile, the "Carpathia" steamed towards New York City.
When she passed within range of shore stations, there were "frenzied attempts by amateur wireless operators which formed a hissing mixture from which scarcely a complete sentence was intelligible". It didn't matter, because the radio silence continued. At the Port of New York, the "Carpathia" was met by Senator William A. Smith of Michigan, a no nonsense Populist who was the Chairman of the committee investigating the shipwreck. He immediately slapped subpoenas on everyone possible, including Harold Bride and Harold Cottam, wireless operator on the "Carpathia".
Marconi himself, who was in the U.S. at the time, (and had planned on taking the "Titanic" back to England), was also summoned to appear. The hearings revealed the information given above, plus the disturbing fact that the "Californian" was just 10 miles from the "Titanic". Not only did the "Californian" not have a full time wireless operation, but the ship's captain ignored the eight distress rockets sent up by the "Titanic".
As to the origin of the false messages concerning the saving of the ship and passengers, no answer was ever found. However, Senator Smith sarcastically noted that, in the interim, the "Titanic" was quickly reinsured, and stock in the Marconi Company jumped from $55 to $225 per share. The Senator DID find out the cause of the "Carpathia" radio silence--it was Marconi himself. He had sent wireless messages to Bride and Cottam stating "MARCONI COMPANY TAKING GOOD CARE OF YOU-KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT-HOLD YOUR STORY-YOU WILL GET BIG MONEY- NOW CLEAR".
It turned out that Marconi had an agreement with the New York Times for an exclusive story. Thus, essential information for desperate relatives and official inquiries from the President of the United States took a back seat to Marconi's interest. When Marconi got on the stand, Senator Smith pounced on him with astonishing vehemence. Marconi had been lionized by the nation, and now the Senator was treating him like any other entrepreneur who put profit above the public. Senator Smith was warned that his attack on a man as popular as Marconi was political suicide, but he didn't care.
In his obsession with his belief that the unregulated wireless spectrum was partly to blame in the "Titanic" disaster, he painted Marconi as a man willing to subordinate the public good to his goal of a complete wireless equipment AND spectrum monopoly. Senator Smith used the "Titanic" hearings to condemn the laissez-faire status of the wireless, and appeal for the international regulation of radio. On May 18, 1912, Senator Smith introduced a bill in the Senate.
Among its provisions: 1) ships carrying 50 passengers or more must have a wireless set with a minimum range of 100 miles; 2) wireless sets must have an auxiliary power supply which can operate until the wireless room itself was under water or otherwise destroyed; and 3) two or more operators provide continuous service day and night. In response to the interference generated over the years, and especially when the "Carpathia" was within range, a provision was added that "private stations could not use wavelengths in excess of 200 meters, except by special permission".
To avoid "ownership" of the spectrum by the Marconi Company, licenses would now be required, issued by the Secretary of Commerce. Each Government, Marine, or Commercial station would be authorized a specific wavelength, power level, and hours of operation. The initial legislation had considered the elimination of all private, non commercial (i.e. amateur) stations, but Congress realized that would be difficult and expensive to enforce. Therefore, since it was a "well known fact" that long wavelengths were the best, and anything below 250 meters was useless, except for local communication, it was decided to compromise and give the amateurs 200 meters, where they could work 25 miles maximum and would die out of their own accord in a few years.
Amateurs entered the summer of 1912 with a new Radio Act in place. Thanks to the Titanic disaster and the fear that commercial interests would try to monopolize the radio spectrum, the government stepped in and set up a licensing structure administered by the Secretary of Commerce. In the new law, amateurs (actually "private stations") were limited to a wavelength of 200 meters and a maximum power of 1kw. Since the known usable spectrum at that time ran from about 300 to 3000 meters (1000 khz to 100 khz), it was widely believed that amateur radio would fade away, without expensive government enforcement.
At first, it appeared that the bureaucrats were correct. Before the Radio Act, there were an estimated 10,000 stations. Now, there were only 1200 licenses issued by the end of 1912. Amateurs were finding it difficult to get their spark stations going on 200 meters, and, when they did, they discovered their maximum range was 25-50 miles, instead of the 250-500 mile range they had on the longer wavelengths. Amateur radio was slowly heading for oblivion. The big stumbling block to effective communications on 200 meters (or indeed any wavelength) was the spark transmitter and unamplified detector, both of which were extremely inefficient.
On the transmitting end, no method, other than spark, was known. As for the receiver, there had been two developments in the vacuum tube area. J.A. Fleming had developed the diode detector in 1904. It cost a lot of money, provided no amplification, and used expensive batteries. It was not practical at the time, but it was covered by a patent. In 1906, Lee deForest took Fleming's valve, added a third element, called a grid, and named the result the Audion.
In the right circuit, the Audion could amplify by a factor of 5x. Still, because of the cost, battery requirement, and the ever popular patent fights of the time, it went unnoticed and unused until 1912, when a 22 year old amateur made an important discovery. Edwin H. Armstrong was an experimenter and almost militant individualist.
He had obtained an Audion for use in his station. Dissatisfied with the poor amplification, he tried different circuits. At one point, he "fed back" a portion of the output back to the input to be re-amplified. Instead of just a 5x amplification, the output was now 100x stronger than the input. He also discovered that if too much feedback was used, the tube began to oscillate.
This regenerative circuit was the most important discovery in radio in years. One tube could amplify more than 100x, two tubes in series could give a gain of 2000+. In addition, an alternative to spark was now available. Instead of a raspy, broad inefficient signal that took up hundreds of khz, the Audion could be made to oscillate a stable, pure signal on one frequency.
In fact, that's where the phrase c.w. comes from, ( a continuous wave on one frequency rather than a broad, intermittent wave on many). Although it would take 10+ years to develop the stability in transmitters and receivers to fully utilize c.w., King Spark was doomed. Realizing the importance of his regenerative design in both transmitting and receiving, but lacking the money to develop it, in January 1913 Armstrong had the diagrams of his circuit notarized.
This was only the first of many spectacular inventions Armstrong would come up with. Within 10 years, he would also develop the superheterodyne (now used in ALL receivers), and the superregenerative (the basis of all VHF and UHF receivers from the 20's to the 50's, and still used today in children's walkie -talkies) . Even his first design, the regenerative circuit, is used by Ten-Tec and MFJ in their receiver kits.
The crowning achievement in Armstrong's career came in the 30's, when he developed Frequency Modulation. With all due respect for those who flock to Loomis, Tesla, or Marconi as the father of radio, my vote goes to Armstrong, for without him, wireless would be stuck at the 1912 level. Armstrong had a tempestuous life, full of public and private battles, advancements, setbacks and lawsuits, before his tragic death in 1954. The final legal battles didn't end until 1967.
The Wayback Machine will devote an entire column to Armstrong this fall. Meanwhile, back in 1913, word of the regenerative circuit spread quickly throughout the amateur world. Experimenters who added the Audion to their receivers discovered that distances of up to 350 miles were now possible on 200 meters. The Audion, already scarce and expensive, became even more so under the laws of supply and demand.
The search for an Audion to the amateur was like the Quest for the Holy Grail. In fact, it was this search which led to the second pivotal event in amateur radio history. Hiram Percy Maxim was a 44 year old engineer and inventor who had a 1kw amateur station in Hartford, CT. He wanted an Audion for his receiver and was unable to locate one. Finally, he heard of an amateur in Springfield ,MA, who had one for sale. Hartford was (and still is) only 30 miles from Springfield, yet Maxim's station could not cover the distance.
He found a station midway between the two cities that was willing to relay his purchase offer. Maxim thought about this and eventually realized that a national organization was needed to coordinate and standardize message relay procedures, as well as act as a national lobby for amateur radio interests.
On April 6, 1914, Maxim proposed the formation of the American Radio Relay League. With the backing of the Radio Club of Hartford, who appropriated $ 50, and some volunteers, Maxim developed an application form explaining the purpose of the ARRL and inviting membership.
These were sent out to every known major station in the country. Maxim, like Armstrong, was a prolific inventor. Unlike Armstrong, however, Maxim was also an expert in publicity and public relations. By July, national magazines such as Popular Mechanics were writing favorable reports about the ARRL. Maxim also traveled to Washington, D.C., to explain the ARRL to the Department of Commerce and the Commissioner of Navigation.
The P.R. blitz paid off. By September, 1914, there were 237 relay stations appointed, and traffic routes were established from Maine to Minneapolis, and Seattle to Idaho. Realizing that long distances on 200 meters were not possible at that time, even with a regenerative receiver, Maxim got the Department of Commerce to authorize special operations on 425 meters (706 khz) for relay stations in remote areas. Boosted by the publicity, the number of amateur stations, as well as the relay stations in the ARRL, continued to grow.
By 1916, there were 6000 amateur licenses, (of which 1000 were ARRL relay stations) and 150,000 receivers in use. The emphasis in the ARRL was on the word RELAY; ARRL stations were expected to handle traffic on the 6 Main Trunk Lines (3 North/South and 3 East/West) that served more than 150 cities. And there was traffic. The general population (to whom phones were a luxury, long distance an exotic concept, and telegrams expensive) flocked to the idea of coast to coast free messages. As a P.R. exercise to test the system nationwide, on Washington's Birthday, 1916, a test message was sent to the Governors of every State, and President Wilson in Washington, D.C..
The message was delivered to 34 States and the President within 60 minutes. By 1917, the system was so refined that a message sent from New York to California took only 45 minutes. To deal with the increasing number of relay stations, the ARRL started a little magazine, which they called QST. Other amateur activities in this period brought favorable publicity to the hobby.
In March 1913, a severe windstorm had knocked out power, telegraph and telephone lines in the midwest. Battery powered amateur stations handled routine and emergency traffic until regular service was restored. This was the first documented emergency communications in amateur radio history. In 1915, amateur station 2MN determined that the powerful Telefunken station at Sayville, Long Island, was sending information concerning Allied and neutral shipping to submarines at sea.
Thanks to the work of this amateur, the government took over the station. However, the war in Europe was getting closer. In April, 1917, based on continued violations of our neutrality and unrestricted submarine activity, Congress declared war against Germany. With the U.S. now in World War I, a message went out from the Secretary of Commerce to all private stations.
By order of the Chief Radio Inspector, all transmitting AND RECEIVING stations were to be closed AND DISASSEMBLED, and all antennas taken down. Complete radio silence was to remain until the war ended and the order was revoked. Amateurs by the thousands packed away their stations and marched off to war. The 200 meter band was silent. In September 1917, with no radio activity permitted and 80% of the amateurs at war, QST ceased publication. Would amateur radio survive the war?
By the time World War I ended in November, 1918, almost 5000 amateurs had served in uniform, with many giving their lives overseas. Amateurs had proven themselves to be invaluable to the war effort. The Army and Navy were faced with an absolute lack of trained radio officers, instructors, operators, and even state of the art equipment. Amateurs stepped in and provided the knowledge, men and sometimes even the equipment necessary to help win the war.
An interesting example of this was the case of Alessandro Fabbri, a wealthy yachtsman and radio amateur, who had top notch stations on board his yacht and on Mount Desert Island, Maine. The Navy commandeered the stations (and the yacht), made Fabbri an ensign, and placed him in command. Largely with his own money, he expanded his operation and improved his equipment. Fabbri's station was used to pass most of the official communications between the battlefronts in Europe and Washington. The traffic often amounted to 20,000 words a day, most of them in cipher.
Captain (later Major) Edwin Armstrong, whose regenerative receiver was being used worldwide, was in charge of the Signal Corps' Radio Laboratory in Paris, where he developed the superheterodyne receiver. Thousands of amateurs served as Navy radiomen and Signal Corps operators. It would seem from the information above that amateurs had conclusively proven their worth and that the Navy would return the amateurs' frequencies back to them once the war had ended. Sadly, this was not the case. A string of events conspired against the amateur, and almost eliminated all privately owned stations.
The villain in this play was the Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, a puritanical landlubber and teetotaller, whose opinions often got him into trouble. He was the type of individual that H. L. Mencken and Sinclair Lewis satirized as "one who is terrified that somewhere, someone is having fun". For years, he had demanded that the Navy have exclusive control of the radio spectrum. Now, it appeared, he had his chance. The effects of the first modern global war, along with the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, had temporarily turned the country extremely conservative.
It was in this mindset that the Espionage Act of 1918 and Prohibition were passed. Hundreds of suspected communists and anarchists were deported in the "Red Scare". Even the great Socialist Eugene V. Debs was imprisoned for disagreeing with the government. Seizing the opportunity, Secretary Daniels urged the passage of legislation giving the Navy a monopoly on radio communications. As a result, the Poindexter Bill was introduced in the Senate, and the Alexander Bill in the House. Political observers gave both bills an excellent chance of passing.
Back at the ARRL, things looked bleak. All memberships had lapsed (along with all amateur licenses), 80% of the amateurs were still overseas, QST had ceased publication, the unpaid printing bill was $4700, and there was $33 in the treasury. However, action was needed immediately to defeat these bills. Hiram Percy Maxim and the other board members dug into their own personal funds and sent out a "blue card appeal" to all known amateurs or their families asking them to write their Congressman and urge defeat of these bills. It worked. Thousands of letters poured into Washington from amateurs or (more often than not) their family members asking that amateur radio be saved.
Congressmen who opposed a military monopoly of the airwaves also joined in, lending their support to amateur radio. Overwhelmed by this grassroots opposition to Naval control of the radio spectrum, Congress killed the bills in committee. This 1919 letter writing campaign had a profound historical impact on all of radio, for, had these bills passed, not only would amateur radio have disappeared forever, but all private communication activities (such as broadcasting, business radio, CB, GMRS, Cellular etc.) either never would have evolved, or would have been delayed by years or even decades.
With the bills defeated, Maxim and the ARRL Board of Directors issued $ 7500 worth of bonds to League members to get QST going again. At the same time, pressure was brought on Washington to lift the radio ban and allow amateurs back on the air. Partial success was achieved on April 12, 1919, when the Navy removed the ban on receiving, but not transmitting.
Thousands of amateurs and other listeners removed the seals from their receivers (which had been placed there by Government Radio Inspectors), strung up their antennas and warmed their filaments with the sounds of the government stations. But they wanted more. Their fingers fondled their telegraph keys as they waited for the lifting of the transmitting ban.
Finally, in November 1919, after a Joint Resolution had been introduced in Congress demanding that the Secretary of the Navy remove the restrictions on amateur radio, the transmitting ban was lifted, licenses were reissued, and amateurs were back on the air. Now began the "second war", Spark vs. CW. Remember that amateurs were allowed, in effect, just one frequency - 200 Meters. A spark station on 200 meters actually generated a signal from 150 to 250 meters.
With the sensitive regenerative receivers now in use, the practical range was several hundred miles. Transcontinental relays now took less than five minutes. The number of licensed amateur operators stood at 5719 in 1920, 10,809 in 1921, and 14,179 in 1922. And all were operating on 200 meters! To quote Arthur Lyle Budlong in "The Story of the American Radio Relay League", it was "Interference, Lord, what interference! Bedlam!". Something had to be done. And it was. Various transatlantic tests were conducted from 1921 to 1923. The results overwhelmingly showed CW was far superior to spark.
Postwar vacuum tube production was at its peak. In 1921, an RCA 5 watt tube cost $8, and, as a single tube CW transmitter, could outperform a 500 watt spark station. A 50 watt tube cost $30, and was five times more effective than the best 1kw spark station. Since CW took only a fraction of the bandwidth that spark did, over 50 CW stations in the same area could occupy the 150 to 250 meter range, vs. one spark station. The transatlantic tests also revealed some other interesting facts. Due to the excessive interference on 200 meters, some stations had dropped down to 100 meters where, to their surprise, they found conditions much better.
Throughout the 1922-24 period, hundreds of tests and casual contacts were made on the 100 meter wavelength which conclusively showed not only CW's superiority over spark, but increased range on the shorter wavelengths. Once again, the scientists came forward and said that long distances on 100 meters were mathematically impossible, and once again, the amateurs proved them wrong.
During 1924, several CW contacts were made at distances exceeding 6000 miles. On October 19, 1924, a station in England worked New Zealand, a distance of almost 12,000 miles. Amateur communications had now reached halfway around the world. Although it would take a few years to discover the role that the ionosphere played in shortwave communications, there is no doubt that amateurs pioneered the practical uses of shortwave.
The phenomenal success of CW convinced the vast majority of amateurs to buy that vacuum tube. A few still clung to their spark sets, screaming "spark forever", but by 1924, spark was almost extinct. The 150 to 250 meter region was now orderly, filled with thousands of CW stations living in peaceful coexistence with each other (and the occasional spark renegade).
Legally, however, amateurs could not go below 150 meters. True, many were already on 100 meters without a problem, but amateurs wanted a slice of the shortwave spectrum allocated to them. After all, it was amateurs who discovered the short waves, now, with world wide interest being shown here, they wanted protection. Negotiations were ongoing with the Department of Commerce to give the amateurs specific frequencies. On July 24, 1924, the Department of Commerce authorized new amateur frequency bands.
They were 150 to 200 meters (1500 to 2000 kc), 75 to 80 meters (3500 to 4000 kc), 40 to 43 meters (7000 to 7500 kc), 20 to 22 meters (13,600 to 15,000 kc), and 4 to 5 meters (60,000 to 75,000 kc). Except for a portion of the 150 to 200 meter band, spark was prohibited. Spark would survive in the hands of a few rebels until 1927 when it was banned altogether. CW was here to stay. By January, 1925, the 80, 40, and 20 meter bands were filling up with amateurs, drawn by the promise of transcontinental, daylight DX.
The term "Old Time Radio" refers to the entertainment programs that were broadcast to the public from the early 1920s to the early 1960s. In the beginning, most radio programs emulated the vaudeville acts that were the mainstay of public amusement before radio. Comics and singers ruled the airwaves! Best of all, you no longer had to leave your home to enjoy their talents! Eventually, however, audiences matured and other types of programs were added to the radio schedule.
Drama series became extremely popular including shows about doctors, soap operas, and even movie scripts that were adapted for radio. Action series brought cops, robbers, private detectives, and westerns into the home! Fantasy series thrilled audiences with well known characters including Superman and the Green Hornet! Horror fans got their share of ghosts, vampires, and werewolves.
Those who craved science fiction got their weekly craving for tales of the future, space travel, and exploration of the unknown. Game shows like "You Bet Your Life" gave the average person an escape from everyday life! The first commercial radio station in the U.S. (KDKA in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) began occasional broadcasting in 1920.
By 1922, the first regularly broadcast old time radio shows had begun. Up until the late 1920s, musical programs were most popular with shows highlighting opera, big bands, jazz, classical, and popular music. In the 1930s, the first daytime series appeared featuring romance and other subject matter that appealed to the typical American housewife. Most of those programs were sponsored by soap products and that's where the term "Soap Opera" originated.
Radio shows like "The Cisco Kid" and "Captain Midnight" were broadcast in the afternoons for the entertainment of young people as they returned home from school. Comedy series began to appear including the "George Burns and Gracie Allen Show" and the "Jack Benny Show" which both began in 1932. "Amos 'N Andy" actually hit the airwaves in 1928! Then in the early 1940s, a nearly never-ending list of comedy programs joined those pioneers and comedy shows became the most prolific genre through the end of Old Time Radio.
By 1947, 82% of people in the U.S. listened to the radio on a regular basis. The Old Time Radio shows were not like most audio books of today where someone with a pleasant voice reads you a book. Old Time Radio shows were productions just like the television programs of today.
There were sound effects, multiple actors in multiple roles, and first rate scripts! Many people today are shocked at how entertaining they can be when they hear their first Old Time Radio program. The lack of video can actually be a plus! Your mind often imagines the characters and scenery much better than seeing those things on a television screen. Most Old Time Radio Shows were aired live up until the late 1940s. Therefore, the most popular shows had to be performed twice due to the time difference between the east coast and the west coast.
Most of those programs are lost to us today as they were generally not recorded. There are exceptions where and advertiser wanted copies of their programs or for some programs that aired in syndication. Thankfully, by the early 1950s, many programs were broadcast live on the east coast and recorded for later broadcast on the west coast. A surprisingly large number of those recordings are still in existence today thanks, mostly, to collector/hobbyists who acquired them through the years.
Due to their age, most of those are available free of charge on the web or at very low cost on cd (in mp3 format) from numerous vendors. In the mid 1950s TV was becoming the king of entertainment and radio was transforming into a mostly musical format. There were shows, however, that continued for a few more years and some of them even aired at the same time as a TV version of the same program.
The British Broadcasting Corporation, which is usually known simply as the BBC, is the world's largest broadcasting corporation. It has 28,000 employees in the United Kingdom alone and an annual budget of more than £4 billion.
Founded on 18 October 1922 as the British Broadcasting Company Ltd, it was subsequently granted a Royal Charter and made a state-owned corporation in 1927. The corporation produces programmes and information services, broadcasting globally on television, radio, and the Internet. The stated mission of the BBC is "to inform, educate and entertain" (as laid down by Parliament in the BBC Charter); its motto is "Nation Shall Speak Peace Unto Nation".
The BBC is a quasi-autonomous public corporation as a public service broadcaster. The Corporation is run by the BBC Trust; and is, per its charter, "free from both political and commercial influence and answers only to its viewers and listeners".
A lot of folks still don't know what web radio is. Let's note first of all that it is not the same thing as podcasting, although the two are often confused. Without going into the technicalities, web radio uses streaming audio to create a "live," ongoing broadcast such as you would hear from a regular radio station. Podcasting involves the creation of individual recordings which people can download for listening at a later time, either on their computer or on an MP3 player such as an iPod.
For a long time web radio was plagued by problems. Sound quality was usually poor. Because of the bandwidth required, many web radio stations were severely limited in the number of people they permitted to listen at any one time--in some cases, this could be as few as a half dozen! The number and variety of stations were quite limited, as well. Happily, most of those early limitations have been resolved. The web radio scene today presents a wonderful smorgasbord of musical variety, an incredible array of genres to suit all tastes, and a quality that often matches high-end stereo for the ability to produce a satisfying listening experience.
Although web radio's primary audiences remain office workers and college students, more and more people are discovering this neat entertainment source. One study in the UK reported an 84% increase in internet radio listening hours for the most recent year. Another study said web radio attracts 52 million listeners during a typical month.
Web radio is free to listen to, for the most part, and the software one needs to take advantage of it is free as well. Player software such as WinAmp or iTunes not only sends the music to your computer speakers, it also generally includes a directory of radio channels--just click on your choice and play. The directory will almost always be arranged by genres, some of the more popular being blues, oldies, rock, psychedelia, easy listening, country, trance or electronic, country, reggae, world music and hip hop. The diversity truly is astounding: the other day I ran across a web radio station devoted exclusively to Hawaiian and polka music!
The War of the Worlds was an episode of the American radio drama anthology series Mercury Theatre on the Air. It was performed as a directed by Orson Welles, the episode was an adaptation of H. G. Wells' classic novel The War of the Worlds.
The first half of the 60-minute broadcast was presented as a series of news bulletins, which suggested to many listeners that an actual Martian invasion was in progress. Some fled their homes; others merely were terrified. The news-bulletin format was decried as cruelly deceptive by some newspapers and public figures, leading to an outcry against the perpetrators of the broadcast, but the episode launched Welles to fame.
There is an addiction waiting out there for you on the Internet. It could be a good addiction, if you like great actors performing great stories. They may be actors that you have not heard of before, and stories that you have only heard about. Orson Welles performs Captain Bligh from Mutiny on the Bounty. Carlton Hobbs analyses and uncovers the answer to the Speckled Band as Sherlock Holmes. Judy Garland sings her way into your heart in another old time radio show.
These great actors and actresses make these classic stories come alive, and revive the art of storytelling for modern America. It is almost ironic to have an audio book in MP3 format revive the ancient art of storytelling, but the combination works very well. These old time radio shows in MP3 format are a treasure that you should take some time to enjoy.
This interest in these MP3 audio books can also spread to your family, and with a little influence may replace the influence of television. Not only are a number of old time radio shows done with better stories, but the whole idea of storytelling triggers the imagination.
When the crew of the Bounty are not given enough food and are caught in a storm on the high seas, no movie director can make it as thrilling or real as your own imagination. Even if you listen to Sherlock Holmes in modern MP3 format in an audio book, you can be walking with him in a dark and fog shrouded London street with the sound of only one other person in the street, rapidly drawing closer to you. Driving on a modern interstate to work is much more interesting when Daniel Boone is making a trail through the forest from another old time radio show.
What was radio really like at the dawn of the 1930s? As the new decade began, the medium was moving into its adolescence. The experimental years were over, the networks were off and rolling, and the movement toward making radio a form of Wholesale Entertainment For The Masses was well under way.
The most popular program format of the late twenties was the sponsored musical feature. It could be a large symphonic group, a dance orchestra, or a song-and-patter team -- and it would usually carry the sponsor's name. The A&P Gypsies, for example -- a large, genre-crossing orchestra conducted by Harry Horlick. The Ipana Troubadours -- a hot dance band directed by Sam Lanin. The Goodrich Zippers -- a banjo-driven orchestra conducted by Harry Reser, when he wasn't leading the same group under the name of The Cliquot Club Eskimos.
Everyone remembers The Happiness Boys, Billy Jones and Ernie Hare -- but what about Scrappy Lambert and Billy Hillpot, who performed exactly the same sort of material as Trade and Mark, The Smith Brothers. The list is endless: The Silvertown Cord Orchestra, featuring the Silver Masked Tenor. The Sylvania Foresters. The Flit Soldiers -- yet another Harry Reser group. The Champion Sparkers.
The Fox Fur Trappers. The Ingram Shavers, who were the Ipana Troubadours on alternate Wednesdays. The Yeast Foamers. The Planters Pickers. And, the magnificently named Freed-Eisemann Orchestradians. All playing pretty much the same sorts of music, all announced by Phillips Carlin or John S. Young or Alwyn Bach or Milton Cross in pretty much the same sort of stiffly formal style.
Before the days of video games, shopping malls, MTV, and the Internet, families used to sit in their living room each night to listen to radio shows such as Superman, Groucho Marx, The Avenger, Gunsmoke, Sherlock Homes, and many others.
When TV become popular in the 1950's, most of these shows went off the air, but they now live on at websites such as this one and on weekly nostalgia radio broadcasts worldwide. Old-Time Radio (OTR) and the Golden Age of Radio refer to a period of radio programming in the United States lasting from the proliferation of radio broadcasting in the early 1920s until television's replacement of radio as the dominant home entertainment medium in the 1950s.
During this period, when radio was dominant and the airwaves were filled with a variety of radio formats and genres, people regularly tuned in to their favorite radio programs. In fact, according to a 1947 C. E. Hooper survey, 82 out of 100 Americans were found to be radio listeners. The end of this period coincided with music radio becoming the dominant radio form and is often marked in the United States by the final CBS broadcasts of Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar on September 30, 1962.
Radio content in the Golden Age of Radio had its origins in audio theatre. Audio theatre began in the 1880s and 1890s with audio recordings of musical acts and other vaudeville. These were sent to people by means of telephone and, later, through phonograph cylinders and discs. Visual elements, such as effects and sight gags, were adapted to have sound equivalents. In addition, visual objects and scenery were converted to have audio descriptions.
On Christmas Eve, 1906, Reginald Fessenden sent the first radio program broadcast, which was made up of some violin playing and passages from the Bible. At least one radio researcher has questioned whether this broadcast took place, because it was not mentioned in print until many years later.Then, after the Titanic catastrophe in 1912, radio for communications went into vogue. Radio was especially important during World War I, since it was vital for air and naval operations. In fact,
World War I sped the development of radio by transitioning radio communications from the Morse code of the wireless telegraph to the vocal communication of the wireless telephone through advancements in vacuum tube technology and the introduction of the transceiver. After the war, numerous radio stations were born and set the standard for later radio programs. The first radio news program was broadcast on August 31, 1920 on the station 8MK in Detroit, Michigan.
This was followed in 1920 with the first commercial radio station in the United States, KDKA, being established in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The first regular entertainment programs were broadcast in 1922, and on March 10, Variety carried the front page headline "Radio Sweeping Country 1,000,000 Sets in Use." A highlight of this time was the first Rose Bowl being broadcast on January 1, 1923 on the Los Angeles station KHJ.
Old time radio shows are a wonderful form of entertainment. If you've never experienced the thrills of a classic detective show such as Sam Spade or a police procedural series such as Dragnet you're in for a pleasant surprise and if you have then you'll know just what I'm talking about.
Amongst the hundreds of series available (over 500 at the last count) on the OTR-FTP Server you'll find an excellent mix of suspense, drama and comedy along with quiz shows, classic sports events and even shows for kids. Start downloading today! Most of the shows are 30 minutes long and are ideal for listening to in your car, whilst sat working at your computer or even when out walking or jogging if you have a portable MP3 player.
Old-Time Radio (OTR) and the Golden Age of Radio refer to a period of radio programming lasting from the proliferation of radio broadcasting in the early 1920s until television's replacement of radio as the dominant home entertainment medium in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
During this period, when radio was dominant and the airwaves were filled with a variety of radio formats and genres, people regularly tuned in to their favourite radio programs. In fact, according to a 1947 C. E. Hooper survey, 82 out of 100 Americans were found to be radio listeners.
The end of this period coincided with music radio becoming the dominant radio form and is often marked in the United States by the final CBS broadcasts of Suspense and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar on September 30, 1962.
The 1950s also saw the popular dominance of the Nashville sound in country music, and the beginning of popular folk music with groups like The Weavers. Country's Nashville sound was slick and soulful, and a movement of rough honky tonk developed in a reaction against the mainstream orientation of Nashville.
This movement was centered in Bakersfield, California with musicians like Buck Owens ("Act Naturally"), Merle Haggard ("Sing a Sad Song") and Wynn Stewart ("It's Such a Pretty World Today") helping to define the sound among the community, made up primarily of Oklahoman immigrants to California, who had fled unemployment and drought. A similarly hard-edged sound also arose in Lubbock, Texas (Lubbock sound).
By the late 1950s, a revival of Appalachian folk music was taking place across the country, and bands like The Weavers were paving the way for future mainstream stars like Bob Dylan and Joan Baez.
Bluegrass was similarly revitalized and updated by artists including Tony Rice, Clarence White, Richard Green, Bill Keith and David Grisman. The Dillards, however, were the ones to break bluegrass into mainstream markets in the early 1960s.
In addition, doo wop achieved widespread popularity in the 1950s. Doo wop was a harmonically complex style of choral singing that developed in the streets of major cities like Chicago, New York, and, most importantly, Baltimore.
Doo Wop singers would work a cappella without backing instruments, and practice in hallways of their schools, apartment buildings, or alleys to achieve echo effects on their voices, and lyrics were generally innocent youthful observations on the upsides of teen love and romance.
Groups like The Crows ("Gee"), The Orioles ("It's Too Soon to Know") and Brooklyn's Frankie Lymon & the Teenagers ("Why Do Fools Fall in Love") had a string of hit songs that brought the genre to chart domination by 1958 (see 1958 in music).
The pre-history and early history of radio is the history of technology that produced instruments that use radio waves. Later radio history increasingly involves matters of programming and content. Various scientists proposed that electricity and magnetism, both capable of causing attraction and repulsion of objects, were linked.
In 1802 Gian Domenico Romagnosi suggested the relationship between electric current and magnetism, but his reports went unnoticed. In 1820 Hans Christian Ørsted performed a widely known experiment on man-made electric current and magnetism. He demonstrated that a wire carrying a current could deflect a magnetized compass needle. Ørsted's experiments discovered the relationship between electricity and magnetism in a very simple experiment. Ørsted's work influenced André-Marie Ampère to produce a theory of electromagnetism. In the history of radio and development of "wireless telegraphy", several people are claimed to have "invented the radio".
The most commonly accepted claims are: Nikola Tesla, who developed means to reliably produce radio frequency currents, publicly demonstrated the principles of radio, and transmitted long distance signals. In 1943 the US Supreme Court upheld Tesla's patent number U.S. Patent 645,576 in effect recognizing him as the inventor of radio. Guglielmo Marconi, who equipped ships with life-saving wireless communications, conducted a reported transatlantic radio communications experiments in 1901 and established the first commercial transatlantic radio service in 1907.
Radio content in the Golden Age of Radio had its origins in audio theatre. Audio theatre began in the 1880s and 1890s with audio recordings of musical acts and other vaudeville. These were sent to people by means of telephone and, later, through phonograph cylinders and discs. Visual elements, such as effects and sight gags, were adapted to have sound equivalents. In additions, visual objects and scenery were converted to have audio descriptions. On Christmas Eve, 1906, Reginald Fessenden sent the first radio program broadcast, which was made up of some violin playing and passages from the bible. At least one radio researcher has questioned whether this broadcast took place, because it was not mentioned in print until many years later.
Then, after the Titanic catastrophe in 1912, radio for communications went into vogue. Radio was especially important during World War I, since it was a primary source of communication for both sides. Then, after the war and before radio regulation, numerous radio stations began starting up and setting the standard for later radio programs.
Broadcasting was not yet supported by advertising or listener sponsorship. The stations owned by manufacturers and department stores were established to sell radios and those owned by newspapers to sell newspapers and express the opinions of the owners. In the 1920s, Radio was first used to transmit pictures visible as television. During the early 1930s, single sideband (SSB) and frequency modulation (FM) were invented by amateur radio operators. By 1940, they were established commercial modes.
Westinghouse was brought into the patent allies group, General Electric, American Telephone and Telegraph, and Radio Corporation of America, and became a part owner of RCA. All radios made by GE and Westinghouse were sold under the RCA label 60% GE and 40% Westinghouse. ATT's Western Electric would build radio transmitters. The patent allies attempted to set up a monopoly, but they failed due to successful competition. Much to the dismay of the patent allies, several of the contracts for inventor's patents held clauses protecting "amateurs" and allowing them to use the patents.
Whether the competing manufacturers were really amateurs was ignored by these competitors. In the United States, radio comedy and drama gets relatively little airplay apart from National Public Radio, satellite and Internet radio, but it continues full strength on British and Irish stations, and to a lesser degree in Canada. Regular broadcasts of radio plays are also heard in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and other countries.
Vintage shows and new audio productions in America are accessible more on recordings and by satellite and web broadcasters rather than over conventional AM and FM radio. There are, however, several radio theatre series still in production, usually airing on Sunday nights in the United States.
These include original series such as Imagination Theatre and a radio adaptation of The Twilight Zone, as well as rerun compilations such as the popular daily series When Radio Was and USA Radio Network's Golden Age of Radio Theatre. One of the longest running radio programs celebrating this era is The Golden Days of Radio, which was hosted on the Armed Forces Radio Service (later Armed Forces Radio and Television Service) for more than 20 years and overall for more than 50 years by Frank Bresee, who also played "Little Beaver" on the Red Ryder program as a child actor.
The 1940s saw a return to the roots of Cajun music, led by Iry LeJeune, Nathan Abshire and other artists, alongside musicians who incorporated rock and roll, including Laurence Walker and Aldus Roger.
In the late 1940s, Clifton Chenier, a Creole, began playing an updated form of la la called zydeco. Zydeco was briefly popular among some mainstream listeners during the 1950s. Artists like Boozoo Chavis, Queen Ida, Rockin' Dopsie and Rockin' Sidney have continued to bring zydeco to national audiences in the following decades. Zydeco shows major influences from rock, and artists like Beau Jocque have combined other influences, including hip hop.
The Armed Forces Radio Services (AFRS) has its origins in the War Department's quest to improve troop morale. This quest began with short-wave broadcasts of educational and information programs to troops in 1940. In 1941, the War Department began issuing "Buddy Kits" (B-Kits) to departing troops, which comprised radios, 78 RPM shellac records, and electrical transcription disks of radio shows.
However, with the entrance of the United States into World War II, the War Department decided that it needed to improve the quality and quantity of its offerings. This began with the broadcasting of its own original variety programs. Command Performance became the first of these, when it was produced for the first time on March 1, 1942. On May 26, 1942, the Armed Forces Radio Services was formally established.
Originally, its programming comprised network radio shows with the commercials removed. However, it soon began producing other original Programming, such as Mail Call, G.I. Journal, Jubilee, and G.I. Jive. At its peak in 1945, the Service produced around twenty hours of original programming each week.
The most common type of receiver before vacuum tubes was the crystal set, although some early radios used some type of amplification through electric current or battery. Inventions of the triode amplifier, motor-generator, and detector enabled audio radio. The use of amplitude modulation (AM), with which more than one station can simultaneously send signals (as opposed to spark-gap radio, where one transmitter covers the entire bandwidth of spectra) was pioneered by Fessenden and Lee de Forest.
To this day there is a small but avid base of fans of this technology who study and practice the art and science of designing and making crystal sets as a hobby; the Boy Scouts of America have often undertaken such craft projects to introduce boys to electronics and radio, and quite a number of them having grown up remain staunch fans of a radio that 'runs on nothing, forever'.
As the only energy available is that gathered by the antenna system, there are inherent limitations on how much sound even an ideal set could produce, but with only moderately decent antenna systems remarkable performance is possible with a superior set.
It was decided that for the second series Tommy Handley should be Minister of Aggravation and Mysteries at the Office of Twerps. A brand new supporting cast was enlisted, amongst them Vera Lennox as his secretary Dotty, Maurice Denham as Mrs. Tickle the office char and Vodkin the Russian inventor, Jack Train and Sam Costa. In the second episode, Jack Train created Funf, the elusive German spy, whose catchphrase 'This is Funf speaking' was to work it’s way into many private telephone conversations over the next few years. It all who helped to make the German propaganda machine seem little more than a wireless joke.
One of the regular features in this series was Radio Fakenburg, send up of Radio Luxembourg which had stopped broadcasting for the duration. Increased popularity led to a couple of stage shows which briefly toured the country. Unfortunately they lacked the impact of the radio shows and folded when the blitz destroyed many of the theatres.meanwhile Bristol had also suffered from German bombing, so the BBC Variety Department was once again on the move, this time to Bangor in North Wales.
With escalating bad news for the allies abroad, take-offs of Government Departments would no longer be acceptable. Instead, it was felt that ITMA should provide an escape for a war weary public. The show was renamed 'It's That Sand Again' and began a six week summer season on 20th June 1941. It was set in a seedy seaside resort called Foaming at the Mouth, with Tommy Handley as the town's Mayor.
Vera Lennox and Maurice Denham had departed, and in their place came Sydney Keith, Horace Percival, Dorothy Summers and Fred Yule. Several soon-to-be-famous characters were launched: Lefty and Sam, the gangsters (Train and Keith); Deepend Dan the Diver (Percival), (based on a man that Tommy Handley once saw seeing diving off the pier at New Brighton and collecting money from ferry passengers), Claude and Cecil, the over polite handymen (Train and Percival) and Ali Oop (Percival), a Middle Eastern vendor of saucy postcards and other dubious merchandise.
In 1938 the top brass of the BBC decided that they should have a regular weekly comedy show, along the lines of the George Burns and Gracie Allen Show which was very popular in the United States. It was to star Tommy Handley, a well-known Liverpudlian comedian, whose first broadcast was a relay from the London Coliseum of the Royal Command Performance of December 1923.
Several scripts were prepared, but, not being very keen on any of them, Tommy asked a friend to see if he could come up with something. The friend was Ted Kavanagh, and the something was ITMA, soon to become the most popular radio series of the 1940s.
Tommy and Ted, together with producer Francis Worsley , retired to the Langham Hotel in Portland Place, opposite Broadcasting House. Here they devised the format over pints of beer amid a packed conference of clergymen.
They decided to name the show after a topical catchphrase associated with a short moustached Nazi who seemed to be causing quite a stir internationally. Whenever Hitler made some new territorial claim, the newspaper headlines would proclaim 'It's That Man Again'. That looked fine in print, but was a bit of a mouthful to repeat over the microphone. Something snappier was called for, and once again inspiration was to be found in contemporary issues. At the beginning of the war everyone seemed initial crazy. People spoke of the R.A.F., the A.R.P., E.N.S.A and many others, so the programme title was shortened to ITMA.
A trial series of four shows began fortnightly from 12th July 1939. The setting was a pirate commercial radio ship, from which Tommy Handley sent his choice of programmes. He was assisted by Cecilia Eddy as his secretary Cilly, Eric Egan as a mad Russian inventor, Sam Heppner and Lionel Gamlin. These early editions broadcast from London, were modelled on the ground-breaking Bandwaggon, starring Arthur Askey and Richard Murdoch.
However, they weren't considered a success, and ITMA seemed destined to end there.
Ironically, the aforementioned Herr Hitler deemed otherwise. The outbreak of war shook up the BBC schedules and ITMA returned on 19th September 1939 for a weekly series of 21 episodes. These were transmitted from Bristol, where the BBC Variety Department had taken up residence, hoping to avoid the heavy bombing raids directed at London.
A decision was made that the first post-war series should have a completely new look, and most of the familiar characters were dropped. Dorothy Summers, Sydney Keith and Dino Galvani departed, while Carleton Hobbs (later to become radio’s Sherlock Holmes), Hugh Morton, Mary O'Farrell, Michele de Lys and Lind Joyce joined the cast. Clarence Wright returned after leaving at the end of the fifth series.
As a reward for his war work, Tommy Handley was appointed Governor of a newly discovered South Sea island called Tomtopia.
During the month-long sea cruise to the island. During the journey Tommy met Curly Kale (Carleton Hobbs), the chef who hated food but loved terrible puns; George Gorge (Fred Yule), a glutton who could eat any quantity of 'lovely grub' and Sam Fairfechan (Hugh Morton), the contradictory Welshman. Accompanying them on the journey was Colonel Chinstrap, who made straight for the Jungle Arms on arrival at their destination.
The local population included Bigga Banga (Fred Yule), the native chief who spoke only Utopi language, his daughter and translator Banjeleo (Lind Joyce); Wamba M'Boojah (Hugh Morton), another Tomtopian native whose Oxbridge accent was the result of a spell as an announcer with the BBC's Overseas Service and Major Munday (Carleton Hobbs), an ex-British army officer who had lived in isolation since the Boer war and now believed that England was exactly as it had been in the nineteenth century.
On 19th September 1946, back from a few months off the air, Mrs. Handley’s boy was rather closer to home, resting at Castle Weehouse in Scotland. Here he met Tattie Mackintosh (Molly Weir), Dan Dungeon the castle guide and fellow Liverpudlian and Frisby Dyke (both Deryck Guyler). Following a misdirected attempt to visit the moon in a rocket, he found himself back in Tomtopia for the rest of the series.
A year later Tommy was appointed the Governments adviser on industrial and scientific affairs. The position led to investigations into the radio industry and industrial psychology, organisation of a fuel saving campaign and a PR programme for England. Hattie Jacques debuted as Sophie Tuckshop, the greedy schoolgirl, whose prandial excesses were invariably followed by a giggle and 'but I'm all right now'. The twelfth, and final, series began on 23rd September 1948. Down on his luck, Tommy was now a permanent resident at Henry Hall (the tramps guest house), run by Miss Hotchkiss.
For the milestone 300th episode of 28th October the setting was Madame Tussaudes Waxworks in London. Here passing through a door marked 'The Hall of ITMA's Past', Tommy was reunited with many favourite characters from Foaming at the Mouth and Tomtopia, with Dino Galvani, Horace Percival, Clarence Wright, Lind Joyce and Dorothy Summers all making guest appearances.
The last ITMA went out on 6th January 1949. Tommy Handley died suddenly of a cerebral haemorrhage three days later. The news was conveyed to a stunned public immediately after the usual repeat broadcast. Tommy had been suffering from high blood pressure for some time, and his death seems a direct consequence of his dedication to work. Thousands of mourners and sightseers lined the six mile route from a private chapel in Westbourne Grove to the Golders Green Crematorium, where the scene looked more like the Palladium on the night of a Royal Variety Performance than a funeral. Crowds of sightseers cheered as each celebrity arrived for the service, and several people took flowers from the tributes as souvenirs. Two memorial services were held.
One at St. Pauls Cathedral in London and the other at Liverpool Cathedral. At the St. Pauls service the then Bishop of London said that 'he was one whose genius transmuted the copper of our common experience into the gold of exquisite foolery. His raillery was without cynicism, and his satire without malice....... From the highest to the lowest in the land, people had found in his programme an escape from their troubles and anxieties into a world of whimsical nonsense.
The Radio Times shows that there was an ITMA show scheduled for 13th January, but this was to be replaced by a special tribute programme. Later in the Light Programme magazine show 'Mirror of the Month', sound effects boys Brian Begg and Johnny Ammonds reminisced and demonstrated some of the ITMA effects. The item ended with the suggestion 'Shall we close the door for the last time?'. They did, and this was followed by a five second pause. One radio critic thought this the most poignant tribute of the all. Many editions of ITMA were recorded, but only small percentage have survived.
Listening to them now, they seem very dated, and it is often difficult to see why the show was so immensely popular, sometimes with forty percent of the British population tuning in. But it took people's minds off the horrors of war and produced a sort of nationwide family spirit. This was helped by the liberal use of catchphrases, many of which passed into the language. Characters would a knock at the famous imaginary door, enter, exchange funny lines with Tommy Handley at machine gun speed, deliver the unvarying closing remark and exit to enormous applause - almost like a factory production line.
The popularity of the catchphrases is demonstrated by a letter which Tommy Handley received from a little girl who had been taken to see the Tempest in Manchester. At one point an unfortunate actor playing Ariel had to say the fatal words 'I go, I go', which was followed by the whole audience shouting 'I come back' -the catchphrase of Ali Oop.
After the death of Tommy Handley the BBC wisely decided to let the show die with him. The only surviving character was Jack Train's Colonel Chinstrap. In 1950, the Colonel appeared in a long forgotten series called The Great Gilhooly. A documentary about his life was broadcast on 1st January 1954 and he appeared in two episodes of a series which was to achieve the same popularity in the 1950s (and beyond) that ITMA had enjoyed a decade before……The Goon Show.
On August 14, 1967 - In the United Kingdom a Marine Offences Act came into force prompting many offshore radio stations to close, most prominently Radio London off Frinton in Essex at 3pm local time on this day. The Act boosted a campaign for onshore commercial radio to be legalised, which would enable listeners to choose a non-BBC English-language station and cause the establishment style of BBC radio to be relaxed and refreshed. See BBC Radio 1.
Modern day pirate radio stations often cater for local communities and underground music fans that are not necessarily catered for by larger corporate radio stations.
Some of the pirate stations are now legal and successful outfits, including Radio Jackie and Kiss FM in London, and the Sunshine Radio in Ludlow, Shropshire, which was run from studios at the end of a farm drive in its unlicensed days.
Radio -- signaling and audio communication using electromagnetic radiation -- was first employed as a "wireless telegraph", for point-to-point links where regular telegraph lines were unreliable or impractical. Next developed was radio's ability to broadcast messages simultaneously to multiple locations, at first using the dots-and-dashes of telegraphic code, and later in full audio.
Although "electromagnetic radiation" is the formal scientific term for what Heinrich Hertz demonstrated with his simple spark transmitter in the 1880s, in addition to "radio" numerous other descriptive phrases were used in the early days, including various permutations of "Hertzian waves", "electric waves", "ether waves", "spark telegraphy", "space telegraphy", "aerography" and "wireless". In the November 30, 1901
Electrical Review, a letter from G. C. Dietz offered "atmography" as the answer to What Shall We Call It?, but the suggestion fell on deaf ears. Spark, Space, Wireless, Etheric, Hertzian Wave or Cableless Telegraphy--Which? by A. Frederick Collins in the August 24, 1901 Western Electrician wondered whether the question might eventually become academic, for "In the distant future when all wire systems, both telegraph and telephone, have been superseded by the so-called wireless, there will be no confusing qualifying adjectives, for there will be no dual systems requiring qualification, and wireless telegraphy and telephony will be spoken of as simply telegraphy and telephony."
So, what's the difference between wireless and radio? "There ain't none" -- both refer to the exact same thing -- explains Edward C. Hubert in Radio vs. Wireless, from the January, 1925, Radio News.
The 1901 edition of J. J. Fahie's A History of Wireless Telegraphy reviewed in detail the development of wireless technologies up though Guglielmo Marconi's work. In 1917, Donald McNicol wrote about the importance of documenting radio's "historical narrative", noting: "I believe it to be the duty of those acquainted with views and facts of its introduction to set [the most illuminating essentials] down for the inspection of the ultimate historian".
McNicol's overview of The Early Days of Radio in America, from the April, 1917 issue of The Electrical Experimenter, covered significant events, articles, books and individuals during the period from 1896 through 1904, beginning with Guglielmo Marconi's groundbreaking demonstrations in Great Britain. (Included in this article are links to nineteen items mentioned in the review.) In the June, 1917 Proceedings of the Institute of Radio Engineers, Robert H. Marriott comprehensively reviewed technical advances plus the struggles and character flaws encountered during early United States Radio Development.
Beginning in the late 1880s, Heinrich Hertz conducted a series of experiments in Germany which proved the existence of radio waves. Moreover, the devices used in early radio demonstrations could readily be constructed by self-trained individuals -- in the July 6, 1894 The Electrician (London), Oliver Lodge, reviewing "The Work of Hertz", noted that "Many of the experiments lend themselves to easy repetition, since they require nothing novel in the way of apparatus except what is easily constructed; many of them can be performed with the ordinary stock apparatus of an amateur's laboratory." A few months later, 21-year-old Guglielmo Marconi began his historic experiments on his father's Italian estate.
Prior to late 1912, there were no laws or regulations restricting amateur radio transmitters in the United States. The industrialized northeast quickly became congested with a mixture of competing amateur and commercial stations, and it was the amateur operators who sometimes dominated the airwaves, as recounted in Irving Vermilya's Amateur Number One, from the February and March, 1917 issues of QST magazine. (Vermilya came from the ranks of a group which provided a number of the earliest radio enthusiasts -- amateurs operating private telegraph lines, who wanted to expand their range without the bother of having to ask the "Mr. Taylors" of the world for permission to string their wires.
Amateur Telegraphers, from the August 6, 1892 Electrical Review, reviewed a plan in Cranford, New Jersey to interconnect 30 locations by telegraph lines.) Although most amateur enthusiasts were male, in 1911 a young woman, who worked as a landline telegrapher but hoped to someday become a shipboard radio operator, joined the New York City-area airwaves.
Her personal review of early radio, The Autobiography of a Girl Amateur, appeared anonymously in the March, 1920 Radio Amateur News. The Feminine Wireless Amateur, from the October, 1916 The Electrical Experimenter reviewed female amateur and professional radio operators.
It was difficult at first for amateur experimenters to find technical information about radio. In Hertzian Waves, the November, 1901 issue of a mechanical and electrical hobbyist magazine, Amateur Work, included construction information for a simple transmitter and receiver, similar to what Heinrich Hertz had used. Another early resource was How to Construct An Efficient Wireless Telegraph Apparatus at Small Cost, by A. Frederick Collins, from the February 15, 1902 Scientific American Supplement -- in 1917, Donald McNicol reported that within the United States "this article did more to introduce the art of amateur radio than anything else that had appeared".
Many early amateurs were young, and most built their own spark-transmitters and receivers. In Amateur Work's June, 1904 issue, "Wireless" Telegraph Plant By Amateur Work Readers showcased the efforts of two Boston, Massachusetts 8th graders, who had built a set capable of covering eight miles (12.8 kilometers). And the September, 1906 Technical World Magazine included an article by M. W. Hall, Wireless Station in Henhouse, which featured the activities of two Rhode Island teenagers.
Over time radio technology became more refined, and an eight-part series beginning in the September, 1916 Popular Science Monthly, How to Become a Wireless Operator by T. M. Lewis, provided detailed plans for constructing a tuned spark transmitter and crystal detector receiver.
One of the first companies to sell affordable radio equipment to experimenters and amateurs was the Electro Importing Company of New York City, set up in 1904 by Hugo Gernsback, an 18-year-old immigrant from Luxembourg. Beginning in 1905, this company sold what may have been the first complete radio system -- including both a simple transmitter and receiver -- offered to hobbyists on a national scale, under the name of Telimco Wireless Telegraph Outfits.
The first national advertisement for Telimco outfits -- possibly the first-ever advertisement by a company offering an inexpensive complete radio system to non-professionals -- appeared in the November 25, 1905 issue of Scientific American. The Electro Importing offerings were later expanded, and in a 1910 catalog, which featured "Everything for the Experimenter", the company claimed it was "the largest makers of experimental Wireless Material in the world". The basic Telimco systems, plus other radio transmitting and receiving equipment, are included in a 1910 extract from Electro Importing Company: Catalogue No. 7.
Hugo Gernsback would continue to be one of amateur radio's strongest proponents during its first years. In addition to the radio equipment sold through his Electro Importing Company, Gernsback started three magazines with large amateur followings -- Modern Electrics in 1908, The Electrical Experimenter in 1913, and Radio Amateur News in 1919.
He also claimed credit for coming up with the idea of assigning amateurs to 200 meters, dating to an Editorial which appeared in the February, 1912 issue of Modern Electrics. Gernsback's other accomplishments were recounted in a rousing review which closes with "Long live the Wireless! Long live the Amateur!!": Wireless and the Amateur: A Retrospect, from the February, 1913 Modern Electrics. And the 1914 Electro Importing catalog included A Sermon To Parents, written by Gernsback, which predicted that "Electricity and Wireless are the coming, undreamed of, world-moving forces" and were also the perfect hobby, because "It Keeps Your Boy At Home". (At least it did in most cases. Gernsback may have been unaware of "an up-to-date band of rogues" whose run-in with the law was recounted in Wireless Telegraphy Used by Boy Burglars, from the July 27, 1909 The Atlanta Constitution.)
The Archers is a British radio soap opera broadcast on the BBC's main speech (as opposed to music) channel, Radio 4. It is the world's longest running radio soap with more than 15,000 episodes broadcast, and was originally billed as an "everyday story of country folk".Despite its rural flavour, it is recorded in the heart of Birmingham, the UK's second largest city.
The Archers is the most listened to Radio 4 non-news programme, and holds the BBC Radio programme record for the number of times listened to over the internet, with over one million listeners.
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