Film stars Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall were also popular radio performers in the 1950s.Radio has been around for almost 200 years but podcasting is a relatively recent form of communication. The Boxcars711 Old Time Radio Pod combines media, taking recordings of radio programs created between 1930 and 1970 and making them available as podcasts.
The podcast originates from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and is hosted by veteran radio DJ Bob Camardella, although his recorded input here is mostly limited to occasional episode introductions. According to hosting site Podomatic, Boxcars711 pushes out more than 4.2 million downloads a year.
It’s amazing that so many shows have been preserved, and for the most part sound quality is good to excellent. At worst, some programs sound as if you’re listening to a scratchy old phonograph record. Several shows are released each day; I’ve been listening for several years and am still hearing new material. The Old Time Radio Radio Researchers Group database lists more than 212,000 individual episodes of about 2250 series that were produced.
If you’re old enough to remember a time before television, when radio was a vital part of the average family’s home entertainment, you’ll enjoy renewing the experience. For children of the 1950s and early ’60s, it’s fun discovering the roots of many of popular TV shows of the time. But if you just want to listen to some great stories, without being tied to a screen, and let your imagination run, you’ll love these podcasts. Most were recorded in studios and distributed to affiliated stations for rebroadcast, but many – especially comedy programs – were performed and recorded in front of audiences and you can hear their reactions and even, occasionally, actors flubbing their lines.
They were broadcast on commercial radio networks and most of the preserved recordings have had the advertising content removed. But when the ads have been left in, it’s a real eye-opener for how attitudes have changed. Children’s shows such as the western Wild Bill Hickok were sponsored by breakfast cereals whose claim to fame was the huge amount of sugar they contained, and children were encouraged to snack on them all day long (childhood obesity, anyone?). Cigarette companies were also big sponsors (doctors attest that one brand is less irritating to your throat).
Most of the programs are about 30 minutes long and they include drama, western, comedy, crime, horror, medical and science fiction. There are even programs in which the main characters are newspaper journalists. By far the most popular genre was detective and police stories. The best-known of those making the transition from books to radio include Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes, but there were others such as The Falcon, The Whisperer, The Blue Beetle, The Shadow and Boston Blackie. Westerns were also popular, and familiar titles include Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, Roy Rogers, and Have Gun, Will Travel. As for comedy, shows by Groucho Marx, Jack Benny, George Burns and Milton Berle are as funny today as they were 60 years ago.
Radio had its very own star performers, many of whom, such as Jack Webb, were able to move over to television as the little screen gradually consumed the home audience, but several film stars also worked in radio. Frank Sinatra featured as an adventurer named Rocky Fortune, James Stewart played a cowboy known as The Six Shooter, and Vincent Price was The Saint. Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall starred in a show called Bold Venture that lasted for more than 50 episodes.
Most of the shows originated on American radio networks but the collection includes series from Britain, South Africa and, from Australia, the Caltex Theatre.
Boxcars711 is available via iTunes or from http://boxcars711.podomatic上海龙凤419m/
Old Time Radio Radio Researchers Group: http://www.otrr上海龙凤419/pg02_otrdb.htm
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Wuxi Plastic Surgery Hospital.