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« Back to articles from category "Humor"

The following article was published in our article directory on November 4, 2009.
Learn more about SpinDistribute Article Distribution System.

Old Time Radio: The Audio Craze That Begun In the 1930s

Article Category: Humor

Old time American radio or OTR has had a relatively short but extremely colorful run. Almost 40 years have been attributed to the best of old time American radio, but not many people really know how this phenomenon swept through the nation. Although the golden age of radio is accepted to have happened between the 1940s and the 1950s, the dawn of this phenomenon can be pegged around the mid-1930s or during the time when the Great Depression was ending. Prior to this decade, the old time radio shows on air at that time were mostly sponsored musicale features that were showcasing dance orchestras, symphonic groups, and of course, song-and-pattern teams with occasional guests coming in for a "chat" – or rather, scripted dialogues with the hosts of the show.

When the 1930s came rolling in, musicale features were still pretty prevalent but more and more emphasis was given on the guests that were highlighted for each and every show. Pretty soon, the best talents of Broadway and Vaudeville were being enticed to sing or comment on the microphone, creating a variety program that was soon to become a hit among the local audience. It is generally accepted that The Fleischmannn's Yeast Hour, hosted by Rudy Vallee, became the pioneer of the old time radio air variety show. Vallee's format helped establish a successful variety show pattern that lasted for the entirety of the decade.

In turn, the Vallee shows started showcasing comedians with their gags and punch lines. Relegated at first to providing funny commentaries to fill in the waiting periods between acts, on air comedians proved to have more punch (pun intended) than the orchestras being fronted. Thus, the Zanies were born. The most popular air talents of that age were: Eddie Cantor (An Hour With You); Graham McNamee; Jack Pearl and Cliff Hall (Lucky Strike Hour); Joe Penner; and Ed Wynn (Fire Chief and his Old Fire Horse); The Zanies or on air comedy shows also introduced many new formats of radio broadcasting like: live studio audience, on air slapstick or stooge-like dialogues, and emphasis on several successful running gags.

However, in the 1930s radios started to put more emphasis on dramas. Nostalgia themed old time radio variety show: The Maxwell House Show Boat became (in Chicago) and the Chevrolet Chronicles were such huge hits that they spawned other similarly formatted radio shows all over the country. This was a trend that was present well into the 1940s and the 1950s. Drama also came in the form of full scale dramatic readings and shows like the: Colliers Hour, First Nighter Program, Empire Builders, Sherlock Holmes, Soconyland Sketches, the True Story Hour and the War of the Worlds.

But the 1930s old time radio will be best remembered by the introduction of the endearing duo of Amos 'n' Andy. This show was basically an on air drama, full of humorous overtones. The show became such a hit that theaters usually delayed their productions, because the rest of the nation was tuned in to Amos 'n' Andy.

About the Author: George Brown is an expert when it comes to old time radio. To take a trip down the memory lane, visit his website and find out more about old time American radio.

Keywords: old time radio, radio shows, american radio

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