When I was a kid my family used to go to my maternal grandmother’s house for Sunday dinner almost every week. One of the highlights of those days came in the early evening when my father would let me have the car keys and I would sit in the front seat listening to the radio. While there may have been other shows on the only one which sticks in my mind is one called “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.” I was probably between ten and twelve years old during this period, since the program aired its final episodes in 1962.
I bring this up not only to reveal what an old coot I am, but to show that my love of Old Time Radio (OTR) wasn’t one of those things I came upon only in later life. When I was young there were still a few live radio programs around, though many were even then on their last legs. Most stations were switching over to all-music formats, with some news and community affairs programs thrown into the mix. Radio could no longer compete economically with television, with both sponsors and creative talent switching over to the newer medium.
When I was in my early twenties some FM stations and a few AM ones began re-broadcasting the old shows. Generally they were things like THE SHADOW and THE GREEN HORNET, but they would also occasionally toss in individual episodes of other shows. If you were in the New York metropolitan area, or had decent reception in the evenings you might be able to hear Joe Franklin broadcasting some of the old radio variety and comedy shows during his late-night program. In the 1980s I began collecting OTR programs on cassette, either taping them myself or buying from several dealers in the field.
The link to Old-time.com which I’ve added over on the side will bring you to a great site which includes a lot of information on the shows, links to other OTR sites and dealers. The folks over there call themselves the “Original Old Time Radio WWW Pages”, and I’m not going to argue the point. It will take an OTR fan hours to just begin skimming some of the wonderful material over there, but I highly recommend that you at least take a peek.