One of the best gifts of the digital age has been advances in archiving. We listen back in time to classic theater of the mind. Some of that content is now approaching 100 years old.
Sirius XM has a great channel devoted entirely to old-time radio. Appropriately named “Radio Classics” it is a splendid look back into simpler times.
If you subscribe to any podcasts, make John Henderson’s “This Day Benny” one of them. The Jack Benny radio shows are just as good today as they were when they first aired. This was comedy performance at an early peak of broadcasting. It’s important to note that the podcast (as does SiriusXM Radio Classics) will introduce certain episodes with notes of caution on the dialogue. Those cautions are reminders to audiences of what was accepted then versus what is acceptable now. Even with an African American cast member in Eddie Anderson, there were episodes in the show’s history that raise eyebrows today. Those are lessons in how racial stereotypes were viewed and portrayed.
These kinds of programs were demonstrative to comedic improvisation. If something went astray during Jack’s program and the scene was “destroyed” listeners understood and laughed along with the casts. They gave you a sense of being just as imperfect as those listening. The stories they tell kept listeners tuned in just as much as a popular radio drama. People want to hear what they say next. They want the next line in the story.
So take some time to turn off YouTube, and make old radio your new radio.