I know I’ve touched on this subject before, but I’ll try to express it again, hopefully in different words.
As anyone who still remembers old radio programs will tell you, they might be scarier than anything you’ll see on network television today.
The reason is simple to explain: our imagination is more powerful than anything a modern censorship code could regulate. If, for example, a main character said “don’t shoot,” we could imagine what the attacker’s eyes looked like and how the intended victim might tremble in fear and, perhaps, recoil and turn away slightly.
Perhaps there would be a smile or smirk on the face of the intended shooter when the shot rang out. You get the picture.
On the other hand, someone else might see the victim smiling and even turning away from the abuser and knowing that someone was about to come through the door and save the day.
In your mind, you “saw” what you wanted to see in a radio drama.
And, along the same lines, we could, for example, “see” a mischievous young girl named Baby Snooks – who was actually a 60-year-old former vaudevillian named Fanny Brice.
Without a photo, we could not determine the age of a radio artist. And, to be perfectly frank, we neither needed nor wanted it.
I may be perceived as getting off topic, but things will eventually come together.
When I operated the second-hand bookstore “Huckleberry Books”, I became interested in fictional North West crime books written by North West authors. I recently sold my entire collection, for way less than I paid I have to admit.
The book I paid the most for was by an author named John Dunning, who happened to be a bookseller himself and wrote about a crime solver who also sold used books.
John Dunning is well known among fans of old radio shows because, in addition to writing a series of crime books based on North West locations, he also wrote the programs most comprehensive history. radio ever published in a book titled “The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio”, an 812-page book devoted to complete listings of titles, actors, sponsors, production dates, series length, city where it was originally produced, etc.
Such a list can vary from four or five lines for a little-known program like “Now it Can Be Told” to more than seven pages for The Jack Benny Show, four and a half pages for Bing Crosby, half a page for his brother, Bob Crosby, four pages for Bob Hope and seven pages for “Fibber McGee and Molly”!
The index of programs and performers at the back of the book is 62 pages with three vertical lines loaded per page, so you can tell it’s a very comprehensive collection of information – information that wouldn’t be probably not interesting at 96% or 97% of our people today.
It’s not on the list of books available through the Timberland Library, but I didn’t really expect that to be the case. It is apparently out of print today, but used copies are available online for around $15 through book search sources.
My own copy will not be available until my ashes are scattered from the top of the Seminary Hill natural area. In the meantime, I saw online that people under 70 could get access to radio programs.
Some websites offer thousands of shows that you can download and listen to for free.
Maybe nicer than the news?
Bill Moeller is a former artist, mayor, bookstore owner, city council member, paratrooper, and pilot living in Centralia. He can be contacted at [email protected]