The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Columns

July 12, 2014

Jim Bailey: The days we sat around watching the radio

Kids today cannot imagine what it was like when radio was king.

People sat in their living rooms, their attention glued to a large piece of furniture, maybe a floor model or later a table model. Sound came out of it — but no picture. You literally watched the set, and your imagination provided the picture out of what was coming over the loudspeaker.

Singing cowboys were big then. Roy Rogers. Gene Autry. The Lone Ranger. They also did movies, but the narratives translated well over the radio. Sound effects helped form the imagery: small rubber plungers beating rhythmically on a board made the sound of galloping horses. A small frame door opening and closing. Walking on a gravel road or the snow was easily duplicated by squeezing a bag of cornstarch. And so on.

Almost every show had a theme song. Gene Autry’s was “Back in the Saddle Again.” The Lone Ranger has always relied on “The William Tell Overture.” Jack Benny came on to the sound of “Hooray for Hollywood.” Judy Canova always signed off by singing “Go to Sleep My Little Baby.”

A few shows relied on signature sounds, such as Inner Sanctum’s squeaking door or Dagwood’s plaintive call, “B-L-O-O-O-N-DIE-E-E!” for the radio version of the comic strip classic.

Sitcoms were dominant then, and downright respectable compared to today’s twisted television comedies. They were referred to in the longhand back then as situation comedies. Besides Jack Benny and Judy Canova, they included Our Miss Brooks, Dennis Day (he was also a regular on Jack Benny, referring to himself as “the little man with two shows”), Baby Snooks, December Bride, The Great Gildersleeve and others.

Comedians such as Bob Hope and Red Skelton also had radio shows before television. "Amos & Andy" was one of the biggest, a stereotypical dialect show in the days before it came to be regarded as demeaning, though in reality it poked fun at the stereotypes rather than at racial characteristics.

Text Only
Columns
Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires Raw: Ukraine's Donetsk Residents Flee Senators Push to End Hamas Threat in Cease-Fire A Young Victim's Premonition, Hug Before MH17 Raw: Deadly Storm Hits Virginia Campground Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

How important do you consider preschool for children?

Vital
Important but not critical
Not necessary
     View Results