Well, this is my 100th entry into broadcastellan, a journal commenced, slowly and tentatively, one afternoon in May 2005, at which point in my life I decided to reintroduce myself to the world in the guise of “The Magnificent Montague.” Posting such a collection of essays over a period of eight months on matter I ventured to term (or perhaps mislabel) “unpopular culture” is not a particularly impressive achievement, to be sure, but one that might nonetheless serve as an occasion to sum up or, however uncharacteristic of me, look ahead.
Instead of going on about myself, however, I will lean against my soon to be toppled milestone to survey the so-called blogosphere in order to find out who else is blogging about old-time radio these days.
According to technorati, there has been at least one mention per day of the term “old-time radio” for the past thirty days. During three of those twenty-four hour periods, more than ten posts have been devoted to some aspect of this comprehensive subject. While not the most impressive display of interest, there sure are enough listeners out there to get a conversation going. Listening, to me, has always been an intimate experience. I much prefer headphones over speakers, for instance, to take in the voices of comedy and the sounds of mystery.
Writing too, has long been a private matter, a momentary or prolonged exclusion of the world for the purpose of gathering thoughts and expressing ideas. While working on my dissertation, it took me years to compose something approaching a draft I felt confident enough to share. But now that writing and publishing happen almost simultaneously on the internet, I have become more eager to discuss and debate than to churn out a series of more or less engaging essays for the benefit of myself and the amusement of strangers.
Recent posts about old-time radio include the suggestion of listening to old mystery programs in the dark, reminiscences about a childhood enriched by the theater of the imagination, and an account of a first-time encounter with the Mercury Theatre‘s “The War of the Worlds.”
While other web journalists marvel at the dubious scientific advancement of breeding glow-in-the-dark pigs, this one describes the joy of taking The Great Gildersleeve, Jack Benny, Fred Allen, and The Shadow for an airing on his mobile phone, and this one provides a link to an internet tv channel featuring radio shows like The Saint. Someone else relates how pleased he was to have made a small investment in order to download recordings of programs like Inner Sanctum from the internet; and yet another confesses her love for the voice of Gale Gordon.
For the most part, these listening experiences are merely shared in passim rather than at any great length; but perhaps this is going to change as radio plays are becoming more readily accessible and more a part of everyday culture again. I sure hope so. And now that my mouth is watering, I had better get some thriller or comedy streaming into my ears.
So, what’s on your iPod (or on whatever gadget you choose to catch up with old-time radio)?