Do you have relatives who lived through the 1930s? Those were tough times because of the Great Depression. What kept this “greatest generation” going (and laughing) is now called old time radio. There are a number of Web sites devoted to it. Several of these even offer free listening.
One of my favorites is Old Time Radio Fan (www.otrfan.com). This site lets you listen to or download old-time detective stories, mystery shows and more. This includes classics like Sherlock Holmes, Nero Wolfe, Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade and many others.
You get to pick the time and the show. Technically, it is on-demand streaming MP3. OTR Fan is organized around daily features of two or three different programs. This gives gives about an hour of Golden Age crime drama. If you miss a day or two, don't worry.
The features are kept online for at least seven days on the “recent features” page. However, after those seven days, the programs are gone for good. So, if there is a program you especially enjoyed, be sure to download the MP3 file before the show disappears.
A second site
A second site where you can listen to old time radio at no cost is Radio Lovers (www.radiolovers.com). It offers hundreds of old time radio shows in MP3 format. Like OTR Fan, this site is built around on-demand MP3 streaming but offers no download ability. Radio Lovers has a huge catalog of programs, divided into such categories as comedies, dramas, mysteries, variety programs, westerns, sci-fi/super heroes, and Music.
Learn more about old time radio
There is another site that is just about old time radio in general. It is The Vintage Radio Place (www.otrsite.com) and has more than 500 logs of episodic listings for several thousand programs, and a link to articles about OTR.
This site also features a link to the Old Time Radio Network. It allows you to listen to some complete current radio broadcasts being aired outside of your listening area. For instance, John and Larry Gassman's “Same Time, Same Station" and Tom Heathwood's “Heritage Radio Classics Theatre" are both available.
You must have RealAudio 5. or higher installed on your computer to take advantage of this network. Finally, the Vintage Radio Place has a link to Jerry Haendiges’ Old Time Radio Programs Preview Listening Lounge, ” where you can hear “previews” of programs for sale on Jerry's web site.
Listening to old time radio is not only fun, it's a great way to time travel back to the ‘30s to hear for yourself what helped our grandparents get through the Great Depression.
You can also visit the future of radio because there's now a new technology called HD Radio that enables AM and FM radio stations to broadcast their programs digitally. This is a tremendous technological leap from today's familiar analog broadcasts. These digital broadcasts provide listeners with radically improved audio quality, more radio channels through multicasting, and new data services. To learn more about this amazing new technology, just go my Web site, http://www.hd-radio-home.com , to get all the buzz.
Douglas Hanna is a retired marketing executive and the author of numerous articles on HD radio, old time radio and family finances.