Back before there were televisions and computers, families of the 1930s and 1940s gathered round the radio to listen to their favorite programs much like happens today in front of the TV. Commercial radio with regularly scheduled broadcasts didn’t really start until 1920, but quickly became mainstream in the next ten years. The world became closer as radio connected the continents bringing news and entertainment across the globe.
During the movement stars were born including Burns and Allen, Fibber McGee and Molly, Bing Crosby, Milton Berle, Amos and Andy, Ed Sullivan, Guy Lombardo, the Marx Brothers, Lucille Ball, Abbott and Costello, and of course, the unforgettable Bob Hope.
From soap operas to mysteries, big band music to local news, sketch comedy to game shows, radio entertained people at home, at work and at war.
On December 7, 1941, at 2:22 p.m., in one of the most precedent-setting announcements to flash over the Associated Press wire, the news of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was relayed by all four networks. The following day record audiences tuned in as President Roosevelt sent a message to a joint session of Congress that the United States was at war. For the next four years radio would play one of its most important roles in history as it brought World War II into American homes.
Programming reached out to families by capitalizing on the bravery exhibited by U.S. soldiers “over there” through sometimes somber, often heroic, but always heartfelt news. Mention of those brave men and women who fought to protect the U.S. was made in almost every show on the air through dedications, congratulations and recognition.
In celebration of this momentous era in history, local talent is currently putting together a radio revue much like what would have been heard in the 1940’s. The show, dedicated to area veterans in celebration of Veterans Day, will feature the likes of Ricky and Lucy Ricardo, Abbott and Costello, Betty Davis, Marilyn Monroe, Burns and Allen and Bob Hope, played by local individuals. Add to these features special musical selections by local students and the show is sure to bring back memories to those who lived through the golden age of radio.
Produced by Jane Dodes, the 1940’s Radio Show will be held at the Chester Auditorium, Saturday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m., and again Sunday, Nov. 20, at 2 p.m. A free-will collection will be held to fund the purchase of new curtains for the Chester Auditorium stage.
Look for more information next week.