By Jock Elliott, KB2GOM
The other night, at 10 pm Eastern Time (0300 UTC), I was listening to Zoomer Radio from Toronto, Canada, on 740 kHz (medium wave) when a program called “Theatre of the Mind” came on. This wonderful program airs Monday through Friday and presents “Old Time Radio” programs from back in the day when radio dramas were a regular part of on-the-air fare.
As I listened, I got sucked through a hole in the space-time continuum. Instantly, I was no longer an official oldster with eight decades in his sights . . . now I was a grade-school kid on Saturday morning in the early 1950s looking forward to Big John and Sparky and Space Patrol coming up on the radio. Programs like that were a regular staple of my childhood.
It’s weird, but I can’t recall the content of any specific episode, but I can easily remember the joy I felt as the familiar strains of “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic” (Big John and Sparky’s theme) were broadcast.
Theatre of the Mind is a great moniker for radio dramas, because your mind is forced to fill in the details of the drama. The dialog, narrative description, and a few sound effects provide the clues, and, in the magic of your imagination, you provide the rest of the scenery and the setting, and it is great fun.
The power of the mind’s eye was brought home powerfully to me, in a funny way. Space Patrol was not just a radio program; it was also a television program. My family did not have a TV until I was in fourth grade. As a result, I never saw Space Patrol on TV until I saw it at a friend’s house. (Remember this was in the infancy of TV.) When I did, my overwhelming impression was: this is lame. The program that was wonderful in my mind on radio was considerably less so on live TV.
Later in grade school, I was given a germanium diode radio for Christmas. It became my tool for secretly monitoring “The Hawthorne Den” (jazz after midnight) under the covers. It was Big Time, Big Deal adventure for a boy my age . . . does it get better than that?!! It actually did, when my Dad brought home a Zenith Transoceanic.
So dear reader, check out Zoomer Radio on 740 if you can and enjoy Theatre of the Mind.
And now it’s your turn: what are your favorite radio reminiscences (modern or ancient like mine)? Please post them below.