For 36 years, a group devoted to yesteryear has held the torch. For one weekend every year, they met to celebrate a bygone golden age – where families would gather around a radio set and embrace the theater of the mind. For decades, radio was the form of entertainment for Americans, a means by which even the most isolated of homes could hear the opera, get news from around the world, and take part in engrossing mysteries, heart-felt dramas, and comedies to enlighten the soul. Without visuals to paint a complete picture for the audience, radio programs of this era both entertained and excited the imagination. There were westerns and scifi, horror anthologies and children shows, soap-operas and slap-stick — the child of theater and the foster parent of television, Old Time Radio represents a period of legendary Americana.
Celebration of this classic art form and period is the reason why The Friends of Old Time Radio will meet October 20-23, 2011, in Newark, NJ, much as they have done the past three decades or so – to relive their youth and remember a seemingly simpler day. Guests, voice-over talents, actors, and, amazingly, live performances will be par for the course this weekend, as fans gather together to share their a fascinating hobby. Sadly, however, this will be the last year that the FOTR will be meeting in a convention; sighting the endless march of time as reason to end the tradition on a high note. Committee members and guests are aging, and by now the convention seems to draw those who were quite young when the medium was already experiencing the beginning of the end.
But is it really over?
Strangely, I can trace back my love of OTR to a different, yet somehow equally distant and dreamlike period of history: The Early Days of the Internet. Wait now, hold your laughter! Before YouTube made it feasible for anyone to have their own TV channel, we had to make due with audio productions, and even they were a modern marvel. Much like with the advent of radio, the spread of audio on the internet was a revolution, and much like the far more publicized rise of music sharing, there was a sizable revival of “Old Time Radio” style content – audio dramas meant only for the mind’s eye. Many, if not all, of these took the form of scifi and horror tales, as genre supporters are ever loyal, but in these seeds we can find the rise of the podcaster – and in many ways the birth of the modern internet. We are all now the content producers. This is the golden age of the citizen broadcaster.
I still love OTR, and NewTR, and the Golden Age – no matter what form it takes. We should celebrate yesteryear, and we should adapt it for today. I can’t wait to go to the FOTR convention and meet old friends and make new ones, and together, I hope, we can all celebrate, reminisce, discover, and most of all, prepare for the next broadcast day.
For more from Non-Productive.com on Old Time Radio, please see…
returning this Fall!
or our original production of new audio drama of a classic comic book…