Growing Up With the Great Old Radio Shows

Those of us who grew up in the 1950s found ourselves at the very tail end of the era of the great old radio shows.

Truth be told, I was born reggae vinyl  too late to actually be raised on radio alone.  Television was already radio’s dominant partner. Even so, the great old radio shows still had an influence on all of us back there in the 50’s.

Who of us back then didn’t know the phrase “T’aint so, McGee?” 

Everyone knew about  the clutter in Fibber McGee’s closet. 

And we had all heard of the Quiz Kids, Henry Aldrich, The Bickersons,  Captain Midnight,  Inner Sanctum, The Great Gildersleeve,  and Lum and Abner — even though none of them were big hits on TV.

Some of the great old time radio shows did manage to make the transition to television — and they were very popular.  I still associate such shows as Our Miss Brooks, Ozzie and Harriet, and My Friend Irma with television  — but they had their beginnings on the radio.  

One show,  My Little Margie, with Gale Storm, started on radio and television simultaneously.  Another show, Have Gun Will Travel, actually started on TV and then went to radio — although the cast was different.

Even some of the longest running old time radio shows like  The Jack Benny Show, Burns and Allen and The Lone Ranger are generally thought of as TV shows to the folks born in the late 40s and the early 50s.   But their genesis was on radio, and they are still great old radio shows to listen to.

In fact, in recent years, digital sound has made these old time radio shows available once again.  When you listen to them you may discover you prefer their older brother versions that played on the radio for years before they showed up on television.  

What is favorite old radio show?  Well, there are about 20 on my top 10 list.

That being said, I have to admit that whenever I listen to Gunsmoke I am instantly transported back to 1954.

I am once again that kid bathed in green light, clutching his covers up around his chin and staring across the room at that big, green hypnotic eye, listening to the stories of Matt and Chester, Kitty and Doc.  Marveling at the wonderfully realistic sounds of  Dodge City, Kansas, circa 1874.

What’s your favorite old time radio show?

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