I grew up the youngest and only boy of 5 older siblings during the 1970’s. I was born with a chronic bleeding disorder, severe hemophilia A, and during those years spent a lot of time convalescing at home from painful joint bleeds mostly in my ankles and elbows.
My grades suffered as a result of missing so much school due to my disability, but I greatly enjoyed reading, and loved visiting my local library where much to my excitement one afternoon, I came across an 33 ⅓ Long Playing Vinyl Record of Orson Welles, Mercury Theater’s “War of the Worlds”
I rushed home to play it on my father’s gigantic stereo console. I was so excited, that I skipped through most of the shows front end build up, and got right to the aliens slithering out of their holes in Grovers Mill, New Jersey. I was mesmerized by the history of how many listeners bought into the hysteria of that show. This seared one thought into my mind forever, radio is an extremely powerful medium.
I was captivated and immediately fell in love with everything radio. I began collecting LP’s from the Sandy Hook Radiola record company, and during the early 80’s copied dozens of cassette tapes of shows from the golden age of radio. I was particularly impressed with the science fiction and horror episodes from Lights Out, Quiet Please, Suspense and Escape. I couldn't get enough.
I studied broadcasting as a vocational course during high school and soon began working at real broadcast radio stations in Dayton, Ohio. I was employed as a board operator alongside famous regional broadcasters of the day like Lou Emm and Steve Kirk. I was living the dream.
During my mid 20’s I married and established a home and family life, but my love for OTR never wavered. I used to believe like others, “what an odd hobby”. No one seemed to appreciate or even be aware of this gone by entertainment era. What a shame that there is not a greater awareness.
During my thirties I was a pastor on staff at a local Christian church where I ministered for 24 years. During this time I did side work as a Voice Over Actor and was privileged to voice characters for radio, television, gaming, audio books and animation. Apart from the Lord, I attribute all of my creativity and love for radio to that magic moment over 40 years ago as an infirm elementary student in the public library, stumbling upon the “War of the Worlds” LP. Thanks, Orson.
There is something incredibly alluring about these old time radio shows, especially from the golden era. Perhaps the historical significance of the programs taking place in the 1940’s, right in the middle of World War II. Maybe it was the innocence of a simpler age or perhaps the relatable comedy, the suspenseful organ music, the sometimes terrible campy acting or the Foley sound effects which took place live over the air. It all still brings an enormous smile to my face and an electric, tantalizing feeling to my senses. I spent $500 on a binder of OTR mp3 CD’s during the early 90’s. I had over 20,000 shows in my collection by then and categorized them all in an excel spreadsheet. I was hooked for good.
Now in my early 50’s I still can’t shake my love for OTR, I hosted a weekday YouTube show highlighting “Today In Radio History” Narrating each video describing the history of the show, and then playing the program in its entirety simultaneously showing photographs of the stars from the show, advertisements, newspaper clippings and the like. I’ve recently stumbled upon the radio archives from OTRR online and quickly became a member downloading mp3 files of shows for hours on end. I’ve even produced reenactments from a Lights Out Episode “Revolt of the Worms” where I voiced the mad scientist protagonist.
Today, my love for everything OTR continues and I recently purchased my own website. “RadioLongAgo.com” uploading playlist shows from “Today In Radio History”. I’ve purchased an external hard drive and have added some 80,000 new shows to my collection. More than I’ll ever be able to listen to in my lifetime. In the past I’ve tried to earn enough money by offering denoised and cleaned up audio restorations of programs to support the site and my habit, but quickly found OTR is indeed a labor of love, by those who adore it and wish to share it with the next generation. I’ve heard about some stingy OTR collectors of original transcription discs and can’t for the life of me understand how people can keep these shows to themselves. These gems need to be heard.
My next venture is to create an OTR curriculum for my home schooled special needs son, using otr clips to teach history, science and entertainment. I know it sounds cheesy but somehow I believe OTR found me and directed my path as a child and through adulthood. I believe I owe it homage by making it available to a new generation of kids out there who may just get hooked themselves by this amazing genre of entertainment known as Old Time Radio. Thanks, Orson.