Saturday, January 21, 2017

OLD TIME RADIO (due Mon. Jan 30)

Students MUST post reactions ( minimum 250 words) to the listening linked below. Students are encouraged (but not required) to additionally respond to other student reactions.

The old-time radio era, sometimes referred to as the Golden Age of Radio, refers to a period of radio programming in the United States lasting from the proliferation of radio broadcasting in the early 1920s until the 1950s, when television superseded radio as the medium of choice for scripted programming and radio shifted to news, sports and playing popular music. During this period, when radio was dominant and filled with a variety of formats and genres, people regularly tuned into their favorite radio programs. According to a 1947 C. E. Hooper survey, 82 out of 100 Americans were found to be radio listeners. (Wikipedia)

Click HERE and scroll down to browse the Old Time Radio archive; then select/listen to two eps from two different serials (eps are roughly 20 min). One of my favorites is Inner Sanctum.


  1. Before listening to the episodes, I had heard of shows like The Shadow because of a multimedia class I took in high school and one of the projects for that class was to create a script and perform a 5 minute radio skit. But it also reminds me of that scene in A Christmas Story where Ralphie listens to the “Little Orphan Annie” show and waited for the announcement involving the decoder ring.

    Anyways, I listened to “The Six Shooter” and it was an episode called “The Shooting of Wyatt King”. It caught my eye because the image for it reminded me of The Rifleman and had the feel of 3:10 to Yuma, True Grit, and Wyatt Earp. But I loved that it was all dialogue with sound effects and musical interludes because it helped carry the narrative in between the dialogue and kept me interested in figuring out who killed Wyatt King. The ending was bittersweet but this is probably one of those shows that, since there’s no continuing narrative, it would move on in the next episode like The Twilight Zone.

    I was super excited to listen to an episode of the Archie Andrews radio show! I remember my parents telling me about the Archie comics and how they would read them when they first came to the United States because they were also very popular in El Salvador. I still argue over who is better for Archie with my parents, I’m Team Veronica. I was watching a video about the history of the Archie Comics and it talked about how in the late 40s, there was even an Archie radio show. So I searched for it in the catalog in the link and it was there. I listened to the episode, “Christmas Shopping” and it had all the hijinks that ensued in an Archie comic. The love triangle between Betty and Veronica who are both Christmas shopping for his gift, the goofy comic relief through Jughead Jones, and smacked right in the middle of it all is Archie Andrews himself. Archie’s parents are involved which I thought was pretty cool, but the only thing that threw me off while listening to the show was the audience laughing track. I wanted to laugh at the jokes because I thought they were funny and not have to figure out why the audience laughed, missing the joke entirely. Other than that, I very much enjoyed the radio show despite the cheesiness that fits so well with both the time and the overall story of Archie and friends.

  2. The first episode I listened to was “Picnic” from Mr. and Mrs. North. I picked this series because the quick blurb seemed interesting, although unfortunately, I was not a fan. I think the main problem was that I never fully engaged with the story. While it could be because I listened to a random episode without any prior insight, I felt no connection to the characters and was confused by what role some of the individuals played. To me, it seemed as if the characters were never fully introduced to the listener and the brief narration at the beginning didn’t give sufficient insight into the characters or their situation. For me, this made it hard to care about the characters or the story, and I almost got the sense that I was supposed to know more about them prior to listening (perhaps from other episodes?) Because of this, it became very hard to follow and burdensome to listen to. Moreover, I really didn’t like the laughing track that was inserted. It could be a change in the times or just due to my being lost throughout most of my listening, but I didn’t understand or catch most of the jokes — inserting the laugh track almost made me feel like I was the fool who forgot the punchline. Overall, my listening experience to Mr. and Mrs. North wasn’t great. I would maybe give it another try although the next time around I would try to see if there was an order to the episodes or do a little more research before jumping in.

    The second episode I listened to was “Amazing Death Of Mrs. Putnam” from Inner Sanctum Mysteries. From the beginning, I found this series to be more engaging. I thought the narrator at the beginning did a better job of connecting with the listener, pulling them in, and setting the scene. I also thought the usage of sounds was better employed through this episode as compared to Mr. and Mrs. North — everything from the music to the sounds just felt more impactful and better thought out. In general, this episode felt much more self-contained, and I didn’t feel any pressure to know who was who or have any prior knowledge of the series. As a result, the listening experience ended up being much more enjoyable. As an aside, something that stuck out to me in this episode was the advertisement for Carter’s Little Liver Pills. The integration of the ad at the end just struck me as amusing partly because it really shows the change in times and also because of the advertisement itself.

    Ultimately, I understand why these radio shows were so popular, but I don’t foresee myself continuing to listen to either of these series on a regular basis. That being said, I would be interested in giving one or both another try at some point. Maybe on my next road trip.

  3. The listenings I have chosen for this assignment are the “Amazing Death of Mrs. Putnam” and “The Case of the Blue Mink - Nick Carter, Master Detective,” and the type of audio I have heard is not what I expected. I expected a majority of the listenings to be either publications of books (audiobooks) or politics (considering 1920’s and 1950’s were a very political era). I was very pleased with what I’ve heard; I enjoyed how interactive the listenings were. I was listening to them in the car on my way to school and I really caught myself reacting and anticipating the next moves of the characters. The storyline and the music worked cohesively in order to create a sense of another world. Frankly, for me, I really enjoyed this exercise because it allowed me to delve into my childish youth side. I say my “childish” side because I feel that my later life has been surrounded by black and white information (science and math); however, this activity bolsters the idea that going in the gray area can be fun. I haven’t so into a story since elementary school, and that’s actually so sad.
    Listening to this most definitely played a strong role in my involvement and engagement of these listenings. Reading it is so 1-dimensional, for you can only rely on your thoughts and syntax of words that goes through your head. However, since the listenings are said and had sound effects to go along with their allocated scenarios, I found myself much more interested. Especially, since the subjects of my listenings were mystery, the anticipation was much more escalated. I also enjoyed how the different eras do show a cultural difference, whether it is their mannerisms or the way they organize. It was so interesting to see how each time one has certain categories of interest. I can’t wait to delve into more activities like this throughout the semester!

  4. Prior to this class, I had only been exposed to radio shows in middle school history class where we listened to Orson Welles’s “War of the Worlds.” I enjoyed listening to Orson Welles, so I thought I would enjoy doing this assignment as well. I listened to “Family Doctor” and the episode was called “Error in Diagnoses.” I took interest in it because the synopsis said that it the doctor is not only a small town physician, but also acts as the town’s moral rectifier. The show always opens with the doctor saying, “Hello there, this is the family doctor,” followed by an opening song. I thought that was pretty cute. The dialogue between the doctor and his patients is humorous although the shows always convey everyday life lessons. While these lessons are timeless, it is interesting to see the attitudes people had towards illness and medicine during the time of the show. However, I find it questionable that the doctor takes advantage of his medical practice to manipulate his patients.

    The other radio show I chose to listen to was “The Sealed Book” and the episode I listened to was called “My Beloved Must Die.” In contrast to the previous radio show I listened to, this radio show has a narrator and dialogue, while the other had only dialogue between characters. In addition, the characters have asides throughout the show, which I feel creates more suspense. The sound effects of eerie music clearly set the tone as soon as the episode starts and continues throughout the episode. Because this show is very suspenseful and dramatic, the actors had to convey a lot of emotion in their voices, which I thought they did very well for the most part. Sometimes it seemed a little too dramatic, but I would imagine that it is difficult to control and convey such emotions through only audibly as opposed to visually. Overall, I enjoyed this radio show episode.

  5. My first listen was to the Dark Fantasy Radio Show, episode 23, “Funeral Arrangements Completed”. The quality of the voices that were recorded reminded me of an old, black and white film or television show. Since the genre was horror, my first thought was “this is like listening to an episode of the Twilight Zone”. The entirety of the show was focused on the dialogue between different characters, with occasional splashes of effects to add to the atmosphere. I noticed that whenever there was a piece of important information or some kind of realization was made by any character, there would be a dissonant piano or synthesizer of sorts that would make a quick startling noise which was a nice subtle touch. Also there was one other part where cricket noises set the atmosphere for emptiness in the night while the characters spoke to each other, but there weren’t any more sounds than that. I enjoyed the simplicity of the show and how it evoked more use of imagination because of that fact.

    The second show I listened to was Inner Sanctum Mysteries, episode 30, “Musical Score”. Right from the start, the show was much more interactive with the listeners and stimulating than the other. The intro opened the show like a tv program, inviting the listeners, making it feel personal and then it seamlessly transitioned into the story. Every second had some sort of sound to accompany the atmosphere and plot of the story. The sounds were carefully picked and felt even more like I was listening to an episode of the Twilight Zone, which made it even more enjoyable than the last. The music and sounds accompanying each scene added to the emotional investment of the listeners tastefully. It was pleasant to escape into a world of imagination through these radio shows.

  6. The podcast I listened to first was Johnny Dollar, the laughing matter episode 1. When this first started, i felt like if James Bond movies were only on radio; this was what it would sound like. I t almost seemed almost OCD like the way Johnny listed the size and prize of everything he did, including descriptions of his encounter but I later realized he was trying to help his audience visualize the situations better. Dollar seems like a really sarcastic but yet incredibly smart, especially at being a detective. The dialogue he is having in order to figure out the person who threatened Charlie is very hilarious because he is so confused as to why people are trying to save him if they hate him in the first. The factor that also makes his character so interesting is the fact that he is an investigator and should have such a serious and professional persona. However, he is the opposite; he interacts with the suspects casually like he is not an investigator. As a matter of fact, one might even forget that he is an investigator because there is nothing serious about his actions. His personality is what makes people relate with him the way they do. At the end of the episode, they left us with something that would make one come back for more. It appears like the murderer might be heading for Charlie’s room to kill him. As a listener I would really love to know who is trying to kill him, so that is a great way to end the episode.
    My second podcast is Gun smoke, Impact episode. This episode started off giving me a cowboy and Texas kind of vibe. The accent and horse running sounds made it really easy to make these assumptions. The culture of this episode seems more cultural, the settings and the way they did things gives you a perspective of how they used to do things earlier. The fact that the doctor was making house visits shows it is kind of old. It is really fascinating how they also portray women in a more powerful light because the woman in the opening scene was being told to rest because she has a broken rib but she stated that it was only cracked and was trying to stay active. Besides, the woman was also talking about shooting people with no remorse. She was being targeted several times to be killed because she had something of power which is land and property that everybody wanted. This was really the old country to me because we don’t see things like that in this generation. In this generation, we talk about women in a delicate manner but this depiction of the old western country lifestyle basically equalizes the power between me and women. They broke the barrier of assimilating men to violence and injury by including women in untraditional scenarios like her being attacked by a bull. This story is unique because it centers around women power.

  7. The two radio episodes I listened to were Dimension X: Mars is Heaven and Dark Fantasy: The Man Who Came Back. I grew up listening to the occasional book on tape, so I had some prior experience in terms of story listening. Listening to stories rather than watching or reading them is an interesting experience. When watching a movie, virtually nothing is left to the imagination, and while reading a story it is often difficult to vividly imagine details in the appearance of scenery and characters because you may be too focused on actually reading and understanding the words.
    Dimension X’s “Mars is Heaven” and Dark Fantasy’s “The Man Who Came Back” were intriguing programs. You could tell they were recorded many years ago, and they sounded like classic, old radio stories that you could picture a family sitting around and listening to. I can imagine the people who first heard the story being relatively more frightened than I was, or anyone my age today would be, because of how much horror and scary stories have evolved throughout the years.
    Mars is Heaven’s concept was very interesting. I would love to see a modern adaptation of the story’s plot in a movie, I have a feeling it could be extremely cool. “The Man Who Came Back” had a relatively generic plot which I feel has been made, and remade, in multiple different variations in modern entertainment. Nonetheless, I enjoyed both programs. I would definitely look into listening to more radio programs like these, maybe on nights when I am having a difficult time falling asleep.

  8. I decided to listen to episode 1 of X Minus One and episode 1 of Inner Sanctum. I chose these 2 radio shows for different reasons. I chose X Minus One because I wanted to see what the perception of aliens and space travel was in the 1950s to compare to our perception now. I chose Inner Sanctum because I'm really into murder mysteries and listening/watching to true crime and murder mysteries. I like to try and figure out who the murderer is before the main character announces it.
    I thought X Minus One was cool. The sound effects went really well with the dialogue of the radio show. I was able to picture what was happening even though I’ve obviously never been on a spaceship before. You could hear the footsteps, the engines starting all the alarms going off, heavy metal doors opening and closing. It really added to the effect. Also, the language and the mannerisms of the characters were very telling of the era. The difference I noticed between that alien encounter and some of the ones we have now is that the sound effects made it sound like everything was made of metal; footsteps echoed and you could hear the heavy metal door sliding open and closed. Most of the intergalactic space traveling shows we have now everything is more high-tech and futuristic. So instead you would hear a “woosh” sound for a sliding automatic door and more technology.
    I also really liked Inner Sanctum. The dialogue was great, the voices and the lingo really transported me back to a different time. I was able to figure out who the suspected murderer was before the 2 main detectives did. I found that a lot of murder mysteries that I’ve seen are based on the same concept of deception that I found on this episode of the Inner Sanctum. I thought the sound effects weren’t as intense as the ones on X Minus One but the acting was better in Inner Sanctum. I felt like the voices actors in this episode of Inner Sanctum were more engaging.

  9. I was interested in what comedy radio shows had to offer, and I think there is a reason they have fewer “likes” on the website. In listening to Laurel and Hardy’s comedy skit, The Marriage of Stan Laurel, I found the laugh track distracting. Some of the people laughing had such distinct laughs that I could pick them out when the track was looped again. The sound of the phone ringing and the swallowing of punch felt dramatic, and actually stuck out of the piece. I wonder if things have to be over dramatized to compensate for a lack of visual aid, but I think there is a point where the dramatization just makes it cheesey.
    I also listened to a few episodes of Festus Talks About. This series was less like a sitcom and more like a comedy record. The first episode was a character named Festus talking about girls and how there are no more pretty ones in town. When I was able to ignore the antiquated and sexist humor, I could appreciate what the music and sound effects did for the piece. The opening started with the sound of crickets, which created this sense of place and time while the speaker was not explicitly saying where he was. The sound effects were used as a means of exposition. The later episodes, possible because they do not depend on antiquated senses of gender were much more enjoyable. The music in the episode His Grandpa Hawg created a sense of nostalgia for memories I didn’t have.

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  11. For the first podcast I chose Theater Five’s “Hit and Run”. For my first experience with a podcast, I was pleasantly surprised. Coming into this class I was admittedly nervous on how I would feel about the subject matter. However I was able to fall right into the story when listening. I found it amazing how different story telling can feel based on how the audience receives it; visually through movies, solely audio from podcasts and even just from reading.
    The first thing I picked up on was the accents of the characters. It was subtle but had a huge impact on how things played out in my head. Their heavy city accents and the slang they used gave me the impression that they were part of the mafia or something of the like. The simple use of accents enabled me to picture each character, how they dress, where they live, and just as a whole set the scene. Later this was pretty much confirmed through the events of the narrative, from Allie intimidating everyone he comes across to doing whatever he pleases. I also was intrigued by the music that would bridge the two scenes. It is not something that is done very often today so it was interesting to feel the effect of the shift.
    After watching the first of Theater Five’s episodes I decided to watch another, “A House of Cards”, because I enjoyed the first one so. The second episode had a very different feel from the first. The characters of the story had a lot less action and movement, as they were contained to the bomb shelter. However the suspense was the same as the first episode, due to the constant clicking in the background of a clock, when the audience knows the characters do not have a lot of time. Later on the digging has the same effect of adding suspense.

  12. Gunsmoke- Spring Freshet

    The first episode I listened to was Spring Freshet, of the Gunsmoke series. This series caught my eye initially because I recognized the name. As i expected, having seen the television show Gunsmoke, the tale was about the wild wild west. As is probably true of the most of the episodes, the Marshall has a discussion with other local men about tracking down criminals who have recently entered town. The voices sound very genuine, and I had absolutely no problem following the story. The sound effects are placed throughout very craftily. During times of distress, many people talk over one another. When there is movement, steps can be heard. The music also does an outstanding job of setting the time period when the tale is supposed to take place. I enjoyed the western style guitar thoroughly.

    Dead Heat- Inner Sanctum Mysteries

    The second episode I listened to was Dead Heat of the Inner Sanctum Mysteries series. I felt creeped out as soon as the audio began. The episode opens with a goosebump inducing door creaking. It almost sounded like fingernails running against a blackboard. The story itself deals with a man murdering his wife with a drill, and what I appreciated the most about this particular series was the hosts approach as well as the sound effects. The host begins with a very conversational tone towards the audience, telling them to “hurdle up, somewhere safe and warm”. Throughout the entirety of the story, wolves are howling, and eerie music is played. The sound effects made me unable to feel relaxed, even for a second.

  13. (Amy Schwartz)

  14. To Alex. From Dad.

  15. The two serials I listened to from the Old Radio Archive were Dark Fantasy and X Minus One. The episode of Dark Fantasy that I listened to was called “The Man Who Came Back”. The music, with the instruments used, and the dissonance of the notes gave a very eerie, creepy effect. The placement of the music also set the mood for the story. Not only did it occur in the beginning for an introductory setting, but it was placed during certain narrative points in order to emphasize certain aspects of the story being told. I liked how the audio quality and accents of the narrators gave an older feel, however, it could just be a reflection of the time period in which these podcasts were created (hence the name, Old Time Radio). Maybe it was just me, but this also added to the ominous effect - by being placed in a time period with less technological crutches, it made me feel more vulnerable to the dangers and menacing beings within the piece. The narration itself also helped with setting the mood. Having the voices right in my ears, I could really hear the emotions and empathize with the characters. The episode of X Minus One I listened to was called “No Contact”. Listening to this was similar to Dark Fantasy in the supernatural element, however, it had a different way of setting the tone. Rather than using musical elements, there were sounds of technology, for example, buzzing of button pressing, ringing alarms, and commands given by authorities in the rocket ship. I enjoyed listening to this because it really put me in the place of space travel even though I may never be able to have that kind of experience.

  16. The first episode I listened to was from Archie Andrews radio. As I expected, it was funny in a corny, goofy way. The stories were very funny; it sounded kind of like the radio version of a sitcom. The main audio elements that stood out to me was the dynamic dialogue between the characters and the use of the constant laugh track-- which was kind of distracting.
    For an extreme change of pace--the second radio segment I listened to was the first episode of Inner Sanctum. The construction of the plot as well as the atmosphere created by the sounds gave it a really spooky vibe. The dialogue was really interesting, and the actors were really great. It was constructed so well I felt like you didn't even need a visual to appreciate the mystery plot. This show also employed cool stings and sound effects. Another thing I noticed was that it sort of got the audience involved. The intro sort of invites the listeners in, and makes it feel like you're part of the story.

  17. The first episode that I listened to was The Amazing death of Mrs. Putnam in the Inner Sanctum series. It was an interesting murder mystery and I thought the voices and sounds were so defined. The plot line was interesting as I really did believe Mrs. Putnam was dead until they found her in a hidden room in the house. The quality of the recording was as expected. This was an old time radio series and it definitely sounded like that was the case. The static was a little distracting considering that living in the 21st century spoils you with crisp sounding audio. Aside from the static, the episode was great! I was very intrigued and gave off “The Twilight zone” vibes.
    The second episode I listened to was “The Robot Killer” in the RRSciFi1 series. This was another interesting one. I am a major Sci Fi geek and loved hearing how people 50 or 40 years ago thought robotics would play out. The woman really tried to make the robot fall in love with her and sent it off to kill a rival for her. The robot was unfortunately destroyed because they thought it was actually capable of murder. The voice acting once again was superb. The sounds could definitely use an update, but they are suited for their era. I was a fan through and through for the episode and started to listen to a few of the others to hear what other futuristic concepts the people at this time thought of.