The majority of podcasts out there seem to revolve around a host and co-hosts talking about their topic of interest. Some are produced by big name companies, and have a staff to produce the show. Most are hobbyists who just have something to say, and a microphone to say it into.
The Retro Radio Podcast is about discovering entertainment that still has value, and is an alternate to what’s produced today. Because of the morality of times in the early 20th century, it’s mostly family friendly. No swearing, sexual situations are hinted at with veiled euphemisms, instead of being blatantly displayed. There’s violence, and murder runs rampant in detective mysteries and dramas. Comedies are clean, sometimes quaint, but sometimes edgy enough to hold up in today’s pop culture. Topical humor and references might make more sense if you’re up on your history, but even without that, you’ll find that although times change, pop culture changes, technology changes, but people, and human nature doesn’t.
Consider that the era of old radio shows is when your grandparents were young, maybe even kids, you just might discover how cool they once were. Or maybe I should say they were swell. It could even give some insights to why they say and do the things they do.
The audio dramas that I first came across turned out to be called Old Time Radio. Research turned up forums of fans, archives of audio files, but not much in knowing what the shows were all about. Archives were just a list of show names, dates, and episode titles. It was about as thrilling as reading a phone book. Which were the good shows? Which genres did the shows fall into? Than others.
Forums were better at discovering the premise, and personality of a show. However, the participants all had a lifelong knowledge of that show, and it could be hard to pick up on the inside jokes that tend to permeate the conversation. It was a matter of getting into an active forum, and asking questions.
I know there’s some databases of old radio shows, and short synopsis out there, but I decided that I’d write my own show notes. Not a word for word script, not a detailed retelling of the show, but a brief overview. Kind of like a mini book report. Enough to tell the action in the story, but hopefully interesting enough to make you want to listen to the story for yourself. I also figured that original and descriptive show notes would also get the attention of search engines. I attribute that fact to the bulk of how listeners find me. I also use questions a lot, partly because of the writing style, but also in hopes it might get readers on the site to leave comments.
At first I recorded comments about the show, then played it, and still do, but not on every show that gets posted. I might do more, but I struggle with not having a quality mike, and a reliably quiet place to record. However, I’m experimenting with a new format that I call the OTR Diary. It’s a return to talking about what I find significant in a show.
Old radio shows run the gamut from excellent to poor. Great audio quality to terrible. Timeless stories to ones that make you say, ? What were they thinking?" There are social issues that were offensive to people then that are acceptable today, and those we find offensive that weren’t noticed then. Sometimes I wish the good things, and advancements of today could blend with the best of the ethics and attitudes of the earlier generation. Family and social relationships could be in a much better place.