I believe in radio. Born when radio was the only electronic medium in 1934, I learned to learn via this amazing tool.
It is a powerful teaching tool because it requires the listeners engagement and imagination. In return radio offers a steady panoply of knowledge, entertainment, information and companionship. Radio isn’t passive like Television
Innovative writers like Orson Wells, Norman Corwin, and Ira Glass have plied their craft on radio.
President Roosevelt spoke to us of war on December 8, 1941– I heard him live! I recall the first broadcast in This I Believe hosted by my chum Ed Murrow. Ed and I were not on a first name basis if we met. But he was a regular friend bring me news, insight and adventure via my tinny little Arvin radio.
Funny folk like Bob Hope, Fred Allen, Jane and Goodman Ace dropped in weekly. Lily Pons, Arturo Toscanini and Luciano Pavarotti perform with panache on the stage we imagined right in our front room – it was stupendous. Musicians of world stature were regular guests.
As a lad I would fall asleep listening on headphones to Steve Allen with his nightly radio show from Los Angeles.
The Grand Ole Opry was common Saturday night fare.
Radio has the power to change peoples lives – it changed mine, Radio led to a radio major at College of Pacific — a very flexible learning system as it turned out.
Saturday afternoons during the season the Metropolitan Opera offered live performances and still does. These inspired me to sing as a professional chorus member in over 30 opera when I lived in Hawaii.
Much of commercial radio tragically has become a sideshow of noisy sameness shamelessly hawking jim-crack. A sorry old sow’s ear attempting to masquerade as a tawdry silk purse.
The potential of radio has been clear since its Golden Age. That promise is now resident in Public Radio and a handful of old line broadcasters and some new radio pioneers on the Internet. National Public Radio, American Public Media and some of the internet broadcasters are lifting high the torch of quality and responsible radio.
Programs like Morning Edition in it’s many flavors, All Things Considered, Prairie Home Companion and Marketplace offer mind boggling content. They strive to fulfill the promise of a medium which only requests your rapt attention and a few coins occasionally, to continue to offering daily content of value.
Radio’s palette has many hues and shades – talk, commentary, drama, timely news from our shrinking planet, music for any and all tastes. More nuance than you can imagine.
Radio’s not magic.
It only seems cloked in magic when it takes you to uncharted corners of the universe or dips you in a marinade of ideas you never dreamt of.
Theater of the mind now lives and prospers in Public Radio.
Public Radio: personal, intimate, powerful, a steady companion, innovating for us all.
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