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Video Killed the Radio Star

This is a continuation in the “He Said, She Said” series: A conversation about early memories of radio and how it’s a different world. 

Scott:  You know, I was thinking this morning that the first thing we do every day is turn on a television. I mean, we are so dependent on television now. What did we do before television?

Sandi: Well, we read newspapers, but mostly we listened to the radio. I remember turning on the radio to get our news or our music or sometimes soap operas…programs like that. What are your earliest memories of listening to the radio?

Scott: The first time I listened to the radio, I was living with my grandparents in West Virginia and that was family entertainment night. You know, my grandmother sat on a rocking chair and my grandfather sat on the couch and I sat on the floor beside him. And Pap would always tap his feet as he listened to the music. My grandfather liked Grand Ole Opry, and I remember one particular show called the Louisiana Hayride.

We lived on top of a mountain, and the reception was really bad, and so the music would fade in and out.  And every time the music faded out, he’d stop tapping his feet.  When the music came back, he starts tapping again.  One evening I asked him why the music faded in and out.  I thought maybe there was something wrong with the radio. And I’ll never forget what he told me.  He said that we were listening to a traveling band that was traveling around the mountain.

When it’s on our side of the mountain, the music is nice and clear. But, we can’t hear it when it’s playing on the other side of the mountain.  Listen… here they come… here they come… they’re back!

That was a big joke in the family for years.

Sandi: I lived with my grandparents, too, and my grandmother loved listening to the Grand Ole Opry. I remember listening to a lot of comedy shows, too. She especially liked Minnie Pearl.

Scott: Howdeeeeeee!

Sandi:  A lot of the comedy programs started out on the radio and then jumped to television.  George Burns and Gracie Allen was one of our favorites.  We watched reruns years later when the kids were little.

Scott: George and Gracie became a “good night” routine to a lot of people.

Sandi:  “Say good night Gracie.”

Sandi: Before long we thought we had lots of choices to listen to… music, news, comedy, and even mystery programs. One of the things I remember about listening to the mystery programs on the radio was the sound effects.  We didn’t have bright, bright lighting, and so at night, those dim lights added to the mood of the sound effects… a creaky door or footsteps on the stairs.  It really felt like you were right there in the action.

Scott:  You know, so many times you heard the same programs all the time that you’d learn the voices.  You knew exactly who was on even if you walked into the room in the middle of the program.  I remember when we thought it was really high tech when they put a clock on the radio then later you could set your radio to come on at a certain time or in the morning to wake you up.

It sure is a different world.

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Scott & Sandi
Scott & Sandi
Scott retired from Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company in Ohio after 40 years of service. While working every shift imaginable, he made time to coach softball and basketball for summer teams as well as high school, both boys and girls teams. Sandi was wife, mom, and homemaker for most of those years. They have 4 children, 6 grandchildren, and a great-granddaughter. They are very fortunate to spend most of their time in sunny, warm southwest Florida. In 56 years together, they’ve seen and experienced many changes. As Scott likes to say, “It’s a different world” …especially the world we’re living in now.

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10 CONVERSATIONS

  1. Scott and Sandi – This brought back some great memories.

    My folks used to listen to and then watch George Burns and Gracie Allen. My dad would laugh and laugh…

    I used to sneak an old AM radio under the sheets and blankets with me and listen to Chicago Cubs night games on WGN. Vince Lloyd was the announcer. The radio was big and bulky because it was powered by tubes. But I loved it because it had a lighted dial. I can still see it today.

    Some of my favorite music comes from World War II. I didn’t grow up then, but I can imagine lonely hearts, parents, factory workers on a break, and soldiers listening on a radio to the songs that made the Home Front.

    And finally today, the first thing I do in the morning when I straggle into the kitchen is turn on the radio: NPR, WNYC New York. “Morning Edition” has been my companion for years. Same in the late afternoon when I’m making dinner: “All Things Considered.”

    Thank you for this remembrance. I love your series.

    • I could listen, watch, laugh and enjoy Burns and Allen every day! Their timing and conversation is hard to beat and a breath of fresh air to me. Thanks for sharing your memories!

  2. I remember the days when am radio was all the rage here in New York during the 1960’s You had WAB(Beatle)C and the WMWMCA Goodguys. It was all about the music and the DJ’s. I always liked the song you drew your title from
    I think the group was called The Buggles. After that song they were never heard from again.

    • You are so right Joel. For young people it was all about the DJ and the music they played! The Buggles song was catchy and the words were so true…. interesting concept that they picked up on back then…
      Too bad they were a one hit wonder…..

  3. Scott and Sandi, thanks for the walk down memory lane, although I don’t even recall sitting in front of a TV until I was around 9 years old, for reasons too long to share. It wasn’t until I was in my teens that I remember watching The Red Skelton show with my dad who dressed up as Freddy the Freeloader and went to a baseball game as such, which drew a lot of attention. God Bless you both.

    • We both remember watching and laughing at Red Skelton with family….he had great timing. Sometimes you could see the punch line coming and sometimes you couldn’t. He was kinda “dorky” but he was lovable.
      Thank you Lynn for sharing that memory with us. Have a terrific day!

  4. Yes indeed! Around Halloween I like to play on my record player an actual record, the original Orsen Wells radio broadcast of “The War of the World”. My imagination just wanders as the broadcast really became “alive” to the fear-stricken-panic-driven listeners.
    (Errrr, that almost seems like a lot like today during the 24-hour fear-striken-panic-driven TV broadcasts). I guess sime things never change?

    Love the articles folks! I was also one of the official TV tube testers at the local pharmacy in the Pitocco household. I think that brothers Mike and Dennis did a better job though.

    • You are spot on Danny….. That was the one great thing about radio…. it sparked the imagination and in your mind you were in that story! The Orson Wells broadcast did instill panic in the listeners. It came over radio airwaves….they imagined (saw) it in their minds…….now we might not be so quick to believe it if we weren’t seeing it live. Who knows….maybe “The Shadow Knows” ? Oh wait… that’s really dating me…LOL
      And yes, I guess maybe the more things change, the more they stay the same… Thanks for your comment!

  5. Another great walk down memory lane here Scott & Sandi! Although I remember sitting around the radio as a young child with my 7 brothers & sisters and parents (the only affordable entertainment at the time), your story also reminded me of when our first TV arrived and how my brothers and I were given the rotating job of “changing the tubes” whenever they (frequently) burned out … As that lady in the commercial for “Victoria Slims” used to say; “we’ve come a long way, baby..”.

    • Thanks Dennis. Evenings sitting together listening to the radio programs was what we did…… thank goodness it was affordable for families. We have come a long way baby…. and it is a different world!
      Every comment brings back memories to us…..we enjoy them all!
      Have a wonderful day!

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