The Golden Age of Radio

Many of you still remember when radio was one of our main sources of entertainment. Many happy hours were spent listening to a variety  of programs which were made available by the many broadcasting stations throughout Canada and the United States.

Radio first became popular during the early 1920s.  At that time, vast improvements had been made in transmitting sound waves by the broadcasting stations that were in operation. Soon after hundreds of thousands of radio sets started flooding the market. In 1926, sales of radio sets and parts alone in the United States and Canada topped half a billion dollars.  Suddenly it seemed that everyone owned a radio set.

During the following years, a wide variety of entertaining radio programs began making their runs. One program, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, had a continuous run of 29 years.  Other programs also bad long runs that played to large audiences.

One of radio's first big comedy bits was the Amos 'n' Andy show which started its run in 1929. The radio‑stars of this program were Amos, Andy, Kingfish  and Madam Queen. Some lines this . program aired were "I’se regusted" and "'Ain't dat sumpin." These were popular catch phrases in the 1930s. Originally it was a minstrel show that featured a number of characters who blackened their faces and imitated colored folks. This radio program proved 16 be highly entertaining and had a large audience in both the United States and Canada.  Andy, who was one of the main characters of this show, was often referred to as the President of the Fresh Air Taxi Cab Incorpulated.

Other popular radio programs of this period were: The Rudy Vallee Show which was first aired in 1929, the Bing Crosby Show which made its debut in 1931, and the Jack Benny Show aired in 1932. Soon after Al Jolson became the performing star on Kraft Music Hall. In 1934, the Red Skelton Show first appeared an radio, followed by the Lux Radio Theatre and the Fibber McGee and Molly Show in 1935. In 1938 the Bob Hope Show made its debut on radio.

About this time, many soap operas started making their runs. They were called soap operas because they were sponsored by the major soap makers. The Goldbergs were sponsored by the makers of Oxydol, Life Can Be Beautiful by the Ivory Soap Co. and Road of Life by the makers of Chipso.

There were many other popular programs on radio during the 1930s and 1940s. Many of you will recall the Edgar Bergen Show (ventriloquism) featuring Bergen's two wooden dummies, Charley McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. Other popular programs at the time were The March of Time, We The People, The Green Hornet, The Lone Ranger, Tarzan The Apeman, Big Sister, Ma Perkins, Lum and Abner, and the Chase and Sandborn Hour.

One of the well‑known Canadian radio programs was The Happy Gang, featuring Bert Pearl, Eddie Allen, Kay Stokes and Blaine Mathie. It was a daily musical program that originated in Toronto. Another well known Canadian program was Don Messer and His Islanders, which also featured Charley Chamberlain and Marg Osborne.

The broadcasting of major sporting events became popular during the 1920s. The first World Series (baseball) was broadcast in 1921. It was a series between the New York Yankees and the New York Giants. Also in 1921, the first major boxing match was aired. It featured Jack Dempsey and Georges Carpentier, a bout that took place in Jersey City, NJ. In 1922, Foster Hewitt made the world's first hockey broadcast.

Musical programs were also popular during the 1920s and 1930s. One program, The Hit Parade, rated the top tunes of the day. Radio was very popular during the war years of 1939‑1945, when hourly newscasts kept us informed as to how our armed forces were progressing.

Radio, throughout the years, has provided us with countless hours of entertainment. People in outlying areas found radio not only entertaining but it also helped to lessen their many hours of loneliness. When television first appeared, newspaper headlines declared that radio would soon die, however that was, not the ease. Millions of radio sets are still being sold annually throughout the world, which proves that radio is still very much alive and is still rated as one of our more popular forms of entertainment.