I first started listening to “Old Time Radio” in 1986. I remember I was driving to Maryland to visit my daughter during the Christmas season when I accidentally ran across a radio station that was broadcasting an episode of The Lone Ranger. In keeping with the holiday season, the story dealt with Christmas. Of course I had grown up listening to the radio shows and as TV became more popular, and the radio shows disappeared, I had all but forgotten about them. It was great to hear The Lone Ranger again after so many years. It was my favorite radio show.
Then I searched the radio dial and found several stations that rebroadcast the old radio shows. One station was WCAU in Philadelphia. The show was hosted by Jim McCormick and later Gary Hodson. Unfortunately, the show was often pre-empted by regularly scheduled sports, such as the Philadelphia Phillies.
As it turned out, several of my friends at work also enjoyed the old radio shows. One of them mentioned that he buys radio shows on tape. At the time I thought to myself, “Why would anyone buy radio shows when you can hear them rebroadcast on radio stations?”
Well, I started buying a few. Mostly The Lone Ranger shows, including the Christmas story I had heard driving to Maryland. One purchase lead to another. At first, I would concentrate on the shows I was familiar with. Then I branched out to other shows that seemed interesting. Today, my collection consists of over 3,700 shows.
How did I get started on radio? Well, another friend and co-worker, a volunteer DJ at the Vassar College station (WVKR in Poughkeepsie) told the station manager that I had a collection of radio shows. He wondered if I would be interested in broadcasting the radio shows at WVKR, but I told him that I had no experience and was concerned about making a weekly commitment. He was persistent, though, and I finally accepted the offer. The station manager wanted me to come up with a name for the show and a short description. When my DJ friend asked me what music I was going to select for the theme to my show, I didn’t have to think twice about using The Lone Ranger’s theme music, The William Tell Overture. My wife came up with the name of the show, Radio Showtime, and when I went to the studio for my first show four days later, a listing and description of my show were already in the new station program guide.
My first show was broadcast November 5, 1989.
What was the first show I broadcast? You guessed it! The Lone Ranger.
I was pleasantly surprised when I went to the studio the next week and found a post card from a listener, telling me how much he liked the old radio shows. He named a few shows that he especially enjoyed, including one starring Peter Lorre. He couldn’t remember the name of the show, but I recognized it as Mystery In The Air and played it for him the following week.
Initially, Radio Showtime was only one hour long, but it soon expanded to two hours, and then finally to three. At first, I didn’t know if I had enough shows so as not to repeat any. But it’s been nine years, and I’ve only repeated shows for holidays and special requests.