Friday/August/07 2009 Filed in: Entertainment / Media
Yesterday can teach us a lot about Tomorrow.
In the spring of 2009, Alec Baldwin and Seth MacFarlane appeared in TV ads promoting Hulu, the NBC / Fox joint-venture offering streaming-video of hundreds of television programs.
Old Time Radio.
While Hulu is a leading-edge resource for video, Ken Varga has done much the same for old-time radio. Ken is the man behind the Old Time Radio Network Library (otr.net), an amazing resource for fans of early radio. And -- while Hulu is making noise about possibly charging for content -- Ken's resource is FREE!
The Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.
There was a magical era in radio before it devolved into political ranting and 24-hour news programs. Ken's Old Time Radio site is a time machine that looks back into the pre-apocalyptic world and chronicles the manner of things that made audiences laugh, cry or think in days gone by.
But if you're thinking this could only be of interest to people with shawls and rocking chairs, think again.
TV's Golden Age Had its Roots in Radio.
Many of the shows of TV's Golden Age were video versions of radio programs.
I Love Lucy, one of television's early smash hits, began on the radio in a slightly different form as My Favorite Husband. Once the show made it to television, what Lucy and Desi did with a multi-camera format, a live studio audience and syndication is still the gold standard for TV comedies today.
OTR.net boasts over 12,000 episodes of hundreds of programs, including dramas, comedies and variety shows. This is a true Radioland filled with actors, characters and storylines that would be lost without the work of people like Ken Varga.
Before James Arness ever fired a six-shooter in TV's Gunsmoke, William Conrad was watchful and a little lonely as he patrolled the streets of Dodge City in the radio version. Doc Adams was portrayed by Howard McNear (yes, Mayberry's Floyd the Barber on TV's Andy Griffith Show.)
The Lone Ranger rides again in Radioland and Speed Gibson of the International Secret Police (also with Mayberry's Howard McNear) guards its global frontiers.
Sci-fi settings and twist endings of TV's classic Outer Limits and Rod Serling's Twilight Zone were preceded on radio by programs like Dimension X and Inner Sanctum.
What's Amos and Andy got to do with Leave it To Beaver?
Amos and Andy is there in Radioland, too. This long running radio program stirred considerable controversy over the years with regard to concerns about racial stereotyping, but Amos 'n' Andy has a surprising connection to TV's Leave it to Beaver.
Don't be put off by a somewhat utilitarian look the first time you visit Ken Varga's site. As we understand it, OTR.net is funded primarily -- if not entirely -- by donations. That means there are no ads cluttering the site.
Ken has created an invaluable cultural resource. So if you find it interesting and entertaining, think about letting him know with a donation.
Sometimes to see what's ahead, it's worthwhile to look behind. You never know what you might find there.