Wednesday, February 18, 2009
I absolutely adore old-time radio. When I was growing up in Utah, KSL radio station played vintage radio every night at 11:00 to midnight. I would lay in my room and my mom would turn up her stereo so I could hear the latest "Fibber McGee and Molly", "Little Orphan Annie," or rarely, our favorite, "Chandu, the Magician!" There is something about listening to vintage radio that makes everything in the world more simple--more right. Everything in black and white.
The shows always start out by announcing who their sponsors are--this is one of the things that I like the most. Sometimes you'll hear a commercial for things you wish you could get. Permit me a couple examples:
Here's one from a 1939 Fibber McGee and Molly sponsor Johnson's CarNew: "Unsolicited letters have been pouring in from listeners everywhere. Some of these comments are from women, who wax polish their own cars without help!" (Can you imagine???? Where can I get some 70 years later?)
From Jack Benny, circa 1937, "I'll bet you don't know the real meaning of the word delicious, or do you? Well, I didn't until I looked it up, and it comes from two Latin words meaning pleasant and charmed, and if that doesn't spell "Molly Rich Grapenuts" then my name isn't Don Wilson. You're as pleased as punch when you sit down to the big tempting bowl of grapenuts, now aren't you?" (Well, now that I' ve been insulted, yes. Yes, I am pleased as punch. Thanks, Don Wilson.)
Following the brief commercial, the shows come on with all their fabulous sound and voice effects. My favorites are the mysteries, with their famous detectives--The Shadow, The Adventures of the Falcon, and the like.
I wonder what it would be like to write a radio show. To have to come up with a story entirely dependent on what you can communicate with sound. I'm amazed at the stories they can weave into their thirty minute, commercial free time slots. I imagine kids and adults sitting around radios listening. Letting their imaginations send shivers down their backs. Being able to listen to a person's voice and create a whole picture of how they look in your minds.
I would like to be better at listening, at creating stories in my mind. I would especially love to be better at creating stories that catch people's imaginations--whose plots and characters are intriguing and delightful.
So, stealing a line from "The Adventures of the Falcon"-- "I believe all women are alike. They're only out for one thing", tomorrow I'm going to write a story based on that line. And remember, like The Shadow says, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men?"