On the Air...

In 1979, there was a hit record titled Video Killed the Radio Star.  That idea is kind of funny to me now.  Radio may not be the big influence it once was, it doesn’t seem to be disappearing.  Yes, in the first half of the 20th century, radio had a much bigger role of our lives.  The radio provided the kind of programming we have on TV today.  There were sitcoms, police dramas, adventure series, soap operas, variety shows, news, and even gossip shows.  And in between all those were segments devoted to the hit songs of the day.

In the 60s and 70s, with television a part of almost every household, radio transformed to music, music, music.  Whether AM or FM, it was the soundtrack of our lives.  At home, in the car, and on the beach, radio gave us the top 40 of country and rock.

Radio today is very different.  True, it’s not the powerhouse it once was.  But it’s still around.  Today FM radio is devoted to music, although many public radio stations focus on news and current affairs.  AM seems to be dedicated solely to sports and talk shows.  Satellite radio services offer an incredible range of programming, with channels covering almost every imaginable genre of music as well as news, sports, and talk for every interest.

With radio exerting influence on our lives for the last 100 years, it’s natural that there would be movies and television series about their rival for public attention.

Movies and TV about Radio

These films and TV series examine the way radio is a part of our lives, whether for entertainment or information.  The setting may be past or present.  The plots may center on the people on either side of the microphone.  A few are based on true stories.  No matter.  Radio is the catalyst for everything that happens.

Radio in the Background

These films and TV series aren’t really about radio.  The TV shows have main characters working in radio, and that subsequently becomes an important part of the series.  But sometimes, there are moments that are so funny, we can’t recall the film without thinking of the part the radio played in the scenes.

Background of Radio

For a look at the history of radio broadcasting and its impact on everyday life and world events, check out these documentaries on the radio and radio stars.

Finally, if you’d like to relive those thrilling days of yesteryear – or experience them for the first time -- check out our CDs of old radio shows and news broadcasts.  You'll find some stories for children and current radio programs available there, too.  We also have downloadable versions of old radio shows available.  I highly recommend the infamous Mercury Theater’s War of the Worlds, starring Orson Welles.


The War of the Worlds! I

The War of the Worlds! I remember my mother telling me about the panic that ensued during that particular broadcast. I wonder how many Americans nowadays still have an important relationship with radio? A Christmas Story and Radio Days do a lovely job of conveying how your life rose or fell depending on what was coming in over the air. I've been meaning to watch Yoo-hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, so thanks for the reminder.

Thanks so much for writing. I

Thanks so much for writing. I once asked my father about the War of the Worlds broadcast. He said he listened to the program but, being a born skeptic, didn't think it was real. However, he knew of many people who did.

You have a point about the impact the radio once made on people. I suppose the closest we have to that today are some talk shows -- although I have a few "must listen" radio programs, particularly Car Talk and Wait, Wait Don't Tell Me. Saturday mornings wouldn't be the same without them.

Enjoy Mrs. Goldberg!