Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Everything I Consume: On the Air: The Encyclopedia of Old-Time Radio

This was a Christmas present from my father-in-law and his wife and, next to the Sidney Crosby t-shirt everything The Wife got me, was the gift I most wanted. The author is John Dunning and I guess this book is considered quite an authority because I've heard it referred to as "Dunning". It's very well written and the longer sections on the more famous shows like Jack Benny, Dragnet and Amos & Andy are very colorful and not the dry stuff you expect from an encyclopedia.

I've been using On the Air, or Dunning, to weed out podcast of old-time radio shows I don't want to listen to. For example when my podcast downloads an episode of Leonidas Witherall I find out it ran from June 4, 1944 – May 6, 1945 on Mutual and is a detective drama about the owner of a boys school whose beard made him a dead ringer for William Shakespere. Sounds great.

Because I'm me one of the first things I looked for was the last entry which turned out to be for a show called The Ziegfeld Follies of the Air. Here's the last paragraph:

Anything could happen. It was joyous and heartbreaking, a difficult but exciting time to be alive. Radio made it all of those things.
Well said.

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