Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Impact of Radio

When I was young
I'd listen to the radio
Waitin' for my favorite songs
When they played I'd sing along
It made me smile
[From "Yesterday Once More" by The Carpenters, 1973]
I found myself singing this song by the Carpenters earlier.
And I wondered where it came from.  I mean, why did I recall that song out of nowhere?

Earlier I was listening to some smooth jazz.

Though not on an actual radio.

I have an app on my iPad that allows me to listen to radio stations from across the world.

This smooth jazz station was from Greece.

Here I am in a small town in southern USA listening to a radio station in Greece 5000+ miles away.

My! How far radio reception and influence has come.


In the early days radio stations came on the air. Stations like KMOX 1120AM in St. Louis, MO, which came on the air in 1925. The call letters came from K (West of the Mississippi River) - MO (Missouri) - X (for Christmas as it first came on the air December 24, 1925). At night this radio station could be heard all across the USA it was so powerful.

In the early days of radio people would gather around a huge radio in the living room to listen.  I remember watching TV shows like The Waltons where the family gathered to hear the news, or music, or to listen in on the most recent episode of their favorite serial program.

In the early days of radio people would build their own crystal radios.  My grandpa built his first radio.  I believe he built each of his grandchildren a radio.  I am happy to say that I still have that radio he built for me.  I imagine it still works though it probably only gets AM stations. That's Ok, I tend to like AM stations.

In the early days there were programs like the Grand Ole Opry.  Live shows filled with music and comedy.  I believe many of the early TV shows had their start on radio.  The Lone Ranger for one.  I believe some of the old soap operas as well started on radio then moved to TV.

For the record, I wasn't around in the early days. :)


When I was young I did listen to the radio.

My sister and I listened to WLS (World's Largest Station) out of Chicago, IL.  That's where I got to hear all the Top 40 songs.

At night I loved turning the dial (I guess in today's lingo I was "surfing" the stations) to see what I might hear.

I remember being amazed to be able to hear radio stations from so many miles away from me.  I was transported to those places because of the music and talk shows those radio stations brought to me.

I recall hearing a man called Wolfman Jack (before the Friday night TV show Midnight Special).

I recall hearing a man called Rush Limbaugh (back when he had a midnight to 3am shift - before his popularity grew).

I recall hearing a man called Jim White ("The Big Bumper").

Those late night personalities kept me company many nights as sleep eluded me. Though to be honest it wasn't that I couldn't sleep - I just didn't want to miss anything on their shows. :)


Today I tend to listen to NPR (National Public Radio).  I like its programming - the shows, the variety shows, the music. It is often associated with the more mature listener.

While each day I come closer and closer to becoming "the more mature listener," I actually listen to NPR because it is not all music.  As an earlier blog post explains, I tend to not listen to much music because it is so associated to my job.

Now, at any given time of the day I can tune in to radio stations around the world because of this iPad app.

I am amazed and thankful for this technology that brings the world closer to me.

I hope that radio, with its seemingly ancient history by today's technology standards and with the new every-changing technology, always continues - in some form or another.

It certainly has been a big part of my life.


  1. As you may remember, I share your love for radio. I guess it was around '73 or '74, when I discovered that I could listen to the radio in bed, and my parents would not be able to hear it. I remember hearing the calls coming into KMOX, hours following the death of Elvis. My latest new hobby is listening to old time radio (via the internet). The comedy of Fibber McGee and Molly, My Favorite Husband (starring Lucille Ball), The Great Gildersleeve, and The Life of Riley is simply outstanding. I better stop now or I could have my on blog posting. Suffice it to say, radio has also had an enriching impact on my life.

    1. Yes, I know we both love a good radio show. I'm wanting to say you were one of the ones who influenced my listening to A Prairie Home Companion.

      Do you remember my calling you from IL - you were in TX, I believe - when I heard you call in on KMOX at 1am in the morning?

      I knew then it was a small world!