February 25, 2018

The Golden Age of Radio

1930 Philco Radio Ad

1930 Philco Radio Ad

1930 Program Listings in Delphos Herald

1930 Program Listings in Delphos Herald

1930 Westinghouse Radio Ad

1930 Westinghouse Radio Ad

1930's  Radio

1930’s Radio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When the first commercial radio broadcast was transmitted on November 2, 1920, it was a magical feat to the few people who owned radios and heard the broadcast. How could sound travel through the air to a location so many miles away? But the novelty quickly caught on and by 1930, 60% of American families had radios. American culture was forever changed as the radio became the central piece of furniture in the living room and families began to gather around the radio for night-time entertainment. At the same time, radios became more attractive pieces that would fit in nicely with the living room furniture. By the end of the 1930’s, which was also the time period of the Great Depression, very few homes were without a radio.

From that first broadcast, which was the election results of the Harding-Cox presidential race, radio shows expanded to include soap operas, comedies, children’s shows, detective shows and westerns. One of the more popular shows was Amos “n” Andy which centered around two African American characters and their antics. Jack Benny and Fred Allen, both comedians, became household names as they provided light-hearted entertainment in an era that needed a break from the daily grind.   Westerns like the Lone Ranger and the Shadow provided heroes, as the good guy always came out on top.

The radio provided a way to communicate like never before. Franklin Roosevelt’s ‘fireside chats’ helped the population feel closer to their president than ever. News events such as the 1937 crash of the Hindenburg were reported as they happened. Advertisers took advantage of the new media to spread the word about their products, becoming “sponsors” of certain shows.

At the local level, Delphos Herald ads in 1930 show an Everett Davis, 634 E. 4th Street sold Philco radios, while Charles J. Best, 413 E. 4th Street, sold the Westinghouse brand. The Herald also listed the “prime-time” programs each day.

The radio pictured here is a 1930’s model from the recently closed Beckmann’s store. An former employee there remembers listening to this radio while working. It has been refinished by volunteer Louis Kaverman and the museum is now looking for someone to get it working. Any volunteers?

Published in the Delphos Herald February 14, 2015

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