Turn Your Radio On

Published 3:47 pm Thursday, December 2, 2021

By Billy Rowell

There is a large percentage of our population that doesn’t know life without television.

At the speed of technology, there will soon be a generation that doesn’t remember television. It is heading down the same road as radio.

As a kid, I remember when we would clear the dishes after dinner and tune our radio into the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night. We would gather around the battery powered radio for a great half hour of Hank Williams and company.

Some years later after we got electricity in our area, we bought one didn’t require a battery. Since batteries were expensive, we only turned it on for special programs.

The newer model opened up a whole new world for us.

There were the usual sitcoms like Fibber McGee and Molly, Amos and Andy, The Shadow, etc. I vaguely remember a quiz show ‘The $64 Dollar Question”. TV followed with “The $64,000 Question”. I think there is one or more now with a grand prize of a million dollars?
What I enjoyed most were baseball and football games. The secret to radio listening was that you formed a mental picture of what was happening.

The man in the booth could make a routine play sound exciting.

Television was somewhat of a disappointment in that it showed you what was really happening and you did not have to visualize it. Trust me, there were times I felt my image was far better than what was actually happening.

A prime example was Willie Mays’ catch in the 1954 World Series. I listened to it on the radio and was thrilled with the broadcaster’s description of his spectacular play in the outfield. I later saw it on film and was disappointed. It was a good catch for mere mortals; but, he had it all the way and I’ve seen many that were better.

The first radio that I personally owned was a small transistor one that I may have paid $5 or $6 for. It couldn’t have been much more; or I couldn’t have bought it. It picked up the only station in range, which was about 12 miles away.

One of my high school graduation gifts was a nice clock radio that I took to college with me. It got us up most mornings in time for class; and provided music at night that kept my roomie and me singing when we should have been studying.

At the time, I didn’t care. The radio made our room the gathering place of the floor. That was what mattered at the moment. This may have had something to do with my degree less exit from academia shortly thereafter.

In the late 1960’s my next radio was but a small component in a stereo cabinet. This was a piece of furniture that we proudly displayed in the living room. It was an entertainment center housed in an attractive Early American oak cabinet that was about as long as a Volkswagen Beetle. It had AM, FM radio, and a turntable. I made monthly payments long after it was history.

Today, I have music when and where I want it; and in top quality. It is ironic however, that while the quality of sound has improved the quality of the music has deteriorated. Thank God for the oldies channels.

God bless and have a great day.

An old sage, Billy Rowell can be reached at blrowell@embarqmail.com