The pure amount of old time radio available to the general public online is mind-blowing. Several sites boast of upwards of 100,000 separate programs. With my podcasts, I bring listeners shows that I’ve discovered searching online. However, every episode we play is here as the result of a lot of other people’s efforts.
Most radio programs were not thought by the producer to have some intrinsic value after their first airing with the exception of syndicated programs. However, many episodes were preserved. Some were saved on transcription discs and others from recorded reel-to-reel tapes.
The details of this process can be quite involved. It’ll suffice to say that a working knowledge of how to actually play these discs is extremely rare. Equipment can be expensive with spare parts hard to come by.
In addition, before these tapes and transcription discs can reach us, someone has to carefully digitalize them and then make them available on the Internet. So, free old time radio comes to us with a lot of expense and effort from many folks who end up remaining anonymous for the most part.
The notable exception to this is the Old Time Radio Researcher’s certified sets include credits for folks who work on compiling their sets. There are also a couple interesting weblogs and podcasts that give us a peak into the world of radio preservation.
Rand’s Esoteric OTR gives us a great look into the world of digitalizing old radio. a wide variety of programs. Occasionally, the blog will feature a previously uncirculated episode of Suspense, but often times features weird, wonderful, and forgotten programs. Rand serves as a sort of cultural archaeologist. With each episode, he posts a picture of the Transcription he digitalized and sometimes a story of how he found it.
Grandpa’s IPOD is a unique website. Lisa inherited her grandfather’s collection of 250 transcriptions and is in the process of digitalizing them with some assistance from her audio engineer/husband.
We can mulitply the efforts on these blogs by several thousand and we have an idea of what it takes to get the transcriptions digitalized. And without these efforts, as well as a lot of trading and sharing, so much radio would not be available for