DISCUSSION ON RADIO AMERICAN HISTORY 1865-PRESENT
Imagine life without the radio…can’t be done. At least, life as I know it. Setting up small, crystal radio sets with copper wiring and clamps attached to the pole lamp in the livingroom were among the first science experiments I remember. A friend gave me her mom’s console radio that still picks up AM stations if you wait for the tubes to warm up and the crackling to settle down. My dad set his watch to the Greenwich Time Signal picked up on his big, black shortwave radio (The Greenwich Time Signal (GTS), popularly known as the pips, is a series of six short tones broadcast at one-second intervals by many BBC Radio stations. The pips were introduced in 1924 and have been generated by the BBC since 1990 to mark the precise start of each hour. Their utility in calibration is diminishing as digital broadcasting entails time lags – Wikipedia). He also listened to Cuban music picked up directly from Havana on that same radio. He played it loudly because he was deaf from flying B-52s, so we knew when he was home from a flight when we heard Perez Parado blasting from our house as we walked up the street from school. https://youtu.be/Cb4xDjyVMwU.
FM stations used to play the cool, “head” music without advertisements.. That’s gone. Now I listen to talk radio to and from work as they rudely talk over each other, railing against this or that injustice, and I do like the comedy station…but it’s a sign of the times that when I stopped in Radio Shack last Christmas time to find a crystal radio kit to give my 8 year old grandkids, the clerks had no idea what it was (I found one at Michaels in the science fair section,), and I went to Walgreens to buy a small radio for my office just three weeks ago to find they no longer carry them…it’s all I-pods and other such things…sigh.
In last year’s Pulitzer Prize winning novel, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr (Scribner, 2014) you can see, “hear,” and feel how radio broadcasts kept people in touch, encouraged and alive during the Nazi reign of terror.
Radio changed and still changes lives.