Old-Time Radio (OTR) and the Golden Age of Radio refer to a period of radio programming in the United States lasting from the proliferation of radio broadcasting in the early 1920s until television’s replacement of radio as the primary home entertainment medium in the 1950s. During this period, when radio was dominant and the airwaves were filled with a variety of radio formats and genres, people regularly tuned in to their favorite radio programs. In fact, according to a 1947 C. E. Hooper survey, 82 out of 100 Americans were found to be radio listeners.
The broadcasts of live drama, comedy, music and news that characterize the Golden Age of Radio had a precedent in the Theatrophone, commercially introduced in Paris in 1890 and available as late as 1932. It allowed subscribers to eavesdrop on live stage performances and hear news reports by means of a network of telephone lines. The development of radio eliminated the wires and subscription charges from this concept.
During the Golden Age of Radio, radio featured genres and formats popular in other forms of American entertainment–adventure, comedy, drama, horror, mystery, musical variety, romance, thrillers–along with classical music concerts, big band remotes, farm reports, news and commentary, panel discussions, quiz shows (beginning with Professor Quiz), sidewalk interviews (on Vox Pop), broadcasts, talent shows and weather forecasts.
For some amazing examples, visit this radio drama site. It contains dozens of episodes of modern radio shows in the classic style. You will be amazed at the quality of the programs created, and how much fun you’ll have listening to them!