Can you even imagine life without television? Actually, television is a relatively new development. Before we were entertained by Bart Simpson on the television, radio was the medium of choice for popular entertainment. Little Orphan Annie and Fibber McGee delighted the imaginations of Americans throughout the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.

Sample some of the following activities to learn more about radio.


Places To Go    People To See    Things To Do    Teacher Resources    Bibliography

Places To Go

The following are places to go (some real and some virtual) to find out about radio.

Grand Ol' Opry
Visit the Grand Ol Opry. Its roots go back to 1925 when it first broadcast on radio. The Grand Ol Opry claims to be the world's longest running live radio program.
Live Radio
Choose a country of your choice and listen to live radio stations from Armenia to Iran to Jamaica to Mali. These are real, streaming radio stations. A cautionary word is in order if you are listening to streaming radio from school networks---radio broadcasts can take up large amounts of bandwidth.
National Public Radio Online 
Travel in cyberspace to National Public Radio. You can read and hear current broadcasts as well as seach their archives for past programs. NPR is a true treasure
Quirks and Quarks
We may not associate radio as a source of valuble, reliable information. This site spotlights a radio program where we can find out the latest in science, technology, medicine and the environment.
Radio Hall of Fame
Virtually visit the Radio Hall of Fame and read about its inductees such as Kate Smith, Eddie Cantor, Walter Winchell, and Gene Autry
Radio Locator
Travel all over the world via radio waves. From this site, you can find over 10,000 worldwide radio stations, many with audio streams.

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People To See

Spend some time with Little Orphan Annie. First, she was popular in her comic strip. Then she became famous on the radio. She's since had plays and movies written about her
Edward R. Murrow
Get to know Edward R. Murrow. He was a pioneer in early radio broadcasting.
Fibber McGee and Molly Site
Listen to 442 episodes of Fibber McGee and Molly for free. Part of our over 12,000 show library of old time radio
Jack Armstrong
In perhaps the longest high school career on record, Jack Armstrong remained an All-American Boy for close to two decades. For the greater part of its radio life, Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy was a 15-minute-a-day children's serial.
Jack Benny
Jack Benny was one of the most famous radio comedians of the Golden Age of Radio. He was famous for being tight with his money. Jack Benny has the longest recorded laugh ever in radio of over 2 ½ minutes for a gag on one of his shows.
Nobel Prize
Meet Guglielmo Marconi. He invented a little transmitter in 1894 that sent wireless signals over a distance of about a mile and a half. By 1900, he had patented his wireless telegraphy, and radio was born.
Toyko Rose
Meet the alleged Toyko Rose. Her real name was Iva Toguri D'Aquino. Find out more about the role that radio propaganda played in World War II.

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Things To Do

This site will help you figure out the difference between AM and FM radio.
Call Signs
Figure out what radio call signs mean and how they are assigned. Just like people can get vanity license plates for their cars, radio operators can also get vanity call signs for their ham radio setups.
The Great Gildersleeve
His name was Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, and he was a pompous but loveable character of oldtime radio. Find out about his popular radio program.
How Stuff Works: Ham Radio
Figure out the difference between regular radio and ham radio. Ham radio is just a shortened way of saying "amateur" radio which means that everyday people broadcast radio throughout the world.
The Invention of Radio
Explore how the invention of radio owes its roots to the invention of the telegraph and the telephone.
Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour
If you like American Idol, then check out the old radio show, Major Bowes Original Amateur Hour. This radio show was extremely popular in the 1930s, and people even enjoyed listening to contestants tap dance.
NOAA Weather Radio
You know how the Weather Channel offers hours of entertainment for discerning viewers? Well, you can also listen to 24 Hour Non-Stop Weather Radio by way of the National Weather Service.
Old Time Radio
Find out about the radio programs of the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. From this site, you can listen to the Shadow, Captain Midnight, and many other popular radio programs from the Golden Age of Radio. Listen as you surf!
Radio Free Europe
Discover the origins of Radio Free Europe. In 1950, it began broadcasting its programs promoting democracy to countries behind the Iron Curtain.
United States Early Radio History
Browse through articles and abstracts about the early history of radio.
War of the Worlds
Learn about the effect that Orson Welle's October 30, 1938 radio broadcast had on listeners.

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Teacher Resources

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  • Coulter, George. Radio. Vero Beach, Fla.: Rourke Publications, c1996.
  • Lafferty, Peter. Radio and Television. New York: F. Watts, c1997.
  • Stwertka, Eve. Tuning In: The Sounds of Radio. New York, NY: J. Messner, c1992.