February 6 - May 23, 2004

In the early years of the twentieth century, the invention of the radio changed our view of the world forever by creating new methods of delivering entertainment and information. By the end of the 1920s, radio was well established as an entertainment and news medium serving audiences around the world. Technology changed quickly, with crystal sets rapidly displaced by vacuum tube based equipment, and the entertainment lineup evolved just as fast. Innovation in technology and program content rapidly created a huge radio audience.

Remember those voices of the past? Jack Benny, Phil Harris, Eddie Cantor... Those favorite childhood radio serials? Captain Midnight, The Lone Ranger, Tom Mix... Can you recall the first sportscast you ever heard? The first radio commercial?

The Appeal of Radio

As Jack Benny said, radio was do-it-yourself-television. Instead of staring at a 20-inch glass window, you were part of the program with radio. When Jack Armstrong, "the All-American Boy," was climbing a mountain in South America, you were there with him. When the Lone Ranger and Tonto were chasing the bad men, you were right there with them, not staring at a picture. During the horror shows, such as Lights Out, you were next to a person who was being torn apart by wild dogs or having his fingers broken one by one! When the sportscaster, excitement in his voice, described the action of a double play, your imagination conjured up the flash of spikes, the smell of dust and the "thwack" of the ball in the baseman's mitt.

The heyday of radio lasted until the advent of television, the availability of small transistor radios, and the rise of FM broadcasting irrevocably altered the environment, economics and the cultural base of the radio audience.

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Web sites

Antique Radio Classified
Information about antique radio collecting and the history of early radio.

Antique Radios Collector-oriented: Comprehensive information about antiques radio and TV equipment. Many links to other resources.

Antique Wireless Association
Organization interested in history of radio and radio communication.

"Doc" Herrold story 1 hour TV broadcast by KTEH

Charles "Doc" Herrold website Lots of material from Mike Adams and Gordon Greb about this radio pioneer.

History of the NBC Chimes

IEEE historycenter IEEE list of sites related to broadcast technology

Radio Attic archives Comprehensive set of over 3,000 images of antique radios.

Radio Era Archives Commercial site, but many resources here, including operating and maintenance manuals for old radios.


Guide to Old Radios : David and Betty Johnson
Wallace and Homestead Book Company, Radnor, PA, 1989

The Legacies of Edwin Howard Armstrong Proceedings of the Radio Club or America, Volume 63, Number 3, November, 1990

The Story of Charles Herrold, Broadcasting's Forgotten Father: Mike Adams,
Antique Radio Classified, Volume 11, Number 10, October 1994

Credits and Acknowledgements

This virtual exhibit incorporates elements of several MOAH exhibits:

When Radio Was King - 2004 version
When Radio Was King - 1991 version
Back Room Treasures

MOAH Exhibits Committee

Photography Wayland Lee

And a very special thanks to Art Adams for his expertise and loaned artifacts and to Bob Schulz for his personal recollections of old-time radio days.

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