In the summer of 1978, while on vacation at the University of Notre Dame, I bought a tape of the Green Hornet episode “the Boathouse Mystery” at the campus bookstore. At some point in the next year or two, I would also buy the Shadow episode “Death From the Deep.” Today, I own nearly 2,800 episodes of various radio shows (including duplicates), and have had two of my original radio scripts performed and broadcast by a repertory group out of Kalamazoo called “All Ears Theatre.” And a variation of one of those scripts had previously been performed on stage at the Cincinnati Old-Time Radio and Nostalgia Convention.
While those initial purchases of episodes of The Green Hornet and The Shadow introduced me to old-time radio, I think my interest in old-time radio really began sometime in 1981, thanks to my Uncle Bruce.
Uncle Bruce, who died Dec. 8, had learned that I owned those two tapes (and maybe one or two others by that time), and told me that a local radio station out of Canada (CKJY 93.9 FM) was broadcasting old-time radio shows every Sunday night. As I recall, it was a two-hour block (at least), and included at various times not only episodes of The Green Hornet and The Shadow, but also Charlie McCarthy, Fibber McGee and Molly and The Lone Ranger. And probably others. Pretty much every Sunday night, I listened to whatever shows that station broadcast that evening.
And I’m almost certain that that steady diet of old-time radio shows is what led me to start purchasing episodes; to later learn about and begin attending the Cincinnati convention; and to eventually write some original radio scripts. And would any of that have happened if Uncle Bruce hadn’t brought those broadcasts of old radio shows to my attention? Maybe. Or maybe I’d have owned a few tapes of old radio shows as curiosities, nothing more.
Oh, and by the way, both The Lone Ranger and The Green Hornet were broadcast from WXYZ in Detroit (as was Challenge of The Yukon, AKA Sergeant Preston of the Yukon). And not only did both shows use the same repertory group of actors, but the two characters were related. Britt Reid, the Green Hornet, was the son of the Lone Ranger’s nephew, Dan Reid, making the Hornet the Ranger’s grand-nephew.
I don’t recall if Uncle Bruce had a particular affinity for radio shows as he was growing up (he didn’t buy tapes or CDs of old shows when they became available, so he wasn’t bitten by the nostalgia bug in later years), but he did definitely help kick my own interest into high gear.
And I suppose it’s ironically appropriate that I would later introduce my cousin Kelley (Uncle Bruce’s eldest granddaughter) to old-time radio; and that I’d write my first script for her and name a character after her.
And it all might be thanks to few words from Uncle Bruce all those years ago.