It’s a little shocking to think that transistor radios were once the biggest form of at-home entertainment in America. Families would gather around their radios every week to listen to their favorite programs.
It wasn’t until the mid-1900’s when television started to take over, that transistor radios lost much of their audience, and as a result, many of their once popular radio shows. Despite their decline in popularity over the years, there are still many die-hard fans of those old radio shows.
Here are some of the best shows that you could ever find on a transistor radio.
Abbott And Costello
This comedic duo was one of the most popular acts in the history of television and radio comedy. They became very well-known for their famous act, “Who’s On First?” with its rapid wordplay and comedic confusion. Many comedians to this very day credit this hilarious duo for their influence on their careers.
“Blondie” was a popular radio situation comedy that was adapted from the comic strip that was run by Chic Young. The program lasted from 1939 to 1950. Penny Singleton was cast as Blondie while Arthur Lake co-starred as Dagwood. Their careers were sprung from their earlier appearances on “The Bob Hope Show.” Even radio shows arrived by way of spin-offs!
Based off the popular newspaper comic strip from creator Chester Gould, “Dick Tracy” was a radio drama series centered around the American detective’s crime-fighting. It first aired in 1934 and ran until 1948. This show was particularly popular for its ability to keep listeners on their seat from week-to-week.
The Martin And Lewis Show
Hosted by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, this radio show began in 1949 and ended in 1953. Martin and Lewis were a relatively unknown comedy team when the program started, with Martin taking the lead as a talented singer and Lewis as the comedic head. The program was one of the most expensive of its era. It’s hard to believe that such a formidable duo owed so much of their success to a radio talk show.
The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet
This program ran from 1944 to 1954 and produced approximately 402 episodes during its run. It was a family situation comedy headlined by Ozzie Nelson, and it was later transitioned to television when that medium began to grow in popularity. Both the radio show and the TV show were hilarious and were a great way to spend time with family members.
The Bob Hope Show
Bob Hope had an esteemed and lengthy career that crossed from radio into television. During the time that his famous radio program was on-air, he was known for featuring celebrity guests such as Bing Crosby and Doris Day. Hope was well known for his lightning quick wit and good sense of humor. He has that type of voice that was meant for radio, and he lived up to that potential.
Amos ‘n’ Andy
“Amos ‘n’ Andy” was one of the most popular and long-standing radio programs of all-time. Eventually the show was transitioned to television in 1951, and only Ernestine Wade and Amanda Randolph were kept on from the original radio cast. They have become cultural icons over the years.
Red Skelton got his start as a regularly featured guest on NBC’s Avalon Time in 1939, but over time he grew his success into his own radio show, “The Raleigh Cigarette Program,” which incorporated a host of recurring characters played up for comedic effect. Skelton is known as one of the top radio comedians of all time and perhaps even one of the greatest to ever live.
Our Miss Brooks
“Our Miss Brooks” starred Eve Arden as a high school English teacher and its theme was that of an American situation comedy. It ran on radio from 1948 to 1957 and was adapted to television in 1952. There was even a film that debuted in 1956. It was one of television’s earliest hits after first achieving success on radio.
Jack Benny had one of the most popular radio programs of the 30s, 40s, and 50s, and his comedic stylings had a profound effect on situation comedy as a whole. He commonly used single expressions or pregnant pauses to capture the humor in a moment, and he’s regarded by many as one of the most prominent American entertainers of the century. In many ways Jack Benny was the father of modern comedy.
“The Magnificent Montague” starred Monty Woolley as Edwin Montague and Anne Seymour as his wife. The plot of the show involved both characters regularly getting involved in adventures of a comedic nature. This was a family-friendly program that ran from 1950 to 1951.
It Pays To Be Ignorant
This was a radio comedy show which remained popular for nine years on three different networks. The show spoofed other legitimate series such as “Information Please” or “Quiz Kids.” The program was broadcast from 1942 to 1951 on Mutual, CBS, and NBC.
Father Knows Best
“Father Knows Best” was popular on both radio and television in the 50s and 60s, and served as a portrait of American life for the middle class of that time. Some claimed it was too rosy in its portrayal of American life for the period, but it was regarded by many with favor, and in 2008 even received a movie adaptation starring Tim Allen.
Ed Wynn The Fire Chief
Ed Wynn was known as a clownish entertainer with a recognizably giddy voice. Eventually he took to television and film, even earning an Oscar nomination. His trademark giggle and slight lisp earned the affections of many fans over the years of his career.
A Date With Judy
Running during the 1940s, “A Date With Judy” was a teenage comedy that originally began as a replacement for Bob Hope’s show during the summer. It featured a number of actresses in the title role of Judy, including Ann Gillis, Dellie Ellis, and Louise Erickson. The show ended in 1950.
The Aldrich Family
Most known for its distinct introduction of teen Henry’s mother calling his name theatrically, “The Aldrich Family” ran from 1939 to 1953. It was a middle-class family American comedy built around the Aldrich Family who lived in Centerville. As mentioned, the main focus of the show was teenager Henry and the hijinx he got into.
The Great Gildersleeve
The program ran from 1941 to 1957 and was originally written by Leonard Lewis Levinson. The show was centered around the character of Throckmorton P. Gildersleeve, and it had great success in the 1940s. It later had spin-offs which turned into four feature films.
Fibber McGee And Molly
Regarded by many as the prototypical classic, old-time radio program, “Fibber McGee and Molly” was at the top of pop culture in America from 1935 until 1959. It was one of the longest running radio comedy programs ever in the United States.
The Baby Snooks Show
“The Baby Snooks Show” starred Ziegfeld Follies alumna and comedian Fanny Brice as a young girl who frequently got into mischief. At the time of the show, the actress was forty years older than the character she was playing! The radio show first aired on CBS in 1944.
Judy Canova Show
The popularity of the Canova family in the 1930s, and multiple radio spots, led to Judy Canova earning her own radio show. The show began in 1943, and it ran for a total of 12 years between CBS and NBC. Judy played herself and was accompanied by the cast of Mel Blanc, Ruth Perrott, Ruby Dandridge, and Joseph Kearns, among others.