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Old Time Radio Memory: Marvin Sandhop: Memories of Being on the Radio

In 1941, when I was 10 years old, I contracted an illness and was confined to bed. During that time, doctors would make house calls to treat their patients; very few people went to the hospital. Our doctor stated that I would have to stay in bed for about six weeks, which meant an eternity to a child. There was no television back then, so the radio became my constant companion.

I would tune in to a show called "Bachelor's Children", then Mary Noble, Backstage Wife, then Ma Perkins and so on, all day long, fifteen minute serials, one after another. The actors became my friends, and I couldn't wait until the next day to hear if they had solved the problems that were created the day before. It was my own little world, a private world of imagination; it was as if they were my friends and no one else's. I often thought of my classmates working hard, studying in school, being reprimanded by the teachers, but not me! I was in paradise.

The time passed slowly and, had it not been for that little white plastic radio with the big dial and two-inch speaker, I would have been, needless to say, bored silly. At 3 pm it was Dick Tracy, Terry and the Pirates and then, into the night, Inner Sanctum, First Nighter, Lux Presents Hollywood. As all good things had to come to an end, Mom would come in and tell me when it was 9 o' clock, which was the signal to turn off the radio. But I didn't care because there was always tomorrow. I would go to sleep thinking about what was going to happen on each program and the dilemmas the characters were about to face. I recovered from the illness with the help of some of "the best medicine in the world," my little radio.

In 1950, when I was 21 years old, I enlisted in the service and was stationed at an Air Force base in Schreveport, Louisiana. One day I went into town to visit a radio station and, when I walked in, the first thing I saw was a large glass window with a man on the other side. As I saw him talking, while listening to his voice over the speaker in the lobby, I knew that he was on the air. You have to imagine me standing with my face about an inch from the glass, watching him and, as he noticed me peering in at him, he put a record on the turntable, came out of the studio, and introduced himself. I couldn't believe that I was talking to a radio personality who I had heard on the radio at the base. He then excused himself, put another record on and returned to ask me why I was there. I told him I had grown up with radio and wanted to see what it looked like on the inside. He gave me a tour of the studio and record room and showed me the scripts they read for commercials and told me that if I thought I would like to go on the radio I would either have to have a basso voice or have some new gimmick for the listeners. All I could think was that "someone was knocking on my door and I better answer it." So I told him about how I imitated the voices of movie stars: Jerry Lewis, Louis Armstrong, Clark Gable and a few more. He suggested that I demonstrate my talent right then and there. After the informal audition, he then took me into an office, introduced me to the Program Director, and hired me right on the spot, at a whopping $2.00 an hour! I would have worked for nothing, because I was going to be on the RADIO, not listening to it; me a young kid from Chicago, with NO experience at all. I started doing commercials, imitating movie stars, and later they gave me a one-hour, prime time disc jockey show, from 4-5pm, Monday through Friday. I only lasted a few months; I got so sick and tired of playing the top 40 tunes that I would sneak in a Tommy Dorsey or George Shearing record, two of the biggest bandleaders at that time. Unfortunately, that was my downfall; I was shown the front door and was told that I was not needed any more. When I was discharged a few years later I came back to Chicago to try out for radio in the big city but that is another story. Now that I am a 72 year old retiree, I go back in time, buying digital CDs of the old shows, reliving very fond memories of years gone by and remembering my childhood illness and the young man who was naïve enough to think he could get into radio, and briefly made it.

I never made it into Radio like I wanted too, but ended up being a Policeman for 25 years and then retired and went into a local hospital as security Director for 13 years, you see I did end up on the radio, a radio on my Motorcycle, my Squad car and a walkie talkie in the Hospital... and now retired for 10 years, and love it.

- Marvin (Sandy) Sandhop, born 1931

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Sandy was a special guy. I am glad I was able know and work with him.

R Roess

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