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Tips from a Fellow OTR Fan Issue 5: Listening for New Years

By Steve Atlas

Old RadioHi. My name is Steve Atlas. Like most of you, I am a lover of Old Time Radio (OTR). I want to thank Otrcat for making these collections available at such an affordable price. I have built a collection of over 100 Instant Download MP3s

My problem is there are so many OTR programs that even if I buy a collection, I am not sure which individual programs I would enjoy most. What collections are good choices if you can only pick a few? Do any of you have similar dilemmas?

Then this newsletter is for you. Here, I recommend some of my favorite OTR collections, and a few of my favorite programs, as well as tips and suggestions from other OTR fans. I hope you too will share some of your favorites with other OTR listeners. I may be recommending a few programs that I have already featured in earlier issues of Tips From a Fellow OTR Fan—but only if there is a special reason.

Do You or Your Partner Take a Long Time to Decide What to Buy?

Jack Benny SantaDuring the just-ended holiday shopping period, many of us are not sure what to buy. I remember in years past, going to a bookstore or music store, intending to buy one or two books or recordings. But then, I found so many good choices that I couldn’t make up my mind—so I left without buying anything.

If you or your partner has this problem, do yourself a favor. Take a break from shopping and listen to The Jack Benny Show from December 8, 1946: Jack buys Don some shoelaces. In this unforgettable and hilarious episode, Jack agonizes over whether to buy plastic or metal shoelaces for his announcer Don Wilson. Rochester, Dennis Day, Phil Harris and other regulars add to the festive atmosphere. I heard this on episode on Jack Benny Christmas:

Let’s Start The New Year off in a Happy Way

Damon Runyan

Do you find yourself wishing that the beauty, caring, and celebrating the best side of people would stay with us, even after the New Year begins? OTR can help make this possible. I want to celebrate 2 delightful programs that can get you in a happy and positive frame of mind.

Damon Runyon Theater: Do you remember the Broadway musical and movie, Guys and Dolls? That was based on several stories by Damon Runyon who celebrated the special characters that populated New York City’s Times Square. The language itself is delightful, and most programs are a delight to hear. As I work my way through Volume 1 (of this 2-volume set), I suggest listening to the first six episodes on Volume 1.

Tobias the Terrible is the first show in the series and an unforgettably humorous story of a young man who is from Erasmus, PA and comes to New York to meet some tough guys and win back his girlfriend. After hearing this episode, I had to replay it several times for friends and family members:

"Little Miss Marker" is a real tear-jerker. (Check out the original movie that stars Shirley Temple.):

"Romance in the Roaring Fourties" is an unforgettable love story with a surprising ending:

"Idoyl of Miss Sarah Brown" is one of the two stories that is featured in Guys and Dolls:

John Charles thomas

I like to listen to one of these Damon Runyon Theater episode whenever I feel down or cynical. After hearing Damon Runyon Theater, I feel a smile coming over me and somehow life doesn’t seem so difficult.

If you have time, see the 1961 movie (starring Betty Davis) “Pocketful of Miracles” that celebrates many of these Damon Runyon characters.

John Charles Thomas Show: Thomas was a legendary star—similar to the late Luciano Pavarotti. His rich baritone voice is still a delight to hear. Two of his most beautiful songs are Home on the Range and Trees.

This program was rebroadcast (from the original show) by Armed Forces Radio for the troops of the United Nations in 1944. Each 30-minute show features Thomas, the Ken Darby Singers, and Victor Young and his orchestra, and occasionally a storyteller. I must confess the first episode had little appeal for me, but before giving up, I decided to hear a few more programs. Later tracks improved.

The third and fourth episodes were so great that I wanted to take time to hear each of the remaining 32 programs on this MP3. Track 3 included a beautiful rendition of In the Gloaming by Thomas, and a great story of a French jeweler during the Nazi occupation.

Green Pastures, and the classic hymn Abide in Me, both sung by Thomas. The Ken Darby Singers give an invigorating performance of the Al Jolson hit Margie.

The style and charm of John Charles Thomas make nearly every program a delight to hear—and a beautiful way to end or begin a week.

If you enjoy John Charles Thomas as much as I did, you will want to get your own copy of the CD Prima Voce: John Charles Thomas . Bell Telephone Encores includes a 30-minute program of some of the singer’s favorite songs:

Let’s make the new year a happy year. And allow yourself to welcome in these 2 OTR programs (Damon Runyon Theater and John Charles Thomas Show) to start this new year off in a happy way that will make you smile!

What are your favorite Old Time Radio programs?

This list includes just a few of my favorite OTR selections. What are your favorites? Take a minute or two to comment below and share some of your favorites with other listeners.

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