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Tips from a Fellow OTR Fan Issue 8: Take Me Out to the Ball Game

By Steve Atlas

Old Radio

Hi. My name is Steve Atlas. Like most of you, I am a lover of Old Time Radio (OTR).  

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?  

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 for doing that.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game 

BaseballIn some ways, the change in our favorite professional sport reflects the change in our society and values. Today, our favorite sport is football—a fast moving intense sport. But, when I was growing up in the 1950s, baseball was everyone's favorite. We loved going to the ball parks. At that time, New York City had 3 teams: the Dodgers, Giants, and Yankees. (I still remember getting lost in each of those 3 ball parks.) Unfortunately, for us New Yorkers, in 1957 the Dodgers and Giants moved to California so my love for baseball began to fade. Since moving to Florida several years ago, I realized that we have 2 professional baseball teams here. I hope to see a game in Florida soon. 

Tim DeForest has written a delightful article about baseball and old-time radio. There are links to several great OTR shows about baseball.

Perhaps, my favorite baseball film (both as a movie and an old-time-radio program) is "It Happens Every Spring" (Screen Directors' Playhouse: April 14, 1950):

Do any of you remember Fred McMurray in The Absent-Minded Professor film in which the professor invents a chemical called "Flubber" which allows people to fly—and eventually enables his college to win an important basketball game? The OTR equivalent is "It Happens Every Spring," in which Ray Milland plays a college professor who invents a new chemical that allows him to strike out any batter to whom he pitches. (If you are like me, you will want to see the complete movie after hearing this half hour production.) Unfortunately for him, nobody believes that he can win baseball games with his discovery. (Well, would YOU believe someone who said that?) 

Sometimes the original radio show is even better than the better-known TV program! 

Father Knows BestDo you remember Father Knows Best? This was a much-loved television series that lasted for several years.  

I love this show: for its family-friendly format, emphasis on misunderstandings and families that care about each other—without needing to curse or attack each other verbally. Maybe, we need to think more about what is right with our family and other families, and laugh at ourselves (not others) when humor is appropriate. 

My wife and I were surprised, when we listened to the original radio series of Father Knows Best, the radio program was even funnier and more charming in many ways than the later television show. If you have time, listen to the Audition Show for Father Knows Best (December 20, 1948). It's a real delight—a joy to hear. 

Tell Me a Story 

Favorite StoryHave any of you heard "Favorite Story?" In these half hour programs, hosted by Ronald Coleman, a famous listener requests that the program dramatize one of their favorite stories. I enjoyed Arabian Nights—although it's impossible to do full justice to a 3-volume set of stories. My wife enjoys Little Women, and I had an opportunity to hear it dramatized for the 1st time. Some of the other famous stories featured on this program are: Wuthering Heights, Frankenstein, David Copperfield, Les Miserables, Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and Gulliver's Travels. I found that, in general, it is hard to do a completely satisfying adaptation of many of these stories in just fa half-hour.  

On the other hand, comedies are done very well on Favorite Story. My special favorite is "The Importance of Being Ernest," an adaption of Oscar Wilde's delightful comedy.

Another story my wife and I enjoyed was "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court." 

Until next month when I'll cover some of my favorite wholesome family shows, I wish each of you Happy Listening!  


What are your favorite Old-Time Radio programs? 

Do you have a few favorite episodes that you would enjoy sharing with other OTR listeners? If you would like to include some of your favorites and why you like them in "Tips from a Fellow OTR" fan, leave a comment below. Do you have requests for other themes or programs you would like me to include in a future article? If so, please also leave a comment below. 

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I should have known better than to go back into the candy store! I placed another order which includes Charlie Chan (and a few other items!). I suspect that you are also someone with an interest in early American broadcasting and recording, so you will understand.


I sure do understand, Conrad. Oh well, old time radio is a lot less destructive than drugs or too much alcohol. And we can enjoy the shows for a much longer time.


I would absolutely love it. I cannot tell you the hours we have spent driving in the car listening to the whistler or mysterious traveler. Handheld video games? I don't think so! Thanks for the shipping and endless hours of enjoyment. At 5.00 a c.d it has to be the best deal in entertainment.


Hi Rob, Do you have any favorite Whistler or Mysterious Traveler episodes? I'd love to share them with other listeners in my column. (Please include the date of each episdoe you recommend.) Thanks.


In January I ordered some CDs, and have enjoyed them very much.


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