More Radio Nostalgia (Part Two) by Bill Weinhardt W9PPG

     Updated 26 September 2001 URL is


A column by Bill Weinhardt, W9PPG


     ast column I talked about some of the older tube type equipment that I used when I first started out in amateur radio in the early 50’s. Now I will talk about some old time radio programs and radios from the 40’s and 50’s.

     ost of the programs to which kids would listen came on after school hours until probably about 6:00PM. There was one in particular I used to rush home from elementary school to catch. It was a Christmas special serial and was on daily from about Thanksgiving until Christmas. The general plot was that the star was lost from the top of the Christmas tree and that a boy and girl along with some ornaments led by a bear Christmas tree ornament set out in search of the star and the serial was a saga of their adventures.

     ll I could remember was that it was carried on a Chicago radio station-probably WENR, it had been sponsored by Wiebolts department store, and the general plot. I did an internet search and came up with a radio historian in Chicago who responded to my e-mail with the name of the program. It was called the "Cinnamon Bear". It turns out that it is available on cassette tape and CD’s so I now have my very own copy.

     his is just one of the programs. Most of the daily serials were sponsored by breakfast food companies or breakfast drink companies. Most of them periodically had some kind of premiums for which you could send in a box-top and perhaps 25 cents and 4 or 5 weeks receive your very own decoding ring or some other prize. With that you could decode the secret message and get an idea as to what was going to happen on the next episode.

     ome of the programs which I fondly remember are: Jack Armstrong sponsored by Wheaties, Tom Mix sponsored by Ralston, Sergeant Preston of the RCMP sponsored by I don’t remember but his dog was King and his horse was named Blackie, and Sky King which may have been sponsored by Ovaltine.

     hese are the programs that I can remember off the top but there a number of others. Most of these programs ran for about 15 minutes daily as I recall and in Lafayette I listened to the them on Chicago radio stations WGN, WMAQ, WBBM, and WENR. I listened on a cathedral radio in the living room.

     om and dad had this radio on a trial from a local department store. As they told me they had it over the weekend on Sunday Dec 7, 1941 so they heard all the Pearl Harbor news on it and wound up buying it. This was the radio on which they listened to the evening shows like Jack Benny, Fred Allen, Amos and Andy and others. I remember hearing WWII news on it after dad went in the Navy with newscasters H.V. Kaltenborn and Gabriel Heater.

     bout 1948, I was given an RCA Radiola 60 which I still have; it still works. With that I had a radio in my bedroom and would listen to Duffy’s Tavern and other late night shows after going to bed. The Radiola 60 dates to the late 1920’s and is in a long wooden cabinet with a piano hinged top. The loudspeaker is separate. After the war, mom got a radio for the kitchen and probably listened to the daytime serials such as Stella Dallas, Ma Perkins, Just Plain Bill etc. Many of these were sponsored by the soap companies and home medication purveyors like Doan’s pills.

     To me a radio program is something akin to reading a book. In a sense you are a participant since you picture in your mind what is happening, while with a movie or TV program it is all depicted for you as the observer. Radio makes you more of a part of the story and I think stimulates the mind more than television.

      have a collection of old time tube type radios from the 20’s through the early 50’s and some of these actually work. There is the RCA previously mentioned and beyond that I have a Crosley "Pup" (a one tube regenerative receiver from the 20’s), a nice AM-SW Farnsworth in a wooden table model case (a gift from my wife,) a Philco floor model, and then a number of AC-DC transformerless sets from the 30’s, 40’s and early 50’s (these were nicknamed "All American 5’s" as most used 5 tubes).

      expect to start repairing the ones of these that don’t work now that I have my workshop finished and in better order. Many of these radios are in fairly handsome wooden cases and some of these have far better audio than today’s solid state sets with tiny speakers. Besides there is nothing like listening to an old time radio show to the warm glow of vacuum tubes. Some of the National Public Radio stations will occasionally carry an old show. When I get some more of these working maybe I can bring them to a club meeting.

      73’s Bill, W9PPG

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This page was put on line by N9PXK, Sandra Weinhardt, email

This page was put on line by the astonishing N9PXK, Sandra Weinhardt, email