Love Letter to Radio

by Al Palmer from Lambertville, MI
Oct 15, 11

Radio has been a part of my life for as almost as long as I can remember.

In 1941, my parents purchased an RCA console radio with pushbuttons to tune the stations. The pushbuttons were the latest thing – hard to believe. 

That radio became my entry to the outside world: “Jack Armstrong” after school, “Lets Pretend,” on Saturday, and all of the weekly evening programs like “Fibber McGee and Molly,” and “Suspense,” which was particularly good with all the lights off.  

The first radio of my very own was a white Emerson that I received on my eighth or ninth birthday. Like yours, that radio was both beside and in my bed at night.  
Then, when I was about eleven years old, someone gave my father an old table model Philco radio with shortwave bands. I immediately claimed it as my own.  

That radio became my constant, nighttime companion until I went away to college. A long wire antenna was strung from my bedroom window to a tree in the backyard. Every night was spent listening to broadcasts from far away places. I grew up in Youngstown, Ohio when it was a large producer of iron and steel. Often at night, I would lay awake listening to big bands play in ballrooms I could only dream of, while hearing the whistles of the steam locomotives working in the mills outside my window. The radio was usually still on when I awakened in the morning.

A clock radio accompanied me to college and graduate school over the next few years. I have always had a radio beside my bed. 

I’ve listened to talk radio from St. Louis far into the night when it was less inflammatory and sometimes even fun. While in college, I would race to my room in order to listen to the fifteen minute “Bob and Ray,” program before dinner. It helped keep one sane.  

I discovered the single element earpiece when our son was born. If I put the earpiece in one ear and the pillow over the other, I couldn’t hear him cry at night. At least, I could pretend to my wife that I didn’t hear him.  

My first really good radio was a large Panasonic, also with shortwave bands. I still have it. That radio accompanied us in our travel trailer on family vacations at McGregor Point Provincial Park at Port Elgin, Ontario. We made that trip several times over the years and it was there that I discovered Morningside. How wonderful it was to sit outside at the picnic table with a cup of coffee and listen to Peter Gzowski. I was always sad when I had to leave because I couldn’t get the program at home in Toledo, Ohio. For some reason, we were never able to get any Canadian AM stations in Toledo, so I couldn’t listen to CBC Radio 1.
But we were able to get the CBC FM station in Windsor – Radio 2. . For many years, I would spend Saturday mornings in my workshop listening to shows like Eclectic Circus and Royal Canadian Air Farce. Then one Saturday morning, there was a program change and the Vinyl Café appeared. Since that time, we have been among your biggest fans.

A radio is one of the first things packed and unpacked when we travel. I still have a Sony multiband radio beside the bed with a single element earpiece that goes in my ear each night as it has for almost fifty years. Now, the radio is tuned to a frequency that is broadcast by a low power FM transmitter hooked to my computer.  
Occasionally neighbours have inadvertently tuned into my transmitter and wondered how they came to be listening to broadcasts from Winnipeg!

These days the world of internet radio gives me the kind of music I love any time of the day or night.  

Whether it is delivered via internet or via my old Emerson or Philco radio goes on, bringing joy and pleasure to people like me.