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Drive time news, Top 40 hits, Oldies stations, NPR, Jazz, Classical, Grunge, Alternative, Blues, ballgames or angry guy talk shows, we’re still big radio people, no matter what else they invent.

Before television, there was a Golden Age of Radio, with the popular dramas, comedies and variety shows of the day experienced in sound only, leaving the details to the imagination of the listener. Good thing, too, since William Conrad, TV’s famous fat guy detective (Cannon) of the 1970s, was the radio voice of Superman (he also narrated “Rocky & Bullwinkle”).

Orson Welles once panicked the nation with a radio drama about Martian invaders, an early and eye-opening revelation of the power of Mass Media.

Radio shows were performed live in broadcast studios, the actors sitting around a table smoking and reading from scripts, with a sound effects man providing the bangs, creaky floors sounds, ocean waves, doorbells, horse clip-clops or whatever other sounds were needed for dramatic or comedic effect. The hosts of hit radio shows were national stars.

The last remnant of the Golden Age of Radio was “A Prairie Home Companion,” Garrison Keillor’s brilliant Public Radio series which combined a number of radio show genres, and sadly closed up shop a few years ago. The “Guy Noir” character alone is worth looking up Prairie Home Companion reruns.

Meanwhile, who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows…

•Suggested Activities: Listening with your mind’s eye.

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