Cincinnati OTR attracts radio history buffs.OTR (Old Time Radio), also known as the Golden Age of radio, began in the early 1920s when radio took to the airwaves as the primary form of entertainment for American households. It’s estimated that 82 out of 100 Americans tuned to their radios daily, listening to favorites like Red Ryder, Orson Welles and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Television quickly changed the landscape of the American living room in the 1950s and radio programmers had to reinvent themselves. Less shows and more music. Classic radio began to slowly fade away. Ironically the newer technology of today, (internet, streaming, iPods and smart phone apps) is reviving OTR. Attracting newer, younger audiences and creating a new generation interested in the history of radio. WMKV 89.3 FM, located on the campus of Maple Knoll Village, right here in Cincinnati, delivers classic radio shows from the Golden Age of Radio, all over the globe via the internet. Gone are the days of gathering around the radio for entertainment. Not even Orson Welles could imagine that his programs would travel so freely. OTR is found on the internet and beyond with the use of free iPhone/iPad and Android apps. Smart phones from the 21st Century playing programs from the 1920s!
“We’re building quite a following”, says George Zahn, WMKV’s Station Director. “We entertain more than 35,000 listeners on air and on the internet every week. We’re also hearing from families and listeners as early as 13 years old who have found this unique service.”Cincinnati has much to offer the radio history buff. Check out the following either in person or online.
- www.wmkvfm.org offers online streaming of OTR. The station also offers free tours but call ahead to schedule.
- Media Heritage, Inc., a non profit group dedicated to the preservation of radio and TV broadcast history, has an incredible museum at the VOA building in Butler County. www.historyofbroadcasting.com.
- Mike Martini, a radio historian and host of WMKV’s Theater of the Mind, has authored a book “Cincinnati Radio.” The book takes a historical look in pictures and captions at Cincinnati’s incredibly rich broadcast history. Available through several sites including www.cincinnatiradiohistory.com.
- The New Edgecliff Theatre in Cincinnati is an organization that recreates some of the OTR shows. They stage radio dramas for audiences who want to relive those golden radio days and hundreds of others who weren’t even born when those radio shows first aired! Visit https://newedgecliff.com.
WMKV’s Mike Martini and George Zahn are among the staff who regularly speak to area groups about many topics including the history of broadcasting, WMKV, Cincinnati Reds sportscasters, Ruth Lyons, and more. WMKV also hosts free tours of their studios scheduling is important.
You can contact WMKV at 513-782-2427 and ask about a guest speaker or a tour.