When I was a kid we lived a few blocks from the local library and I spent many afternoons there discovering new worlds among the shelves. The librarians came to know me quite well and noticed that a great deal of my reading material was focused on science fiction, horror, and of course superheroes. It was on one of my visits that the library ladies introduced me to the old fashioned radio show, the Shadow to be exact. I knew of the character through many pop culture references and comic books, but had never actually heard the radio shows. So I anxiously checked out my cassette tapes (there were no CD’s back then) and hurried home.
I started the ritual of listening to these shows each night when I went to bed. Of course I usually got caught up in the stories and wouldn’t fall asleep until the side of the tape I was listening to was finished. I found that listening to these shows was as good and sometimes better than watching television. I would make a point to rush to the library to get more when I finished each set. After I had listened to all the available Shadow episodes I moved on to some of the pulp detective, western and even the comedy shows. I often wondered why they didn’t still do radio shows, I loved listening to them and even got a few of my friends to start. As the years went on I searched out and listened to these shows less frequently. Although I did try to catch War of the Worlds each Halloween until I moved out of the city and the A.M. stations became too hard to tune in. Then a few years back I discovered podcasts, which in turn led me to Decoder Ring Theater.
I was ecstatic when I discovered this show that is basically a modern day, old fashioned radio show. There are two features, the Red Panda Adventures and Black Jack Justice, and though they tend to be a little tongue in cheek, they are thoroughly enjoyable and completely in the spirit of the old time shows. While I like the pulp style PI stories of Black Jack Justice, I personally prefer the superhero adventures of the Red Panda. Whether you are like me and love serial radio shows or even if you have never listened to one you really should check out Decoder Ring Theater.
Finding Decoder Ring Theater reawakened my love for the old radio adventures; I had forgotten how much I enjoyed them. With the internet at my disposal I began looking for information about similar shows. Instead I stumbled upon something even better, actual old time radio shows.
There are quite a few sites where you can download original old time radio shows. As I explored these sites I found shows that I honestly didn’t know existed. The Blue Beetle show from the 1940’s was the one I was most excited to find, BB is one of my all time favorite characters though this show is about the original Dan Garret character and not Ted Kord, so I downloaded all of the episodes. I also found Flash Gordon, Frankenstein, Roy Rogers, George Burns and countless others. Unfortunately some of the more popular characters like Superman, the Lone Range, Green Hornet, and the Shadow were nowhere to be found. Never the less the shows I did find will provide me with hours of entertainment. I now know that they sell the more popular shows, like the Shadow, on CD so I may just pick them up too.
Below are a few sites where you can find and download these shows. Some of the sites may charge for certain shows but a great many of them offer free downloads. I recommend that you give these old shows a chance. They may be a little dated, but they are still incredibly entertaining and fun.
Old Time Radio Fans
Archive.org: Old time Radio
Also if you are a fan of the Golden Age check this site out. You can actually download copies of old GA comics. There selections is kind of slim put it’s still pretty cool.
Plus they do sell some old time radio shows.