Hi.  I thought I’d tell y’all about my favorite passion; radio plays, or audio plays.  I sometimes wonder how a woman who grew up with television could be so fascinated with audio-only entertainment.  I must confess I really don’t know the true answer to that, unless it is that one can be “imprinted” when very young and then destined to love (or hate) something as long as we live!

When I was about 10 years old, and that is a wild guess I really don’t know how old I was, I bought a used little radio from a kid down the street.  It would have been around 1960, and it was  what we then called “transistor” radios. It was about 5 inches tall by 2 1/2 inches wide by 1 inch deep, if my memory is correct.

 

My transistor radio was red.

My transistor radio was red.

 

I guess transistor radio meant it didn’t have any tubes in it, although my parents radio didn’t have any tubes either, so I really don’t know what the heck transistor meant. Electronic devices kept getting smaller is what it meant to a 10 year old kid.

In practical terms it meant I had my very own teensy little radio that I could carry around anywhere, which was a big deal in 1960.  It ran on a couple of AA batteries, or it might have been one of those rectangular ones like we put in smoke alarms these days.  I remember it was red, and I would fall asleep listening to it at night.  That meant I was always replacing the batteries because it would play until the batteries ran down and then quit.

So one night when I was fiddling with the dial looking for something to listen to I caught what must have been the tail end of a Sherlock Holmes mystery.  I still remember the sound effects and the narrators description: It was a damp, dark and cold foggy night.  A man was walking across a bridge, almost invisible in the thick fog.  I could hear his footsteps on the wet pavement and the dripping moisture on the bridge deck.  The tension was thick and I wanted to hear more.

 

Sherlock Holmes radio drama

Sherlock Holmes radio drama

 

I must have only heard about 5 minutes or less of the story, and as hard as I tried, I never could get another radio story for the next 10 or 12 years.  Then in the 70’s KIRO radio in Seattle started replaying old radio shows from the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.  I loved it.  They were on for 2 hours at least 5 nights a week – maybe it was every night, I’m not sure.  I taped them for years and replayed the tapes over and over until CD’s came out and then I began researching where I could buy the radio plays on CD.

Now I listen on my mp3 player and found that there are quite a few sites that make available for free old radio plays, new authors reading their books, and several sites that have volunteers reading books that are past their copyrights so anyone can listen to them for free.

While I was pregnant with my first son I developed insomnia and have had it ever since.  So I love listening to them at night when I can’t sleep.  It’s like having someone read you to sleep when you were a kid.  I figure that if I didn’t have the audio stories I’d have to be on some sleep medication, so I prefer my stories.

Here’s a list of some of the free mp3 download sites:

http://www.podiobooks.com

http://librivox.org/

http://www.otr.com/index.shtml

http://www.radiolovers.com/pages/allshows.html

But any web search will turn up plenty of them. These days my favorites are the authors reading their own books.  There are some really good stories I’ve discovered this way.

Audio Hamster

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