29 October 2009


i grew up in rural northern montana, as one of the very earliest baby boomers. the times were simpler, slower, more meditative. family entertainment centered around the radio -- television was in its birthing years, and we didn't get our first black-and-white tv until i was ten or so. by then, the inner life of imagination fostered by radio and by reading had already imprinted on my thinking, and on my perception of the world.

close your eyes for a moment and imagine gathering at the kitchen table after supper, turning on the radio (AM only, with an analog dial -- FM radio and digital displays were in the distant future) for the evening's entertainment. i have vivid memories of the sonorous voices and imaginative sound effects on dramas like Gunsmoke, The Lone Ranger, Rin-Tin-Tin, Sergeant Preston of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, comedies like Amos and Andy, Edgar Bergen and Charley McCarthy, Arthur Godfrey and The Art Linkletter Show, and spooky mystery shows like Inner Sanctum. i can still tell you the names of characters, the actors who voiced them, even the names of their horses.

and i can tell you exactly where i was, and the visions and feelings that ran through me, during particularly vivid episodes. those visions and feelings continue to nourish me today. even given the quality of tv shows such as Sesame Street or Mr. Rogers, the fact remains that while visual images do provide windows onto other places, other peoples, they have a dampening effect on one's imagination. is it coincidence that the generations raised on tv have a harder time grasping abstract concepts in school? you be the judge.


  1. What, no mention of ham radio?

    Were you sleeping?

  2. um, i wasn't at the time, nor have i ever been, a ham radio operator. which is not to say that i am unaware of that spectrum of the radio world. note that i didn't describe my military experience as a radioteletype operator, either. the post merely describes my childhood experience with radio. :)

  3. Just joking.

    When I think radio/childhood, WGL's shack springs to life.