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This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.

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by Jack French
(From Radio Recall, April 2008)

“It’s a chancy job and it makes a person watchful ...and maybe a little lonely....”

Our club began in 1984 and the first order of business for our founder and president, Jim Burnette, was to get a newsletter going. A youngster named Bob Roach became our first editor, putting out a 27 page publication called “When Radio Was King” consisting mostly of reprints from old radio magazines. Roach then dropped out of sight so the next issue, some seven months later (simply called “the Newsletter”) was written by Burnette.

Thereafter at irregular intervals another newsletter would appear , usually one or two sheets in total. This arrangement continued until January 1986 when Ron Barnett became editor.

Using the same logo as his audio tape business, Ron published several newsletters, sometimes monthly, and occasionally up to three sheets on both sides. In the fall of 1987, Ron became our Vice President and Mike O’Donnell took his place.

Under Mike, the newsletter got up to about eight pages and sometimes included two-page editorials. In late 1988, Mike resigned for health reasons and two other members, Stan Cawelti and Bill Jacobson, took over the reins in dual-editor arrangement. By now, actual articles were being printed, not just club announcements, reprints, and audio library listings.

Stan died suddenly in December 1989 and Ken Neal, a computer whiz, took over editorial duties from Bill Jacobson. For the first time, “the newsletter” was produced, not on a wood-burning typewriter, but on a PC. Ken made it look very professional with detailed articles, puzzles, and B&W photographs. He followed the tradition of Stan and B ill, publishing one issue every other month.

In the Jan/Feb 1991 issue, Ken resigned, citing a complete lack of submissions from the membership, including a trivia contest that not one member bothered to enter. This last issue of Ken’s, some 28 pages, had 20 pages of old reprints.

Yours truly took over temporarily, put out the Mar/Apr 1991 issue under the new name of RADIO RECALL, and then talked Barbara Durmick into becoming our new editor. Her brother-in-law, who was experienced in desk top publishing, helped her churn out several very attractive issues, sometimes bimonthly, sometimes quarterly, depending on the amount of submissions. She resigned in January 1993, listing the same complaints as previous editors: the lack of submissions made the job too tough and kept the number of pages down to eight or less.

Your present editor replaced Barbara, and with no desk top publisher to assist him, it was back to a wood-burning typewriter and hand-drawn headlines. Despite that, I incorporated a number of innovations, creating a “Letters to the Editor” page and Editor’s Desk (Jan/Feb 1993), “Plan Ahead” for OTR events (Mar/Apr 1993) and regular book reviews (May/Jun 1993.)

To compensate for lack of a computer, I’d write articles for other OTR clubs that had professional publishing and when they came out, I’d (literally) copy and paste them into RADIO RECALL. Your present editor got his first computer, a MAC, in the spring of 1996 and every issue since June 1996 has been produced on a computer.

With internet access, your editor could surf the net, uncovering OTR authorities whom I’d then cajole into writing for RADIO RECALL. Some were one-time contributors (Bill Harper, Walter Robbins, Arlene Osborne, etc.) while others became regular contributors (Jim Snyder, Stephen A. Kallis, Jr., Elizabeth McLeod, Jim Cox, etc.) A buddy of mine in SPERDVAC, talented artist Bobb Lynes, gave me unrestricted usage of any of his OTR drawings to illustrate our articles, which really made the pages attractive and professional looking.

The biggest technology change to RADIO RECALL came last year. Our webmaster, Bob Bybee, told me he had the technology and equipment to publish our journal in PDF format. This was a significant breakthrough, for it not only cut our printing and postage costs in half, it also provided subscribers with full color illustrations. (Such color graphics are cost prohibitive in the hard copy version.)

I’ve lost count of how many issues I’ve edited since 1993--probably about ninety. Obviously no one would do this job this long unless they truly loved it---which I do......

CD containing every page of every issue 2001 to 2006 of RADIO RECALL (Yes, 432 pages) is yours for only $10 postpaid. Order from your editor, Jack French.