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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MWOTRC'S 25 YEARS: RICH HISTORY... BRIGHT FUTURE!
(From Radio Recall, June 2009)
It all started in the Pentagon, with four employees there, all civilians, who knew little of each other but whose love of OTR brought them together. Jim Burnette, who lived in Manassas, had been trying to start an OTR club at the Pentagon for years with little success on his own. He finally teamed up with Ron Barnett who collected and sold OTR shows on open reel.
Jim had the dream and Ron had a place to launch it....the social room at his apartment complex in Alexandria. They composed an invitation to a charter meeting of a new OTR club and printed it on the letterhead stationery Ron used in his OTR business. They gave out some, posted some on Pentagon bulletin boards, and mailed a few out.
Iris Koon, who worked with Jim Burnette, had a daughter who worked with Mark Bush at the Pentagon. The daughter told Iris that he was very interested in OTR so Iris sent him an invitation. Meanwhile another worker, who knew none of the others, saw the notice of the new club. He was Phil Kania and he collected antique radios so he thought he would show up at that first meeting.
Memories vary on how many people actually attended that first meeting on May 11, 1984 at 4600 Duke Street. Jim and Ron were there, of course, they were the hosts. Phil was present, as was Mark, who brought his wife, Marsha. Although the exact count is lost in the mists of history, it was probably no more than a half dozen. All of them were given eight OTR posters, a Charlie McCarthy “mazuma” bill, and a pencil sharpener in the shape of an old radio....all of which Jim paid for out of his own pocket.
The next meeting in June was held in the home of the Bushs and the recruiting in between resulted in doubling the size of the group. Jim accepted the presidency and Marsha volunteered to be Secretary/Treasurer. Dues were set at ten bucks a year. By the end of 1984 the club had 24 dues-paying members, a newsletter that came out occasionally, and the start of an audio rental library.
By the tenth year, the club had a robust membership, including many from out of the DC area, and three active libraries (cassette, open reel, and print.) A lovely banquet was held to celebrate this 10th anniversary and you can read all about it on page 9 of this issue.
To commemorate the club’s quarter century this issue is a special one. We’ve collected a lot of historical data on what we’ve accomplished in the past. Several articles from past issues of RADIO RECALL are reprinted, along with one selection from “Gather ‘Round the Radio.” We hope that this nostalgic journey back will remind you of all the satisfying times we’ve had within MWOTRC.