This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.
Click here to return to the index of selected articles.
OTR ADVENTURES IN ARIZONA
by Jim Snyder © 2012
(From Radio Recall, June 2012)
There are a couple of free old-time radio venues here in Arizona that would be of interest to fans of the hobby. They are worth visiting whether you are a resident, a snowbird spending your winter here, or just passing through the state on a vacation trip.
The first is The House of Broadcasting, a museum in Scottsdale. It was established in 1997 but I had never heard of it until they recently ran an advertisement in a local newspaper. I decided a visit was in order.
It is in a second floor location and going up the stairway, one finds the walls covered with posters, photographs, and various documents devoted to radio and television. At the top of the stairs there are seven rooms with a wide assortment of material. One room had a sign over the entrance saying "More Stuff" and that really is fitting for the whole museum is loaded with "stuff."
Most of the material is devoted to Phoenix area broadcasting, but certainly not all of it. I found items from network shows and also from individual stations around the country. There are exhibits of old radios and television sets. One room had a lot of broadcasting equipment, including a television studio camera, several other cameras for "out of the studio work," along with control panels and other technical materials.
One cabinet displayed awards and trophies, such as Emmys and Oscars. A prominent display was that of "Wallace & Ladmo," hosts of the longest running children's show in the country. There are also personal items from individuals, such as the red, white, and blue guitar of Buck Owens, along with his flashy rhinestone suit. There is even one of Walter Cronkite's pipes.
From time to time, The House of Broadcasting puts on special events. For example, Hugh Downs held a book signing at the museum. In 2008, Chuck Schaden of Chicago, did his Saturday "Those Were the Days" radio broadcast from the museum.
The museum is interesting, definitely worth a visit, and it's free. It is located in Scottsdale at 7150 East 5th Avenue, Above the Silverland Gallery, only a couple of doors from the Scottsdale Road intersection. Visiting hours are 10 am to 6 pm, Monday through Saturday.
The second OTR attraction is found in Tucson: the Tucson Old Time Radio Club. This group was organized about ten years ago by Norm Schickedanz when he retired in Tucson after leaving the Chicago area. Norm is a very personable gentleman who continues to manage the organization and keeps things running smoothly with a dedicated group of fans, some of whom are very knowledgeable about vintage radio.
The club meets at 1:30 pm on the first Tuesday of every month. The usual pattern begins with listening to a program selected from a favorite series by one of the members. That member tells a little about the series, which is followed by an interesting discussion by the members about the radio program and its performers. There is always an enjoyable quiz relating to that show which brings out lots of other information and laughter.
Norm also tells what songs were broadcast on Your Hit Parade during the week that particular program was on the air. Strangely enough, there always seems to be several of those once-popular songs that no one in the group is able to remember.
Occasionally the club has had special presentations. For example, Chuck Schaden was the guest speaker at one meeting and an authority on Tom Mix gave an outstanding talk at another meeting. The club is very informal and Norm does an absolutely outstanding job of handling it. There are no dues and visitors are always welcome.
f you're going to be in the area, you can email Norm at firstname.lastname@example.org and he will be happy to give you information on the next meeting and directions on how to get there.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jim Snyder, a talented teacher from Michigan, retired to Arizona several years ago. He is a former columnist for The Illustrated Press, the publication of the Old Time Radio Club of Buffalo, NY. One of his hobbies now is world travel, but he still hangs his hat in Mesa, Arizona.