A fascinating look back at how Canada regarded radio in 1953.

This is a great link I found on the Southern Ontario/WNY Radio board, a place where fans of radio discuss the medium. It’s an article from Maclean’s published on August 15, 1953.

REMEMBER WHEN RADIO WAS THE RAGE?

Before television shoves radio into the limbo hark back to the dizzy decade when we all twiddled knobs to get that squeaky music and roared with delight when the announcer forgot the mike was “live”

BOB COLLINS

ON THE NIGHT of March 28, 1922, eleven hundred Torontonians queued up in a driving rainstorm outside the Davenport Road Masonic Temple, crowded indoors a full hour before schedule and gathered around a square black box, three squat batteries and a large horn. Outside, police turned back hundreds more who had merely arrived a little early. In Ontario homes as far as one hundred and fifty miles away, in Belleville, Peterborough, Owen Sound and London, families crouched expectantly over complicated little boxes of their own.

This was the district’s first major demonstration of a thing called “radio broadcasting.” There’d been sporadic broadcasts of music and voices before but most people had dismissed them as either a hoax or a freak of telegraphy.

There seemed to be no tricks to this, though. Time and details of the program had been announced. The Toronto Star had assured its readers that “the only wires used at all are in the aerials at the sending and receiving stations and in the instruments themselves.” Could it be that radio wasn’t a fluke after all?

Three miles away in the bare makeshift studio of 9AH, experimental station of the Canadian Independent Telephone Company, a handful of musicians fidgeted nervously around a wooden funnel-shaped microphone. At eight-thirty an official in the Masonic Temple twiddled some controls. The box crackled.

“Men strained forward in their seats with hands cupped to their ears,” the Star reported later. “Women were rigid as if carved from stone.” Suddenly faint piano strains of God Save the King tinkled through the hall. The audience sat spellbound, then belatedly sprang to attention. A soprano sang Down in the Forest and Annie Laurie. Everybody clapped. Luigi Romanelli’s orchestra played Wabash Blues and Moonlight Serenade. Violin, piano and cello solos wheezed over the air waves. The Masonic Temple listeners applauded every number, ended with a rousing cheer and went home chattering like magpies.

Keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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