Saturday, April 11, 2009

Remember Crystal Sets? Pt. 3

Originally published in the March, 2009, Old Radio Times.(

Anyone Remember Crystal Radio Sets?
Ned Norris

Now I understand I needed to pay much more attention to installing a good antenna –– a 50-foot piece of wire outside the house and as high as possible –– and that I needed a good ground. But as a 13-year-old, I simply wanted to listen under the bed covers in the dark to my favorite old time radio radio thriller.

It almost didn't matter what the program was. Each had the compelling signature music, sometimes just single musical notes, the voices with their sense of urgency, the suspense, the climax, the scripting formula. I also remember the screech of car tires in chase scenes. It was pretty gripping stuff for a small boy.

Remember how shoes were always soled in hard leather? Rubber didn't make enough noise. Doors always squeaked; silent ones would not have been much use on radio. And do I remember correctly that detectives were always men and that secretaries were always women?Today, when I recall those days long ago, I remember the crystal radio set with its finicky connection that would fade to almost nothing at the crucial point in the story. Then it would come back just as the announcer was saying something like: "So long! See you next week."

- Ned Norris is the webmaster of


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