Families, like this one in 1933, used to listen to the radio together, just like modern families might sit together and watch TV. (AP)

Families, like this one in 1933, used to listen to the radio together, just like modern families might sit together and watch TV. (AP)

Radios back then were bigger and designed like elegant furniture. Now you can carry a radio in your pocket!

Radios back then were bigger and designed like elegant furniture. Now you can carry a radio in your pocket!

President Franklin D. Roosevelt talks to the nation in a fireside chat from the White House in 1937.  (AP)

President Franklin D. Roosevelt talks to the nation in a fireside chat from the White House in 1937. (AP)

Radio news was the fastest way to learn what was going on in the world. That was very important during World War II. (AP)

Radio news was the fastest way to learn what was going on in the world. That was very important during World War II. (AP)

Rewind to Radio

Posted: July 1, 2020

Rewind to the 1930s. A family gathers around the radio. Radios could be found in 12 million American households at the beginning of that decade. By 1939, more than 28 million homes had radios.

Why the radio boom? Technology was getting better. Radios were getting cheaper. They became the spot in the living room where people came together. Families tuned in to comedians like Jack Benny. They listened to dramas with characters they loved and heroes they could admire. Shows ended on cliffhangers, so families would rush back to the radio each week to find out what happened next.

Radios also meant people could hear the news faster from reporters on the scene. During the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt delivered comforting speeches over the radio in the evenings. Those talks were called “fireside chats.” It seemed like everyone in America listened along. They felt connected to their leader—and to each other.

When your grandpa—or maybe your great grandpa—was a kid, he and his family may have sat around the radio to hear a show. Or maybe they read together. No fancy screens to entertain them! And maybe your grandpa talks about those good old days so much you’re tired of it! But guess what? Your grandparents are right. Before iPads, smartphones, and TVs, people probably did use their imaginations a lot more.

God gave you a mind that can picture and invent all sorts of things. While you listen to a story, your mind can create scenes much more amazing than the most advanced video effects. And what’s more—when you play a video game or watch a movie, everyone sees the same thing. But if you’re sitting with other kids hearing a story, your minds each create a different scene.

Try it. Listen to a story with a friend. Afterward, write or draw the scenes in your mind. What did your imagination “see”? Does it match what your friend imagined?