With your Host:
Roxanne Owens PhD, DePaul College of Education

Enjoy these programs?
On this website you will find a variety of resources to help you

• Discover the magic of Vintage 20th Century radio broadcasts and
• Create and record your own shows using 21st Century technology--which is the embodiment of an entertaining literacy experience.

Why would you want to do that? Well…

For the teacher: It is a fully engaging educational experience that draws upon all components of literacy—listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

For students: It’s darn fun! Need we say more?

Probably not, but we will anyway...

A creaking door, a sinister laugh, a thud followed by a scream in the night…these were the sounds that drew listeners into radio show broadcasts during the mid-twentieth century. Scriptwriters of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s knew how to create spine tingling scripts that kept the audience glued to the radio each evening. The shows encompassed a broad range of genre: Mystery, Drama, Horror, Suspense, Science Fiction, Comedy, and Adaptations of Classic Books. There was something for everyone.

Radio had a profound impact on the social and cultural history of the nation. In that ancient time BTV (Before TV) families gathered around the radio after dinner to listen to the nightly adventures of detectives Sam Spade, The Saint, Johnny Dollar, or Miss Pinkerton. Joe Friday and Jack Webb kept listeners on the edge of their seat waiting to hear that night’s Dragnet episode in which the story they were about to hear “was true, but the names had been changed to protect the innocent.”

The absence of the visual meant that the scriptwriters had to paint vivid scenes of the characters, settings, and plots using words alone. The audience had to use keen listening skills and imagination to visualize those pictures. The addition of sound effects and music helped create a sense of action, mood and tone, but the audience still had to rely heavily on imagination to visualize what was happening in the story. The actors could not use facial expressions or body movements to convey emotions or actions—they had to rely solely on voice tone and inflection. The oral and aural abilities of all were key to the success of the medium.

Great writing, great acting, and great imagination—all of these now come together with current technology to create the embodiment of an authentic and purposeful literacy experience for the 21st century learner.

So what else is on this site?

Unit Overview: A text presentation of the unit including suggested sequence and worksheets, as well as example shows recorded by high school students.

Unit Presentation: A narrated overview of the unit (PowerPoint Video).

Interviews: Biographies and individual interviews with iconic Classic Radio Show host/producers Carl Amari, Greg Bell, Steve Darnall, and Chuck Schaden

VisionQuest: Short video of the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired Band who provided some of the music for the tapes.

About the project contributors and cast