June 8th, 2011

The Golden Age of Radio

Have you ever heard this before? “Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!”

radioIt’s the famous intro to the radio drama The Shadow.  The Shadow was an invisible avenger who learned the “mysterious power to cloud men’s minds, so that they could not see him.” Even though I wasn’t born until long after the show ended, I know that line and so do many younger than me. That quote speaks to the powerful legacy of radio.

Take a step back in time and imagine that radio is an essential part of American daily life – no television, computer, smart phone, ipod, gaming consoles, and so on. Radio is what informed and entertained an estimated 82 out of 100 Americans of all ages from the early 1920 to the mid 1950’s. That, my friends, is the Golden Age of Radio…

Throughout the 1930’s, radio kept people connected to their country and to each other. Franklin D. Roosevelt, president from 1933-1945, delivered his “fireside chats” via radio to keep Americans informed and inspired. During these chats, FDR spoke about critical issues like unemployment, the economy, national defense and eventually World War II. Radio was an essential part of American life, and families and friends gathered around their radios to be informed and entertained.

Some think of radio today as a boring medium, but the Golden Age of Radio showcased a vibrant offering of programs. Radio listeners had options: children’s programs, westerns, comedies, dramas, mysteries, musical varieties, classical music shows, quiz shows and even horror. Shows such as The Shadow, Amos and Andy, Abbott and Costello, Blondie, Dick Tracy, and Little Orphan Annie were immensely popular.

Still think radio sounds boring? On October 30, 1938, thousands of listeners who had unfortunately tuned in late thought that Martians were actually attacking America. Needless to say, they panicked! What they really heard was not a news report, but a radio adaptation of H.G. Well’s The War of the Worlds produced by a young Orson Welles.

On Monday, June 13th at 6:30 p.m., join us at the Chesapeake City Branch for a Golden Age of Radio program presented by Michele Ringger-Weil of the Enoch Pratt Free Library. For those of you who experienced this era firsthand, come reminisce with memorable faces, voices and shows of the Golden Age of Radio. For those of us who didn’t, come learn about fascinating radio programs and personalities from times gone by.

What are your favorite memories of radio?  Is there still a place for radio in our tech-saturated lives?

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April 14th, 2011

People Are Asking: Astrological Signs

starsDo you know your astrological sign? Are you sure? There is an ancient gap between astrology and astronomy that has come to light recently and has spread over the internet faster than Sagittarius could shoot an arrow. Your zodiac sign is determined by the position of the sun relative to the overhead constellation on the day of your birth. A recent Pew survey shows that 25% of Americans believe that your sign determines certain personality traits.

First, the original zodiac included thirteen signs, but the ancient Babylonians rejected Ophiuchus as an astrological sign because they wanted twelve signs divided evenly, each encompassing thirty degrees of the sun’s path. This brings us to the second problem with the zodiac. The constellations are not the same size. It would stand to reason that more dates would be associated with a huge system like Pisces and less to the tiny constellation of Cancer, but again they wanted the signs to be divided equally. The International Astronomical Union published an official set of boundaries about sixty years ago bringing this anomaly to light, but the old zodiac hung on and nothing much changed. The third problem was noticed first by Hipparchus around 130BC (BCE) or Aristarchus of Samos (280BC) depending on the source. Either way, astronomers have known that the Earth wobbles like a top when it spins for a long, long time. This wobble takes about 26,000 years to complete but, because of distances involved, makes a big difference in the night skies.  Currently, the Earth’s North Pole aligns with Polaris, the North Star, but when the pyramids were constructed approximately 4500 year ago, it aligned with Thuban in the constellation Draco. It is predicted that in 12,000 years it will line up with Lyra in the Vega System.

For 86% of us, our sign is perhaps different than what we thought if Ophiuchus is counted as an astrological sign. Here are the new astrological dates containing the “new” super-cool sign Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer [oh-fee-YOO-kuhs]. To read more and watch the “Nightline” video, click here.

CAPRICORN (January 20 to February 16), AQUARIUS (February 16 to March 11), PISCES (March 11 to April 18), ARIES (April 18 to May 13), TAURUS (May 13 to June 21), GEMINI (June 21 to July 20), CANCER (July 20 to August 10), LEO (August 10 to September 16), VIRGO (September 16 to October 30), LIBRA (October 30 to November 23), SCORPIO (November 23 to November 29), OPHIUCHUS (November 29 to December 17), SAGITTARIUS (December 17 to January 20).

Do you have a question? Leave a comment or email us and your question might be featured!

People Are Asking is a weekly column in the Cecil Whig newspaper. It appears each Tuesday in the Accent section.

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