By Greg Clark, March 22, 1924

“Have you got a radio set yet?” asks my bosom friend Jim.

“No,” I say, firmly. “Not on your life. I neither play golf nor have I a radio set. There have to be some members of the community left to carry on business as usual.”

“Say, come on over to my place to-night,” says Jim. “and I’ll show you the niftiest little set that can reach out into eternal space and bring more entertainment out of the air than all the theatres in town … “

So I go.

Jim’s children are all sitting around a sort of box, when I arrive, with earphones to their heads and solemn expressions on their faces.

“They’ll be through in a minute,” says Jim. “They are listening to the bedtime stories.”

In a minute, I am seated in one of the departed children’s places, earphones on my head, listening intently to a profound silence.

Jim, beaming and rubbing his hands, shouts:

“Now, what would you like? Jazz? A mid-week sermon? A lecture or a political speech? What? And how far would you like to go tonight? Pittsburg, Chicago, Denver? Will I get you CFCA or CZCX, GGBG or PQRS?”

“I don’t care,” says I. “DSCR, BUNK, TWW or ATCM. Anything.”

“All right,” says Jim, bending to the knobs.




“Where’s that?”

“Sh! Just a second.”

Snock. SNOCK.

A little wee, wee voice, muffled in hisses, says, “not at all. On the other hand, hooooooooOOOOOOOOOWEEEEEE!”

“I don’t get the drift,” says I.

“Just a second,” says Jim, fiddling softly with the knobs like Jimmie Valentine cracking a safe.


Yoo-hoo! Yoo-hoo! YOO-HOO!

“Yoo-hoo!” I retort.

“Just a second,” says Jim, bent over.


“Texas, by gum; rattlesnakes,” says I.

“Just a second,” says Jim.

Tuck. TUCK. Tick, tick, tick, tick.

“What time does this thing go off?”

“Just a second.”

Suddenly, I am delighted to hear, faintly, I admit, as though a phonograph in a distant room had all its doors closed and a hankie stuffed in its sound box, a little tinkle of music and a gnome with a little tiny voice singing ..

” … sitting pretty in a pretty little city … tya-de-da te-um te-yaaaAAAAAAa-WooooooOOOOOO .. WHACK.”

“Los Angeles!” yells Jim, his face red with the exertion of fumbling through infinite space.

“Los Angeles or Buffalo, I don’t know which.”

“Well, where did it go?” I ask.

“Just a second.”

TCK, CHCK. Snick, tinkle tink a tink, pretty, in pretty little yoo-oo, wow-oo, tinkle tink a OO-oo, SNICK. OO-oo, Yoo-oo, tinkle tinka tink, TINK A TINKLE TINK …

And then, with a swoop and a rush, in comes a flood of music, full and sharp and clear. It is an orchestra. It plays four bets of music to a fine, flourishing close, and stops, and then there is a loud round of hand clapping.

“We got here a bit late,” says I.

“Just a second.”

A voice says:

“We are signing off for fifteen minutes to let the saxophones cool out. BLAH signing off. For fifteen minutes.”

“Well, where’ll we go now?” says Jim, rubbing his hands.

“Let’s go for a walk during intermission,” I say. “Go out in the lobby for a walk.”

“Cleveland?” says Jim. “Schenectady?”

“Let’s go upstairs and look at your fishing tackle,” says I.


“C’mon over to my place and play bridge.”

“What do you say to making a try for Miami?”

“C’mon down to Bloor street and look in the store windows.”

“St. Louis has a good program to-night.”

“Yeh? Well, Doug Fairbanks is down at the Rivoli.”

“Just a second,” says Jim, taking hold of the knobs.




Yoo-hoo. YOO-hoo.


“What place is this we’re passing? Lots of business by the sound of the factory whistles.”

“Just a second,” says Jim.

Editor’s Note: In the very early days of radio, it was just a box with dials and no speakers. You had to listen with headphones. There were very few scheduled programs, and no restrictions on a radio station’s power, so you would just try your luck to tune in a station that could be across the continent.