I recall playing LA Noire, a video game in which you play as LAPD Detective Cole Phelps in 1947, right after WWII. It’s a fantastic game with a lot of guns blazin’ action coupled with fascinating investigative work. I can go on for hours about this game as it’s one of my favorites but one reason I love it is the nostalgia. It takes you back to a simpler time before cell phones, TVs in every house, and well before the internet.
The post-war 40s was a tremendous time as the US was still celebrating its victories in Europe and the Pacific and patriotism was high. It was also an interesting time for the LAPD as morphine was hitting the streets following the war and the Black Dahlia murder was on the cover of every newspaper in the country.
Among the many nuanced things LA Noire was filled with, one was Old Time Radio. While you were patrolling the very detailed streets of 1940s Los Angeles (the makers of LA Noire wanted it to be as close to the real thing as possible), your car would play the radio and while there was only one station, it had music, commercials, and radio shows from that time.
Listening to the Bickersons, a radio show from the 40s, it reminded me of families gathered around the radio in their living rooms and listened to the couple quarrel for a half hour a night and be entertained by other shows. It seemed like such a simpler time in that people weren’t constantly pulled away from each other to get “closer” via the Internet. While advances like the internet, cell phones, and social media have made it easier for us to stay connected, it’s pulled people away from the in-person interactions that make up life. Young people seem to struggle with social interaction and have anxiety over what used to be the primary means of interaction. Nowadays, it seems like people would much rather communicate via text and screen because it’s easier to act as if you’re who you want to be versus who you really are.
The radio also reminded of the old school cigarette commercials from Philip Morris and others that seem so unbelievable to me in today’s day and age because of what we now know about the harm cigarettes can do. But to think advertisements like that were on every day and doctors had recommended brands was comical.
I feel that back in the day, people had more respect for one another because of in-person social interaction. It’s much easier to hide behind technology today than ever before. Back in the day, you had to be respectful because most interactions were in-person and being disrespectful could get you cracked in the mouth and rightly so. There are many people that lack manners and could use that lesson.
I’ve found the Bickersons and other old time radio shows are on Spotify and other programs with wide libraries to choose episodes from. From old detective stories to the bickering Bickersons to Superman, the shows made for radio were entertaining and a unique medium for Americans around the country to gather around and listen to together. While much of this has shifted to the TV, the benefit of radio versus the TV is that it still requires you to use your imagination and picture the scenes as they come through the speaker instead of having the director of a TV show do it all for you. Similar to the difference between watching TV and reading a book, listening allows your imagination to do much of the visual work.
I think there are many more benefits to older modes of doing things that require a little more effort on our part because they require us to put in a little effort. For that effort, our imaginations were developed, our minds were filled with a bit more color, and our creativity was flowing rather than having someone else do all the creating for us. One of the reasons I love reading is because it puts my mind to work and I feel more creative because of it. Give it a try and let me know if you feel the same way. Also, enjoy the nostalgia of old radio shows and how far we’ve come from those shows to the ones we watch now. Do you also wish you could go back in time to certain eras? If you could go back, which era would you go back to? Which one draws you in?