This sturdy old beast of a radio — once it sparked and poured forth words and sounds and music and adventure — do these tired old vacuum tubes wait for electricity to surge again and carry voices from a world away back into this life?
If I turn the knob, will a forgotten announcer spring to being and it will be 1941 again, with the world in turmoil far off from this sunny place, people a half-world away injecting their terror into a summer of quiet?
Will the Shadow know what evil lurks? Will the Lone Ranger gallop to the rescue? Will the Gangbusters swoop in and bust the gangs? Will a dance band play into the night to soothe the savage breast?
Even by the time I became a radio announcer, these 50 years ago if you include my college years (and why would I not?), the grand old device had passed its prime as a source of entertainment. The electronics had advanced to broadcast pictures as well as words and music, and so radio drama was a quaint old phenomenon, much as silent movies gave way to talkies a generation earlier.
There is an intimacy to radio communication, one voice reaching out to another, or an ensemble of performers nestling an adventure, or a melody, between your ears only. The image your mind created is lost, or never conjured, when you can see the performers.
The advent of the podcast has brought some vitality back to the art of sound. I imagine it all harkens back to stories told around a campfire, and the electronics have enabled the storytelling on a grand and complex scale.
As long as there are voices, there will be stories. As long as there are stories, there will be humanity.
And for 80 years now, this handsome wooden sentinel has stood ready to share the stories.