Jul 03 2017

Vintage Radio Truly a “Local Find”

The Forest County Historical Museum is filled with thousands of artifacts – almost all of them with a connection to Forest County.  Our 1941 Montgomery Ward Airline Floor Model Radio is truly “local” as it was discovered in the stairwell of the Carter House – the same building as the Historical Museum.

This floor model radio comes complete with handsome veneers and eleven tubes including the tuning eye.  It still works, and has very good audio with a large speaker.  The tuning eye has a variety of stations marked including WJR (Detroit), WGN & WLS (Chicago), WCCO (Minneapolis) and WTMJ (Milwaukee).  It is easy to imagine Mom, Pop and the kids huddled around the radio listening to the adventures of Fibber McGee and Molly or The Lone Ranger.

Fibber McGee and Molly was the quintessential domestic comedy, a slice of small-town Midwestern American life played by a real-life married couple of former vaudevillians, Jim and Marian Jordan. McGee was a genial dope who always bluffed his way through some hare-brained scheme, only to be gently upbraided by his long-suffering wife. They filled out their domestic quarrels at 79 Wistful Vista with a parade of off-beat neighbors, relatives and servants. The McGee’s overstuffed closet became almost as famous as the characters themselves and the show was on the air, in one format or another, for twenty-two years.

The first of 2,956 radio episodes of The Lone Ranger premiered on WXYZ, a radio station serving Detroit, on January 31, 1933.  The show became so popular with children and adults alike that it was picked up by the Mutual Broadcasting System and, on May 2, 1942, by NBC’s Blue Network which in time became ABC.

During the time period when this radio was new up to the late 1940s, American radio network programs were almost exclusively broadcast live due to national networks prohibiting the airing of recorded programs.  In truth, this was more about sound quality.  As a result, prime-time shows would be performed twice, once for each coast.

The Forest County Historical Museum is run by volunteers and is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.  There is no admission charge, but donations are gratefully accepted.  Books, pamphlets and other items of local and historical interest are also for sale at the Museum.


submitted by:
By:  Dr. Ron Heilmann, Jr.
Volunteer Curator
Forest County Historical Museum


Permanent link to this article: http://www.forestcountyhistory.org/vintage-radio-truly-a-local-find/

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