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Holly Johnson: We’re on the air

What do “Amos and Andy,” “Fibber McGee and Molly,” and “War of the Worlds” have in common? They were popular radio shows that provided entertainment for the whole family in the home.

Well, the 1939 airing of “War of the Worlds” wasn’t popular at the time, but in hindsight was a great lesson for the radio industry.

During the recent History Happy Hour event, our in-person and online guests learned how radio shows impacted family life by bringing theatrical performances right into the living room.

The Golden Age of Radio was an era lasting from the 1920s to 1950s, when it was edged out by the growing availability of television.

As radio broadcasting grew nationally, stations had to find ways to fill the airtime. Coverage of live events such as sports and musical performances were interspersed with headline news, farm and weather reports. The development of live game shows, comedy hours, soap operas, radio plays and children’s programs was rapid and varied and beloved by the world.

Austin newspapers printed schedules from a variety of national and local stations, and many retail stores capitalized on selling the must-have equipment that brought entertainment into family life. Austin’s radio broadcasting history has been made up by a few stations, but the local constant since 1948 has been KAUS. Current station manager Bob Mithuen stated that the main point of difference for KAUS Radio has been the “many personalities that have come here and stayed here. Their voices are a recognizable sound for news, community information and entertainment. They are your friends and neighbors, they are the ones that keep you safe in a storm, help you win elections, and drive traffic and sales to area businesses.”

Radio content has evolved over the years, but Austin is fortunate to have such a long standing tradition in the industry just south of town.

Theatrical radio is now being resurrected in Austin for two shows in March by Matchbox Children’s Theatre and the Hormel Historic Home. The delivery platform will be through your computer instead of your radio. 2021 technology will enable you to peek inside the radio of old to see the cast perform. Sponsored by Primrose Retirement Center, The Style Lounge, Seniors Helping Seniors, The Spam Museum, and Sweet Reads Book and Candy Store, the shows will be complete with sound effects and mystery.

So, what do Matchbox Children’s Theatre and the Hormel Historic Home have in common?  We are two cultural entities passionate about bringing history and theater entertainment into your home through whatever platform we can.

Oh, and we’ll bring you concessions as well!

Ticket information is below.

Upcoming Events

History Happy Hour-Let Me Introduce You to Lizzie Hormel

6 p.m., Monday, March 8

Limited capacity.  Free for members of the HHH, Mower County Historical Society and Friends of the Library.  $5 for nonmembers

Old Time Radio Shows

via Zoom

Saturday, March 13: Murder Through the Looking Glass

Friday, March 26: Broadway’s My Beat: The Howard Crawford Murder Case

$10 per household; Purchase at www.hormelhistorichome.org

Wedding & Event Showcase

10-1:30 p.m., Sunday, March 21

$5 per person