Life’s rich tapestry
By the dawn of the 1930s, radio was bringing the entire world to listeners’ living rooms
“I am just an ordinary housewife with little time for reading at my disposal, but I do look forward to a quiet hour or so… As I thread my needle, I may hear that I am to visit an African village, look at flowers or insects with that ‘inner eye’, or sing myself breathless in Sir Walford’s ‘cross-country run’.” These words – taken from a letter to the Radio Times’ weekly Selections from the Editor’s Post Bag – capture perfectly radio’s power to fire listeners’ imaginations, as this still relatively new form of mass communication entered the 1930s.
Selections from the Editor’s Post Bag presented the whole gamut of readers’ views – the only qualification was that they adhered to principles of good taste and free speech. One editor named it a “Marble Arch corner in print”.
Not all correspondence was complimentary. One irate lieutenant-colonel listed “glaring mistakes” in the 1933 military radio play The Fantastic Battle.
Despite such quibbles, by the 1930s more and more listeners were praising radio’s educational value – especially when it was aimed at children. Programmes covering not only music, literature and science, but also practical and imaginative material, did much to prepare pupils for life after school, as well as broaden their horizons.
Window onto a new world: a family tunes into a radio broadcast, c1930