25TH ANNIVERSARY MESSAGE FROM OUR MWOTRC PRESIDENT
EDGAR FARR RUSSELL, III
(From Radio Recall, June 2009)
Warmest greetings to my fellow members of the Metropolitan Washington Old Time Radio Club and to all those who cherish the Golden Age of Radio! In 2009 we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the founding of our Club.
I know you share with me this excitement as we plan for our June luncheon meeting, produce a DVD capturing memories of our history, publish a special edition of our club newsletter "Radio Recall" edited by author Jack French, and possibly create some additional Silver Anniversary surprises later in the year. Stay tuned in the upcoming months for more details!
Elsewhere in this issue, you will learn about our founder and first President, the late Jim Burnette, who with a dedicated band of enthusiastic OTR fans, founded our club in the basement of the Pentagon in 1984. That small group has blossomed into a dynamic collection of members who live all across the United States and even overseas! We meet on the second Friday evening of each month and have Saturday luncheons twice a year in June and December.
All that got me thinking about why our club has been so successful. To be sure part of the reason are the fascinating and varied program presentations we enjoy each month. We've had nationally known stars such as Gunsmoke actor Sam Edwards, One Man's Family's Laurette Fillbrandt, and Arthur Peterson of soap opera fame. We've welcomed You Are There producer and director Robert Lewis Shayon; announcers Adrian Cronauer of Good Morning, Vietnam fame and Frank Bingman of Straight Arrow.
Many local broadcasters have visited us including Ed Walker of WRC's The Joy Boys, Johnny Holliday long time DJ and voice of Maryland Terrapins football and basketball, Dennis Owens, the voice of WGMS classical music, and Lee Shepherd of WTOP. Authors have shared their books with us including Bob Edwards of NPR and XM Satellite Radio, John Doolittle who wrote a book about Don McNeill's Breakfast Club, and Howard Blue who wrote Words at War. We've also enjoyed listening to local enthusiasts with a specific OTR interest, and our own club members who have shared their love of a particular program, personality, or genre. How about you? Have you an idea for a great program? Please let us know.
We have even made opportunities available for writers, actors, musicians, and directors to re-create classic radio shows and to produce significant new works in radio format and present these plays at club meetings, broadcast them over local radio and television, and now on the internet at fellow member Charles Langdon's www.radiovisions.com.
Our club features one of the largest audio lending libraries in the country; where fans can listen to literally thousands of their favorite programs. We are continually striving to increase the number and to upgrade the quality of our shows; receiving generous donations of reel-to-reel tapes, cassettes, and compact discs.
Our book library features hundreds of volumes dedicated to the history, performers, and classic programs of the Golden Age of Radio. Researchers and enthusiasts alike will find much to learn from these valuable resources.
As you read Radio Recall you will see that we publish articles which are both scholarly and entertaining. Some of the most knowledgeable authors in OTR generously share their new discoveries with our members. We also serve as a central point for announcing important OTR events like annual conventions and other writing and performing opportunities throughout the country.
All of the above are designed to inspire a deeper appreciation in those adults who are already acquainted with Old Time Radio and to bring more knowledge to new generations that never had the chance to hear radio during its Golden Age.
These are important reasons for our continued longevity. But I believe that it is our members who make the real difference! We come from many walks of life but are united by our common interest in radio. The goodwill that comes from such friendships has spanned decades. Indeed, some of those first members from 1984 are still active in the club today! Each year one of our members is singled out for their dedication to Old Time Radio and to the club and is presented with The Stan Cawelti Award (named for one of our late members).
Many of our members have come from listening to fellow member Ed Walker's popular The Big Broadcast OTR program on WAMU at 88.5 FM on Sunday nights from 7 to 11 p.m. and over the internet. Others learn about us from visiting our website: www.mwotrc.com . When you go there, you can learn more about our organization, read about some of the monthly programs we have presented over the years, and sample articles printed in our newsletter. You can also be linked to other OTR-related sites across the country.
If you aren't yet a member, you can get information and download the application form. The cost is modest and the benefits are many!
And speaking of membership, in this our Silver Anniversary, I invite my fellow members to share your love of Old Time Radio with your friends. Is there a senior citizen you know that would love to relive the excitement they felt when listening to The Shadow or Jack Benny or Orson Welles's Mercury Theatre? Is there a younger person you think would respond to "The Theater of the Mind" as radio has been characterized? Why not invite them to an upcoming meeting. Anyone can attend our meetings free of charge! Who knows, they might become members and thank you for introducing them to this exciting art form.
In closing, I hope that you will join us in celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Metropolitan Washington Old Time Radio Club and want to become part of all the fun and fellowship that experiences the magic of the Golden Age of Radio!