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This story was published in Radio Recall, the journal of the Metropolitan Washington Old-Time Radio Club, published six times per year.

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by Dan Riedstra © 2012
(From Radio Recall, August 2012)

As a new card-carrying member of the Museum of Broadcast Communications in Chicago, I decided it was time for me to pay them a visit. The museum reopened in June 2012 in a new location after many, many years of being closed so that its current building could be remodeled to fit the venue and will be a certified -green- building in the near future. In attendance at the opening were personalities Betty White, Hugh Downes, and John Mahoney. The museum is located just north of the Chicago River. The location of the museum could not be better, as not only is it in the heart of downtown, it is just a few blocks from three major broadcast centers from the Golden Age of Radio .... the mammoth Merchandise Mart, once home to the NBC studios originating the likes of Fibber McGee and Molly and Lights Out; the Wrigley Building, home to the CBS outlet WBBM; and finally the Tribune Tower, original home of WGN radio, one of the founding outlets of the Mutual Broadcasting System.

Situated on three floors of its own modem-styled building, the first floor contains the admissions desk as well as the door from The Oprah Winfrey Show studio, and the set of long-time Chicago Sunday movie staple Family Classics. The third floor is dedicated to all things Television, including plaques honoring various personalities and programs in various video genres such as Comedy, Children's, Games, and Reality. There is also a television studio dedicated to pioneers Lee Phillips and Bill Bell. The exhibits also include vintage television: the actual puppets and costumes used in iconic Chicago children's TV programs including Bozo, Garfield Goose, and Ray Rayner: as well as the actual television camera used for the 1960 Kennedy-Nixon presidential debate.

However, my trip to the museum drew me to the second floor where radio broadcasting is kingl The left hand side of the entrance to this floor is decked out in radios from various periods in broadcast history, and an archway has been fashioned from radios showcased in see-through shelving. Much like the third floor, much of the wall space is lined with plaques dedicated to radio personalities and iconic radio programs, with the twist being each of the plaques is dedicated to one of the current 173 inductees into the National Radio Hall of Fame. The plaques are arranged and grouped by genre, such as Comedy, Drama, Music-Variety, QuizGames, News-Talk, Sports, and even Disc Jockeys and Writers-Producers. Interactive flat-screen TVs allow a visitor to search on various radio inducties and to hear examples of their work.

The comedy section also has a great treat for old-time radio lovers, that being both original proclamations issued to Jim and Marion Jordan in 1952 for their twenty years in broadcasting, but also a non-descript wooden door that once opened is loaded with all types of clutter (including a can of Johnson's GlowCoat) while a clip of Molly warning Fibber not to open the closet door plays from a vintage radio inside the closet.

Other features of the broadcasting space include an honorary degree for -Master of Innuendo and Snappy Comebacks- issued by Northwestern University to none other than Charlie McCarthy, a small working radio studio and a stage replete with an oldfashioned microphone to be used for special presentations. With both great exhibits, special events (most recently a 75th Anniversary salute to Franklin Delano Roosevelt), and radio and television archives, including National Hall-of-Famer Chuck Schaden's personal radio show collection, the Museum of Broadcast Communications should be a must-see stop on your next visit to Chicago.

Musum of Broadcast Communications
360 N. State Street
Chicago, IL 60654
Phone: 312-245-8200
Hours of operation:
Tuesday-Saturday 10:00 AM to 5 :00 PM.
Closed Sunday, Monday, and all Federal Holidays.
Adults $12.00
Seniors (65 & Older) $10.00
Children (ages 4-12) $6.00
GROUPS: (Minimum 20 guests)
Adults $10.00
Seniors (65+) & Students $8.00