Making New Friends Through Collecting OTRby Terry G. G. Salomonson
I was sitting at work on a Saturday, October 9, 1976, reading the local newspaper and waiting for the days activities to start. At the time, I was in the U.S. Air Force, stationed at Little Rock AFB, Jacksonville, AR. My job then was as a controller for all the aircraft maintenance of 56 C-130's. It was about 0600 (6 o'clock a.m.) and the day was just getting ready to start when I notice an article on the front page of the Arkansas Democrat. It seems that a local guy enjoyed collecting and listening to old radio programs from the past.
My interested picked up quickly, because several years before, while I was in Southeast Asia, I had read about an organizations that had just started up called the North American Radio Archives (NARA) and they were collecting radio programs into a library for member use. I had written to them, but never received any type of a reply. Now, here I was in Little Rock and just down the road a little, was a collector that had what I had been interested in for a couple of years.
Work scheduling for the day was becoming a bit busy, so I had to put the newspaper article aside for a while and get on with the business at hand. About 10:30 a.m. I finally had a break and my thoughts kept going back to the newspaper article. The next logical step was to grab a telephone directory and see if the guy was listed in it. He was, so I called the number. I was told that he wasn't home, so I left my home telephone number and asked if he could call me later.
That evening Ted Davenport did call. He was the guy in the newspaper article. After we talked for a while, we made a date that I could come over and see what collecting old time radio was all about. After a couple of days I drove over to Ted's with some blank tape and the hope of getting a few of those programs.
Ted was very informative about how he started, what he had and where he was getting the programs from. He also advise me that I should give some serious consideration to subscribing to a publication called "The National Radio Trader" and another called "Airwaves." I had never heard of them and in all interest areas, there are always special publications that the general public doesn't hear about.
Both of these publications have long since passed from the scene, but they were the best thing going at the time. I subscribed to both of these periodicals at once. The most interesting area of both publications was the want ad section. It listed collector after collector, the types of interest they had, and number of programs in their collection, and their willingness to trade for similar programs. I started writing letters to just about every single ad I could find. Catalogs soon started to arrive. By this time I had taped just about everything that Ted had. My only obligation to Ted was that as I received new programs, I would give him the opportunity to copy what he would be interested in. That was the very least that I could do. Soon I started putting together my catalog and listing myself in the want ads. That part, the want ad, was free with the subscription. I started getting catalog requests from people that were not listed in the want ads. It seems that a lot of the subscribers also looked for new contacts and didn't necessarily run ads about their own collecting and trading. They are the more quieter type of collector. But I did send letters to everybody that I read about in those early ads.
These want ads were primarily the meat of "The National Radio Trader." Maybe that is the reason that after a couple of years it folded. I don't know, but it sure was missed by myself and many others. Looking back through the "giant 16-page combined issue," of volume 3 number 4 & volume 4 number 1 which was mailed on October 4, 1979, I find many names listed in the ads which were new to me then but have since become friends and long time known collectors and dealers. James L. Snyder, Edward Carr, Gene Bradford, David Reznick, Dick Judge. First twenty words of your ad were free, after that it was five cents a word. Fifty cents for a border around the ad, double that if you wanted a fancy one.
"Airwaves" on the other hand, contained articles on programs, collectors, clubs, logs, etc. It was more geared to the much needed information to help the hobby continue to improve and grow. I wasn't fortunate enough to get my hands on the first issue of "Airwaves." I subscribed as soon as I learned about it, but when the second issue arrived, it had a slip of paper in it stating that "Airwaves" # 1 is out of print. More copies will be available soon, and you will receive one as soon as it is ready." I did receive a copy of that first issue later, but not from "Airwaves." The point is, it was a complete sell out. Traders and collectors wanted that type of information, who to contact, what they collected and had to offer. After all, this was in the days (and years) before THE NET and there just wasn't a way of finding out where all the other collectors were located. I was not alone in trying to find others with the same interest in collecting these wonderful broadcasts.
Next was "Collector's Corner." Starting in 1978 it lasted 34 issues before it departed and was taken over by "The Golden Years Of Radio & Television," and also about the same time we had the introduction of "Old Time Radio Digest." These were both good publications, but for the brand new collector, one very important item died with "Airwaves," and "The National Radio Trader." Want Ads! If you're brand new to the hobby, it takes awhile to meet other collectors without this service of the past. Oh sure, you can join OTR clubs, and we'll get to those in a minute. But nothing beat those early want ads. What a place to meet collectors, especially those independent collectors who just never seem to join clubs or organizations. And how else would you know where to write to collectors in different states, or even countries for that matter. There just isn't a good source for the exchange of collector names and address information.
Anyway, two years passed by quickly and I was collecting and trading with about 86 different collectors from all over the country. I mentioned earlier that I wrote to every collector who I could get an address on. I was not kidding! The mailman hated me. Almost daily he would have to get out of his mail truck and bring boxes of all shapes and sizes (and almost always heavy) to the door. His hernia doctor loved me!!
I mentioned some names earlier in this installment. After twenty years, those collectors are still around, and still collecting, and still trading. I have met many more collectors over the years, primarily at conventions that are held around the country. John and Larry Gassman, Barbara Watkins, Bob Lynns, Bob Burchett, Barbara & Dave Davies, John Furman, Jay Hickerson, Pat McCoy, Michael Meredith, Fran Striker, Jr., Dave ("The Senator") Warren, Joe Webb, Harold Zeigler, Fred Korb, Jr., Ken Piletic, Carl Amari, Gary and LaDonna Kramer, and many others. Most of these wonderful people I met at conventions and then started trading with. A few I had been trading with before finally meeting them at a convention. So, if you have never been to a Old Time Radio (OTR) convention, please do so at your earliest opportunity. The gathering of collectors is probably your best place to meet new future friends!
I've never said this and should have many years ago. Ted, I want to publicly thank you not only for your friendship, but also for inviting me into your home so many years ago and giving me opportunity to start collecting not only programs, but all these wonderful friends that I've gain over the years with this hobby.
Next Part XI - Radio Westerns
If there is an area of information that you, the new or well established collector, would like to see in this series, please feel free to write me. Any questions, comments, or suggestions will be carefully considered. I can be reached through this internet web site or the following addresses:
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Last Updated: 04/27/15 07:37:41 PM