Always Open with Free Admission to the Modesto Radio Museum
Virtual Online Museum Houses Broadcasting Archive
By Corey Deitz
( Editor's note: We found this story posted on the internet in August 2013. We do not know Mr. Deitz, but we greatly appreciate his comments. We also appreciate the courtesy of About.Com Radio website to republish)
Every once-in-a-while I come across something on the Internet which is so delightful and a surprise, I get the same feeling of unearthing valuable treasure like I used to feel when I first used "Gopher" to navigate Internet directories to discover files. That's how I felt when I accidentally discovered Modesto Radio Museum this week. This online archive is a project which was assembled to preserve the history of commercial broadcasting in the Modesto, California area. As the website states: "Our intent is to preserve the knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of those broadcasting pioneers who brought commercial broadcasting to the San Joaquin Valley and the area beginning in 1933."
What started in 2004 as an idea to create a physical museum, ultimately went online and is now run under the eye of a non-profit foundation. It really doesn't matter if you are from the Modesto area or not. If you're a fan of radio you will love spending time at this site enjoying the wealth of resources and media which have been placed online. Here are some of my favorite aspects.
The Modesto Radio Museum features a good number of representative airchecks which span the Golden Age of Radio up through the mid 2000s. The KTRB collection features 1930s and 1940s broadcasts from Cecil Lynch, Swanee Cowboys, and Barthol W. Pearce commentary. From the 1950s and 1960s there are air-checks and sound-bites including the Cal Purviance Birthday Program, Jack Snyder's Shower of Silver Program, Hub Service commercial flubs (outtakes), personalities from the 1970s through 1990s like Derek Waring, Pete and Mike Pappas, Bob Lang, Fred Hunter, and Jan London. There are also air-checks from KFIV, KOSO, KDJK-FM, KBEE, KQKK-FM, KMPH, KEJC, and more.
In addition to the local sound profiles the Airchecks page includes many examples of national radio audio from the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. There is even archived sound from the Big Band Era beginning in the 1930s including famous bands like the Glenn Miller Orchestra, Benny Goodman Orchestra, and Dick Jurgens Orchestra.
Another section at the Modesto Radio Museum is dedicated to Mexican "border blaster" radio stations. These were radio stations that operated just south of the U.S. border at with very high powered transmitters. By locating to Mexico, the radio stations avoided U.S. Federal law but aimed their program directly over the border to an American audience. The Border Blaster section discusses the history of the phenomenon including some of the great radio personalities who thrived during it like Wolfman Jack and Dr. John Brinkley along with successful border blasters like XERF and XERB. This makes for great reading which is sometimes overlooked when looking at the development of radio in its early years.
The Microphone Man
Yet another area at the Modesto Radio Museum is comprised of a series of articles written by Gary Avey, The Microphone Man. Avey was a longtime radio personality who has an extraordinary love for microphones. He has written two dozen articles highlighting early microphones, the history of these devices, and much more. It's definitely geeky but it's also first-person, one-of-a-kind information you won't find in too many other places.
Music Montage Index
This section of the Modesto Radio Museum is a music visit. It's a audio tribute to the backbone of radio, when radio was about music. It an incredible collection of musical montages that cover 1940s through the 1990s. The site quotes Radio Salon from 2013 to sum it all up: "It's no longer about the music – it's about the money and the ad revenue and the marketing. And you know who the real victims are? You, the listener."
There much more at this great website and I promise you'll want to bookmark it and visit again and again because there is so much to see and hear online.