The Golden Age of Radio, or old-time radio (OTR), was a period when radio dominated home entertainment in the United States. The era began with commercial radio broadcasting in the early 1920s. It continued until the 1950s when television gradually replaced radio as the medium of choice for scripted entertainment, variety shows, and drama.
The radio was the first broadcast medium, and people listened to radio programs, and families gathered around the home radio in the evening to listen to the programs. According to a 1947 C. E. Hooper survey, 82 out of 100 Americans listen to the radio. The new medium created a wide variety of entertainment formats and genres, many of which later moved to television: radio plays, mystery serials, soap operas, quiz shows, talent shows, variety shows during the day and at night, situation comedies, play-by-play sports, kids’ shows, cooking shows, and more.
During the 1950s, television surpassed radio as the most popular broadcast medium, and commercial radio programming shifted to narrower formats, such as news, talk, sports, and music. The formats of religious broadcasters, public radio stations supported by listeners, and college radio stations are distinctive.
These vintage photos show people with radios between the 1920s and 1950s.