Image source: Wikipedia, A 1920s Crystal Radio Advertisement

Listening Habits

Listening and sharing

Listening habits varied with the region, circumstances, place of the respondent in the family, and availability of the leisure time to listen to the radio. The family who received the radio as a Christmas present eagerly shared the radio, each member having a preference: the brother sports, the respondent loved music, and her father having already established a pattern of listening to the news on a neighbour’s radio continued to listen to the news.

Saving electricity

Two respondents indicated that given the economic circumstances of the time electricity was viewed to be an expensive commodity not to be frivolously wasted. In each case radio listening was very specifically selected by a parent and turned off immediately after the chosen program ended. The newlywed having access to a variety of stations in Canada’s largest city at the time, declared that the radio played all day long and much of the evening.

Wonderful or too busy?

Although some listeners felt enriched by the content that the programs brought into their homes, others viewed it as difficult to schedule into their busy days. Usually the mothers or older daughters, noted that family responsibilities absorbed so much of their time that there was no time to listen to the radio, seeming to indicate that some perceived listening during the 1930s as active rather than a passive background companion. Others felt it was a treasure that brought them music and entertainment.

Active listeners

One Toronto listener explained that the radio was not for children, they listened to one daily program, a favourite of her mother’s. While it was on for 30 minutes daily all activity ceased and everyone “stood around to listen to the program.” In her home her father preferred to get his news from the newspaper. He continued to play the fiddle and visitors danced; the radio did not assume the place of any their other traditional entertainments. Two respondents indicated that the children in their family waited in line for their respective turns to listen to the radio.

A solitary pursuit

Another Toronto listener remembers the earphones and the crystal set in their home as the solitary activity of her father in the rocking chair.

Image source: Wikipedia, A 1920s Crystal Radio Advertisement