Kitchen Radio by
(165 Stories)

Prompted By Remembering Radios

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Back in the 50s it seemed – much to my childish angst –  my parents were the last on our Bronx block to get a television set.   But of course we always had the radio.

My dad was a self-taught classical pianist and we had what was then a state-of-the-art hifi system and radio in the living room.   That radio was always set to WQXR,  the New York classical music station that simulcast the Metropolitan Opera production every Saturday – and still does.

My folks had a clock-radio in their bedroom,  and my sister and I each had one in our attic bedrooms.   And I remember taking a transistor radio,  and later a cassette player and a bunch of cassettes with me to the beach..

And back then,   before the advent of cell phones and social media,  and 24/7 news cycles,   folks kept well-informed nevertheless.   We had both a morning and an evening newspaper delivered,  and of course we listened to the news on the radio.   And for my family that radio was often the Emerson that sat on our kitchen counter.   Although we ate in the dining room on holidays and when we had company,   when it was just the four of us we ate dinner at the kitchen table.

My dad was a GP whose medical office was in our house,  and several nights a week he had evening hours from 6:30 to 8:00.  (See Fluffy, or How I Got My Dog )

Because of his schedule we’d eat an early 6:00 dinner,  and during dinner the radio would be on so that from 6:00 to 6:15 we could listen to the news with Lowell Thomas.

Thomas,  as you may remember,  was a World War I correspondent,  journalist,  prolific author,  memoirist and travel writer,  and the radio broadcaster who brought T. E. Lawrence,   known as Lawrence of Arabia,  to the public eye.

And always fascinated by the movies,  Thomas narrated 20th Century Fox’ Movietone newsreels,   and using the new Cinerama format he filmed and produced several documentaries.   In 1976 Gerald Ford awarded him the Presidential Metal of Freedom,   and in 1989 he was inducted posthumously into the National Radio Hall of Fame.

But as a child I knew Lowell Thomas simply as the familiar voice we heard every night.   And although I knew he was speaking from a radio studio,  and to a wide listening audience,  it seemed to me that he and my family had an intimate relationship.   When his voice came over that Emerson radio in our kitchen,  and he’d say,  “Good evening everybody” ,   I felt he was speaking just to us.

Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Radio, Lowell Thomas


  1. Laurie Levy says:

    This was a wonderful nostalgia piece for a simpler and saner time, Dana. People actually listened to music and news together. A great tribute to the power of radio in our lives.

  2. Betsy Pfau says:

    I love that you sat around as a family and listened to the news on the radio, Dana. You felt that personal connection to Lowell Thomas. He was speaking to you directly. Emerson Electric was a client of mine in St. Louis for a while. This was in the late 1970s. They were proud that their radios brought people closer together, though of course, by that time, that landscape was already changing.

  3. Suzy says:

    Great story, Dana. Thanks for the picture, and the description of all your family’s radios. That was exactly what I was hoping for with this prompt. And I love that you all sat around the kitchen table eating dinner and listening to Lowell Thomas.

  4. Marian says:

    Thanks for the insight and details about Lowell Thomas, Dana. And thanks also for mentioning WQXR. That was the classical music station I listened to when I had mono, but I wasn’t sure of the call letters.

  5. Khati Hendry says:

    You did a nice job evoking the time, and how radio intertwined with your family. It seemed happy. And that connection that we can develop with people speaking to us through the airwaves, lovely.

  6. John Shutkin says:

    Terrific to hear a story about family listening to to radio rather than watching TV. As Laurie noted, just a great nostalgia piece. Somehow, it just seems more civilized.

    And I recall listening to classical music with my parents in the very fancy FM tuner that my father had “built in” to the books shelves in our living room. Though that was also the radio that I wanted to commandeer for the Giants-Dodgers “recreated” games when they were broadcast in the afternoons. Fortunately for me, WQXR was typically for evening or Sunday listening.

  7. Dana, great job of evoking radio, and radio personalities like Lowell Thomas, who entered our homes, infused our lives, and almost came to feel like a member of the family.

  8. Wonderful retrospective journey, Dana. We, too, were the last on our block to bring a television into the home. I loved your portrait of Lowell Thomas! Those familiar voices, the ones we heard weekly, or nightly, did become part of family.

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