The 1930s were the golden age of radio. Radio had been a nationwide phenomenon during the 1920s, when it broadcast music such as jazz, but its most important role was presenting current affairs. During the 1930s, radio was a source of entertainment, communications and relief from everyday troubles and hardship. However, owning a radio attracted a licence fee and few people could afford this luxury during the Great Depression.
Radio plays were popular entertainment in Australia in the 1930s. The Shadow was a serial based on a comic book by the same name, and it is a great example of a radio play that appealed to a younger generation of listeners.
Ask students to participate in a question and answer activity about The Shadow radio play.
- How does the story come to life on radio? What elements have the radio producers used to recreate the stories and hold the listeners interest?
Other than dialogue, what sounds did you notice in the clip The Shadow?
- How do you think these sounds have been created?
- Why do you think radio plays were so popular with people before television came to Australia in 1956? Are radio plays still being broadcast today and if so, where?
- What other types of radio programs were available to listeners in 1938, other than radio play serials?
- As a follow-up activity, ask a senior family member about the radio programs they remember? Which did they like and when did they listen to them?