Among the many radio programs that graced the airwaves during the golden age of radio, few were as beloved as Chicago Theater of the Air.
This weekly program, which aired from 1940 to 1954, brought the magic of musical theater into the homes of millions of listeners across the country. Each week, the Chicago Theater of the Air would present a different operetta or musical, performed by a talented cast of singers, dancers, and actors.
The program's popularity was due in part to its high production values, and was well-known for its lush orchestrations, soaring melodies, and captivating performances. But more than that, Chicago Theater of the Air was beloved for its ability to transport listeners to another world, a world of romance, adventure, and song.
In a time when many people were struggling with the hardships of the Great Depression and World War II, the series offered a welcome escape. It was a chance to forget about your own troubles and immerse yourself in the beauty of music and theater.
Joy loves to listen whilst she's in the kitchen cooking dinner, and I'm often treated to her valiant attempts at copying prima donna, Marion Claire's soprano as Faust's Marguerite, or Carmen's Micaela!
The Chicago Theater of the Air played an important role in promoting musical theater to a wider audience. The program introduced many listeners to the works of composers like Gilbert and Sullivan, Puccini, and Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Interestingly, it also gave a platform to air the speeches of Col. Robert R. McCormick (1880-1955), editor and publisher of the Chicago Tribune, on topics such as American history, politics, and government, military affairs (foreign and domestic), foreign policy, current events (including the course of the second World War), and descriptions of his travels to Europe, South America, Africa and Asia.
Even after television became the dominant form of entertainment, The Chicago Theater of the Air continued to have a devoted following. The program's episodes were frequently rebroadcast on radio throughout the years, and are now available for you to download or listen to online, here on RUSC!
Chicago Theater of the Air was a true gem of the golden age of radio broadcasting. It was a program that brought joy and inspiration to millions of listeners, and it continues to be enjoyed by music lovers today.