Jack Benny Program Still Tops the Ratings

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It is remarkable that after over half a century technology has and continues to shift.
It is remarkable that after over half a century technology has and continues to shift.

It is remarkable that after over half a century these old radio shows are still finding an audience in these days of the Internet, social media, and smart phones. What is it about radio shows that are fifty, sixty or even seventy years old that attracts listeners to this day?
It is remarkable that after over half a century these old radio shows are still finding an audience in these days of the Internet, social media, and smart phones. What is it about radio shows that are fifty, sixty or even seventy years old that attracts listeners to this day?

Jack Benny Honoured

The Jack Benny Program was just voted the top radio program. It might be strange in today’s world of Netflix, Youtube, Daily Motion and online video, but not long ago, radio ruled. The family would gather around the radio to listen to their favourite programs.

Jack Benny and the Jack Benny Program are topping the polls for old radio shows
Jack Benny and the Jack Benny Program are topping the polls for old radio shows

Listening to some of those programs today, you get a real glimpse at the 1940s, 1950s and a simpler generation. Interesting for younger people are the ads for tobacco, and beer, advertising that today sounds quite quaint and simple.

The radio show that received the most nominations, by a healthy margin, was “The Jack Benny Program.”

“It wasn’t a surprise to see Jack Benny being voted the top series,” says Ned Norris of RUSC.COM, a site specializing in old time radio shows. “His popularity seems to have lived on through successive generations. It seems good entertainment will survive even with the radical changes in broadcasting and technology that we’ve seen over the last few decades.”

The top ten radio shows of all-time accounted for roughly fifty percent of the voting, but there were nominations for over one-hundred and ninety different radio shows, which goes to show the enduring popularity of radio, and particularly classic radio shows from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s.

Top Radio Programs from ’30s, 40’s and 50’s Gain Popularity Now

Gunsmoke in Second Place

In second place in the poll was the classic western “Gunsmoke,” which starred William Conrad as Marshal Matt Dillon. In third place was “Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar,” a series about an insurance investigator that fits neatly into the hard-boiled detective genre that was so popular in the golden days of radio.

William Conrad went on to television fame as Cannon.

Other classic shows appearing in the all-time top ten included The Shadow, Fibber McGee & Molly, Suspense, Dragnet, Great Gildersleeve, X Minus One, and Amos & Andy.

“There were quite a few surprises,” says Ned Norris of RUSC.

“Some of the series you expected to see were conspicuous by their absence, such as Sherlock Holmes, Lux Radio Theater, and some of the big names of the day such as Phil Harris & Alice Faye, Burns & Allen, and even Bob Hope.”

Old time radio has seen a huge resurgence in popularity over the last decade. A whole new generation are embracing these classic shows, listening on their computers at work, downloading them onto their smart phones, and even listening whilst working out at the gym or jogging through the park.

So, the next time you see a young man or woman walking down the street, or sat on the subway with headphones tucked into their ears, it might not be Lady Gaga or Justin Bieber they’re listening to. It might just be Jack Benny, a pulp-fiction style detective show, a classic science fiction episode, or a quiz show from the 1940s.

Old Radio Plays Brought the Family Together

Tune in to Old Radio Plays

There are many places you can tune into old radio plays. Itunes, Youtube, and RUSC.com