"Old Radio Theater" celebrates 25 years on the air | TheUnion.com

"Old Radio Theater" celebrates 25 years on the air

“Old Radio Theater” celebrates 25 years on the air in a special, two-hour broadcast beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 31, on KVMR radio (89.5 FM/Nevada City, 105.1 FM Truckee, and http://www.kvmr.org).

Longtime volunteer broadcasters David and Linda Breninger will mark the anniversary of “Old Radio Theater” with their 937th show.

“The program may be the only one of its kind in the Sacramento region and even the (San Francisco) Bay Area,” said KVMR Program Director Steve Baker. “We’re one of the only stations around that still celebrates radio’s first true Golden Age.”

The Breningers will narrate a documentary they wrote, “Old Radio Programs Never Die,” a tribute to radio’s distant past. Also to be heard is a 1949 broadcast of “Escape” entitled “Three Skeleton Key,” in keeping with the Halloween season.

Every show aired by the Breningers is drawn from their personal collection of vintage radio recordings spanning the late 1920s to early 1960s. Their collection includes drama, comedy, western, suspense, adventure, soap opera and news. Each program includes historic commentary about the material.

This legacy in sound is illustrated through their annual re-broadcasting of the 64-year-old NBC radio network Christmas program of the Grass Valley Cornish Carol Choir – the only known recording of the choir on radio. Members sang live to the nation from the stage of the Del Oro Theater in downtown Grass Valley on Christmas Day, 1946.

Linda Breninger credited the writing, “spectacular” sound effects, music and voice talent of the radio actors for the material’s enduring popularity.

“We enjoy sharing our vintage radio show collection with our KVMR listeners,” she added. “These old shows have a lasting effect that spans the generations.”

Their all-volunteer effort has absorbed thousands of hours spread over 25 years for the couple to research and to prepare “Radio Theater,” produced from a recording studio at their Roseville home.

In 1969, David Breninger first began airing old radio shows in the Bay Area on KQED San Francisco and in the 1970s on KFMR Fremont. He became Grass Valley’s first city administrator in 1984, and the station manager became aware of his collection of vintage shows.

“Old Radio Theater” went on the air for the first time on the evening of Oct. 26, 1985, as a two-hour Halloween-style chiller, broadcasting programs from the 1940s. The show was an immediate success.

In 1992, Sierra College asked the Breningers to host a lecture series on the history of radio broadcasting. They now present the series several times a year, sponsored by Eldershostel at the historic National Hotel in Nevada City.

The Breningers welcome communications and requests from their listeners, sent to KVMR at oldradiotheater@kvmr.org or 401 Spring St., Nevada City, CA, 95959.

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