One of the fascinating parts of collecting old radios is pondering the kinds of programs they pulled in over the years. Chances are, the radio was used to listen to countless hours of news, music, entertainment, and sports. They were a witness to history, but the frustration is that we can no longer listen to the programs that were broadcast. Programs generally weren’t recorded, and most of the live programs that were broadcast were lost.
Fortunately, there are exceptions, although most of them were the result of accidental preservation. One example is documented in this news story from KIRO in Seattle:
Even though it was contrary to network policy, KIRO made a practice of recording CBS network news on 16 inch discs, so that they could be replayed at a more convenient hour for West Coast listeners. Fortunately, someone rescued these discs when they were to be discarded, and they are now in the collection of the University of Washington. They are gradually being digitized, and many are available at this link. The first one in that collection, for example, is a broadcast from September 1, 1939, and include a report from London of the declaration of war.