Radio historian Steve Darnall uses classic sound clips from some of radio's best known mystery and horror programs to illustrate how radio could truly be a "theater of the mind." Signup required.
Speaker bio: Steve Darnall discovered the Golden Age of Radio at age 12, when his father Jack turned the dial to Chuck Schaden's Those Were the Days and out came the sounds of Fibber McGee and Molly. Thus began a relationship with the early days of radio that continues to this day.
Steve's own radio career began as a freshman at Lyons Township High School in LaGrange, Illinois, when he joined the school's 10-watt station, WLTL. Steve was ostensibly brought on as a newsreader, but his fascination with the Golden Age of Radio led station management to offer him a two-hour show, Radio's Golden Age, which would air Saturday mornings. The show ran for six months as Steve tried to divide his time between radio and his other love, theatre; however, he vowed he would keep the name Radio's Golden Age in case he should need it again.
Between then and now, Steve tried his hand as an actor and spent several years as the "voice" of Klondike Ice Cream. (This opportunity allowed Steve to work "with" Gary Coleman as Steve asked William Shakespeare "Would you write a TV sitcom for a Klondike Bar?") In the 1990s, he tried his hand as a professional musician with the sardonically named Steve Darnall and the Ultimate Career Move.
However, he wasn't done with comic books yet. In 1994, Slave Labor Graphics published the first issue of Empty Love Stories, in which Steve and a plethora of talented artists spoofed the breathless world of romance comics. After two issues with Slave Labor Graphics, Steve decided to try his own hand at publishing, and thus Funny Valentine Press was born. During this time, Steve and his good friend Alex Ross collaborated on Uncle Sam, a two-issue series for DC Comics' Vertigo imprint that won raves from both The New York Times and The People's Tribune. Subsequent comics-related projects have included "Nikki Tesla, Kid Inventor," a short-lived strip (produced with artist Greg Hyland) for Disney Adventures magazine; the ten-issue series Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt, published by Dynamite Comics; and Marvel, a six-issue anthology series from Marvel Comics published in 2020-21.
In 2004, Chuck decided to cut back on his workload and contacted Steve about taking over as publisher and editor of Nostalgia Digest Magazine. Steve's tenure began with the Summer 2005 issue. In early 2009, Chuck announced his plans to retire from radio and Steve agreed to step into the role of the host and producer of Those Were the Days, beginning with the July 4, 2009 broadcast.
Later that year, YesterdayUSA founder Bill Bragg invited Steve to contribute a weekly program to his internet radio station. Steve agreed, and in March of 2010 Radio's Golden Age made its return. The program ran for six years and some 317 shows before Steve wrapped up production with the March 27, 2016 edition; in 2021, the internet channel Stay Tuned America began replaying past editions of Radio's Golden Age. More recently, Steve programmed the World War II music channel for AccuRadio.
In response to numerous inquiries, Steve launched the Nostalgia Digest Podcast in 2012, producing 100 podcasts over eight years before the series went on hiatus. The Nostalgia Digest Podcast was devoted to people, performers, topics and shows that have been featured in past issues of Nostalgia Digest and can be found at iTunes and by clicking here.
Steve lives in Chicago with his wife Meg Guttman.