How the Sound Effects on 1930s Radio Shows Were Made: An Inside Look

“Jam” Handy (1886–1983) was known for two things: 1.) participating in the 1904 and 1924 Olympics (quite a feat if you think about the gap in time), and 2.) making thousands of educational training films for American corporations, schools and the US armed forces. A guru of cinematic advertising, he shot films for General Motors, DuPont, Chevrolet, Coca-Cola and U.S. Steel, from the 1930s through the 1960s.

Above you can watch Back of the Mike, a film shot for Chevrolet in 1938. Like other films in this genre, this piece of cinematic advertising offers us an entertaining, if not educational, look at how old-time radio shows created their sound effects–all while helping market a product, the Chevrolet that helps the good guys win in the end. If the film makes you want to buy a Chevy, we can’t help you there. But if Back of the Mike gives you a hankering to listen to old time radio plays, then you’ve come to the right place. We’ve got a few good items listed for you in the Relateds below.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.