I Wanna Talk About Me

In August 2006, my Facebook chum Ryan Ellett pummeled me, Mike Wallace-style, with a series of questions for a written series he was doing on old-time radio themed blogs.  I was only too happy to answer his queries after he agreed to let my family go, and even though I was a teensy bit miffed that he interviewed Charlie Summers first (I started TDOY about five months before Charlie’s Nostalgic Rumblings) it turned out pretty swell.  From the November, 2006 issue of The Old Radio Times:

OTR in the Blogosphere, Pt. 2
Ryan Ellett

This month we continue our series of interviews with oldtime radio’s bloggerati. This month we bring you a chat with Ivan Shreve, who pumps out the Thrilling Days of Yesteryear almost daily at http://blogs.salon.com/0003139/.

Old Radio Times: Explain your introduction to old-time radio?
Ivan Shreve: My introduction to OTR was a result of the nostalgia boom in the 1970s, when many radio stations began broadcasting the great old programs of the past in an effort to cash in on the “everything-old-is-new-again” wave. The very first program I remember hearing was Lum 'n' Abner, which went out on weekday afternoons over a station in Charleston, West Virginia. As the 70s went on, I was introduced to more and more old-time radio through public radio stations, Radiola records, etc.

ORT: When did you begin your blog?
IS: The launch date for Thrilling Days of Yesteryear was November 4, 2003.

ORT: What inspired you to start a blog focused wholly or in part on old-time radio?
IS: When I first stuck my big toe into blogging, the initial result was called Weapons of Mass Detraction, and it was going to be a politically-themed blog but at the same time would include my other interests, passions, etc. After the first week or so, it became obvious that I wasn't contributing anything to the “blogosphere” that wasn't already being written about by people who did it much better than I ever could. I went looking for something that I hadn’t seen previously covered and because I had a job that at that time allowed me to listen to OTR broadcasts (since it was pretty slow at night) I thought an old-time radio blog would be kind of novel. I was also inspired by an entry at one of my favorite blogs, World O'Crap, which talked about (in a humorous way) Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories. An OTR blog seemed like something I could do that would be both unique and a lot of fun.

ORT: What distinguishes your OTR-themed blog from others?
IS: I love to read criticism – whether it be about movies, television or OTR – and find out why people like or dislike something. Most of the OTR sites that I was visiting would talk about shows but rarely ventured into the “I like this show because . . .”/”This program bites because . . .” realm, and so I decided that right off the bat the readers of my blog would know why I had an affection for or revulsion to certain shows. I also – and again, this is when I had copious amounts of free time – would try to transcribe dialogue from particular shows I had listened to in order to give people a sense of what that particular broadcast was all about.

ORT: Describe the aim and focus of your blog.
IS: In the beginning, Thrilling Days of Yesteryear’s main concentration was on old-time radio, though I stated in the very first post that there would be occasional side trips to movies and TV shows. Sadly – and I'll be the first to admit complicity in this – I don't do as much OTR as I once did, primarily because I just can't find the time to sit down and give it the attention (otherwise known as listening) that it deserves. This has kind of been both a blessing and a curse; the blog has sort of become a celebration of nostalgia, which has widened the audience a good deal (the readership is now in the high two figures), but I still get an e-mail every now and then pointing out that I've kind of drifted away from old-time radio. I plead guilty.

ORT: How frequently do you post new material?
IS: My standard rule is that I try to post something new at least once a day. But since I've broken that so many times I've rationalized it more as a guideline. If I'm swamped with work or outside activities, I just can't sit down and devote the time I need to write something post-worthy, and I hate just knocking something out for the sake of having something on the blog (though I have committed this crime in the past). One of my pet peeves about certain blogs is the way they link to other articles that the authors probably spent a great deal of time and effort on and, in essence, consider that their post for the day. If I link to something, I’ll at least try to include some sort of pithy comment as to why I either a) agree with the author’s perspective or b) think s/he’s a complete pinhead.

ORT: What do you enjoy most about blogging?
IS: Blogging provides an outlet for creativity. I’d love to be able to make a living at writing, but most of the subjects that interest me don’t exactly pay a king’s ransom, and so I’m realistic enough to realize that for the time being, it should pretty much stay a hobby. I also enjoy when someone comments about something I posted because it assures me that at least one person bothered to read it and was interested enough to offer his or her take. I’ve been fortunate that a few people who've read my blog have contacted me and said: “Hey . . . you seem to have a talent for slapping a noun against a verb – would you be interested in writing something OTR-related for us?” That's how I was tabbed to contribute many of the liner notes for the Premier Collections released by First Generation Radio Archives, for example.

ORT: What do you enjoy least?
IS: Sitting down and writing. Dorothy Parker once said: “I hate writing. I love having written.” Truer words were never spoken.

ORT: Are you active in other areas of the old-time radio hobby?
IS: Oh . . . I suppose my status right now would be that of semi-retirement. I've joined a few clubs in the past, but I have a bad habit of letting memberships lapse. I try to keep up with what's going on with publications like The Old Radio Times and The Old-Time Radio Digest . . . sometimes it seems like there’s just not enough hours in the day to do all that. Maybe I should speak with someone in charge about requisitioning some.

As you can see, Ivan and I got along just famously over our Cokes. In the time I’ve known him, he’s been a great resource on different matters and was very supportive of my brief fling into the OTR blogosphere a couple years back. Check out his site and let him know you read about it in the Times.

Since that 2006 interview, the classic movie/television/OTR blogosphere has grown by leaps and bounds.  As such, it’s allowed me to connect with like-minded individuals on the subjects and cement lasting friendships.  Here are a few blogs who have asked me to ruminate on my passions for movies, TV and radio in the past:

True Classics is one of my favorite classic movie blogs: it’s one of the best-written, and all four of its authors (Brandie, Carrie, Nikki and Sarah) are positively ga-ga over old movies, which clearly shows in the aforementioned fine writing.  They have an ongoing series entitled “Movie Memories” in which people are encouraged to describe their classic film experiences…mine can be found right here.

All Good Things, a great classic movie blog administered by fellow Peach State denizen Monty, also has an interesting recurring feature entitled “Be My Guest”…I was subjected to his Mike Wallace-like interrogation here.

At “The Kitty Corner,” a regular feature of the simply splendiferous The Kitty Packard Pictorial, bloggers are encouraged to talk about themselves and their sites, which I did so here.  (FUN FACT: The Kitty Corner is literally festooned with cats, which sort of makes for an interesting interview experience.)