I’m sure I couldn’t be the only fan who still remembers when Chuck Schaden first started sharing his amazing collection of vintage radio programs every Saturday afternoon back in the spring of 1970.
Listening to the future Radio Hall of Famer bring “The Shadow,” “Inner Sanctum,” “The Lone Ranger” and “The Jack Benny Program” back to life was pure magic, and Schaden’s “Those Were the Days” became a weekly radio appointment I’ve been keeping ever since.
Schaden, a youthful 80, stepped down in 2009, but still maintains a fabulous website and audio archive of his interviews at speakingofradio.com. Happily, the show he created is still going strong after 45 years, airing from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturdays on WDCB FM 90.9 and streaming on www.wdcb.org. And that’s certainly reason to celebrate.
Steve Darnall, who ably succeeded Schaden as host and producer, has kept the spirit of “Those Were the Days” alive and flourishing. To mark the 45th anniversary milestone, he’ll host a special live event at 2 p.m. Sunday at Chicago's Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 North Knox Avenue. Proceeds will benefit WDCB, the public radio station licensed to the College of DuPage.
“‘Those Were the Days’ has always been about taking sounds from the past and giving them a new life, and that's our goal with this 45th anniversary show,” Darnall said. “We're thrilled for the chance to present some very talented friends of ours who share our affection for the Golden Age of Radio and entertainment. It's our way of paying tribute to the goal Chuck established when he started ‘Those Were the Days’ 45 years ago — to bridge the gap between yesterday and today.”
In addition to Schaden, Darnall’s guests will include Rich Koz of “Svengoolie” fame and Trace Beaulieu, who played Dr. Clayton Forrester on “Mystery Science Theater 3000.” Both will be joining in recreations of sketches and shows from the era. Also appearing will be musical guests West End Jazz Band, Reginald Robinson and The Famous Brothers.
“We've also got a few surprises planned, and I didn't fully realize it until I looked over our list of performers that we've got something very special for horror movie fans: with Rich Koz and Trace Beaulieu taking part in our radio re-creations, it marks the first time Svengoolie and Dr. Clayton Forrester have appeared in public together,” Darnall said. “In the words of Ed Grimley: ‘I couldn't be more excited, I must say.’
“And of course, it's a treat to welcome Chuck Schaden back to honor the show he started back in 1970 and hosted for 39 years. Chuck's time as host and his enthusiasm for the Golden Age of Radio were a great inspiration to a lot of us, including a number of folks who'll be part of this show. For the last six years, it's been a pleasure and an honor to host the show he created and see how much it meant — and means — to people.”
Tickets are available by phone at (630) 942-4200 or online at wdcb.org.