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Forward Into the Past is a three-hour radio show celebrating the music and comedy of the 1920s, '30s and '40s. It airs each Sunday in the Los Angeles area from 2 to 5 p.m. Pacific Time over KSPC, 88.7 FM, and is rebroadcast each Monday morning at 6 a.m. Pacific Time. If you live outside of the Los Angeles-Orange County-Inland Empire area, you may access the broadcast in real time through the website, http://www.kspc.org.
I'm the host of Forward Into the Past, Randy Brian. I produce the show each week, drawing from my collection of over 30,000 records--78s, LPs, CDs, EPs and 45s--but most of them originally from the golden era of the 78rpm record, 1920 to 1950. (Actually, I have recordings that date back to 1888, but those are probably more for historical interest than entertainment!) On the show, I play hot dance music from the 1920s (excellent for doing the Charleston or the Black Bottom!), big-band swing from the 1930s and '40s, comedy records by the likes of Spike Jones, Mel Blanc and the Hoosier Hot Shots, personality discs by great stars such as Fred Astaire and Ethel Merman, Western Swing by performers such as Bob Wills and Milton Brown, and even the occasional blues record by Blind Blake or Lonnie Johnson.
With such a wealth of diverse material, I give the show some unity by grouping the songs into sets of four or five songs which share a topic, keyword in the title, or a musical element. It's really fun to hear how a record can mean more by being placed creatively in the context of other songs.
I've written the booklet notes for 25 CDs of vintage music. For nine years I wrote and edited "Past Times: The Nostalgia Entertainment Newsletter," which is being reborn as an interactive website and will be online soon. I'm also the author of "Laurel & Hardy: The Magic Behind the Movies"(for my off-the-air name, you'll have to check out that title at Amazon.com!). I recently recorded the commentary tracks for DVDs of three of the later Laurel & Hardy films, which you can purchase here.
Each week on this space, I'll provide the playlist for the previous week's show. I hope to ultimately have an online archive of shows, where you can listen to an installment you might have missed. I have recordings of all the shows going back to January 1990, so we'll have a lot to listen to.
Listeners often ask me where they can find some of the records I play. Bear in mind that many of the nostalgic waxings I put on the air haven't been commercially available since, oh, about 1927. However, a surprising number of these vintage recordings have made it into the digital domain and are currently available on CD. The single best source I know of for this type of music is Worlds Records, an excellent mail-order company based in Novato, California. Their website includes a very good database; you can search by song title, artist, album name or label. There are several other good sources, too, and I'll compile a listing of them and put it online. A wonderful "brick-and-mortar" store for vintage music on CD is Canterbury Records, a legendary venue in Pasadena, California. They even carry phonograph cartridges and styli for those of us who love real records! If you're looking for used LPs and CDs, a good mail-order source is Musicstack.com, a clearing house for 3,500 independent record stores worldwide. Don't be put off by the emphasis on rock music on their home page; they have all sorts of records, including thousands of 78s!
The middle hour of three that I broadcast each Sunday is devoted to old-time radio shows, usually one comedy show and one dramatic show. One very good and economical way to purchase old-time radio is to get it on MP3 files; at OTRCAT.COM, you can find thousands of shows as MP3 files--practically the whole run of Dragnet, for example, fits on four CDs, with about 100 half-hour shows per disc, at five bucks per CD! The quality does vary, however. If you want excellent-condition programs on standard CDs (two half-hour shows per disc), you might check Radio Spirits, which has a huge catalog and consistently fine audio quality.
Even though the legendary Forward Into the Past Barn Full O'Records is almost bursting at its seams, I'm always interested in acquiring other vintage discs. (Some people call me "The Cat Lady of Abandoned and Homeless Records.") If you have a pile of dusty discs and you want them to have a good home--well, email me and we'll talk.
If you'd like more information about the show, or if you'd like to email me with a request for a vintage record you'd like to hear, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy listening!
Here's where you can access the listings of the records played on the show: