You have work past the crackle, static, and white noise of the recordings, but RadioLovers is a website that has archived old radio shows from the pre-television days. Bob Hope, Groucho Marx, and Laurel and Hardy are just a few among the classic voices kept alive at this site, which features free downloads of the files in MP3 format. RadioLovers features comedies, mysteries, science fiction, and even music programs.
If you are doing a unit around media literacy, this site might even be helpful in showing how entertainment has often been commercialized. Listen to the openings of some of these programs and you realize that the first few minutes are often used to showcase the show’s sponsors. You could easily draw some parallels to the use of product placement in various movies and television shows these days.
For students interested in podcasting, these old radio shows are valuable for learning about pacing of story, voice inflection, and the use of sound effects (which is not often a topic covered in a traditional writing class, is it?)
On the issue of copyrights, the site discloses that it believes the radio shows are now in the public domain and no longer protected. Whether that would hold up in a court of law remains to be seen (or not). Even so, these files give a glimpse of entertainment from times when writing, sound effects, and voice were the prevailing means for delivering a stories to a large audience.