A sound trip through time

As I write this, I’m listening to a 1956 broadcast of CBC Radio’s renowned Happy Gang. This Christmas special was recorded in front of a live audience in Toronto. Later, I may tune in to one of Fred Penner’s original children’s shows from 1980, or listen to Gracie Fields in a concert in 1941, performed for service men in Vancouver.

A new website called Preservatory.com offers free access to more than 70 years of the best of CBC Radio. There’s music, documentaries, dramas, comedy, historical news and current affairs. Simply click on your selection, and the program is soon playing through your computer’s speakers. The site uses a free “plug-in” program called RealPlayer.

Monthly themes
Each month, Preservatory.com will feature historically rich content that follows a particular theme. This month, there’s seasonal programming, ranging from:

  • Dylan Thomas reading of “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” in 1952, the year before he died.
  • Rich Little performing all the characters of “A Christmas Carol” in 1965.
  • Gracie Fields’ cross-country tour in support of the Canadian war effort.

Programming themes in the New Year ll take listeners on an audio journey through Canadian history. It begins in January with “Canuck-O-Rama”. This is a look back to great Canadian moments of the past century, including documentaries on the Bluenose and the Group of Seven.

The sound quality from the website is excellent. Through your computer’s modern stereo speakers, it may even sound better than you remember. CBC radio used to have ads, remember? These are included in the broadcasts and add a nostalgic air that actually enhances the experience.

This is an all-Canadian site that is definitely worth checking out.