The most popular sound of the nineteen-thirties was a new kind of music called "Swing." And the "King of Swing" was a clarinet player named Benny Goodman. Benny Goodman and other musicians made swing music extremely popular during the nineteen-thirties. Swing was a new form of jazz. Many of its first players were black musicians in small, unknown groups. It was only when more well-known white musicians started playing swing in the middle nineteen-thirties that the new music became wildly popular. One reason for the popularity of swing music was the growing power of radio during the nineteen-thirties. Radio had already proven in earlier years that it could be an important force in both politics and popular culture. Millions of Americans bought radios during the nineteen-twenties. But radio grew up in the nineteen-thirties. "Howdy, Folks. Yes, it is your old friend Singing Sam, so let's just settle back and reminisce a bit, what you say, huh?" Producers became more skillful in creating programs. And actors and actresses began to understand the special needs and power of this new electronic art form.Swing was not the only kind of music that radio helped make popular. The nineteen-thirties also saw increasing popularity for traditional, classical music by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms, and other great composers. In nineteen-thirty, the Columbia Broadcasting System, CBS, began a series of concerts by the New York Philharmonic Orchestra on Sunday afternoons. The next year, on Christmas Day, the National Broadcasting Company, NBC, began weekly opera programs from the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. In nineteen-thirty-seven, NBC asked Arturo Toscanini of Italy to lead an orchestra on American radio. Toscanini was the greatest orchestra leader of his day. Millions of Americans listened on Christmas night as Toscanini and the NBC Orchestra began playing the first of ten special radio concerts. It was a great moment for both music and radio. For the first time, millions of average Americans were able to hear classical music by great composers as it was being played. Music was an important reason why millions of Americans gathered to listen to the radio during the nineteen-thirties.
But even more popular were the many series of weekly programs, whether comedy, suspense, or drama. "The Lone Ranger Rides Again...Easy, steady, big fella" Families would gather around the radio, and thrill to the adventures of "The Lone Ranger," or laugh at the funny experiences of such comics as Fred Allen, Jack Benny, Edgar Bergen and his wooden ventriloquist's dummy Charlie McCarthy, WC Fields, and George Burns and Gracie Allen. "Yes, it's 'Maxwell House Coffee Time,' starring George Burns and Gracie Allen." Radio helped people forget the difficult conditions of the Great Depression. And it helped to bring Americans together and share experiences. Swing music. Classical music. Great comedy programs. The nineteen-thirties truly were a golden period for radio and mass communications. But it was also during this period that Hollywood and the American film industry became much more skilled and influential. In previous years, films were silent. But the "talkies" arrived in the nineteen-thirties. Directors could produce films in which actors could talk. Americans reacted by attending film theaters by the millions.