The Game of Radio
by Joseph G. Jackson
In the early days of radio, every other business wanted to get in on its popularity, even manufacturers of board games. Here Joseph Jackson shares his find of a bit of ephemera in the form of a three-in-one "Game of Radio." (Editor)
Always the practical sort, I have never been compelled to add much paper matter to my radio collection, except that which has a direct application to operation, construction or repair. If it can't be played, I usually resist temptation and pass it up, unless the item has some special appeal and is of reasonable cost. Recently, however, I happened upon ephemera that could actually be "played" in a sense a vintage card game aptly titled, The Game of Radio.
Copyrighted in 1924 by the Radio Games Company of Peoria, Illinois, the "Game of Radio" includes "rules for the three modern, instructive, fun-producing games": "Radio," "Radio Junior," and "Broadcasting." There are 51 cards in the deck: seventeen sets of three cards, each set stamped with the call sign of a contemporary station of the day, the wavelength of the station in meters and the broadcast range in miles.
Some of the stations included are now defunct, but many, such as WGN, are still in existence. Each card has a letter assignment derived from the call sign "W" from WSB, "N" from WGN, "D" from KDKA, etc.
The box for the Game of Radio card deck.
For the game "Radio," the object is to acquire five cards spelling out the word "R-a-d-i-o" for a score of 10 points, or to secure the cards necessary to spell out the three or four letter call signs from a list of 20 stations included in the instruction sheet. Five points are awarded for each such station completed. The first player to accumulate a total of 40 points is the winner.
An interesting note -- in the list of 20 stations utilized for the game "Radio," space is provided for three stations to be added by "mutual consent" of all players. Penciled in are the call letters WLW, WHAM and WHEC. The latter two additions would suggest that the original owner of the game was from the Rochester, New York, listening area.
The game "Broadcasting" is a variation of the popular game "Go Fish." The objective is to acquire all three cards of a single station (all three "KDKA" cards, for example) to form a "book" each book worth one point. The player with the most points after completing four hands is declared the winner.
The cover of the rules pamphlet for the "Game of Radio."
The front and back of typical playing cards for the Game of Radio.
Possibly a sign of the simpler times, a lesson in good manners is involved with this game -- likely as a counter to the "evils'" often associated with card playing. The player who has successfully called for a needed card through "fishing" the hand of another player must say "Thank you" before actually touching the card. The failure to offer this simple courtesy allows the contributing player to exclaim, "Static" and his card is promptly returned while the ill-mannered player loses a turn.
"Radio Junior" is a minor variation on or combination of the other two games. Spelling out "R-a-d-i-o" still garners a player 10 points, while a "book" is worth 4 points and a pair of any one station earns one point. In this version, the first player to reach 25 points wins. Progressive and partner forms of each game, to be played at "Radio Parties," are briefly described in the brochure as well.
(Joseph G. Jackson, 6331 Old Forsyth Rd., Macon, GA 31210)
Joseph Jackson, a graduate of Mercer University and a radio collector, is currently in the practice of diagnostic radiology in Macon. His interests include collecting radios of local historical interest, as well as the history of radios in the South.