Old Time Radio

Podcasts are a popular media in today’s society, but they are certainly not a new concept. In this Remarkable Idea, your students will create their own radio show or podcast.

This activity addresses:

  • Communication skills
  • Technology
  • Teamwork
  • Critical thinking
  • Creative thinking
  • Fine motor skills
  • Alternative methods of access

What you need:

Optional Hardware

  • Microphone

Free Resources

  • Sound Effects – YouTube or BoundBible.com (There are a lot of other sites, just be sure they are free. Sound effects can be expensive!)
  • Software – AudacityTeam.org (free audio recording/editing program)
  • Archive.org – listen to old radio plays (you can also search the internet for “old time radio”)
  • iTunes store/Stitcher.com – download/listen to free podcasts
  • genericradio.com – (free radio play scripts)


1. Decide on a format (Radio play, top ten music countdown, news show, talk radio, movie/book review, etc.) for your radio show, or a script from a radio play that is appropriate for your classroom and students. If you choose to come up with an original radio play, decide on some appropriate themes or settings for your students.
2. Download “Audacity” from AudacityTeam.org to record and edit your radio show.
3. Find some appropriate podcasts/radio shows for your students to listen to. This will give them an idea of what your lesson is all about.
4. If you have a radio play in mind, you may wish to gather your sound effects and record them to your chosen communication device (SuperTalker FT/QuickTalker/TalkingBrix/TalkTrac Wearable Communicator)
5. Record the shows music intro to a BIG or LITTLEmack
6. Record sound effects to your chosen communication device (SuperTalker FT/QuickTalker/TalkingBrix/TalkTrac Wearable Communicator)
7. Set up Audacity to record with the Hitch 2 and two Jelly Bean switches.
8. Create overlays using the AbleNet Symbol Overlay Maker app.

  • Open Audacity and go to preferences > keyboard
  • Change the shortcut for “Record” from the letter “R” to the number 0
  • Change the shortcuts for “Stop” and “Play” from the space bar to the number 3 (they share a shortcut)

8. Plug in your Hitch 2 and Jelly Bean switches so the Recording Engineer can control the recording.

What to do:

1. Begin by discussing the history of home entertainment (video games, TV, radio, etc.)
2. Play some examples of old radio shows. Ask the class if they know anything that is popular now that is similar; discuss podcasts.
3. Play an example of a podcast.
4. Assign roles to students and give them scripts (be sure to add symbols and marks so students know when it’s their turn to talk or to use a particular sound effect):

  • Recording engineer (the person who presses record and stop)
  • Sound designers/sound effect specialists (they will choose sound effects and add them to the show when necessary)
  • Actors/DJs/Show hosts
  • Writers (if applicable, maybe all students will be writers, maybe you will not have any writers)

5. Record the shows music intro to a BIG or LITTLEmack
6. Record sound effects to your chosen communication device (SuperTalker FT/QuickTalker/TalkingBrix/TalkTrac Wearable Communicator)
7. Do a read-through with your class so they can practice reading and using sound effects/music at the right time. (You may wish to record the rehearsal).
8. On the Air! Record your show (you may need to record multiple times to get everything right.)
9. Edit the show - you may wish to do this together as a class and ask their opinions. Do you need more/different sound effects or music? More commercials, less commercials? etc.
10. Once you have a finished product, “export” your project from Audacity and allow your class to listen to their radio show.


“What are some things you like to do for fun when you’re at home?” Someone will inevitably say watch movies, TV, or play video games.
“Before video games and television, people used to listen to the radio for fun. There used to be shows, kind of like the ones on TV that you would listen to and mentally picture.”
“Podcasts are like radio shows that you can listen to whenever you like. They do not have a set time limit.”
“We are going to be creating our very own radio show or podcast in our class.”



Additional suggestions:

To make recording easier for your and your students, consider recording everything separately and combining it later.
- Record commercials in advance.
- Record dialogue, sound effects, and music separately.

Most if not all laptops have a built-in microphone or webcam. You can use this to record your show (Audacity will allow you to import audio from a video) or you can use an external microphone.

Burn a copy of the radio show to a disc or distribute them digitally so your students can share the show with their families.