How to Play Radio Plays from Your Apple Watch

By Marc Saltzman

If you’re only listening to music on your iPhone, iPad, or Apple Watch, you’re missing out on many thousands of downloadable and free dramas and comedies to help keep you entertained while on the go.

Popularized in the 1940s before TV took off, radio plays — or old-time radio (OTR) shows, as they’re often referred to today — are enjoying a 21st-century rebirth thanks to the Internet and MP3s. A whole new generation of listeners can now experience these wonderfully written and performed “theater of the mind” episodes.

Recommended shows include the creepy Inner Sanctum and Price of Fear With Vincent Price mysteries; nail-biting adventures from Suspense and Escape; the hilarious antics of Jack Benny as well as Abbott and Costello; and such sci-fi classics as Journey Into Space and X Minus One (featuring many Ray Bradbury yarns).

Filling up your digital devices with these timeless tales is as easy as subscribing to one of the many dozen OTR podcasts (some with daily updates) or by bookmarking such websites as Archive.org and OTRCat.com — each with thousands of free downloadable episodes.

Because most of these older shows have copyrights that have long since expired (or didn’t have any to begin with), they’re now available for free through the public domain. Some are newer, such as many BBC radio plays and recently published radio dramas based on The Twilight Zone, and are still protected by copyrights, which prohibits you from copying and distributing. When in doubt, contact the website that houses these audio plays.

To sync radio plays to your Apple Watch, follow these steps:

  1. Launch iTunes and click the Music tab.

    In the top-left corner, you should see a little icon with an arrow.

  2. Click this icon to bring up some options, including New.

  3. Click New with your mouse, followed by New Playlist.

    Give a name to your Radio Shows Playlist, such as “Radio Shows” or “OTR,” or by name, such as “Inner Sanctum” or “Suspense.”

  4. Wherever you downloaded the radio shows on your computer — maybe your desktop or a Downloads directory — drag and drop them into this newly created playlist.

    Now you’re ready to sync your new playlist over to Apple Watch so you can hear your radio plays without a nearby iPhone.

Now you can look forward to — rather than dread — your daily commute.