NEWARK, N.J. – For one weekend a year, the ghosts and survivors of Jack Benny, Benny Goodman, Goodman Ace and hundreds of other legends of the old days of radio hold court at a hotel across the road from Newark Airport.

The Friends of Old-Time Radio Convention has been meeting for 36 years. But when it signed off Saturday night, it was for the last time. The reason is simple, says Jay Hickerson, a musician who has been running the show from the beginning: the march of time.

“Lack of OTR (old-time radio) guests. And the committee is getting older,” he said.

The gathering, humble as it is, used to be able to call on a constellation of stars from the early days of radio.

Now it’s down to former child stars in their 80s and 90s. Arthur Anderson, 88, who acted as a teenager with Orson Welles, is an honored guest. Grandsons of 1930s song and dance star Eddie Cantor and Brace Beemer, the voice of the Lone Ranger for most of its run on radio, are on the program.

Collecting old-time radio shows and trivia has never been a young person’s game. But most of the convention-goers are too young to have firsthand recollections of the shows they’re buying, re-creating and discussing on panels.

Gary Yoggy, 73, has been to all 36 of the conventions. “It’s my favorite weekend of the year. It tops Christmas,” he said.

Yoggy, a retired history teacher from Corning, N.Y., is part of the committee that puts on the convention. He directed a re-creation of a Tom Mix episode for a Friday afternoon program.

“It’s like reliving my youth,” he said. “I was a kid when the golden age of radio was beginning to die.”

Simon Jones is one of the celebrity guests for the weekend. Jones doesn’t exactly qualify as a Golden Age of Radio star. He played Arthur Dent in the BBC’s hugely popular radio and TV adaptations of “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,” starting in 1978. But he’s been here before and is delighted to be asked.

“I’ve learned quite a lot about what went on before me,” he said.

Listeners who started as children, he said, make the most loyal fans. “If you can catch them that young, maybe they’ll become addicted later on.”

But it’s not just the radio programs that bring participants back year after year.

Stuart Weiss has been part of the steering committee from the beginning. He moderates a music panel with Brian Gari, the Cantor grandson. Weiss likens the gathering to a family reunion.

“These are old friendships. But you don’t keep in touch during the year. We come here, it’s as if we were together yesterday,” he said.

Weiss, a party supply salesman from Staten Island, was inspired by the convention to start his own radio show on the Internet. It’s eight hours long.

“I can’t stop,” he said. The party supply business isn’t doing too well these days, but “when I do my show, I forget all my problems. And for eight hours, I’m in heaven.”

Seeger, Guthrie join protest 

NEW YORK – Folk music legend Pete Seeger joined in the Occupy Wall Street protest Friday night, replacing his banjo with two canes as he marched with throngs of people in New York City’s tony Upper West Side past banks and shiny department stores.

Seeger, 92, accompanied by musician-grandson Tao Rodriguez Seeger, composer David Amram and bluesman Guy Davis, shouted out a verse as the crowd of about 1,000 sang and chanted.

They marched peacefully for more than 30 blocks from Symphony Space, where the Seegers and other musicians performed, to Columbus Circle. Police watched from the sidelines.

At the circle, Seeger and friends walked to the chant of “We are the 99 percent” and “We are unstoppable, another world is possible.” Seeger stopped to bang a metal statue of an elephant with his cane — to cheers from the crowd.

At the center of the circle, Seeger and Amram were joined by ’60s folk singer Arlo Guthrie in a round of “We Shall Overcome,” a protest anthem made popular by Seeger.

After more singing, Seeger asked for a mic check to tell the crowd: “The words are simple: I could be happy spending my days on the river that flows both way-ay-ays.”

During the march, the younger Seeger, in troubadour fashion like his grandfather, walked among the protesters playing songs. Amram took up a flute and others enlivened the night protest with the sounds of the accordion, banjos, and guitars. 

At the front of the throng, marchers held American flags and a large blue flag that said: “Revolution Generation … Debt is Slavery.” Along the way, the crowd sang protest songs made popular or written by Seeger, Woody Guthrie, and others of the protest era. 

Occupy Wall Street began a month ago in lower Manhattan among a few young people, and has grown to thousands around the country and the world. An Associated Press-GfK poll says more than one-third of the country supports the Wall Street protesters, and even more – 58 percent – say they are furious about America’s politics.