Says You!, the weekly comedy quiz show on National Public Radio, entered its 25th year on the air this spring. Since its debut, my wife, Paula Lyons, and I have been regular panelists. After moving to the Vineyard in 2011, we’ve adapted to a busy schedule of Island retirement which means we’ve been appearing less often on this wonderful show that travels the country to play in front of live audiences. I’m at that time of life when a major trip is going from Vineyard Haven to Aquinnah — and back.

Of course, during this pandemic there has been no travel, no new program. What there have been are remixes of old shows and talk of possibly doing a Zoom “broadcast” this summer.

Says You! has taught me much over the years. Radio, in fact, has changed me. Appearing for all these years before audiences has given me confidence, acting chops and a knack for public speaking. I have a sense of comfort walking on stage as if I were entering a familiar living room. With an adequate amount of high-test coffee beforehand, I’m able to be spontaneous, unfiltered, myself.

This was definitely not the case with my first radio experience. I had just turned seven years old when my mother turned into Gypsy’s Mama Rose. We were living in Chicago, which fed quite a few radio programs to the national networks. One was Quiz Kids. As an only child, I killed many indoor hours reading a 26-volume encyclopedia, each book purchased for 99 cents with a $20 order of groceries from our local supermarket. My mother decided to share her pride with the country by putting me on radio. A pint-size nervous wreck, I passed the audition. But after a couple of teeth-chattering weeks, I became a retching advertisement for the show’s sponsor, Alka Seltzer, and took early retirement. Then I took up baseball.

I’m old enough to say I was brought up on radio, which as my then neighbor Sam Cowling would say, is better than being brought up on charges. While spending my first 10 years growing up in Chicago, there were many in my neighborhood making a living on radio. Sam was one of them. He was a regular comic presence on Don McNeill’s Breakfast Club, the longest-running morning variety show in U.S. history, from 1933 to 1968. Looking back on it, this daily feast for the ears was sort of a pioneer of Prairie Home Companion.

Every 15 minutes of the show, the genial host would shout his call for breakfast, stirring the sound of a march around the breakfast table. To young ears it sounded like this involved the studio audience. But there were enough performers to make all the sound effects. One of the most famous was a funny Midwestern storyteller named Aunt Fanny. She was played by Fran Allison, later known on TV as the only human in Kukla, Fran & Ollie.

Fran lived in an apartment downstairs of ours. I used to see her in our courtyard talking and laughing with Burr Tillstrom, the puppet master behind Kukla and Ollie. He lived in the next building.

Upstairs of us lived Roy Engel, a character actor who worked on radio, on TV and in movies. Radio suited him best because he had the voice of a strong hero. When you saw him, he looked more like a fire plug of a cop counting the days to retirement. When I knew him, he was radio’s Sky King, the celebrated rancher-pilot and uncle of Penny and Clipper, who would take to the air and the prairie to solve a problem or a mystery. The show was sponsored by Peter Pan peanut butter. Every so often, there would be a knock on our door in the late afternoon. My father or mother would open it, see nobody there, then look down to a case of Peter Pan peanut butter. Sky King had flown off but left his calling card. What a nice guy!

I listened to radio to hear my neighbors. Once there, I was hooked. There was comedy that played havoc with an impressionable mind. On sick days or times when I should be off to sleep, I learned from George Burns and Gracie Allen, Groucho Marx, Our Miss Brooks, Ozzie and Harriet. There was Jack Benny and his gang of actors with funny voices, including the marvelous Mel Blanc, also known as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, Sylvester the Cat, Tweety Bird, and on and on. There was Fred Allen and his gang, including Alan Reed as poet Falstaff Openshaw. Later he’d be Fred Flintstone.

There was Edgar Bergen and his caustically funny dummies. As a child, I could never understand why a ventriloquist had a radio show. But when I actually saw him, I could see his lips move. So I closed my eyes and laughed. And there was Spike Jones and his City Slickers who could make you double up with giggles by showcasing inventive music shenanigans.

Radio was a little slice of heaven for me. It was a whole world without pictures, except for the pictures it created in my head. It could take your imagination into over-time — and make it vivid. I learned timing and tone, use of pauses, the importance of words. All of this led to the entertainment of Says You! and, I might add, the attraction of poetry.

Arnie Reisman and his wife, Paula Lyons, regularly appear on the weekly NPR comedy quiz show, Says You! He also writes for the Huffington Post.