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Please feel free to explore our growing library of over 400 Golden Age Radio programming and broadcasting history articles and logs. We start every article and every program log with a clean sheet of paper before us. We perform our own, independent research into every program or personality. Never hestitate to let us know how we're doing--pro or con. And if you have something to contribute--or challenge--in our findings, please drop us a comment.

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T-Man with Dennis O'Keefe and William N. Robson

The T-Man audition had been produced and directed by Norm Macdonnell with music by Dick Aurandt, but the production series was produced and directed by William N. Robson, was written by Les Crutchfield, and employed the services of Del Castillo for the music score.

While the protagonist's name was changed from Dan O'Brien to Steve Larsen, the premise and concept of the series remained the same as in the audition. Steve Larsen was a Treasury Agent or 'T-Man' with a broad enough portfolio to encompass all manner of non-FBI federal crimes under his jurisdiction. The series opener has Agent Larsen ostensibly investigating a counterfeiting crime ranging across the U.S. It becomes clear though, in the course of the series, that Agent Larsen covered federal crimes ranging from those normally covered by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) to those usually covered by the Secret Service or Narcotics Enforcement.

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T-Men [Australian]

CBS' T-Man series has long been conflated with the Harry S. Goodman series for Australian syndication titled T-Men. Although we deal with the typical OTR temptation to create something--or revise history--from nothing, we don't condone the widespread practice. There are glaringly obvious differences between the two series:

  • The CBS network run aired in the Summer of 1950.
  • The Australian-syndicated T-Men aired in 1956 by all accounts.
  • The CBS network run starred Dennis O'Keefe as Agent Dan O'Brien in the audition and Agent Steve Larsen in the production run.
  • The Australian-syndicated T-Men starred Gordon Glenwright as Agent Jack Ketch.
  • T-Man refers to the protagonist Treasury Agent, Steve Larsen.
  • T-Men [plural] refers to the body of federal agents who monitor tax evasion crimes, presumptively in Australia.
  • Neither series shares the same producer, director, stars, writers. announcers, or syndication source.


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Tales of the Foreign Service

Tales of The Foreign Service began as a summer replacement for the second season of NBC University of The Air's The World's Great Novels program. Beginning with the productions of 1946, NBC University of The Air embarked on a series of productions emphasizing the importance of The United Nations and international diplomacy. Tales of The Foreign Service was a logical extension of this emphasis which added both educational and adventure elements to the NBC University of The Air programming. Initially planned as a run of some seventeen weeks, the programming was eventually extended to twenty-seven weeks.

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Tales of Tomorrow with Raymond Edward Johnson

While the Television first strategy worked well for several of the programs of the era, Tales of Tomorrow didn't enjoy the same success. Have Gun, Will Travel, for example, fared very well indeed for two seasons over Radio arriving as it did two years into its Television incarnation. Much of Have Gun, Will Travel's comparative success over Radio was attributed to the great number of Television scripts adapted for its Radio version.

Tales of Tomorrow over Radio elected to employ a different tack. The short stories for each program were selected from Galaxy Magazine. Galaxy Magazine was a popular science fiction digest published between 1950 and 1980. It was a showcase for many of the better science fiction authors of the era. George Foley, creator of the Television series, produced the Radio series as well. Clark Andrews and Warren Sommerville directed the series. The Galaxy Magazine short stories were adapted for Radio by Michael Sklar and Don Witty.

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The Tenth Man with Dorothea Dix, Ralph Bellamy and Jackson Beck

We doubt seriously that The National Mental Health Foundation set out to create a particularly historic set of dramas in producing this series, but upon reflection, its reach certainly exceeded its grasp in this instance. This often overlooked series of social dramas is remarkable in several respects. As with, for example, The Encore Theatre, it unites the 13 dramas of the run with a unique, unifying theme--dramatic mental health situations. In Encore Theatre it's medical breakthroughs that are the focus of each dramatic presentation.

But these were not simply infomercials by any stretch. Each drama creates its own, compelling case for one mental health issue or another, and while never preachy about its resolution--or lack of resolution--it does indeed illustrate, through drama, a poignant mental health issue demanding further examination by Post-War America.

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Textron Theatre with Helen Hayes

This series was arguably one of the finest drama vehicles Helen Hayes ever participated in over Radio--certainly the finest series she'd ever starred in as a recurring production. Textron had begun polling readers of its ad copy as part of its advertising campaign. Textron reportedly employed the results of their polling to suggest possible radioplays to be included in the Textron Theatre canon. Helen Hayes often introduced the radioplay for the evening as the result of Textron's polling exercises. This is reminiscent of the similar practice of polling listeners in the Vick-sponsored Dangerously Yours and Vicks Matinee Theatre productions of 1944 through 1945.

Comparing Helen Hayes' personal columns and their corresponding radioplay selections, it becomes obvious that this series was targeted to a female audience. This is entirely understandable, given the target audience of its sponsor, Textron, Inc.. This was, after all, a coordinated campaign to introduce America's women to Textron's line of synthetic fabrics and products.

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That Hammer Guy with Larry Haines, Ted De Corsia and Mickey Spillane

The 'hot potato' that That Hammer Guy had become ultimately resolved itself with the premiere of That Hammer Guy--over Mutual--on December 30, 1952, the beginning of a ninety-one episode series of hard-boiled Mickey Spillane mystery and adventure yarns.

The series premiered with Inner Sanctum workhorse Larry Haines as Mike Hammer, aided by Jan Miner in the role of Velda, Hammer's secretary and love interest, as well as several other roles in the ensemble cast. By about three months into the run, the series attempts--rather unsuccessfully--to rename itself, Mickey Spillane-Mystery or Mickey Spillane, Mystery depending on the outlet. Neither name ever really took, and the majority of the newspaper and magazine listings of the era continued to refer to the series as either That Hammer Guy, Mike Hammer, or Mickey Spillane Mysteries. The nomenclature didn't seem to bother Mutual in the least, and its most loyal affiliate stations continued to air Mickey Spillane-Mystery with almost no interruptions, pre-emptions or day and time changes for its entire run.

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That Was The Year with Gerald Mohr and Lindsey MacHarrie

A west coast production, That Was The Year may have been produced out of the studios of KMPC, Los Angeles. Transco executive Lindsay MacHarrie was an employee of both Transco and KMPC. While little is known about the production details, it's clear that Gerald Mohr narrated the entire series, with Lindsey MacHarrie himself providing most of the announcing. West coast talent heard in the series are Jay Novello, Gale Gordon and Gerald Mohr.

That Was the Year was a compilation of historical vignettes from the years 1896 through 1934, for a total of thirty-nine programs. Only fifteen minutes in length, the series followed a fairly consistent format. Each program focused on one year, highlighting the most significant social, scientific, political, crime and cultural events for each year, often closing with a popular song of the era.

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That's Finnegan with Stuart Erwin, Florence Lake, Harry Stewart, and Frank McHugh

Phone Again, Finnegan--or That's Finnegan--had much to recommend it. A situation comedy set in a typical medium-sized town in Anywhere, U.S.A., the focus of the production was The Welcome Arms Apartment Hotel (or apartment house). The fascinating cast included Stuart Erwin as the absent minded Fairchild Finnegan, Manager of The Welcome Arms. But the person who really ran the place was veteran Film actress Florence Lake as the worldly-wise, philosophical switchboard operator with the unlikely name, Fanchon Smith. The other most often recurring role was that of The Welcome Arms' janitor cum poet, Longfellow Larson, a Swedish Renaissance Man portrayed by Harry Stewart essentially reprising his Yogi Yorgesson character from his Al Pearce and The Gang (1934) years on Radio

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Theatre Five with Fred Foy, Glenn Osser and William N. Robson

Theatre Five probably came a bit late in ABC's Radio History to really contribute to the body of Golden Age Radio drama, but better late than never. Some have implied that Theatre Five was a rather lightweight attempt to recapture the wonderful Radio Heritage of The Golden Age of Radio. I suppose this should be considered a Golden Age Revival series in that respect. But in all fairness to ABC Radio, this was never a half-hearted attempt by any means.

The production values, polish, direction, sound engineering, and acting were all top notch. Indeed many of the finest voice talents from The Golden Age of Radio are present throughout its run. The variety of dramatic genre represented with its 260 production broadcasts also run the gamut of the rich variety of drama presented during the height of The Golden Age of Radio. Indeed very little is missing from this remarkable production run.

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The Theatre Guild On The Air

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United States Steel Corporation, for decades by then one of the Blue Chip stocks and corporations of the 20th Century, found an opportunity to mount one of Radio's most prestigious drama anthologies near the waning years of The Golden Age of Radio. The relatively young ABC network was just making a name for itself in 1945 and 1946. It was a great coup for ABC and it was a relative bargain for U.S. Steel. And so it was that U.S. Steel and ABC brought Theatre Guild On the Air to Radio for the first time on September 9, 1945, the first of over eight years of broadcasts over two major networks.

During a run that would span eight seasons, Theatre Guild On the Air's per show budget averaged between $10,000 and $15,000 per 60-minute program. First airing for four seasons on ABC, the program premiered over NBC in the Fall of 1949 for another four successful seasons. The talent costs over the run of the series can be borne out by reviewing the starring talent that U.S. Steel brought to the series. The greatest names from Stage and Screen gave the entire run it's well-earned patina of quality and polish. With Hooper Ratings over the years varying from an 8.3 share to a 12.1 share, and given the program's late night timeslot on the east coast and it's 60-minute length, the ratings supported the popularity of the series.




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Theatre Royal with Sir Laurence Olivier and Sir Ralph Richardson.

Theatre Royal was an extremely ambitious--and tenuous--undertaking for the National Broadcasting Company in 1953. Seizing on an extended U.S. visit by both the Oliviers--Sir Laurence and his lovely bride of then 13 years, Vivien Leigh--NBC hoped to gain Sir Laurence's services for a first-ever showcase of an entire season of Sir Laurence Olivier hosting--and performing in--a half-hour, dramatic anthology of the plays and novels of the Western World's most famous authors and playwrights.

The undertaking was tenuous, since the schedules of its projected stars were still in flux at the time the series aired its first broadcast by shortwave from London. As the series ultimately developed it broke down into three distinct sub-runs: Season One hosted by Sir Laurence Olivier, Season Two hosted by Sir Ralph Richardson, and a six-program 'Command Performance' series of rebroadcasts.

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These Are Our Men

These Are Our Men was a twelve week series of stories of American military leaders. The shows, though sponsored, were presented without true commercial interruption, but with a gentle reminder to buy bonds to benefit the Sixth War Loan Drive. Each program featured a different Stage and Screen guest star.

The closing sequence each week reminds listeners to buy bonds. "These Are Our Men" was presented each Saturday by the Parker Watch Company, but not to sell Parker watches. Their stated aim was to remind as many millions of Americans as they could reach that "certain as we are in our ultimate victory, it can be too long delayed unless every one of us carries his share of the burden." and "What we ask you to do is buy bonds, bonds, and more bonds. There's no duty more important to Americans today."

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The Marriage with Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy and Ernest Kinoy

NBC's inspiration for The Marriage, was the marvelous stage chemistry between Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy in Jan de Hartog's hit play, The Fourposter [titled The Four Poster for Broadway]. Not surprisingly, Cronyn and Tandy weren't picked to perform the same roles in the 1952 movie adaptation, since the 632 performances of the stage play hadn't fully run their course until May, 1953, by which time the movie was already in wide distribution, and nominated for three Academy Awards. This also serves to explain the year-long gap between The Marriage audition and its production run. As it was, Stanley Kramer and Jan de Hartog instead tapped Europeans Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer for the starring roles in the movie adaptation.

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The Thin Man with Dashiell Hammett, Les Tremayne and Claudia Morgan

Halfway into the fifteen episodes of the Summer of 1948's The New Adventures of the Thin Man NBC realized that the revised format wasn't working, so they scrapped the watered down Thin Man and returned to the detective mystery drama format. But that required them to park it in the only available post-curfew time-slot--10:30 p.m. on Wednesday nights. Of course, rather than salvaging the format, the impromptu revamping virtually assured an exponential drop in its already dwindling audience.

So it was that the Thin Man franchise winnowed down to a mere hint of its former popularity, having been handed down the Network line from NBC, to CBS, back to NBC, back to CBS, down to MBS and finally down to ABC.

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The Third Man with Orson Welles, Anton Karas, Graham Greene and Harry Alan Towers

Orson Welles was already working on two other projects with British programming entrepreneur Harry Alan Towers when the extraordinary success of the film, The Third Man (1939), The Third Man Theme and talk of a film sequel seemed to all point in the direction of a promising Radio version of The Third Man. But where to begin? The character Harry Lime was killed off in The Third Man.

Orson Welles' brilliant solution was to create an entire series of 'pre-quels' to The Third Man, all inevitably, inexorably leading up to Lime's ultimate fate in the sewers of Vienna. The film had already hinted at the apparent nine lives of the Harry Lime character, so it wasn't much of a stretch to extend that store of lives to fifty-one.

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This I Believe with Edward R Murrow

Ed Murrow's journalistic independence had struck a chord with America--and the World--throughout the 1940s and 1950s. But with CBS Corporate--not so much. The skirmishes between CBS Corporate and its more independent and idealistic journalists cropped up throughout The Golden Age Radio--and indeed the fifty years that followed. But it was that very independence and idealistic spirit that Murrow wanted America to connect with and relate to.

Murrow was continually coming up with all manner of new ideas for showcasing both the inherent strength of the American spirit, and that of all free-thinking citizens of the world. This I Believe was one of eight such projects that Murrow was promoting at the time. This I Believe was the only one of the bunch to get the green light.

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This Is Civil Defense

"     A new series of civil defense radio programs is being beamed into homes across the nation by the 561-station Mutual Broadcasting System.

     In cooperation with the Federal Civil Defense Administration, Mutual is broadcasting the series of 13 weekly 15-minute transcribed shows on Tuesday at 9:15 p.m. (New York time).  The series was recorded by the Rocky Mountain Radio Council under the title "This Is Civil Defense."
 
     THE SERIES relates how civil defense workers serve in such emergencies as natural disasters, train wrecks or plane crashes.  It also explains such phases of civil defense work as the training of women volunteers, the warden service, evacuation, fallout and the preparationof shelters and reception areas.
     The purpose of this series is to inform the public of the vital part CD plays in their everyday lives as well as preparing them for survival against enemy attack."

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This Is My Best with Orson Welles

First aired in a crowd of somewhat similar 'prestige player' drama anthologies of the era, Cresta Blanca and CBS distinguished their production with touches from the long-running Lux Radio Theatre formula--before and after performance comments from the players, a wrap-up of the production at the end, the build-up for the following production, and a complete musical close with the CBS network outro. The Cresta Blanca commercial messages were also entertaining, tasteful, and catchy, especially the popular "C-R-E-S-T-A B-L-A-N-C-A" jingle to plucked violin strings. Indeed, during one of the Orson Welles' hosted programs, Orson Welles himself, sang the jingle to great applause. And yes, that's applause. This Is My Best was performed before a live audience for the entire production run. Live audience performances were also a nod to Lux Radio Theatre.

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This Is War with Norman Corwin

Shortly after December 7, 1941, the United States Commissioner of Education, then the sitting chairperson for the Federal Radio Education Committee (FREC), determined that, in the absence of a formal wartime propaganda office, the FREC might very well be the only body--formal or informal--that might be able to be the first to produce a 13-week series of patriotic messages and propaganda for homefront audiences in America and throughout the Allied Forces nations. Titled This Is War, the series sought to frame America's entry into World War II in the context of thirteen, targeted segments of American Society and military infrastructure addressing a wide range topics and homefront-related messages.

The charter given the FREC was that the resulting series of broadcasts were to air over all four major American networks of the era-The Blue Network, CBS, MBS and NBC--on the same weekday and time, Saturdays at 6 p.m. C.S.T., and would pool the resources of all four networks in providing technicians, writers and actors to mount the series.

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Top Secret with Ilona Massey, Harry W. Junkin and Luis Van Rooten

The linkage of Vicks Matinee Theatre to Dangerously Yours was quite understandable. Indeed, the only reason for even further differentiating Matinee Theatre from Dangerously Yours was a matter of degree. The new production retained the same core cast, the same production support and the same sponsor--even the same timeslot. But Vick's public had spoken and Vick had listened.

Vick was constantly soliciting suggestions or feedback from its programs' listeners--through both its spokepeople and its star, Victor Jory. The audience wanted more romantic romance mixed with its romantic adventure, and so Vick's Matinee Theatre reinvented itself to meet its audience's needs.

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True Adventures of Junior G-Men Radio Log with Jock MacGregor

Though the first three installments are currently only privately held, the subsequent two, three-part adventures demonstrate the format of the series. To the blaring of police car sirens and teletype machines, the announcer/narrator would tease the adventure for the night. Most of the adventures were in the form of 'reports' from their 'operators' or 'Junior G-Men' in the field. The operators were named, then allowed to frame their following adventure. Most episodes would announce or tease the following week's adventure. The narrator delivered his introductions and exposition in a Walter Winchell-esque manner.

Most circulating episodes are multi-part installments there were apparently many single-installment adventures throughout the run. The multi-part installments in circulation were either two-part or three-part adventures. There are at least twenty-one single installment adventures in current circulation.

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The Unexpected with Barry Sullivan and Lurene Tuttle

Hamilton-Whitney first announced its production of The Unexpected in Billboard magazine in May 1947. Further Summer 1947 announcements cited twenty-six programs available as of July 1947, with twenty-six more programs in production. The 15-minute series was announced as a suspense mystery series starring "top-flight stars." And indeed, the proprosed headliners for the series included Barry Sullivan, Lyle Talbot, Jackie Cooper, Steve Cochran, Marsha Hunt, Marjorie Riordan, Binnie Barnes, Jack Holt and Lon Chaney, all distinguished Film actors of the 1930s and 1940s. The Unexpected also headlined some of Radio's greatest West Coast talent, including Lurene Tuttle, Betty Lou Gerson, Virginia Gregg, Joan Banks, and Gerald Mohr.

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Vicks Matinee Theatre with Victor Jory and Gertrude Warner

The linkage of Vicks Matinee Theatre to Dangerously Yours was quite understandable. Indeed, the only reason for even further differentiating Matinee Theatre from Dangerously Yours was a matter of degree. The new production retained the same core cast, the same production support and the same sponsor--even the same timeslot. But Vick's public had spoken and Vick had listened.

Vick was constantly soliciting suggestions or feedback from its programs' listeners--through both its spokepeople and its star, Victor Jory. The audience wanted more romantic romance mixed with its romantic adventure, and so Vick's Matinee Theatre reinvented itself to meet its audience's needs.

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Victory Front with The Office of War Information.

And so it was, that following the success of Victory Theater, CBS undertook to repeat that success in a similar promotion with thirteen weeks of its most identifiable daytime serial programming. CBS and the O.W.I. contemplated the following special presentations for CBS' Monday to Friday morning lineups:

  • Our Gal Sunday
  • Big Sister
  • Life Can Be Beautiful
  • Aunt Jenny's Real Life Stories
  • Young Doctor Malone
  • We Love and Learn
  • Bright Horizon
  • The Goldbergs
  • Joyce Jordan, M.D.
  • Second Husband
  • Give Us This Day (Special O.W.I. serial)

The casts, crew and production facilities were, as with Victory Theater, donated by the respective parties.

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Victory Parade with The Office of War Information

Deliberately similar in concept to Victory Theater, Victory Front, and Victory Volunteers, Victory Parade drew from NBC's nightly prime time lineup of weekly programs:

  • Baby Snooks
  • The Red Skelton Show
  • The Rudy Vallee Program
  • Well I Swan with Burns and Allen
  • The Chase and Sanborn Program with Bergen and McCarthy
  • Fibber McGee and Molly
  • Mr District Attorney
  • The Great Gildersleeve
  • The Bob Hope Show
  • Kay Kyser's Kollege of Musical Knowledge
  • Truth or Consequences
  • The Jack Benny Program

Each presentation featured it's respective casts from the regular seasons. The casts were called back from their respective Summer vacations to mount each production's respective feature--twelve in all.

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Victory Theater with The Office of War Information.

Consisting of only eight installments, Victory Theater was by no means a toss-off program. It was eight weeks chock full of the best CBS Network had to offer in the way of drama and talent.

Victory Theater was produced in cooperation with and under the auspices of the Office Of Facts and Figures of The Office of War Information. Governmental war messages were delivered in place of commercial announcements, as a vehicle for disemminating messages of national importance to the wider public.

None other than the great Cecil B. DeMille volunteered himself and his staff to produce and direct the inaugural program, "The Philadelphia Story," starring Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn, Lieutenant James Stewart, and Virginia Weidler, a Broadway Stage Pulitzer Prize-winner and the 1940 hit movie in which all four actors appeared.

Seven other top CBS programs were initially scheduled for Victory Theater:

July 27 Your Hit Parade
August 3 Major Bowes' Amateurs
August 10 "First Nighter" with a drama entitled "Nest of Eagles"
August 17 Big Town with Edward G. Robinson in a drama entitled What America Means To You
August 24 Amos 'n'Andy
August 31 "Joe Smith, American" on The Screen Guild Theatre
September 7 Fred Allen's Star Theater


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Victory Volunteers Radio Log with The Office of War Information

And so it was, that following the success of Victory Parade, NBC and The Office of Facts and Figures undertook to repeat that success in a similar promotion with thirteen weeks of NBC's most identifiable daytime serial programming. NBC and the O.W.I. proposed the following special presentations for NBC's' Monday to Friday morning lineups:

  • Stella Dallas
  • Portia Faces Life
  • Lorenzo Jones
  • Helpmate
  • Pepper Young's Family
  • Young Widder Brown
  • When A Girl Marries

The casts, crew and production facilities were, as with Victory Theater, Victory Parade, and Victory Front, donated by the respective parties.

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Voyage of The Scarlet Queen with Elliott Lewis and Howard Duff

The Voyage of The Scarlet Queen had been auditioned in February 1947 with Howard Duff in the lead and Elliott Lewis as his newly signed First Officer. Duff had debuted as Sam Spade in The Adventures of Sam Spade, Detective during the Summer of 1946. With the meteoric rise in the popularity of 'Sam Spade,' coupled with Duff's growing demand for Film roles, it fell to the audition's 'Red Gallagher' to step into the leading role when Mutual gave The Voyage of The Scarlet Queen the green light in July of 1947.

Obtaining the services of Elliott Lewis for Mutual's The Voyage of The Scarlet Queen was a windfall for Mutual. Elliott Lewis was already being referred to as 'Mr. Radio' and justifiably so. By 1947, Lewis had become one of Radio's most accomplished, quadruple-threat talents. He wrote superbly. He was already an accomplished director. He'd already produced several high-profile programs. And from the very outset of his career in the mid-1930s, he'd proven himself one of Radio's greatest and most versatile voice talents.

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Vox Pop with Parks Johnson and Wally Butterworth

November 7th, 1932, on the Eve of the 1932 Presidential Election, two account executives, Harry Grier and Jerry Belcher, working for Radio Station KTRH, Houston, wandered out onto the street outside their studios in the Rice Hotel and began to interview passers-by. Their first sponsor was Landers, King, and Smith. An almost instant hit, they continued their 'Vox Populi' interviews for the next two and a half years, sponsored by Dallas's Metzger Dairies, until the program was picked up briefly by the Southwest Broadcasting System.

Within just five years, Vox Pop was rapidly becoming one of the most parodied, copied new formats in local radio--and to a growing degree, in national radio. Indeed, for the likes of Bob and Ray, Steve Allen, Jack Paar, and Arthur Godfrey, the 'candid' man-in-the-street interview--either genuine or in parody--became a regular go-to source of gags. Bob and Ray elevated the man-in-the-street interview parody to an art form that has never been equalled, even though emulated even today, by Late Night Television Talk Show hosts the world over.

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Wanted! with Fred Collins

Summertime is, afterall, a time of escapism for most of America. Somebody Knows differed from Wanted by focusing on an unsolved crime of a particularly gruesome or notorious nature. Wanted by contrast focused on the career fugitive. Wanted's thirteen installments traced the 'careers' of criminals who'd acheived the lofty heights of the FBI's infamous 'Ten Most Wanted' list. These were con-artists, repeat prison escapees, and killers of the most notorious stripe. Many of the names were still quite familiar to early 1950s audiences: Willie Sutton, Mikey Melik, 'Two Gun Kinnie' Wagner and Glen Roy Wright in particular. And while many of these desperadoes were more regional sensations in nature, Willie 'The Actor' Sutton and 'Two Gun Kinnie' Wagner had made headlines across the U.S. during their various crime sprees.

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Warner Brothers Academy Theater with Warner Bros. and the Gruen Watch Company

Warner Brothers Academy Theater was something of a departure from the myriad other movie studio trailer programs that aired in abundance during the 1930s. Movie trailer programs for the most part simply provided audio clips from recently released or soon to be released film or short features, sprinkled with a few candid promotional pieces from the actors or directors. The intent was obvious: to create a 'buzz' in the radio audience for an upcoming film from a particular studio. Examples of such programs were Leo Is On the Air from M-G-M (1935), Hollywood On the Air (1935), RKO Presents (1938), 20th Century Fox Preview (1936), Samuel Goldwyn Air Trailers (1946), Paramount Is On the Air (1937-1946), Roar Heard 'Round the World (1934), and Warner Bros. Air Trailers (1935).

1938's Warner Brothers Academy Theater presented an even more innovative premise. Drawing upon Warner Bros.' stable of rising starlets (the series famously refers to both their young male and female actors as starlets) in "revivals and hitherto unused scripts" as a means of showcasing their young talent.

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We Came This Way with Ben Grauer

The series was inaugurated, appropriately enough, with the history of the signing of the Magna Carta, one of modern civilization's most significant universal ideals of a modern legal system. The Magna Carta became the basis for most of the common law employed throughout the civilized world. Such legal concepts as the rights of the accused and the principle of habeas corpus or "you have the body." It established the rights of anyone held for an alleged crime or infraction to have every aspect of their detention or charges to be recorded and defined for any possible challenges to those actions. Other common laws reasserted by the Magna Carta were in regards to the conveyance of property or land, principles of fair trade and taxation, and provisions for establishing a bond of marriage between a man and woman.

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The Weird Circle

The Weird Circle was an RCA-syndicated feature from RCA Recorded Program Services, the independent programming production division of RCA Victor. Its sound quality, voice talent, and production values meet traditionally high RCA standards. As a consequence of those standards, the resulting recordings have stood the test of time--a huge bonus for Golden Age Radio transcriptionists, preservationists and collectors.

The program was reportedly recorded out of RCA's New York Studios, and almost immediately licensed to both NBC-Red/RCA [WEAF] and the Mutual Broadcasting System [WOR and W-G-N], consisting of two, 39-script seasons of 25-minute productions, for local sponsors and networks alike. As illustrated in the Provenances section, NBC [RCA] created their own set of transcription disks as well, as did the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS).

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The Whisperer with Carelton Young and Betty Moran.

The Whisperer was conceived to be more akin to The Shadow, The Green Lama and The Whistler. As such, the crime theme overshadowed and informed virtually the entire run. This particular combination had become another tried and true formula. The uniting under-theme is that of a crime fighter of one era or another, who employs some element of disguise or secret powers and talents to dog the criminal underworld, thwarting their very underpinnings through fear and various supernatural powers or contrivances.

Underworld criminals were sweepingly referred to as a very superstitious lot as a whole, thus more receptive than most other, more spiritual elements of society to intimidation, fear of the unknown and supernatural trickery and artifice. The typical goal of such psychological ploys is to instill a greater fear into the criminal than the criminal has employed against his--or her--law-abiding prey.

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WHItehall 1212 with Wyllis Cooper

NBC was the first network to finally capitalize on the 'recently revealed secrets of Scotland Yard' with its network-sustained, all-British cast and Wyllis Cooper-written anthology of some 44 to 52 episodes of crime retrospective dramas (the actual number is still uncertain as of this writing). Though a thoroughly American production, and both written and directed by the gifted Cooper, the production billed itself as a completely British undertaking, all the more underscoring its projected message of absolute authenticity.

But NBC was by no means alone in seizing upon the revelation of Scotland Yard's long hidden 'secrets'. By the time WHItehall-1212 was well under way, the Orson Welles-narrated Black Museum began airing, as well as the Towers of London syndicated Secrets of Scotland Yard. In spite of the apparent glut of Black Museum-based programming, American--and Canadian--audiences seemed to find no end of fascination with this often notorious outpouring of Scotland Yard's most famous and infamous cases. So much so that now, half a century later, the three series are often conflated and intermixed in the memory of even the most knowledgeable Golden Age Radio collectors.

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The Witness with Robert Young and Lawrence Waddy

This series is another of those fascinating little finds that one usually only discovers after years of studying Golden Age Radio. In this case it's a wonderful little gem of a program with a unifying social theme--common sense human interaction. And yes, one can occasionally find such similar episodes within the morality plays often contained within such popular series' as The Whistler, The Shadow, and CBS Mystery Theatre. Indeed such message dramas are as frequently found in even some of the juvenile adventures such as The Green Hornet and The Adventures of Superman.

In this series, every episode contains a wonderful, highly effective morality play, both fully developed, and fully resolved. Indeed, all 16 compelling episodes are supported by a star-studded cast of socially conscious actors from The Stage, Film, Television, and Radio.

Accompanying each new episode is a wonderfully soothing, fatherly exposition by America's Father, Robert Young.

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The Wonder Show with Jack Haley

Jack Haley's Log Cabin Jamboree had aired from 1937 to 1938 as a variety/revue format program. The departure of General Food's 'Log Cabin' brand sponsorship left Haley's program without a sponsor during the Spring and Summer of 1938. But it was also undoubtedly Haley's selection for the role of the 'Tin Man' in The Wizard of Oz, under production throughout 1938, that contributed to the Jamboree's premature departure.

Premiering on October 14, with the Fall Season of CBS' offerings for 1938, The Wonder Show, starring Jack Haley aired in the familiar mold of the more popular variety programs of the era. Haley was aided by his wise-cracking, redheaded hostess, Lucille Ball, sultry torch songstress, Virginia Verrill, voice-master and impressionist Artie Auerbach, popular band leader Ted Fio-Rito, and soon-to-be Radio/Television legend-in-the-making, Gale Gordon as announcer and commercial spokesperson.

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Words At War with Joseph Losey

Words At War, The Man Behind The Gun, and Pacific Story, served as an important balance in the dissemination of wartime information. Words At War, especially, recounted a ambitious spectrum of observations about the War and its effects. Employing several award-winning accounts of the thoughts, aspirations, and often very personal views of War, books such as Mark Murphy's Pulitzer prize winning account of naval gunner Basil Izzi and his eighty-three day story of survival on a raft in The Atlantic brought rivetting accounts of war to the North American public.

The series aired sustained through the summer of 1944, at which time it ran in the Fibber McGee and Molly timeslot during their summer break, with Johnson's Wax picking up the tab for that summer run. The program returned to sustaining following Fibber McGee and Molly's return to the air during the Fall 1944 season.

Production values of the series remained high from beginning to end. Directed by Joseph Losey, Frank Papp, Anton Leader, Herbert Rice, Garnet Garrison and Joseph Mansfield, the scripts progressed crisply, tightly and smoothly from beginning to end. Frank Black, and to a lesser degree Morris Mamorsky, provided the moving and often atmospheric musical underscores for the productions. The casts supporting the several docudramas incorporated into the programs truly brought the literary works to life. Comprised of the finest voice talent of the era, the authors themselves--the real 'stars' of the production--often narrated or participated in the productions.

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World Adventurers Club

The concept of 'creating a buzz' over a commodity, a hot stock, a movement, political figure, or Film starlet wasn't nearly as sophisticated in the 1930s as it's become today, but it was by no means unsophisticated. Some of the greatest promoters of the era wrote detailed, highly scientific volumes about how to create interest in virtually anything that might capture the imagination of the public.

The Transcription Corporation of America (Transco) created an estimated fifty-two installments of their program titled, The World Adventurers Club. The first broadcasts of The World Adventurers Club appear to have aired on the East Coast as early as June of 1930, on the West Coast as early as 1933, and throughout the world as late as 1937-1939, variously retitled or repackaged Strange Adventures or Strange Adventures In Strange Lands.

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World Security Workshop

From Radio critic, John Crosby:

     "I don't know whether the play, which was written by Betty Jaffey of Chicago, will promote much international understanding but it demonstrated that there's lots of room for showmanship in a public-service program.  Its sharp little pokes at commercial radio, which is certainly full of extraneous sounds in these first years of peace, were rather startling to find on a national network.
     "The Psycho-Neurosis of a Sound Effect" was not perfect.  The message began to show through a little too clearly, and one rather brutal sequence of the killing of Serbs by the Germans destroyed the mood in the last half of the piece.  Miss Jaffey's intentions were honorable enough here but she made the same point more skillfully in the first half of her play.
     Still, it was a refreshing change in radio drama and let's hope the Workshop presents a lot more.  Radio is wide open for this sort of thing.  In the theater or in the movies, it costs a lot of money to experiment.  In radio, all that's needed are brains and imagination."

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The World's Great Novels

With the reinauguration of NBC University of The Air (and NBC Inter-American University of The Air) on July 6, 1942, NBC directly collaborated with colleges and universities throughout the U.S. and Canada to help create curricula that would grant higher-education credits for some of the University of The Air programming. This collaboration continued through approximately 1948.

NBC University of The Air's The World's Great Novels, while not the most enduring of the NBC University of The Air series', was certainly one of its most ambitious. Running for some one-hundred and forty-nine episodes, the series aired for four complete seasons between October 14, 1944 and July 23, 1948. During that period, The World's Greatest Novels aired a total of sixty, single-episode and multi-part dramatizations of the world's greatest novels (as cataloged in the sidebar at left).

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X Minus One with Ernest Kinoy

It's a tribute to the loyalty of X Minus One's fans that the program lasted even a year, yet alone two. Of course it was also a tribute to X Minus One's writing and adapting staff. Yes, they were adapting the work of some of the era's greatest Science Fiction proponents, but adapting such remarkably well known Sci-Fi authors was a very delicate business in itself. Galaxy and Astounding Science Fiction published almost every storyline ever performed on X Minus One--usually well in advance of its broadcast on X Minus One. So it's not as if X Minus One's most ardent fans didn't already have a literary benchmark by which to measure the X Minus One interpretation of some of their most beloved Sci-Fi adventures.

And although the writing professions of the era were most definitely a sellers market--in Radio and Television--on the performing side, not so much. The Golden Age of Radio was withering--day by passing day. The technicians could see it, the producers could see it, the networks were driving it, and quite understandably, the actors saw it coming a mile away. So yes it was definitely a buyers' market for acting talent. Of course this was fantastic for the relatively few surviving popular Radio programs of the era.

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