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The Somebody Knows Radio Program

Dee-Scription: Home >> D D Too Home >> Radio Logs >> Somebody Knows

Somebody Knows producer Jimmy Saphier also attempted to obtain the commercial rights to Command Performance in 1948 -- from Billboard Magazine April 3 1948
Somebody Knows producer Jimmy Saphier also attempted to obtain the commercial rights to Command Performance in 1948 -- from Billboard Magazine April 3 1948

Frank Christenson was slain in front of his home on December 10 1949
Frank Christenson was slain in front of his home on December 10 1949

Elizabeth Short was the victim in the notorious Black Dahlia Case
Elizabeth Short was the victim in the notorious Black Dahlia Case


From the July 20, 1950 edition of The Daily Review:

Virginia MacPherson--
 Man Gambles $40,000 of Own
Money on a New Radio Idea
     HOLLYWOOD, (U.P.) -- Comes a man who's gambling $40,000 of his own dough on a new radio idea--and he hopes he loses.
     The feller is Jimmy Saphier, a radio producer, and he appears to have all his marbles, all right.  But he says nothing would make him happier than to lose $5,000 every Thursday night for the rest of the summer.
     And before you call for the men in the white coats, here's the gimic:
     Saphier is breaking in a show tonight called "Somebody Knows."  It's a sort of combined whodunit and giveaway and all you do to collect is produce evidence that'll trap a murderer.
     Saphier got the idea from the Chicago Sun-Times, who got the idea from William Finstead, who says unsolved murders have been his pet project for 20 years.
     "Every week we'll dramatize one of the juicer ones," Saphier explained.  "Then we'll ask the listeners to send in clues.  And if any of those lead to the conviction of the criminal, we'll pay 'em $5,000."
     And jump at the chance.  Because, Saphier figures, even one crime solved through his show would put "somebody knows" on every front page around the country.
     "We don't have a sponsor yet," he says, "so I'm putting up the $40,000 myself.  "I've got five other shows on the air...there's always a little cash kicking around the house."
     And Saphier is one producer who makes no bones about "appealing to the higher type of audience."
     He hopes his listeners are mostly criminals and thugs and gangsters and stool pigeons.  Mostly stool pigeons.
     "Those are the ones who usually solve these cases," he explained.  The Sun-Times caught three suspects.  One was convicted.
     "I don't care if we only have one listener.  As long as he's the guy who knows who did it--and will rat on his pals."
     Saphier says the winners will be identified by a number instead of a name--in case anybody feels like bumping 'em off for squealing.
     "They send the information to us," he explained.  "We Photostat it and send it to the police chief who hasn't been able to crack the case.
     "And we've gotten terrific cooperation from practically every city in the country."
     Saphier figures he's set for a good long run on this idea.  It's a cinch he'll have never run out of plots, anyway.
     "New murders are always popping up," he said.

The promotional interview above pretty much sums up Mr. Saphier's concept for Somebody Knows. CBS and arch rival NBC went head to head with competing crime expose series' during the Summer of 1950: CBS' offering, Somebody Knows and NBC's offering, Wanted. Somebody Knows, while arguably--and apparently quite intentionally--the more sensationalistic offering, concentrated on famous unsolved cases. NBC's offering concentrated on notorious fugitives at large.

The inimitable Radio curmudgeon, John Crosby, cites the comparisons and contrasts between Somebody Knows and Wanted, from the July 20, 1950 edition of the Oakland Tribune:

Real Crimes Basis for Two Programs
      CBS and NBC have both come up with almost identical programs aimed at solving crimes which are still open cases and at apprehending criminals still at large.  Both these programs, NBC's "Wanted" (7 p.m. PDT Friday) and CBS's "Somebody Knows" (6 p.m. PDT Thursday), are, so far as I know, novel, though rather belated, experiments in radio journalism.

     Both programs review actual unsolved crimes, providing listeners with as much information as possible about the suspects in the hope that some listener may come forth with tips leading to the capture and conviction of the criminals.

     The networks would be performing a great public service if they land any criminals.  So far, neither of them has.  Even if they don't, these are both highly educational programs, furnishing the average laymen with sound information on the workings, both of the underworld and of the law enforcement agencies.  Since the public's thirst for crime programs of some sort seems virtually unquenchable, it's nice to have a couple of programs that deal with authentic crimes as opposed to the ordinary run of derring-do on the radio.


     "Somebody Knows," which offers a $5000 reward if you can put a finger on any of these criminals, recently took up the case of a psychopathic killer operating in St. Paul.  It opened with the voice of a Dr. Hathaway, a professor of psychology, addressing a seminar on mental abnormalities and speaking specifically of the repetitive nature of criminal acts by various types of psychopaths.

     This led into the review of the case of a girl named Geraldine.  Geraldine was returning home from her job shortly after midnight on a rainy night.  She was within two blocks of her home--a fact established by the bus driver who let her out there--when she was attacked and killed.  Her body, the throat and wrists slashed, was found three miles away from the scene of the crime.  The girl was neither raped nor robbed.

     Dr. Hathaway, who was called into the case by the police, predicted that the killer would strike again if the same set of circumstances arose again.  Sure enough, about a  year later, a girl named Mary Agnes was returning to her home alone from an evening at the ballet about midnight.  The circumstances were almost identical.  She was within three blocks of her home--a fact verified by the streetcar conductor.  It was a rainy night.  The streets were deserted.  Mary Agnes was killed in the same manner as Geraldine, throat and wrists slashed, and her body was discovered miles from the crime scene.


     There was no direct evidence linking both crimes to the same person, but Dr. Hathaway drew up a list of 21 points of similarity and concluded with what he described as a "personality portrait" of the killer.  Want to hear it?

     The man, says Dr. Hathaway, lived or lives somewhere in the neighborhood of the crime, has an automobile--probably an inconspicuous one--has a chance to roam the neighborhood either on foot or in his car without attracting too much attention, probably had an opportunity to know about Mary Agnes and may even have known her, was between the ages of 25 and 45, is likely to be intelligent with a good job and is the type of man not ordinarily open to suspicion, may have had a recent nervous breakdown, has sullen moody spells, shows less than average interest in women (a rather surprising point), and probably carries a knife with which he commits his crimes around with him at all times.

     The criminal is still at large, and, Dr. Hathaway warned, he will strike again under the same set of circumstances.


     "Wanted" is a somewhat different proposition.  Its producers, Walter and Peggy McGraw, toured the country for months collecting the voices on tape of police officials, newspapermen, district attorneys, prison officials and witnesses involved in some of the Nation's most spectacular unsolved crimes.  No actors are used on this one at all.  The actual persons simply retell what they know of the crime.  Each week an underworld character, kept anonymous for his own protection, gives tips on the habits, appearance and associates of the wanted man.

     The cases "Wanted" has dealt with include that of Willie "The Actor" Sutton, a very skillful jail-break artist, who is wanted for virtually everything.  Another concerned the shocking murder of Sen. Warren G. Hooper, of Michigan, who was to have been one of the principal witnesses in a gambling probe in that state.  Wanted for the latter is a man named Mike Sulik, who, McGraw informed us, is one of the most dangerous criminals at large.

     Both programs employ almost a magazine rather than a dramatic approach, avoid sensationalism and stick to the facts which, after all the crime nonsense on the air, you'll find enormously refreshing.
(Copyright, 1950, for The Tribune)

Series Derivatives:

Genre: Anthology of Golden Age Radio Crime Dramatizations
Network(s): CBS
Audition Date(s) and Title(s): Unknown
Premiere Date(s) and Title(s): 50-07-06 01 The Unsolved Murder of Mrs Gladys Kern
Run Dates(s)/ Time(s): 50-07-06 to 50-08-24; CBS; Eight, 30-minute programs; Thursdays, 9 p.m. [E.S.T]
Director(s): James L. Saphier [Producer]; Jack Johnstone [Director/Narrator]
James L. Saphier [Creator]
Principal Actors: Harry Bartell
Recurring Character(s):
Protagonist(s): None
Author(s): None
Writer(s) Sidney Marshall [Writer]
Maurice Zimm [Researcher]
Music Direction: Milton Charles
Musical Theme(s): Unknown
Announcer(s): Frank Goss, Jack Johnstone [Narrator]
Don Bicker, Johnny Jacobs [Announcr]
Estimated Scripts or
Episodes in Circulation: 2
Total Episodes in Collection: 8

Dead Reckoning.

Notes on Provenances:

The most helpful provenances were newspaper listings.

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The Somebody Knows Radio Program Log

Date Episode Title Avail. Notes
50-06-29 Wisconsin State Journal
7 p.m.--Suspense (WBBM): Cathy and Elliott Lewis in "Love, Honor, or Murder," story of cab driver dominated by unscrupulous wife.
The Unsolved Murder of Mrs. Gladys Kern
[Summer replacement for Suspense; L.A.P.D. Homicide File DR75-4613]

50-07-06 San Antonio Express
Somebody Knows, KTSA, 8 p.m. A dramatic documentation of actual, unsolved murder cases will make its debut. A $5,000 reward will provide an audience participation lure.

50-07-06 Lowell Sun
SOMEBODY KNOWS: Series of unsolved homicides. Tonight: "
Unsolved Murder of Mrs. Gladys Kern, Los Angeles realtor"; WEEI, 9:00.

The Unsolved Murder of Mary Agnes Kabiska
[St. Paul P.D. Homicide File # 78654]

50-07-13 Portsmouth Times
9 p.m.--WPAY-CBS: Someone who thinks he literally has gotten away with murder is infor a surprise tonight. The new program "Somebody Knows", is going to re-create all the facts and evidence about that unsolved murder, taken right from police files. And asks its audience: "What do you know about this crime? What have you seen or heard and perhaps forgotten, that will solve the case?" "Somebody Knows" offers a $5,000 reward for that vital information.

The Unsolved Murder of Joseph P. Bohanik
[Philadelphia P.D. Homicide File 235-1950]

50-07-20 Wisconsin State Journal
8 p.m.--Somebody Knows (WKOW):
mysterious death of South Philadelphia filling-station attendant.

50-07-20 Lowell Sun
SOMEBODY KNOWS, drama of unsolved murders in police files. "
Case of Joseph P. Bohanak," Philly gas attendant; WEEI, 9 p.m.

The Unsolved Murder of Frank J. Christensen
[Cook Cty. State's Attorney Office Homicide File 49-104; Special reward $10,000]

50-07-27 Lowell Sun
"SOMEBODY KNOWS," dramatized and
unsolved killing of Frank J. Christenson, attorney; WEEI, 9:00.

50-07-27 San Antonio Express
Somebody Knows, KTSA, 8 p.m.--CBS will recreate the murder of Frank J. Christenson, a former assistant state's attorney and implacable foe of gambling interests, in the hope that some listener will supply the missing evidence needed to apprehend the killers.

The Unsolved Murder of Paula Kohler Eubanks
[Kansas City, MO P.D. Homicide File A1-1947]

50-08-03 Lowell Sun
"SOMEBODY KNOWS": Dramatization of the facts in the
unsolved murder of L. L. Lambert, Dallas salesman; WEEI, 9:00.

The Unsolved Murder of Samuel I. Paris
[Boston, MA P.D. Homicide File HF-12342]

50-08-10 Lowell Sun
Unsolved murder of Samuel I. Paris, Boston cab driver, dramatized; WEEI, 9:00.

50-08-09 Ottawa Citizen
The unsolved murder of Samuel I. Paris, a Boston cab driver, which occurred on the night of April 3, 1948, will be reenacted on CBS' "Somebody Knows" over WCBS at 9 o'clock. A $5,000 reward is offered by CBS to anyone supplying a clue to the murderer or murderers of the victim. Paris' body was found slumped over the wheel of his cab, after it had crashed into a parked car and jumped the curb. A .22 caliber bullet was found at the base of the brain. Police have no other clues. The murder climaxed a series of late-at-night holdups of cabbies in the Boston area. This case is one of the three murders committed in the area in the last ten years which have not been solved by Boston police officials.
The Unsolved Murder of Mrs Jean Long
[Detroit, MI P.D. Homicide File 3867]

50-08-17 Long Beach Press-Telegram
6:00--KNX--Stabbed and beaten, the body of the secretary to the pastor of a church, was found in the nave of the church on May 24, 1944. This crime will be recreated on "Somebody Knows" as the "
Unsolved Murder of Mrs. Jean Long."
The Unsolved Murder of Elizabeth Short--The Black Dahlia
[L.A.P.D. Homicide File DR295771]

50-08-24 Long Beach Press-Telegram
9:30--KNX--The most shocking and vicious unsolved case in L.A. police history, "
The Black Dahlia Case," will be recreated on the "Somebody Knows" program. With 23 "confessions" on file, police are no nearer to the solution of this lurid murder than they were on the morning of the discovery of the body.

50-08-31 Wisconsin State Journal
Returning Programs
7 p.m.--Suspense (WBBM): Pat O'Brien stars in "True Report."

The Somebody Knows Radio Program Biographies

Jack Johnstone

Radio Writer, Narrator, Actor, Producer, and Director

Vineland, New Jersey, U.S.A.

1936 Buck Rogers
1942 Dark Destiny
1944 The Man Called X
1946 Hollywood Star Time
1948 The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
1948 Prudential Family Hour Of Stars
1950 Richard Diamond, Private Detective
1950 Hollywood Star Playhouse
1950 Somebody Knows
1952 Tums Hollywood Theater
1953 The Six Shooter
1955 Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar
1956 CBS Radio Workshop
Jack Johnstone with Johnny Roventini from January 1 1935
Jack Johnstone with Johnny Roventini from January 1 1935

Jack Johnstone obituary from the Sarasota Herald December 4 1991
Jack Johnstone obituary from the Sarasota Herald December 4 1991
Jack Johnstone was a versatile Radio writer, producer, actor and director during the heyday of The Golden Age of Radio. As early as the Buck Rogers In the 25th Century juvenile serial adventures of the 1930s and beyond, Jack Johnstone leant his hand to acting in, writing, and directing some of Radio's most popular programs.

Johnstone is most remembered for his work on popular adventure and detective dramas such as The Man Called X (1944) and Richard Diamond Private Detective (1950), but he was equally instrumental in 1950's Somebody Knows, Hollywood Star Playhouse (1950), Tums Hollywood Theater (1952), Jimmy Stewart's starring vehicle, The Six Shooter (1953), and hundreds of episodes of the long running Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar (1955). Johnstone was also a featured director of four of the widely heralded CBS Radio Workshop programs of the mid-1950s.

In the case of Hollywood Star Playhouse and Hollywood Star Time, it was Johnstone who brought actors of the caliber of Jimmy Stewart and Barbara Stanwyck to broadcast Radio. Jimmy Stewart's appearance in Hollywood Star Playhouse's episode The Six Shooter, led to Jimmy Stewart's participation as the star of the subsequent The Six Shooter series two years later, one of Radio's most popular and enduring favorites of the era.

Having witnessed the birth, heyday and demise of The Golden Age of Radio, when Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar left the air in 1962, Johnstone chose to retire with it. He might well have found further success in Television, but he was a Radio man to his core.

Johnstone passed away in 1991 from cancer at the age of 85, after a career spanning 32 years of The Golden Age of Radio and well over 4,000 appearances or credits to his name.

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