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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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Fully Provenanced Radio Program Articles

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Jeff Regan, Investigator with Jack Webb, Frank Graham, Barton Yarborough and Frank Nelson

Jack Webb and roommate Richard L. Breen had escaped the San Francisco Bay area, KGO, and ABC when professional differences obliged Breen to exit from Webb, Breen, and William P. Rousseau's highly successful production of Pat Novak . . . for Hire after only twenty-four programs. The details of the kerfuffle remain obscure, but they were apparently significant enough for Breen to split for Tinseltown almost overnight. Webb reportedly followed him the following day, driving down to stay with his Mom in Santa Monica until the details of any futher professional collaborations in Hollywood could be hashed out.

Webb and Breen's fortunes took an upswing when Don-Lee Mutual offered to produce a Pat Novak . . . for Hire clone, Johnny Madero, Pier 23, from the Don-Lee studios. The Hollywood gig reportedly enabled Jack Webb to marry Julie London, a Jazz songstress and actress with her own rising star. Breen and Webb cranked out the concept for Johnny Madero, Pier 23, quite intentionally in the mold of Pat Novak . . . for Hire, but the writing credit for most of the programs went to the talented writing team of Herb Margolis and Lou Morheim.

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The Story of Joe Palooka with Alan Reed

Airing every Tuesday and Thursday at the dinner hour, The Story of Joe Palooka launched with a huge promotion throughout the U.S. At the time touting "over 10,000,000 fans" of the comic strip, Heinz 57's spot ads of the era heralded the new series as "the greatest 15 minutes of fun on the air." The Story of Joe Palooka starred young Teddy Bergman [Alan Reed, the 'voice' of TV's Fred Flintstone] in the role of Joe Palooka, with Frank Readick as Knobby Walsh, Joe's friend and manager, and Elmira Roessler, Elsie Hitz, and Mary Jane Higby in the role of Ann Howe. Georgia Backus wrote the scripts for the juvenile adventure serial and Ted Husing announced all the ferocious action during Joe's fight scenes. Radio, Film and Television legend Harry Von Zell was the series' announcer and Heinz spokesperson. Quickly running through the two-a-week order of twenty-six installments, Heinz 57 Varieties ordered an additional thirteen episodes, for a total of thirty-eight before pulling the plug on the short-lived series.

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Johnny Madero, Pier 23 with Jack Webb, Gale Gordon and William Conrad

The buzz that Pat Novak . . . for Hire had created throughout the entertainment industry was reaching its peak during 1947 and 1948. During the Spring of 1947 Don Lee-Mutual's Ken Dolan and Walter Lurie had secured the rights to Webb and Breen's Johnny Madero, Pier 23 package for the Mutual Broadcasting System. Before the series even aired, a picture deal was hinted at--to be based on the first episode, concerning some sort of blackmail scheme. The announcement of a potential picture deal caught the attention of ABC, who still owned the rights to Pat Novak . . . for Hire, and indeed were still airing the series from San Francisco with Ben Morris in the lead.

To say that Johnny Madero, Pier 23 was to be similar to Pat Novak . . . for Hire put it mildly. The location setting was the same, the lead would be the same, the supporting characters would be transparent renditions of those from Pat Novak, and of course the dialogue and feel of the production would be almost identical to that of Pat Novak . . . for Hire.

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Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas On The Moon with C.P MacGregor

Jonathan Thomas . . ., was a worthy alternative to The Cinnamon Bear. That being said, the as yet uncredited cast of Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas On The Moon acquit themselves quite well. They do stretch improvisation at times--to the adult ear--such as the regrettable attempts to imitate Jimmy Durante and Katharine Hepburn--poorly. But overall, the cast is quite versatile and entertaining. This is, after all, a children's program.

The storyline itself is quite cleverly written, well-crafted, and fanciful enough to delight a child--of any age. The rythmic and almost poetic naming of most of the characters is very smart indeed, and is sure to remain in the memory of any child who hears the serial because of its cleverness.

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The Jumbo Fire-Chief Program with Jimmy Durante

Texaco's long-running Fire-Chief Program, starring 'Fire Chief' Ed Wynn, had aired for three years, when Ed Wynn took a stab at beginning his own network, the Amalgamated Broadcast System (ABS) in 1933--which subsequently folded in November the same year (costing him over 300,000 post-Depression-era dollars in the process).

Texaco's solution to extending the franchise combined an ongoing, widely publicized 'Broadway' extravaganza with Texaco's Fire-Chief branding to become The Jumbo Fire-Chief Program. The 1935 Billy Rose spectacular, Jumbo, had acquired as its venue New York's famous Hippodrome to house its combination musical comedy and live circus. Great hooplah and lavish rehearsal teasers to the press became an almost daily news item leading up to Jumbo's premiere on November 16, 1935. By far the era's most extravagant Broadway production, it was nonetheless mounted during an era of great theatrical bloodletting in the wake of The Great Depression. Employing John Considine's Wonder Show as its setting, the production featured, among numerous equally amazing features, a full-sized circus elephant.

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Jump-Jump and The Ice Queen with Bob Mitchell

Jump Jump, the 3-inch tall Elf was first conceived by the creative writing team of Mary McConnell and hubby Harry Hickox as an anchor character to introduce an initial series of some 52 vignettes of delightfully animated creature-based children's stories for year-round, syndicated distribution through the Harry S. Goodman organization to radio stations across America.

Young orphan Tim and his friend Billy become obsessed with the notion that Santa Claus might tend to favor children from whole families to children living in orphanages throughout the world. Young Tim resolves to determine the answer once and for all and sets off to find Santa himself; the North Star guiding him to Santa's home.

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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 Knights of the Road with James Gleason and Robert Armstrong

The show is about two characters named, appropriately enough, Jimmy Gleason and Robert Armstrong (referred to as Robbie), who want to buy a property from the father of Elizabeth Frost (Robbie’s girlfriend) so they can build and operate a gasoline service station of their own. They plan to tour the United States for one year, observing other service stations in order to educate themselves as how to make their future service station the best. Mr. Frost draws up a contract for the sale of his lot with all sorts of clauses which include having them sell his patented “Frost tire puller” as they travel and a morality clause (that Jimmy is indignant over). The contract calls for the duo to earn $2000.00 in an honest way during their trip. The clause that most concerns Robbie is the one that promises Elizabeth’s hand in marriage should he and Jimmy fulfill the obligations set forth in the contract.

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Komedy Kingdom with Elvia Allman

Komedy Kingdom seemed a natural concept to both Elvia Allman and Lindsay MacHarrie. They'd already collaborated in the past, and already knew most of the talent that might be pressed into service for the effort. Also, given Komedy Kingdom's proposed 15-minute format, the ensemble players could be packaged and promoted as ideal comedy and variety additions to the programming of stations large and small. Sponsorshop arrangements could be equally packaged and marketed with far greater versatility--to sponsors and advertisers large and small.

The first large market station to acquire Komedy Kingdom for syndication was CKY in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Their sponsor? Campbell's Soups. The Winnipeg run was reportedly very well received. Clearly, Campbell's Soups thought so, in any case. CKY was also a very illustrative example of what TransCo could offer to often remote markets in the way of quality comedy and variety.

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Lady Esther Presents The Screen Guild Players with Jean Hersholt

The Cosmetics House of Lady Esther took over sponsorship of Seasons Five through Ten, calling their productions Lady Esther Presents The Screen Guild Players. Lady Esther was looking for a prestigious vehicle to promote their new line of ladies' compacts and other feminine requisites and considering the inherent glamour underlying almost every production of The Screen Guild they couldn't have asked for a more appropriate advertising vehicle.

By the time World War II ended, Lady Esther's marketing priorities had changed and so it was that the next two seasons of The Screen Guild's productions were sponsored by R.J. Reynolds and its Camel Cigarettes brand. During this period the productions were named Camel Cigarettes' Screen Guild Players then Camel Cigarettes' Screen Guild Theatre, again recognizing the evolving transition from a mix of dramas, comedies, and musical comedies to straight motion picture adaptations.

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Lady Esther Presents Orson Welles Mercury Theatre

If any of the Mercury Theatre derivatives should be questioned, it should be the Lady Esther Presents Orson Welles production. While not necessarily a radical departure from Orson Welles' Radio productions of the past, the very Variety nature of the Lady Esther Presents season, with its Jiminy Cricket hook is the season that should be least associated with Mercury Theatre. But we're reminded that Orson Welles' very first radio appearance was in just such a mixed Variety/Dramatic Readings format. As such the Lady Esther season is more reminiscent of Musical Reveries (1936) than Mercury Theatre of The Air. Be that as it may, we've included Lady Esther Presents Orson Welles in this collection for continuity's sake, but we reserve our doubts as to its proper inclusion with Mercury Theatre's other productions.

Called variously, Lady Esther Presents Orson Welles, The Orson Welles Theatre, The Lady Esther Mercury Theatre, or some combination of the three, the mixed format also introduced none other than Walt Disney's Jiminy Cricket in a recurring 'role'. Jiminy Cricket was purportedly Orson Welles' 'conscience' throughout the series. In practice the gimmick seemed a bit overdrawn (no pun intended).

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Let George Do It with Robert Bailey, Frances Robinson, John Hiestand, Virginia Gregg, Olan Soule, Wally Maher and Ken Christy

Personal notice:
Danger's my stock in trade. If the job's too tough for you to handle, you've got a job for me.
-- George Valentine.

The huge West Coast Don Lee-Mutual Network began airing Let George Do It on September 20, 1946 over its KFRC affiliate in San Francisco. Sponsored from its inception by Standard Oil of Southern California and its Chevron Supreme Gasoline, the program ran for 414 unique scripts of 30-minute installments. A glance at the promotional spots for Let George Do It provide an idea of how the series' producers viewed the production themselves.

George Valentine was an ex-G.I. who was absolutely sure what to do with himself once he returned to civilian life--to a point. He'd apparently put a good deal of thought to it while overseas. Much of the back-story of George Valentine's character--and aspirations--is revealed in the course of the first 100 episodes.

That's the notion that becomes his inspiration for his 'Let George Do It' Agency--not so much as a detective agency as a concierge service on steroids.

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The Line-Up with Bill Johnstone and Wally Maher

The Line-Up stands as one of the most well-produced crime dramas of The Golden Age of Radio. The cast is comprised of top-tier, A-list talent from top to bottom. With Elliott Lewis directing his cast of some of the finest voice talent of the era--and top-drawer sound technicians to match--this series remains one of the best examples of the Crime Drama genre. Think of Calling All Cars, minus the jingoistic flag-waving, updated to contemporary 1950s crime themes, and peppered with the more authentic radio-verité atmospherics of Unit 99, Night Watch, and Dragnet, and you have The Line-Up.

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Lives of Great Men with Edward Howard Griggs

This series is as informative and fascinating today as it had to have been seventy years ago. If for no other reason than assembling this specific selection of great thinkers, philosphers and leaders, this series remains remarkable. As something akin to a contemporary audio book of the history of great philosphers and thinkers, it's intriguing to imagine committing this series to an .mp3 CD to enjoy on a long car, train or plane ride. The possibilities remain as open-ended today as they must have been seventy years ago. One can only imagine a young man or woman in the late 30s, hearing--for possibly the first time--this collection of some of the greatest lives that preceded their era. This opportunity had to have been a major event in many of their lives. No doubt many young listeners hearing this series for the first time, went on to investigate these great thinkers even more on their own.

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Lives of The Great with Hanley Stafford and Jay Jostyn

While there are only a handful of circulating exemplars of this series, the circulating examples were apparently recorded direct from transcriptions. A transcribed, syndicated packge, the twelve known titles were apparently widely available to any radio station that cared to purchase and air it. The only contiguous reference we could find for the known twelve-episode run was over the CBS affiliate, WMAQ out of Chicago. Syndicated, packaged programming, even as early as 1933 was customarily packaged in thirteen episode blocks--a period that would cover any possible combination of three months of contiguous programming.

We don't yet know enough about the productions details to make the call one way or the other, but we feel there's a plausible case to make for the existence of a thirteenth title in this canon--or perhaps another fourteen episodes, for that matter.

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Living In An Atomic Age with Bertrand Russell

At the age of 80 when Living In An Atomic Age was first produced, Sir Bertrand Russell had only three years previously won The Nobel Prize for Literature, cited for "recognition of his varied and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought"--at the age of 78. And indeed, Sir Betrand remained a vital, persuasive, and outspoken critic of Nuclear armament for the following seventeen years until his death in 1970--at the age of 98. Sir Bertrand had taught at the University of Chicago and had been appointed a full Professor of Philosophy at The University of California at Los Angeles in 1939. But soon after, Sir Bertrand's anti-war and anti-theist positions resulted in the withdrawal of further professorial appointments in both New York and Pennsylvania.

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Luke Slaughter of Tombstone with Sam Buffington and William N. Robson

Luke Slaughter of Tombstone was more a vehicle for William N. Robson than for either its star, Sam Buffington--or CBS. He'd already written for CBS Radio's production of Fort Laramie in 1956. Robson welcomed the chance to produce and direct a Western of the quality of competing contemporary adult westerns such as Gunsmoke and Have Gun, Will Travel.

The scripts were what one might expect from a William Robson project. The adult dilemmas posed in every episode were both thought provoking and brilliantly evolved.

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Macabre [AFN]

Macabre was produced in-house by the Tokyo studios of the Far East Network of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service. Two Air Force personnel were most responsible for creating the series: William Verdier as writer, performer, and director; and Program Director and performer, John F. Buey, Jr.. Mr. Buey entered the Civilian Service from the old Yankee Radio Network, serving as Program Director of FEN Tokyo from its inception in 1946.

The Verdiers, William and Christine, were active in several local origination FEN Tokyo productions, with Mr. Verdier responsible for the original 15 ips tape submission that resulted in the green light to produce the series of broadcast episodes.

The series arose out of an improptu competition between The Far East Network and The Armed Forces Network--Germany. Both networks sent 15 ips audition tapes to the AFRTS Headquarters in Los Angeles and FEN Tokyo won the 'competition'.

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Magic Island

Initially targeted to a juvenile audience, Magic Island was compelling enough to capture the imagination of entire families of the era. The back story of Magic Island was framed as a tragic, fourteen-year missing person case. A wealthy Los Angles widow, Mrs. Patricia Gregory had been shipwrecked with her family fourteen years previously, while sailing in the South Pacific. Mrs. Gregory had been the only apparent survivor. While her own survival and rescue remained somewhat murky, she clung to the belief that perhaps her baby daughter Joan may have survived the shipwreck as well.

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The Magic Key of RCA with Dr. Frank Black and Ben Grauer

The Magic Key of RCA was without question NBC's most ambitious, sustained programming effort of its fifteen year history. From the very outset of the series, week after week demonstrated NBC's remarkably expanding network and its capabilities. And of course it also quite deliberately demonstrated Radio Corporation of America's (RCA) remarkable technical achievements over its--then--fifteen year history.

Given the fact that CBS and NBC were the two major networks of the era, comparisons between CBS' Columbia Workshop and NBC's The Magic Key of RCA are probably inevitable.

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The Magnificent Montague with Monty Woolley, Anne Seymour and Pert Kelton

In November 1950 The Magnificent Montague became Monty Woolley's 'one-off' lead in a recurring, dramatic Radio program. Both the concept and the role were tailor-made for Woolley's widely perceived Film personae. The premise found Edwin Montague, ex-Shakespearean actor, founding member of the Proscenium Club of Shakespearean thespians, and supremely enamored of his own great Stage talent casting about for work. But discerning to the nth degree, Montague regularly refused any script, concept, or offer of acting work that failed to meet his--by then--unattainable standards.

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The Man Behind The Gun with William N. Robson and Jackson Beck

The Man Behind The Gun was a series characterized by superlatives in virtually every measurable dramatic category. Produced at the height of the aftermath of America's entry into World War II, the CBS series was one of their finest ever mounted during the War years. Producer William N. Robson traveled a reported 10,000 miles collecting sound bites, recording on the spot interviews with fighting men in the field, and coordinating with military security and intelligence officials. The security and intelligence coordination was key to producing the most accurate, descriptive and visceral accounts of our men behind the guns, without compromising operational security. William Robson sought and obtained the active support of all branches of the War Department in order to provide CBS listeners with the most authentic, accurate, and compelling accounts of America's far-flung war activities while still protecting key intelligence.

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The Man Called X with Herbert Marshall, Leon Belasco and Will Wright

The Man Called X started over Radio with the 1944 CBS Summer replacement run for Lux Radio Theatre, comprising a total of eight episodes. The only circulating exemplar from the first run is contained within the AFRS Globe Theatre canon of transcriptions. So, yet again, we are indebted to the incredible output of AFRS and AFRTS transcriptions over the years in preserving some of Radio's rarest exemplars from The Golden Age of Radio. But if one compares that circulating episode to the spot ad for the summer run in the sidebar, one sees the program promoted as a comedy-mystery.

The 1944 CBS Summer season finale, Murder, Music and A Blonde Madonna, gives some credence to the way CBS promoted this first run. Starring Herbert Marshall as Ken Thurston, a private operative, with Han Conried as Egon Zellschmidt in this first incarnation of Ken Thurston's nemesis, and Mary Jane Croft appearing in the role of Ken's love interest, Nancy Bessington, a reporter and Thurston's erstwhile fiance.

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Manhunt with Larry Haines

Manhunt was a 15-minute crime drama anthology. The scripts ran twelve and a half minutes, so as to allow stations to insert their own commercial messages and announcements in the remaining two and a half minutes. Starring Larry Haines and featuring Frances Robinson, the series was introduced and narrated by Maurice Tarplin. Tarplin's portentious opener for each episode went something like this:

"No crime has been committed . . . . . yet.
No murder has been done . . . . . yet.
No manhunt has begun . . . . . yet. "

Having instilled a sense of foreboding in the listener, the script would launch into the dramatic exposition necessary to frame the ensuing plot.

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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 Martin and Lewis Program with Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis

The premiere broadcast on April 3, 1949 employed much of the material they'd tested in their pilots and auditions for the series. Almost the entire script arc from the audition featuring Lucille Ball was lifted for the broadcast premiere with Bob Hope. The point was not lost on reviewers of the era, who felt that the writing for the team's first efforts was disappointingly formulaic. The mild panning of the first ten episodes of the new program continued until the Summer replacement series of 1949, in the Bob Hope Show's Swan-sponsored timeslot.

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Mathew Slade: Private Investigator with William Wintersole and Karl Swenson

Mathew Slade: Private Investigator was a featured, half-hour mystery presentation by The Pacifica Players of Pacifica Radio of Berkeley, California and the Pacifica Foundation of North Hollywood, California. It premiered as a Starlight Mystery Theater production on July 5, 1964 over Pacifica Radio affiliate stations. Initially announced for alternating Sundays, the program soon began airing in erratic installments from August through November of 1964.

Starring William Wintersole as Mathew Slade, the program was billed as a radio mystery revival series from the outset, presented in recognition of the hundreds of popular detective mysteries that had aired throughout The Golden Age of Radio. At least twelve of the Mathew Slade: Private Investigator installments from Starlight Mystery Theater were selected by The Armed Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS) for transcription and rebroadcast to both the Armed Forces Network (AFN) in Europe in 1966 and The Far East Network (FEN) in 1968.

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Matinee Theater with Victory Jory and Gertrude Warner

A word about the etymology of Matinee Theatre. For the first seven episodes of the new production, it was introduced as Vick's Matinee Theatre starring Victor Jory. Indeed, for the same first eight weeks of continuing to solicit suggestions and feedback from its listeners, Vick had Jory requests that listeners write the program care of Vick's Matinee Theatre at a New York City address.

From episode #8 forward, Vick's Matinee Theatre morphed into Vick Presents The Matinee Theatre, then simply Matinee Theatre by the end of the run. Even the 'care of' address was changed from "Vick's Matinee Theatre, New York 22, New York." to simply care of "Columbia Broadcasting, New York 22, New York.".

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Meet Mr. McNutley with Ray Milland

General Electric and CBS brought Meet Mr. McNutley to the air over both Radio and Television on September 17, 1953 as The General Electric Comedy Theater presents Meet Mr. McNutley. One might well surmise from the General Electric Comedy Theatre attribution that G.E. intended to mount other similar situation comedy productions under the same vehicle.

While initially promoted as a 'simulcast' production over both Radio and Television, the Radio and Television productions of Meet Mr. McNutley did indeed air on the same Thursday evenings. But the two, 30-minute productions usually aired an hour apart from each other, on the hour, depending on the market and geographic location.

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Meet the Press with Miss Martha Rountree

For many dyed in the wool Golden Age Radio fans, Mutual flagship station WOR was 'Radio Central' throughout the era--for politics junkies of the era it was Washington, D.C.'s Mutual key station WOL. Though not confined to airing from WOL, the overwhelming number of The American Mercury Meet the Press programs originated from the nation's capitol. Not generally recognized as one of Mutual's powerhouse stations, WOL nevertheless found itself in a coveted location when it came to political news--because of Meet the Press.

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Men At Sea with Joseph Julian and Berry Kroeger

Men At Sea was produced to be aired in three, eight-week sets, beginning with the Summer of 1943 and airing each subsequent Summer for the next two years as Summer replacements for The Great Gildersleeve.

The first two seasons of eight broadcasts ran from start to end without a hitch. The third season's fourth program was pre-empted by an All-Star Golf Match broadcast nationally by NBC. In an apparent effort to make up for the lost broadcast, NBC put together a special re-enactment of the famous short story, 'Faith of Our Fathers,' written by Captain Elwood C. Nance and adapted for Radio by Father Timothy Butler. The remaining two episodes aired as announced.

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Men of Vision

Recorded in the mid-1930s (1934-1936), Men of Vision was a series of twenty-six to thirty-nine, 15-minute docudramas presenting "men who've opened the eyes of the world," in one form or another through their scientific discoveries and inventions in optics. The series proved so popular with sponsoring Optometrists, Opthomalogists and Opticians that the Institute subsequently distributed an accompanying series of booklets collectively titled, "Men of Vision" containing articles drawn from the Men of Vision Radio series.

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The Mercury Theatre onThe Air Programs with Orson Welles

Mercury Theatre On The Air (1938) was the most innovative and historically significant production of the series. Indeed, though overshadowed in Radio History by the extraordinary result of its notorious The War of The Worlds program, all of the remaining productions were equally radical or innovative for their time. Julius Caesar was presented in much the same format as their radical Stage production, set in contemporary fascist Italy. Welles' Sherlock Holmes characterization was heralded as one of the finest interpretations of the morphine-addicted detective genius as had ever been heard over Radio. And all three of the Charles Dickens productions--A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Papers--were very well received. But indeed it was Howard Koch's brilliant adaptation of H.G. Wells' The War of The Worlds that created a stir out of all proportion to any other Radio broadcast during the Golden Age of Radio.

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M-G-M Theatre of the Air with M-G-M Radio Attractions

Arguably the jewel of the eight-program portfolio, M-G-M Theatre of the Air brought an initial twenty-six, hour-long M-G-M film adaptations to Radio starring M-G-M's greatest talent. By 1939, M-G-M had produced over 1,600 feature films, many of them award winners. With such a deep bench from which to draw upon, M-G-M Theatre of the Air was a natural pick to headline M-G-M Radio Attractions' first major portfolio of programming. By April 1950 the demand for the package remained strong enough for M-G-M to produce another 26 weeks of M-G-M Theatre of the Air, for an intial season offering of 52 episodes.

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Michael Shayne: Private Detective with Wally Maher, Jeff Chandler, Vinton Hayworth, Davis Dresser and Cathy Lewis.

Wally Maher's original Michael Shayne over Radio was presented as a comedy-mystery. As such the interplay and byplay between Cathy Lewis as Phyllis Knight and Wally Maher as Michael Shayne, was often complimented by Joe Forte as Lieutenant Farraday. It was humorous, witty, ironic and pretty much what radio listeners had come to expect from a comedy detective mystery series.

What elevated it a bit above its peers of the day, was the talent of its stars, Wally Maher and Cathy Lewis. Wally Maher, was a particular favorite of Brett Halliday. Cathy Lewis was a brilliant, versatile, highly sympathetic and convincing actor in her own right. Joe Forte brought the weight of decades of Radio character acting behind him, and the Director for most of the Wally Maher run was Michael Raffeto, better known for his long running characters in One Man's Family and virtually all of Carleton E. Morse's adventure dramas of the era.

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Mickey Spillane Mystery 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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Mr. and Mrs. Blandings with Cary Grant, Betsy Drake, Gail Gordon and Elvia Allman

One of the more underreported developments during Mr. and Mrs. Blandings' early episodes was Betsy Drake's writing for the production. Writing as 'M Winkle', Betsy Drake, in response to numerous pans of both the writing for the early episodes and her own performances, penned at least six of the production's early episodes. The improvement showed. By the time Billboard gave Mr. and Mrs. Blandings another listen, the scripts had experienced a complete turnaround. Betsy Drake's own performances had improved as well. As many of the Radio critics had observed, Betsy Drake's quiet, soft-spoken performances in Film were entirely appropriate for her roles. But those Film performances were portrayed in combination with her physical presence, her extraordinarily expressive eyes, and her grace and delicate beauty in Film. Radio, an aural medium, didn't capture the visual elements and nuances of Betsy Drake's Film portrayals.

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Mr. I.A. Moto with James Monks, John P. Marquand and Harry W. Junkin

Charlie Chan had beaten Mr. Moto to Radio, with Earl Derr Biggers' Charlie Chan in 1936. When it came time for Mr. Moto to make his Radio appearance in 1951, it was as Mr. I. A. Moto, John P. Marquand's original name for the character. Most other characteristics of Moto's back story remained similar to his Film depictions. NBC and producer Carol Irwin tapped Stage, Radio, Television and Film actor, James Monks, to portray Moto. Irwin and NBC's selection of Monks was in all likelihood in recognition of Peter Lorre's own strong identifcation in the role. James Monks was a distinguished actor in his own right by 1951, having already appeared in a series of Stage plays between 1936 and 1948. He'd also appeared in some 400 Radio productions beginning as early as 1938, many of them some of Radio's more prestigious productions, and often cast in an ethnic characterization of one form or another.

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Molle' Mystery Theatre with Geoffrey Barnes, Bernard Lenrow, and Dan Seymour

NBC's Mystery Theatre began airing on September 7, 1943. It was aided from the outset by the addition of an 'annotator'--as it was described in the 1940s--named Geoffrey Barnes. The annotator served in the role of expositor, filling in on the plot development as necessary and providing a back-story when needed. The apparent distinction made between a narrator and an annotator, was a matter of degree. Mr. Barnes, a distinguished and celebrated amateur criminologist in his own right, was apparently on hand to help the listener analyze and understand the various mysteries and their underlying crimes within each script.

In all, Mystery Theatre in its various incarnations ran almost continuously from the Fall line-up of 1943 well into 1952--an impressive nine year run in its various guises. It ran four years over NBC, three years over CBS and two years over ABC.

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Murder At Midnight

Murder At Midnight, while ostensibly a crime fiction drama was as much thriller as crime drama. The series debuted over the newly coined American Broacasting Company on September 16, 1946 and within two years was airing over Mutual and several other independent affiliates throughout the U.S..

As much a crossover supernatural thriller as crime drama, the foreboding introduction by host, Raymond Morgan, was very reminiscent of the competing Strange Dr. Weird (1944), Quiet! Please (1947), Cabin B-13 (1948), and The Whisperer (1951). Other long-running, highly popular, predominately supernatural vehicles had also been running for years, such as Inner Sanctum and Lights Out!. The comparisons are appropriate given the intentionally eerie, foreboding and suspenseful scripts for most of Murder At Midnight.

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Murder Clinic with Jock MacGregor

The concept was brilliant; an anthology of the most popular mystery and crimes authors of the previous sixty years, showcasing their most popular crime fighters and detectives.

An unprecedented treat for any avid detective fiction fan, the series offered a rare opportunity--in the U.S. in any case--to hear one of the most varied compilations of detective fiction ever broadcast; a detective fiction sampler for all intents. To the extent practical, the script adapted from the story selected was adapted from the point of view of the protagonist, which made for a far more compelling and engaging format.

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Murder Will Out with William Gargan and Larry Keating

"Though it hath no tongue, Murder Will Out!"

ABC Key Station KGO, San Francisco, had long been an innovator of compelling and popular West Coast programming. From quiz shows to locally originated dramas to comedy and music, KGO consistently brought some of the West Coast's earliest regional and national hits to the radio waves during the heyday of the Golden Age of Radio. KGO while under their affiliation with NBC-Blue had mounted a straight San Francisco Police crime drama, Murder Will Out, premiering on, Thursday, July 22, 1937 in a half-hour format, and narrated by former Police Chief Quinn. The premiere episode of that series was titled The White Rabbit. It was possibly KGO's continuing ownership of that program title that inspired the station to develop their murder mystery quiz format vehicle, Murder Will Out! for 1945, this time under American Broadcasting Company auspices.

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Music Depreciation

It was the popular success of The Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street that inspired the Don Lee-Mutual network to create a similar program that began airing in the Winter of 1944. Called Music Depreciation, it aired a format very similar to the long-running Chamber Music Society series, but in an even more abbreviated and light-hearted tone. And in a nod to the era, the overarching theme of most broadcasts was contemporary Swing Music.

The program was in all likelihood the brainchild of Ruben Gaines, a poet, writer and radio broadcaster with a flair for irony and music education. His previous Meet the Band series over Don Lee equally sought to shed light on not only the history of music, but its proponents as well. Gaines assembled the team for Music Depreciation comprised of the brilliant and versatile composer and arranger, Frank De Vol, and the equally gifted Les Paul and his Trio.

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Music From The House of Squibb with Lyn Murray and E. R. Squibb

To Your Good Health From The House of Squibb ran for just over seven months. It's successor, Music From The House of Squibb, ran for two seasons over a span of almost two years. Both series spared no expense to bring the greatest vocal talents of the era to the largest single audience of their careers, and thus benefitted both the talent and the series, equally.

NBC had already established a long-running reputation for bringing much of America's greatest Performing Arts talent to its huge, popular Radio audience and this series was no exception. If anything it simply further underscored NBC's reputation throughout the industry. Indeed many of the better recordings from this series rival any of the highly prized L.P.s of the era in definition, engineering, and clarity.

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CBS Mystery of the Week with Harold Huber

Having resolved its legal issues, the Hercule Poirot franchise over Radio found new life in the Procter & Gamble-sponsored Mystery of the Week in limited distribution over the CBS network. CBS flagship station WABC, New York for example, didn't carry the Mystery of the Week canon during its April 1, 1946 rollout even though Mystery of the Week was intended primarily for eastern network distribution. The new format consisted of serialized, five-a-week adventures of Hal Huber's Hercule Poirot airing Monday through Friday evenings in a 15-minute format. Airing a five-part adventure each week, the series broadcast a complete new adventure in five 'chapters' of each adventure.

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The Mysterious Traveler with Jock MacGregor and Robert Arthur

Mysterious Traveler was the second outing for the prolific writing team of Robert Arthur, Jr. and David P. Kogan, two successful pulp fiction writers and publishers. Their first effort was a 27-program run of Dark Destiny (1942-43). Most of the Dark Destiny scripts are heard again in The Mysterious Traveler (1943), The Sealed Book (1945) and The Teller of Tales (1950).

The team of Robert Arthur, Jr., David Kogan, producer/director Sherman 'Jock' MacGregor, and actor Maurice Tarplin was a very successful one for both The Mutual Broadcasting System and Radio station WOR. Between 1944 and 1952, The Mysterious Traveler eventually became one of the sixteen highest rated Radio programs of their era. WOR and MBS took great pride in putting together a program that could rival Radio giants CBS, ABC, and NBC throughout the era.

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Original Mystery House header art

Mystery House with Forrest Lewis

Mystery House was a production of radio station W-G-N, Chicago, one of the charter stations of the Mutual Broadcasting System. W-G-N was owned by The Chicago Tribune--by their own lights, the World's Greatest Newspaper, hence the call letters 'W-G-N.' Consisting of a canon of approximately one-hundred thirty distinct scripts, W-G-N recorded the vast majority of the programs before a live audience from their W-G-N Studio Theater. As noted in the spot ad at the left, W-G-N encouraged listeners to order tickets for the recording sessions by simply requesting them from the station.

The premise of Mystery House is relatively unique for the era. The main protagonists were a married couple, Dan and Barbara Glenn, owners and publishers of mystery novels via their Mystery House publishing firm purportedly located on Park Avenue in New York City.

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Mystery . . . In The Air [Summer 1945] with Jackson Beck and Ernest Chappell

Camel's 1945 summer replacement for their wildly successful Abbott and Costello program was an interesting take on the detective mysteries of the era. Mystery . . . In the Air! was a fascinating combination of military intelligence exploits mixed with a legal backdrop and conventional crime detection.

The focus of the series was an ex-M.I.S. G-2 officer, Lieutenant Colonel Stonewall 'Stoney' Scott, portrayed by Jackson Beck. Successful young Attorney Stoney Scott had been practicing law in his dad's firm before going off to war. Upon Stoney's return to civilian life--and his dad's law practice--he teams up with another ex-comrade in arms--and G-2 investigator--'Tex' Burnet, portrayed by Geoffrey Bryant. The two of them undertook thirteen mysteries with a common, underlying military theme of one type or another. Their investigations eventually involve ex-Marines, dogfaces, WACs, merchant seamen, international conspiracies, as well as a smattering of domestic crimes, murders and mayhem.

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Mystery In The Air [Summer 1947] with Peter Lorre and Howard Culver.

Though only a short 1947 Summer replacement for Abbott and Costello, Mystery In the Air  fulfilled Peter Lorre's long-standing ambition to star in his own dramatic program.  Lorre was convinced the classical tales chosen would thrill audiences for radio as much as they did the readers of the original stories.  And thrill they did.  Not only were Mr and Mrs America getting thrills and chills each week, but movie executives were paying attention as well.  They were listening each week with the idea of starring Lorre in a series of pictures based on some of the famous stories used in this series.

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