Down These Mean Streets (Old Time Radio Detectives)

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 Apr 12, 2020

Description

Presenting the best detectives from the Golden Age of Radio. Each week, we'll bring you an episode starring one of Old Time Radio's greatest detectives and the story behind the show. Join us for adventures of Philip Marlowe, Sam Spade, Johnny Dollar, and many more.

Episode Date
Episode 448 – Johnny On the Spot (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
01:14:19

The ninth season of "Down These Mean Streets" kicks off with Bob Bailey as Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar "the man with the action-packed expense account" in a five-part old time radio mystery. Johnny enters the world of spiritualists and seances in "The Matter of the Medium, Well Done" (originally aired on CBS between May 14 and May 18, 1956).

Aug 01, 2021
Episode 447 – Your Police Force in Action (Dragnet)
01:42:11

Dragnet was an immensely popular radio, and later TV, series that entertained millions of Americans each week for over a decade. It was also strictly overseen by LAPD Chief William H. Parker, who made sure the show painted his department in the best light and glossed over its abuses of power. In the wake of calls for police reform and the systemic racism in law enforcement, it can be tough to separate the procedural storytelling elements from its role as propaganda, but we'll try as we listen to three episodes: "The Big Evans" (originally aired on NBC on March 6, 1952); "The Big Bobo" (originally aired on NBC on July 19, 1955); and "The Big Ruling" (originally aired on NBC on September 6, 1955).

Jul 25, 2021
Episode 446 – William’s Whodunnits (I Deal in Crime, Murder Will Out, & Barrie Craig)
01:37:19

William Gargan couldn't cut it as a private detective in real life, but he was terrific at playing a gumshoe on screen and on radio. We'll hear him in three old time radio mysteries. First, he's ex-sailor turned private eye Ross Dolan in I Deal in Crime in "The William A. Davis Case" (originally aired on ABC on April 5, 1946). Then, he's homicide Inspector Burke in the hybrid murder mystery-quiz show Murder Will Out. Four members of the studio audience try to solve "The Case of the Swindled Songwriters" (originally aired on ABC on May 7, 1946).  Finally, Gargan stars as Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator in "The Deadly Fight" (originally aired on NBC on January 23, 1952).

Jul 18, 2021
"The greatest private detective of them all..."

“I don’t mind a reasonable amount of trouble.” (Sam Spade, The Maltese Falcon)

Dashiell Hammett wasn’t just a writer of detective fiction; he was a real-life detective who also happened to pen some of the greatest mystery novels of the 20th century. His mind and pen brought readers the rough and tumble Continental Op; the urbane and refined Nick and Nora Charles; and arguably the most famous private eye of them all, Sam Spade. Hammett’s tenure with the Pinkertons (including work on the infamous Fatty Arbuckle case) provided the DNA for Spade, a cynical shamus with his own moral code. He made his debut in 1929’s The Maltese Falcon and while he would appear in another three short stories penned by Hammett, the Falcon and its hunt for a legendary statuette are why Spade is best remembered. Of course, the classic film adaptation by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart as Spade didn’t hurt his reputation.

The success of Bogart’s Maltese Falcon generated new interest in Hammett’s work in the 1940s. As stories were reprinted in hardcover and paperback, Hammett’s agent believed Spade’s exploits would be perfect for radio. By 1946, the wheels were in motion to bring the detective to the airwaves.

The Adventures of Sam Spade was produced and directed by radio veteran William Spier, who also ran the show on CBS’ “outstanding theater of thrills,” Suspense. In fact, the audition program for Spade was a reworked Suspense script from two years earlier that originally starred Keenan Wynn. The scripts for that first season (including the audition) were written by an uncredited Jo Eisinger and Robert Tallman. The scriptwriters received no credit, as producers wanted to maintain the illusion that Hammett himself scripted the series. Hammett’s name was all over the program, but he had no direct involvement in the series. As he said, “My sole duty in regard to these programs is to look in the mail for a check once a week. I don’t even listen to them. If I did, I’d complain about how they were handled, and then I’d fall into the trap of being asked to come down and help.”

ABC picked up The Adventures of Sam Spade for a thirteen-week summer run beginning on July 12, 1946. Actor Lloyd Nolan was set to star as Sam Spade, but a schedule conflict forced him to withdraw from the role at the last minute. (Nolan had just ended a run of B-movies for Fox as hard-boiled private eye Michael Shayne, and he would have made a fine Spade.) Former Armed Forces Radio Service announcer Howard Duff won the role of Spade with his audition, beating out radio veterans like Elliott Lewis. Spier was initially unimpressed with the actor, who was about as far from Bogart’s iconic portrayal as one could get, but Duff had a champion in Spier’s wife, Kay Thompson and she persuaded her husband to give Duff the role.

Duff was ably supported each week by Lurene Tuttle in the role of Spade’s scatterbrained (but always loyal) secretary Effie Perrine, along with some of the best actors working on radio on the West Coast, including William Conrad, Joseph Kearns, Wally Maher, Jeanette Nolan, and John McIntire. Each week, Spade would dictate his case report to Effie for his client’s review. The fourth wall was often broken, with frequent references to the program itself. “Sam” and “Effie” often weighed in on the performances Duff and Tuttle gave in the dramatizations of “their” adventures.

The series received rave notices in its first year, including an Edgar Award for best radio detective series. By September 1946, the show had moved to CBS, where it would remain until 1950. Robert Tallman continued as a writer, and Gil Doud stepped in to replace Jo Eisinger in 1947. With their scripts and Duff’s performance, Sam Spade was one of radio’s most popular shows. The sleuth even held his own against the powerhouse of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy across the airwaves on NBC.

The show was revived for a twenty four-week run on NBC on November 17, 1950 with Steven Dunne stepping in as Spade. Lurene Tuttle and William Spier returned from the original run, but there was conspicuously no mention of Dashiell Hammett to be found. Dunne was a fine Spade, but Howard Duff had made the role his own. As radio historian John Dunning noted, not even Humphrey Bogart could have succeeded Duff as Spade by 1950.The show kept a loyal following, but CBS grew wary of Hammett’s Communist affiliations (he had joined the Communist Party in the 1930s at the height of the New Deal). After the names of Hammett and Duff turned up in a pamphlet identifying Communists and their sympathizers, the show lost its sponsor (Wildroot Cream Oil) and September 1950 saw Howard Duff’s last performance as Spade.

But before the Red Scare and timid sponsors did the show in, The Adventures of Sam Spade consistently delivered some of the best that radio had to offer. With Duff’s wry performance and the colorful characters invented by Tallman, Eisinger, and Doud, the show still holds up today as exciting mystery drama.

Jul 12, 2021
Episode 445 – Summer Movies (Suspense & Screen Guild Theatre)
01:38:01

Make some popcorn for a double feature with two classic film noir dramas recreated for radio. First, Robert Ryan, Robert Mitchum, and Robert Young reprise their roles from Crossfire - a murder mystery that shines a spotlight on the horror of anti-Semitism recreated for Suspense (originally aired on CBS on April 10, 1948). Then, John Garfield and Lana Turner recreate their smoldering chemistry in James M. Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice, adapted for The Screen Guild Theatre (originally aired on CBS on June 16, 1947).

Jul 11, 2021
Episode 444 – Noses for News (Casey, Crime Photographer, Big Town, Night Beat, & Hollywood Sound Stage)
02:09:35

We're saluting the old time radio heroes of the fourth estate - reporters, editors, and photographers who solved the crimes they covered. We'll hear Staats Cotsworth as Casey, Crime Photographer in "Death in Lover's Lane" (originally aired on CBS on August 7, 1947). Then, the staff of the Illustrated Press hunts for a killer in "Death by Plan" from Big Town (originally aired on NBC on November 9, 1948). Frank Lovejoy is Randy Stone in Night Beat and "Wanna Buy a Story?" (originally aired on NBC on September 18, 1950). Finally, Dana Andrews stars in a radio adaptation of Call Northside 777 - the true story of a reporter fighting to clear a wrongfully convicted man - from Hollywood Sound Stage (originally aired on CBS on December 27, 1951).

Jul 04, 2021
Episode 443 – God Save the Queen (Ellery Queen)
01:39:42

Six armchair detectives accept the challenge of master of mystery Ellery Queen to solve a baffling mystery before he reveals the solution. Carleton Young and Sydney Smith star as the brilliant amateur sleuth in three old time radio mysteries that present challenges in deduction to the guests in the studio and to you listening at home! We'll hear "The Adventure of the Singing Rat" (originally aired on NBC on January 9, 1943); "The Adventure of the World Series Crime" (originally aired on NBC on September 30, 1943); and "The Scarecrow and the Snowman" (originally aired on NBC on January 20, 1944).

Jun 27, 2021
Episode 442 – Fresh Basil (Sherlock Holmes & Screen Guild Theatre)
01:34:40

It's back to Baker Street for a belated birthday salute to Basil Rathbone, one of the great Sherlock Holmes stars of the big screen and the airwaves. We'll hear him, alongside Nigel Bruce as Dr. Watson - in "The Notorious Canary Trainer" (originally aired on Mutual on April 23, 1945) and "The Case of the Out of Date Murder" (originally aired on Mutual on September 17, 1945). Then, he reunites with Bruce and joins Joan Fontaine in a Screen Guild Theatre production of Suspicion (originally aired on CBS on January 4, 1943).

Jun 20, 2021
Episode 441 – No One Else Could Love You Mohr (Philip Marlowe & The Whistler)
01:37:06

Gerald Mohr's voice blasted like a .45 automatic when he starred as Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe in one of radio's best hard-boiled detective dramas. But the actor could also be heard as the glib gumshoe Archie Goodwin and an amorous French teacher on Our Miss Brooks. We'll hear Mohr in a pair of Marlowe mysteries: "The Heart of Gold" (originally aired on CBS on October 24, 1948) and "The White Carnation" (originally aired on CBS on September 22, 1950). Plus, he's a murderer hiding out in his hometown in "Warm Reception" from The Whistler (originally aired on CBS on November 19, 1950).

Jun 13, 2021
Episode 440 – A Shot of Bailey (Let George Do It & Johnny Dollar)
02:07:31

We're throwing an early birthday party for the great Bob Bailey, a radio legend who starred in a pair of long-running detective dramas. We'll hear him as George Valentine in "The Four-Sided Triangle" (originally aired on Mutual on March 21, 1949) and "Out of Mind" (originally aired on Mutual on May 2, 1949) from Let George Do It. Then, he's Johnny Dollar - "the man with the action-packed expense account" - in "The Markham Matter" (originally aired on CBS on November 18, 1956) and "The Confederate Coinage Matter" (originally aired on CBS on July 28, 1957).

Jun 06, 2021
Episode 439 - The Price is Right (The Saint & Philip Morris Playhouse)
01:36:05

We're celebrating Vincent Price's birthday with three of his radio performances - shows that feature him as both sinner and Saint. First, he stars as Simon Templar in "Marvin Hickerson, Private Eye" (originally aired on NBC on December 3, 1950) and "Next of Kin" (originally aired on CBS on February 18, 1951). Then, he's a murderer haunted by his conscience in "Leona's Room" from The Philip Morris Playhouse (originally aired on CBS on February 25, 1949).

May 30, 2021
Episode 438 – Here’s to Hammett (Sam Spade & Suspense)
01:32:36

When Dashiell Hammett put pen to paper, he forever changed the genre of detective fiction. He created characters and stories that popularized the hard-boiled school, and those tales still entertain readers today. Hammett's works were adapted for successful films, television shows, and radio dramas. In this birthday salute to the author, we'll hear a pair of radio mysteries starring his master private detective Sam Spade: "The Quarter-Eagle Caper" starring Howard Duff (AFRS rebroadcast from November 28, 1948) and "The Shot in the Dark Caper" with Steve Dunne (originally aired on NBC on February 23, 1951). Plus, we'll hear a Suspense adaptation of Hammett's short story "Two Sharp Knives" (originally aired on CBS on December 22, 1942).

May 23, 2021
Happy Birthday, Raymond Burr

Known to generations of television audiences as Perry Mason, Raymond Burr (May 21, 1917 – September 12, 1993) found some of his earliest successes during the Golden Age of Radio.

In a role far removed from the upstanding defense attorney he played on TV, Burr appeared as the thick-headed Inspector Hellman, a thorn in the side of Jack Webb’s Pat Novak For Hire. It was a performance closer to his screen work; Burr was known as a big screen heavy, and he memorably played the villainous neighbor Lars Thorwald in Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window. Burr also popped up in supporting roles on Yours Truly, Johnny DollarRichard DiamondThe CBS Radio Workshop, and more. But his highest-profile radio work came in Fort Laramie, where he starred as cavalry Captain Lee Quince. Burr’s Quince was a thoughtful, contemplative soldier - one who struggled with the harsh realities of his orders and who often rubbed his superiors the wrong way. He was working on Fort Laramie when he got the audition to play Mason. After he won the role, he arrived at a recording session and told co-stars Harry Bartell and Vic Perrin, "Men, we're all going to be rich!" Many of Burr's radio co-stars and fellow actors appeared on Perry Mason, including his Fort Laramie comrades in arms.

After nine seasons and winning a pair of Emmys for his work as Mason, Raymond Burr embarked on an eight season run as another TV detective - wheelchair-bound Robert T. Ironside in Ironside. Burr returned to his signature role in 1985 for the highly-rated TV movie Perry Mason Returns, and he’d follow it up with 25 more Mason movies (and one Ironside reunion picture) before he passed away from cancer in 1993.

In honor of his birthday, here are some of Raymond Burr's old time radio performances - roles that show off his versatility outside of Perry Mason's courtroom.

"Father Leahy and Joe Feldman" - A priest puts Pat Novak (Jack Webb) on the trail of a man newly escaped from prison, and the search leads to murder on the San Francisco waterfront. Raymond Burr is on hand to menace Novak and muck things up as Inspector Hellman. (4/2/49)

"The Henry J. Unger Matter" - In this Johnny Dollar adventure, the fabulous freelance insurance investigator (Edmond O'Brien) is menaced by the titular Mr. Unger, a convict out of jail and eager for revenge. Raymond Burr plays the calculating villain who successfully gets Dollar on trial for murder! (7/20/50)

"The Hollywood Story" - Richard Diamond (Dick Powell) heads to the West Coast to take on a job for a powerful movie producer (Raymond Burr). The man's young girlfriend has threatened him with blackmail, but soon Diamond finds her dead and spots his client fleeing the scene. (8/23/53)

"Playing Indian" - In the first episode of Fort Laramie, Burr's Captain Quince investigates when settlers are killed in what appears to be an attack by rogue Native Americans. But he soon suspects the culprits are disguising themselves and he sets a trap in a homesteader's cabin. (1/22/56)

"Murder on Mike" - Burr is in full villain mode in this "tale well calculated to keep you in Suspense." He plays a writer of radio murder plays who's sick of the critical notes he receives from his director. Burr decides to stage the man's murder, and he records the entire thing for broadcast. (7/28/57)

 

May 21, 2021
BONUS - Death, Jokes, and Taxes (Fibber McGee and Molly & Abbott and Costello)
01:03:11

Tax Day has come and gone, and hopefully your interactions with the IRS were as smooth and painless as possible. This week, we'll hear some old time radio stars contend with the tax man. First, Fibber McGee gets a jump start on his accounting (originally aired on NBC on January 11, 1944). Then, Lou Costello has to come up with some quick cash to pay his tax bill (originally aired on NBC on March 14, 1946).

May 19, 2021
"For I walk by night..."

On May 16, 1942, radio listeners first heard the haunting tune of The Whistler. The anthology mystery series presented tales of murder narrated by “The Whistler,” an omniscient storyteller who boasted one of radio’s best introductions:

“I am the Whistler, and I know many things for I walk by night. I know many strange tales hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the shadows. Yes, I know the nameless terrors of which they dare not speak.”

Each episode of The Whistler followed a person’s descent into crime as they carried out what they believed to be a perfect murder, only to be undone in the final scene. As the announcers described it, “The Whistler” was “unique among all mystery programs, for even when you know who is guilty you always receive a startling surprise at the final curtain.”

For most of the run, the Whistler was played by Bill Forman, but the storyteller was also voiced by Gale Gordon, Joseph Kearns, and Bill Johnstone. The casts included some of the best stars of West Coast radio, including Kearns, Hans Conried, William Conrad, Gerald Mohr, and Betty Lou Gerson. The radio series spawned a series of Columbia B-movies and ran on the West Coast until 1955.

In honor of its anniversary, here are ten of my favorite strange stories by The Whistler.

Final Return - A woman shapes her blue collar husband into a sharp politician, and he's on the eve of capturing the governor's mansion. But he's fallen in love with another woman. Will his political puppeteer leave the stage gracefully, or will she sacrifice everything to save the career she created? (10/29/45)

Boomerang - This show is unique because the main character is never heard until the very end of the broadcast. Instead, we spend the show in the mind of a housewife who decides to use the panic caused by a serial killer to do away with her husband. Can she frame him as "The Door Bell Killer" and get away with murder? (3/11/46)

Witness at the Fountain - One of the best final twists of the series undoes a murderer's perfect crime in this story starring Howard Duff. Radio's Sam Spade plays a blackmail victim who decides to do away with his tormentor, but he doesn't account for a silent witness. (9/9/46)

Brief Pause for Murder - A long-suffering radio announcer decides to rid himself once and for all of his cheating wife. He concocts a perfect alibi; he'll record himself making his news announcements and play the record while he's committing the crime. What could possibly go wrong? (9/11/49)

The Clever Mr. Farley - Gerald Mohr tries to pull off a con on a train when he meets a beautiful woman with a valuable bracelet. There are more twists and turns in this one than usual, and it all hinges on Mohr's character's pride in being able to read people. (11/27/49)

Return with the Spray - The great Hans Conried plays a man engaged to be married who drunkenly ties the knot with another woman. He tries to kill her, but she survives the attempt and returns with a marriage license and a plan for blackmail. (4/23/50)

Caesar's Wife - Gerald Mohr is back as a paranoid mob boss with a crippling fear. He's a hemophiliac and even the slightest bruise or cut could be fatal. As if that wasn't enough, he suspects his wife is having an affair with a mysterious stranger. (6/4/50)

The Clock on the Tower - A man on death row is slated to meet his fate in a few hours unless his attorney can find a witness who can prove the man's innocence. This is a race against time with a fantastic twist ending. (12/10/50)

His Own Reward - Perhaps the most unusual story presented on "The Whistler," the full details aren't revealed until the very end. It follows a man in dire financial straits who is persuaded to betray his country to a foreign rival for profit. (3/25/51)

A Law of Physics - This twist was so good, it popped up on a 90s Columbo TV movie. An advertising executive plans to bump off a rival, and he uses the brand new device called a car phone to create an alibi. (6/10/51)

May 16, 2021
Episode 437 - Whistle a Happy Tune (The Whistler)
02:08:59

On May 16, 1942, listeners heard the first strange story told by The Whistler. The sinister narrator presented tales of men and women plotting and committing murder, only to see their plans undone in a final curtain twist. Bill Forman voices the Whistler in three shows that will keep you guessing: "Boomerang" (originally aired on CBS on March 11, 1946); "The Brass Ring" (originally aired on CBS on September 16, 1946); and "Return with the Spray" (originally aired on CBS on April 23, 1950). Plus, we'll hear Jack Benny present "The Fiddler," his parody of the series (originally aired on NBC on October 20, 1946).

May 16, 2021
BONUS - At Home with the Harris Family (Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show)
01:07:05

We're spending time with Phil, Alice, Elliott, Julius, and the kids in a pair of shows from one of radio's best sitcoms. First, a new start time for the show causes trouble between Phil and his musicians (originally aired on NBC on September 30, 1951). Then, the kids are pressing Phil for a pool (originally aired on NBC on May 17, 1953).

May 12, 2021
Episode 436 – First Lady of Baker Street (New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
01:41:37

Without Edith Meiser, Sherlock Holmes might never have found enduring success and popularity in the United States. It was Meiser, a writer and Broadway actress, who persuaded a network and a sponsor that Holmes could be a viable radio property and she singlehandedly wrote his radio adventures for years. Along with faithful adaptations of classic stories by Arthur Conan Doyle, Meiser created her own original mysteries. In honor of her birthday, we'll hear three of those original Holmes adventures: "The Case of the Avenging Blade" (originally aired on Mutual on February 1, 1948); "The Adventure of the Sinister Crate of Cabbages" (originally aired on Mutual on May 2, 1948); and "The Complicated Poisoning at Eel Pie Island" (originally aired on Mutual on June 6, 1948).

May 09, 2021
Master of Other People's Minds

Orson Welles was already a celebrated theatrical producer, director, and star by the late 1930s. He financed his productions in part from his earnings as a radio character actor. But he became a household name when he stepped into the spotlight - or, to be more precise into the shadows when he was cast as Lamont Cranston, known to the underworld as The Shadow. The success of the series boosted Welles' popularity outside of the world of Broadway, and it helped to launch him into his own radio broadcast (The Mercury Theatre On the Air).

Welles starred as the Shadow for two seasons - one sponsored by Blue Coal from the fall of 1937 until the spring of 1938, and the second syndicated by Goodrich Tires through that summer. For many of those episodes, Welles was joined by actors he'd work with in the theatre and would go on to work with on screen, particularly Agnes Moorehead (as "the lovely Margot Lane") and Ray Collins (as Commissioner Weston, the Shadow's uneasy ally in the police department). Welles left the role after this stint, but despite his short run he may be the actor most associated with the role today.

In later years, The Shadow would evolve (or devolve, depending on your point of view) into more of a traditional detective series where the hero could turn himself invisible. The Welles broadcasts featured complex plots and a Shadow who could not only "cloud men's minds so they cannot see him." This Shadow could manipulate perception, create hallucinations, and he had no compunction about sending villains to their deaths.

In honor of Orson Welles' birthday, here are ten of my favorite episodes from his run as radio's invisible avenger.

The Temple Bells of Neban - Lamont Cranston receives a blast from the past as he investigates a drug ring running rampant in the city. A touring performer was a young girl in the temple where he learned how to cloud men's minds. Not only does she know his secret identity; she has powers of her own, and she wants the Shadow out of the way so she can enjoy the profits of her deadly drug trade. (October 24, 1937)

Circle of Death - A mad bomber stalks the city, detonating explosives in the middle of crowded areas with no trace of how the bombs are delivered. As panic sweeps through town and Commissioner Weston faces pressure to resign, the Shadow sets a daring trap to identify the madman and end his wave of terror. (11/28/37)

The Death Triangle - This one opens on Devil's Island as a whipped prisoner promises revenge on the men who betrayed his attempt to escape. Years later, a celebrated child surgeon (and former political prisoner of the island) has been targeted for death, and he asks the Shadow to save him from a long-simmering vengeance. (12/12/37)

The Poison Death - People all over the city - old and young alike - are succumbing to mysterious poisonings. The police are baffled, and they're shocked when a note signed by the Shadow claims responsibility for the attacks. Lamont and Margot not only have to save the city from a deranged killer; they also need to clear the Shadow's name. (1/30/38)

The Phantom Voice - The Shadow comes to the aid of an upstanding public servant on trial for accepting a bribe. The senator's fate seems certain when filmed evidence is played in court, but Lamont is unconvinced. He's sure a political fixer is behind it, and he discovers the clever plot set up to bring down an innocent man. (2/6/38)

The Silent Avenger - This episode is surprising not only for its subject matter, but for the compassionate view it takes of the people involved. A killer is sentenced to die in the electric chair, and he enlists the aid of his brother - a World War I veteran sniper suffering debilitating PTSD ("shell shock") - to take vengeance on the jury that convicted him. The ace marksman carries out his brother's wishes as the Shadow races to stop him and hopefully get the man the help he desperately needs. (3/13/38)

The White Legion - Orson Welles and co-star Agnes Moorehead make appearances out of character at the end of this episode - the finale of the first season sponsored by Blue Coal. Before we meet the people behind the Shadow and Margot Lane, there's a story of a political mob resorting to kidnapping and murder to advance their agenda in City Hall. (3/20/38)

The Hypnotized Audience - To save his brother from a date with the electric chair, a celebrated dancer hypnotizes a theater of VIPs and abducts the governor. Only Lamont is immune from the effects of the mesmeric trance, and now it's up to the Shadow to save the governor before midnight. This episode and the next two on the list come from the syndicated summer season sponsored by Goodrich Tires. Most of the cast returned, but Agnes Moorehead was replaced by Margot Stevenson - the actress who inspired the name of the Shadow's friend and companion.

Tenor with a Broken Voice - Lamont and Margot investigate a series of fatal "accidents" plaguing an opera house whenever Pagliacci is sung. Is anyone who steps onto the stage doomed, or will the Shadow uncover the secret and save the day?

Murders in Wax - The capture of a notorious criminal is memorialized in wax at a city museum, but a killer is replacing the figures with the corpses of their real-life counterparts one by one. Commissioner Weston is slated as the next victim if the Shadow can't find the ghoulish murderer.

May 06, 2021
BONUS - Another Side of Orson (Jack Benny Program)
02:05:59

When Jack Benny came down with pneumonia in the spring of 1943 and he had to miss a month of shows, an unlikely guest host stepped in to fill his shoes. For four episodes, Orson Welles poked fun at himself and joined in the jokes with Benny's gang - Mary, Phil, Dennis, Don, and Rochester - and showed off his comedy chops on one of the funniest shows of the era. We'll hear all four of those broadcasts from The Grape Nuts and Grape Nuts Flakes Program (originally aired on NBC on March 14, March 21, March 28, and April 4, 1943).

May 05, 2021
A long time ago, on a radio far, far away...

May the Fourth Be With You!

It's one of the biggest Star Wars days in recent memory, with the success of The Mandalorian and the promise of even more stories from the galaxy on Disney Plus. When this date rolls around each year, I fire up my 4Ks (formerly Blu-rays, formerly DVDs, formerly multiple incarnations on VHS) and I revisit the Star Wars Radio Dramas.

Yes. Star Wars on the radio. As a kid who was both discovering the world of old time radio and a rabid Star Wars fan, these shows were like manna from heaven when I first heard them in 1995. I first learned of them in a retrospective article in the glossy quarterly magazine published by the Lucasfilm Fan Club (I was a card carrying member ), and when they appeared in a catalog close to my birthday, it was the only thing I wanted. My parents got me cassette collections of Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, and I couldn’t tell you how many times I ran through those combined 23 episodes through middle and high school.

The radio adaptation of Star Wars aired in between the theatrical releases of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi. Coming to the airwaves at a time when American radio drama was all but extinct, this joint production of NPR and the BBC dramatized the first film in the Star Wars trilogy as a thirteen-part series. Not only did it feature several cast members recreating their roles - Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and Anthony Daniels as C-3PO - but it also featured the classic sounds of the film (Chewbaca’s roar, R2-D2′s blips and beeps, the hum of TIE Fighters streaking through space) and John Williams’ fantastic score.

Science fiction author Brian Daley expanded upon the film script - the plot of the movie proper doesn’t kick in until Episode 3 of the radio series. Episode 1 focuses on Luke Skywalker’s life on Tatooine as he watches the stars and dreams of life beyond the farm. Years before scenes were added in the Star Wars Special Edition, Brian Daley added scenes between Luke and his best friend Biggs Darklighter, an Imperial cadet who confides in Luke that he intends to join the rebellion against the Empire. These early scenes give their reunion later in the story more weight as they take part in the mission to destroy the Death Star.

Episode 2 is all about Princess Leia. It establishes her espionage bona fides before she ever comes into possession of the plans for the Death Star. She uses an Imperial officer’s leering advances to her advantage and gets him to reveal the secrets of the Empire’s ultimate weapon.

It isn’t just Luke and Leia who get additional shading. In another move that preceded the Special Edition, Daley adds a scene with Han Solo and a Tatooine mob boss in the hangar of the Millennium Falcon. It isn’t Jabba the Hutt but it plays almost exactly the same - and frankly, it plays better than the scene with a young Harrison Ford and a crudely rendered Jabba. Daley wrote three Han Solo novels, and he plugged in perfectly to the seedier side of the galaxy far, far away.

It’s scenes like these that give the new actors a chance to put their own spin on the characters, an easier task when they don’t have to say the iconic lines of the film. Ann Sachs does a great job as Leia, and Perry King is charmingly roguish as Han Solo. And in a particularly inspired bit of casting, Brock Peters - miles from Tom Robinson - plays the dastardly Darth Vader.

The Empire Strikes Back followed two years later with the whole cast returning plus Billy Dee Williams recreating his screen role of Lando Calrissian and John Lithgow taking the role of Yoda. He’s terrific - Lithgow doesn’t do a straight impression of Frank Oz, but he captures the character and injects him with additional shading.

There’s less original material here - perhaps a testament to the wonderful screenplay penned by Leigh Brackett and Lawrence Kasdan? - but Brian Daley adds a nice prologue that finds a Rebel convoy cut to shreds by a TIE Fighter ambush. It helps to set the scene for the darker second act of the trilogy. The ten-part series is wonderful, and while some additional “new” scenes might have been nice to include, you really can’t go wrong with the story presented.

Plans for a Return of the Jedi radio drama fell through and the final chapter wasn’t released until 1996, and even then it was produced by Highbridge Audio and not broadcast on NPR. This may adhere the closest to the film story, save for a nice scene where Luke Skywalker constructs his new lightsaber. Most of the cast is back, but Mark Hamill was sadly absent (though he was enjoying a second career as a voice actor - the farm boy from Tatooine was the Clown Prince of Crime in Batman: The Animated Series). Joshua Fardon does a fine job as Luke, but it would have been a treat to hear Hamill revisit his iconic role thirteen years later. John Lithgow comes back as Yoda, and Ed Asner growls his way through a performance as Jabba the Hutt.

This six-part show suffers a bit in comparison to the first two chapters (as does the movie itself), but it’s still engrossing entertainment with all of the music and magic of Star Wars.

I’ve been revisiting the series and it’s as much fun as it was when I first heard it as a kid. The entire trilogy is available in a great CD collection from Higbridge Audio. If you’re a fan of audio drama and/or a Star Wars fan, or if you are looking for a gateway to introduce someone to radio theater, check these shows out and take a trip to a galaxy far, far away.

May 04, 2021
Episode 435 – Medium Welles (Campbell Playhouse & Lives of Harry Lime)
01:35:29

In the first part of a birthday salute to the great Orson Welles, we'll hear him co-star with My Friend Irma leading lady Marie Wilson in a screwball comedy-murder mystery from The Campbell Playhouse. They star as husband and wife private eyes in "There's Always a Woman" (originally aired on CBS on December 17, 1939). Then, Welles recreates his big screen role of Harry Lime in the continuing adventures of the international rogue of The Third Man. We'll hear "The Professor Regrets," a syndicated episode of The Lives of Harry Lime.

May 02, 2021
BONUS - An Apple for the Teacher (Our Miss Brooks)
01:08:15

The brilliant comedienne Eve Arden brought wit and charm to the role of Connie Brooks, Madison High School's favorite English teacher. She stood at the center of one of radio's best casts, and her performance makes Our Miss Brooks one of the best sitcoms of the era. In honor of her birthday, we'll hear a pair of episodes - first, there's a cafeteria boycott in the works at Madison (originally aired on CBS on March 13, 1949). Then, Miss Brooks joins her students in a summer job (originally aired on CBS on June 19, 1949).

Apr 28, 2021
"Around Dodge City..."

One of radio’s finest dramas rode into town on April 26, 1952 with the premiere broadcast of Gunsmoke. The series was created at the request of CBS president William Paley who wanted a “Philip Marlowe in the old West.” After the idea kicked around without gaining any traction, producer/director Norman Macdonnell and writer John Meston developed their idea for a Western made for adults, without the simple “good guys vs. bad guys” feel of The Lone Ranger and other programs. Macdonnell and Meston created Gunsmoke, the story of US Marshal Matt Dillon - “the first man they look for and the last they want to meet.” Dillon wasn’t a white hat hero - he was a man trying to put his violent past behind him as he fought to keep the peace in Dodge City, Kansas.

John Meston’s writing was hailed by producer/director Macdonnell, and Meston would go on to write 183 radio episodes and 196 television episodes of Gunsmoke. Meston was keen to avoid the traits of the stereotypical western hero in his depiction of Dillon, saying “Life and his enemies have left him looking a little beat-up. There’d have to be something wrong with him or he wouldn’t have been hired on as a United States marshal in the heyday of Dodge City, Kansas.”

William Conrad won the role of Dillon, and he gave the character a weary humor but an absolute fury when needed. Supporting Conrad was one of radio’s greatest supporting casts. Parley Baer was Chester Proudfoot, Dillon’s amiable deputy. Howard McNear was “Doc” Adams, the town physician with a ghoulish demeanor (and, as one episode revealed, a past in Richmond, Virginia involving a duel with a romantic rival). Georgia Ellis was Kitty Russell, proprietor of Dodge’s Long Branch Saloon, as well as a friend, confidant, and lover of Matt Dillon. The relationship between Kitty and William Conrad’s Matt Dillon was a key component of the show. Though her true profession was never explicitly stated on the show, in a 1953 interview, producer/director Norman Madconnell said “Kitty is just someone Matt has to visit every once in a while. We never say it, but Kitty is a prostitute, plain and simple.“ But their relationship was more than what it appeared to be. As Ellis herself said "There was no forgiveness to be given because I don’t think Kitty was available to anybody but Matt.”

Supporting roles were filled out by some of the best actors in Hollywood radio, many of whom had worked with Macdonnell in other shows like Escape and Philip Marlowe - John Dehner, Larry Dobkin, Harry Bartell, Vivi Janiss, Jeanette Nolan, and more. The landscape of Dodge City and its saloons and jail cells was created by Ray Kemper. Kemper’s sounds were as essential a part of that program’s success as the acting and the writing. Dodge City came to life with the sounds generated by Kemper and his effects team. To create the sound of a beer being poured at the Long Branch Saloon, a warm can of soda was used. Old microphone cable was twisted together to make the sound of a man mounting his saddle. The sound men are often the unsung heroes of old time radio, and Ray Kemper was one of the finest.

The series presented the grim realities of the west - sickness, death, loneliness - more than any program that came before. Matt Dillon wasn’t an infallible hero; he struggled with doubt and disillusionment, and he didn’t always get his man. the series paved the way for the new genre of mature Westerns on radio, and it spawned a television adaptation that ran for twenty seasons on CBS. The radio cast lobbied to reprise their roles, but the core characters were recast; even Norman Macdonnell was initially passed over for the TV show; he eventually came on board in 1956, and he guided the program to the number one rating from 1957 until 1961. Today, the radio Gunsmoke (which ran from 1952 to 1961) stands as one of the best dramatic programs from the Golden Age of Radio.

Apr 26, 2021
Episode 434 – Diamond on the Soles of Her Shoes (Richard Diamond, Private Detective)
01:37:32

On April 24, 1949, radio fans met Dick Powell as Richard Diamond, Private Detective. The only radio gumshoe who wrapped up his case of the week with a song, Diamond was one of the best sleuths to come out of the radio era thanks to scripts from Blake Edwards and the smooth, polished performance of Powell - an actor who could play both comedy and crime drama. We'll hear three episodes of the series: "The John Blackwell Case" (originally aired on NBC on December 17, 1949); "The Martin White Case" (originally aired on NBC on January 22, 1950); and "The Woman-Hating Killer" (originally aired on NBC on April 12, 1950).

Apr 25, 2021
"Countdown for blast off..."

On April 24, 1955, X Minus One premiered on NBC and launched a new wave of adult science fiction stories on the air. A continuation of sorts of NBC's earlier sci-fi anthology Dimension XX Minus One dramatized stories from the giants of the genre along with original radio plays.

The show's first 15 episodes were new productions of shows from Dimension X, but it soon expanded to more stories that had never been aired on radio. A bright spot of late 1950s radio drama, X Minus One aired over 120 episodes until it left radio in 1958.

Here are my five favorite "adventures in which you'll live in a million could-be years on a thousand may-be worlds" from X Minus One.

"Mars is Heaven" - The first astronauts to land on Mars make a remarkable discovery; their dead loved ones are alive and well on the red planet. Is Mars heaven? Ray Bradbury's classic story makes for excellent radio. (5/8/55)

"Cold Equations" - A pilot is faced with a horrible decision when a young woman stows away on his supply ship to make a surprise visit to her husband. It seems like a harmless lark, but the ship only has enough fuel for the pilot and its cargo - not for the extra passenger. (8/25/55)

"Time and Time Again" - A soldier grievously wounded in battle is suddenly transported back to his 13th birthday, but with all of his memories of the devastating war that lies ahead. Can he use his knowledge of the future to save the world? (1/11/56)

"Skulking Permit" - This darkly comedic story is set on a planet awaiting arrival of a representative from Earth. When they learn how violent Earth can be, they decide to introduce crime to their society to make their visitor more at home. (2/15/56)

"A Gun for Dinosaur" - In the future, safaris can bring hunters millions of years into the past to hunt dinosaurs. But one arrogant client puts his guide and the entire hunting party in jeopardy in this precursor to the dino thrills of "Jurassic Park." (3/7/56)

Apr 24, 2021
Diamond in the Rough

“I was sitting in my office shooting paper clips at a King size horse fly. It was a little sadistic but he was bigger than I was. Well, about the time I had him down on his knees begging for mercy, the door opened…” 

There’s nothing in Dick Powell’s early career to suggest he was destined to play hard-boiled private eyes.  Had his bosses at Warner Brothers had their way, he’d have stayed in the song-and-dance roles on which he built his career.  But thanks to a gamble by a director, Powell kicked off a new chapter to his career and the result were some great radio shows, including one of the medium’s best - Richard Diamond, Private Detective.

Powell got his start in Hollywood in the 30s as a singer in Warner Brothers musicals, including 42nd Street, and On the Avenue.  He was frequently cast in the role of a boyish crooner, even as he approached his 40s.  Despite his success, Powell was eager to expand into other roles.  His efforts were resisted by Warner Brothers, who wanted to keep Powell right where he was, even if he thought it was the wrong place to be.  He pursued the lead role in Double Indemnity, but it ultimately went to another actor pegged in “nice guy” roles - Fred MacMurray.

But later in 1944, RKO and director Edward Dmytryk gave Powell the role he’d been waiting for - Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet, the film adaptation of the Marlowe novel Farewell, My Lovely.  The film was a success, and Powell received rave reviews for his performance.  In a flash, he had shed the crooner image he’d been desperate to shake and he embarked on the next stage of his career.

Powell recreated his role as Marlowe on the June 11, 1945 Lux Radio Theater broadcast of Murder, My Sweet, and he starred as private detective Richard Rogue in Rogue’s Gallery from 1945 to 1946.  While it was a fine series, it failed to stand out from the crowd of hard-boiled private eyes littering the airwaves in the postwar years.  For his next radio effort, Powell wanted to “make something a little bit different of a standard vehicle.”  He recorded an audition show as “the man with the action packed expense account,” Johnny Dollar, but he passed on the series for a show that sprang from the mind of Blake Edwards.  Edwards would later create the outstanding police procedural The Line-Up for radio, develop Peter Gunn for television, and would become a celebrated writer and director of film arguably most famous for the Pink Panther film series with Peter Sellers.

Powell and his producer, Don Sharp, asked Edwards if he had any ideas for a vehicle for Powell.  Edwards said he did (a lie), and went home to write what would become the pilot for Richard Diamond, Private Detective.  In Edwards’ original script, Diamond was a former OSS agent; he would evolve into an ex-cop.  One trait he would retain as the script evolved was that Diamond was as quick with a quip as he was with his fists.  This played to Powell’s natural comedic strengths, and it helped to give the show a unique voice in the sea of detective programs from the era.  Unlike other radio shamuses, Diamond would keep up a friendly relationship with his old colleagues on the force - Lt. Walt Levinson, his former partner; and the oafish Sgt. Otis Ludlum, the long-suffering butt of Diamond’s jokes.  Diamond flirted with every skirt that came through his office door, but he only had eyes for his Park Avenue girlfriend, Helen Asher.  Shows would often close at her apartment, where Diamond would sum up his case and (in a nod to Powell’s old career) Helen might coax him to do a little singing.

Richard Diamond, Private Detective premiered on NBC on April 24, 1949.  Powell was supported by Virginia Gregg as Helen; Ed Begley as Levinson; and Wilms Herbert doing double duty as Sgt. Otis and as Helen’s butler, Francis.  Joseph Kearns, Peggy Webber, Bill Johnstone, Jack Kruschen, and other West Coast actors filled out the cast.  Later in the show’s run, Frances Robinson would take over the role of Helen, and Ted de Corsia, Arthur Q. Bryan (Elmer Fudd), and Alan Reed (Fred Flinstone) would rotate in and out as Levinson.

The show ran without a sponsor for the first year before being picked up by the Rexall Drug Company (“Good health to all from Rexall!”) in June 1950.  In January 1951, the show switched networks and picked up Camel cigarettes as its new sponsor.  The show took its final bow on June 27, 1952 (although repeats popped up in the summer of 1953).  Powell pulled the plug on the show as he entered a third phase of his career as a successful director and producer.

It was in this capacity that Powell brought Richard Diamond to television in 1957 for a four-season run starring David Janssen in the title role, minus the crooning of the radio series.  Janssen would later star as Dr. Richard Kimble on The Fugitive.  The Diamond TV show is perhaps best known today for its character of Diamond’s secretary, Sam, who was only shown from the waist down to show off her legs.  The first actress to furnish Sam’s legs was a young Mary Tyler Moore.

In honor of his anniversary, here are ten of my favorite Richard Diamond radio adventures. Sit back and enjoy some sleuthing and singing with Dick Powell and company in these sensational stories.

"The Lillian Baker Case" - This one is a good showcase for Diamond's girlfriend Helen Asher, who gets to take a rare role in the case of the week. At a department store, Helen witnesses an elderly woman shoplifting. It turns out she's a wealthy eccentric, and later that afternoon she dies - allegedly after leaping from her balcony. (9/3/49)

"The Jerome J. Jerome Case" - Joseph Kearns plays the titular eccentric character - a man who claims to be a millionaire, a genius inventor, and a private detective. He wants to partner with Diamond, but as soon as the gumshoe tries to dismiss him it turns out the kook may have information about an actual murder. (9/17/49)

"The Louis Spence Case" - An unusual, but very exciting, episode finds Diamond racing against time to save his old friend Lt. Walt Levinson. A deranged bomber has escaped from prison, and he's taken the lieutenant hostage. Unless the mayor jumps to his death from city hall within the hour, the bomber will blow the precinct - and Walt - to kingdom come. (3/5/50)

"The Statue of Kali" - It's Richard Diamond's version of The Maltese Falcon (complete with Paul Frees doing his best Sydney Greenstreet). An ivory statue is delivered to Diamond by a dying man, and it's being hunted by nefarious characters from all around the world. (4/5/50)

"The Martha Campbell Kidnap Case" - Diamond is hired to deliver the ransom when a wealthy woman is kidnapped, but both he and the lady's nephew are knocked out, the ransom money is taken, and the kidnap victim is killed. Rick has to use some creativity and theatricality to figure out what happened. (7/26/50)

"The Oklahoma Cowboy Murder Case" - Diamond trades the bright lights of the big city for the clear skies of the plains in this episode that was later adapted as an episode of Peter Gunn. Rick heads west to investigate a suspicious death - a wealthy rancher who expired when he fell from his horse. (9/27/50)

"The Cover-Up Murders" - Rick and Walt partner again when a serial killer stalks the city. Part of his MO is to call the police and boast that he'll kill someone that night at eight o'clock. But what appears to be random madness may have a clear motive, and it's up to Diamond to stop the killings before more bodies drop. (11/22/50)

"Blue Serge Suit" - Jim Backus (later Mr. Howell on Gilligan's Island) is Diamond's new client - a tailor whose supply of blue serge is raided and stolen by intruders. When Diamond's own suit is snatched, he's on the trail of a gang of spies. (2/9/51)

"Lady in Distress" - A beautiful woman hires Diamond, and then she drops dead in his office. With nothing to go on - he didn't even know her name - Rick takes the case and tries to learn what had her so scared and what led to her death. It's a story that was recycled quite a few times. Jeff Regan and Johnny Dollar both solved variations of this script, but the Richard Diamond version is my favorite. (2/23/51)

"The Red Rose" - In another story later reworked as a TV episode of Peter Gunn, Diamond is hired to keep a client alive. The man hired a hit man to do away with himself, but he's had a change of heart. Unfortunately, the hit man is a committed professional and he intends to finish the job. (3/2/51)

Apr 24, 2021
BONUS - Oscar Night (Lux Radio Theatre)
01:07:43

With the Academy Awards ceremony right around the corner, we'll hear a classic Hollywood comedy recreated for radio. My Man Godfrey picked up six Oscar nominations along with critical acclaim and box office success in 1936. When The Lux Radio Theatre dramatized the film (originally aired on CBS on May 9, 1938), stars William Powell, Carole Lombard, Gail Patrick, and Mischa Auer were joined by David Niven for the story of a bum who becomes a butler overnight and starts a new life with a wealthy family.

Apr 21, 2021
Episode 433 – Matrimonial Mayhem (Thin Man, Mr. and Mrs. North, & Adventures of the Abbotts)
01:39:44

We're joining three pairs of husband and wife sleuthing teams as they mix date nights with dead bodies. First, Nick and Nora Charles solve "The Case of the Suspicious Hangover" on The Adventures of the Thin Man (AFRS rebroadcast from October 6, 1944). Then, Pam and Jerry receive an "Invitation to Murder" on Mr. and Mrs. North (AFRS rebroadcast from February 27, 1946). Finally, insurance investigator Pat and wife Jean investigate the mystery behind "The Rickshaw-Red Lipstick" (AFRS rebroadcast from January 30, 1955).

Apr 18, 2021
Hi, Lois

For multiple generations of kids - those who listened on radio and saw the theatrical cartoons and later those who tuned in for the Filmation TV series - Joan Alexander (April 16, 1915 – May 21, 2009) was the voice of Lois Lane. Born April 16, 1915, she was a model and an actress touring with the Yiddish theater before she got into radio. Her birth name was Louise Abrass; she took the first name Joan after big screen star Joan Crawford.

Joan Alexander worked extensively on the air with major roles on several daytime soaps like Lone JourneyLight of the World and This Is Nora Drake. She was in the “girl Friday” business for a pair of radio detectives as Della Street on Perry Mason and Ellen Deering, secretary to Jackson Beck’s Philo Vance. Elsewhere, she could be heard on Dimension XCrime ClubBarrie Craig, and more.

But it’s the role of Lois Lane, tough, resourceful reporter, for which Joan Alexander is best remembered. She was the third actress to play the role, but she was cast early in the run and made the part her own. Alexander would co-star with Clayton “Bud” Collyer (voice of Clark Kent and Superman) in over 1,600 radio episodes. The two also voiced their characters in the popular (and still riveting, even today) Superman cartoons produced by Fleischer Studios and released theatrically. From 1940 until 1951, Joan Alexander gave voice to one of the most well-known comic book characters of all time, and she helped to cement the character of Lois as a heroine in her own right. Almost every subsequent portrayal of the star reporter owes something to Alexander’s performance.

Bud Collyer loved working with her, telling a reporter that “Joan is one of those rare actresses – especially in radio where you can’t be seen and have to depend entirely on voice – who can go in on something cold and her instincts are so right as an actress that without even a rehearsal or a read-through, she is right.“ The two reunited in 1966 as Lois and Clark in The New Adventures of Superman, an animated Saturday morning series produced by Filmation.

Apr 16, 2021
BONUS - By Hook (Burns and Allen & My Friend Irma)
01:07:58

Hans Conried gave us one of the all-time great Disney villains as Captain Hook, and he was a memorable menace as Snidely Whiplash. But the greatest showcase for his versatility was radio, where he could play a cavalcade of characters with unique accents and personalities. We'll hear him as Dr. Miller, the long-suffering psychiatrist of Gracie Allen on Maxwell House Coffee Time (originally aired on NBC on December 11, 1947). Then, as Professor Kroptkin on My Friend Irma, he enlists Irma and Jane's help to find him a temporary bride to finalize an adoption (originally aired on CBS on January 13, 1952).

Apr 14, 2021
Out of the Fog

The idea of the gentleman detective conjures up images of smoking jackets and walking sticks: characters like Philo Vance who were as handsome as they were insightful. Captain Hugh Drummond broke that mold. Created by H.C. McNeile, the detective and adventurer is a powerfully built hulk of a man with a face that led to his nickname - “Bulldog.” A veteran of World War I, Drummond was a crack shot, good with his fists, talented at poker, and hungry for thrills and excitement. He became one of the most popular sleuths of early Hollywood and the success he enjoyed led to a stint fighting evildoers on the radio - a stint that began on April 13, 1941.

McNeile introduced Drummond first in a story in The Strand. He later reworked the character for a 1920 novel. Like George Valentine, Drummond found post-war life to be dull and took out an advertisement in search of adventure wherever it could be found. His ad memorably read: “Demobilised [sic] officer, finding peace incredibly tedious, would welcome diversion. Legitimate, if possible; but crime, if of a comparatively humorous description, no objection. Excitement essential.” The ad is answered by a young woman concerned for her father’s safety, and she leads Drummond to a Communist plot to take over England. His client, Phyllis Benton, became Mrs. Drummond, and the mastermind of the plot, Carl Peterson, became Bulldog’s arch nemesis. McNeile went on to write ten Drummond novels, five short stories, and three plays before his death in 1937. McNeile’s friend Gerald Fairlie picked up the mantle and wrote an additional seven Drummond novels between 1937 and 1957. The character proved very popular in England and influential to boot: Ian Fleming stated that James Bond was Bulldog Drummond from the waist up and Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer below.

After two silent films in the early 1920s, Bulldog Drummond was released as a talkie in 1929. Ronald Colman earned an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Drummond (years before he’d take home an Oscar for A Double Life), and the film was hailed by critics. Colman’s portrayal of Drummond as debonair and dashing eventually supplanted the rougher around the edges character of McNeile’s books; the subsequent films (including a second turn by Colman in 1934) continued the characterization of Drummond as a more sophisticated gentleman adventurer. Ray Milland, another future Oscar-winner, starred in 1937’s Bulldog Drummond Escapes before John Howard made the role his own in seven B-movies for Paramount.

It was the success of the film series that spurred interest in a radio series. Producer Hiram Brown (Inner Sanctum Mysteries, as well as another series about a dapper British sleuth - The Private Files of Rex Saunders) packaged the series. Captain Drummond came to radio in 1941 and was originally played by George Coulouris. Coulouris was a veteran of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre and he’d appeared with Welles in Citizen Kane. He starred as Drummond until March 1942 when he was succeeded by Santos Ortega. Ortega was a busy radio character actor; he played Inspector Queen on Ellery Queen, Commissioner Weston on The Shadow, and was also heard as Charlie Chan and in supporting roles on The Adventures of Superman, usually in villainous roles. Ortega stayed with the series for a year, and his replacement was another actor with a track record at radio crime-solving.

Ned Wever stepped into Bulldog Drummond’s shoes with the March 15, 1943 broadcast and he stayed with the show until 1949. Wever was a regular player on The Adventures of Superman; he played Jor-El in the series’ premiere episode and he appeared as “The Wolf,” the first villain the Man of Steel encountered on radio. Coincidentally, in another early serial, he and fellow radio Bulldog Santos Ortega played crooked mine owners who swindled their investors. Later, he played a Nazi agent (more than slightly inspired by Sydney Greenstreet’s Kasper Gutman) during the program’s memorable “Atom Man” story arc. On the right side of the law, he played Dick Tracy on radio, and his clipped, authoritative delivery was perfect for the dapper British gentleman detective as he’d been reinvented on screen and on the radio.

The McNeile novels had introduced the character of James Denny, Drummond’s wartime batman and landlord of Drummond’s apartment building. Denny made the jump to radio, where he was reworked as Drummond’s valet and sidekick. Everett Sloane (another Mercury Theatre veteran) played Denny for much of the series, alongside Coulouris, Ortega, and Wever. The supporting casts included several great radio actors, including Jackson Beck (Philo Vance) and Mercedes McCambridge (Defense Attorney). In his radio adventures, Bulldog Drummond tackled all manner of crimes - hijackers, atomic spies, gangsters, and killers all went up against the poised captain…and lost.

Despite the character’s popularity at the time (the radio series ran until 1954, with Cedric Hardwicke in the role for the final year), Bulldog Drummond has been left behind by popular culture. Aside from a brief James Bond-inspired revival in the late 1960s, the character remains a war-years relic. It’s too bad; the B-movies (many of them available on public domain collections of mystery films) are enjoyable romps, and the radio series is a good listen. Hopefully you’ll enjoy rediscovering Bulldog Drummond or meeting him for the first time as he steps out of the fog.

Apr 13, 2021
The Most Famous of All Manhunters

“Calling Nick Carter!  Another case for Nick Carter, Master Detective.  Yes, it’s another case for that most famous of all manhunters, the detective whose ability at solving crimes is unequaled in the history of detective fiction - Nick Carter, Master Detective!”

In 1886, readers were introduced to a brilliant detective, a master of both disguise and deduction, who tackled the cases that baffled the police.  Think you know who it is?  If you guessed Sherlock Holmes, you’re a year too early.  Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Holmes adventure was published in 1887, one year after the debut of Nick Carter, a character who went from dime novels to pulp magazines, and then to film and later radio.  Though not as well known today, Nick Carter enjoyed a long career as one of America’s most celebrated detectives, and his run on the air began on April 11, 1943.

Carter’s first adventure was “The Old Detective’s Pupil,” which appeared in the September 18, 1886 issue of Street & Smith’s New York Weekly.  Street & Smith were one of the largest publishers of dime novels in the country; in fact, the plot of the first Nick Carter story was dreamed up by Ormond G. Smith, son of one of the magazine’s founders.  Writer John Russell Coryell wrote the story and two more before he decided there was more money in writing romances.  The character was turned over to writer Frederick Rensselaer Dey, who penned a Carter novel (25,000 words) each week for seventeen years.  Carter became so popular that Street & Smith launched a separate magazine devoted to his exploits.

Nick Carter was a clean-cut, teetotaling, private detective.  He had an encyclopedic knowledge of the world and possessed almost superhuman strength; he could “lift a horse with ease…while a heavy man is seated in the saddle.“  Nick had been groomed for the gumshoe game from birth by his father, a famous detective named “Old Sim” Carter.  Based in a ritzy New York apartment, Nick’s cases would take him all around the world.  And he was famous all over the world, too.  In 1908, the first of three Nick Carter film serials hit French movie screens, with sequels following in 1909 and 1912.

By 1915, the solo Nick Carter magazine had folded, but the character continued to make appearances in Street & Smith’s Detective Story Magazine.  Later, after the company found pulp novel success with the exploits of The Shadow and others, Nick Carter was back in his own pulp magazine.  In 1939, Hollywood came calling (albeit several years after French film producers), and Walter Pidgeon starred as Nick in three movies from MGM.

When the character came to radio in 1943, it was in The Return of Nick Carter.  Those early shows tipped their hat to the character’s pulp origins with subtitled adventures (for example, “Murder in the Crypt…or Nick Carter and the Jackal God”).  Actor Lon Clark, a former opera singer, took the role of Nick and kept it until the series left the air in 1955.  His 12 years as Nick Carter are bested only by Bennett Kipack’s 13 years as Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons.  On radio, Carter was presented in the clean-cut mold from the pulps.  He had a fancy brownstone house with a crime lab and shooting range in the basement where he’d work out cases with his friends and colleagues Patsy Bowen and reporter “Scubby” Wilson.  They’d be called in, sometimes relcutantly, by Sgt. Mathison (affectionately known as “Matty” to Nick) on tough crimes that left the NYPD stumped.

Clark was supported by Helen Choate (a former radio Lois Lane) and later Charlotte Manson as Patsy.  Ed Latimer provided the thick Irish brogue for Matty for much of the series.  Scripts came from Walter B. Gibson, who wrote the pulp novels and fleshed out the history of Carter’s Street & Smith stablemate, The Shadow.  Other writers on the show were Edith Meiser, who contributed scripts for Sherlock Holmes, and sci-fi author Alfred Bester.  Walter Gibson also worked on the series’ short-lived spin-off Chick Carter, Boy Detective (Chick was Nick’s adopted son who followed in the family business).

The show, later retitled Nick Carter, Master Detective, aired on the Mutual Network until September 25, 1955 - outlasting several of the better known gumshoes of the Golden Age of Radio.  When the radio series ended, Carter didn’t hang up his badge and gun.  He was resurrected in the 1960s as a James Bondian secret agent in over 200 Nick Carter - Killmaster novels.  In 1972, Robert Conrad, late of The Wild Wild West, starred as Carter in a turn of the century mystery set in the Victorian Era that would have served as a pilot for a new series.  Unfortunately, this didn’t get picked up, but Nick Carter is still kicking over a century after he first appeared in print.  His mix of brains and derring-do, with a healthy dose of pulp heroics, are well worth rediscovering or enjoying for the first time.

Apr 11, 2021
Episode 432 – Out of This World (Dimension X & Dangerous Assignment)
01:39:39

One of radio's best anthologies of adult science fiction, Dimension X presented adaptations of stories from Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and more. We'll hear two tales from the series - each starring a private detective who gets more than he bargained for when he takes on an unusual case. First, it's a hunt for Martians on Earth in Donald Wollheim's "The Embassy' (originally aired on NBC on June 3, 1950). Then, in "Untitled Story" (originally aired on NBC on August 23, 1951), a gumshoe investigates a formula for eternal life. Finally, we'll hear Brian Donlevy as Steve Mitchell in Dangerous Assignment on a mission to investigate flying saucers and disappearing planes (originally aired on NBC on April 17, 1950).

Apr 11, 2021
"Count me out tonight, angel..."

Some radio detectives originated in the pages of novels and short stories, while others transitioned from the big screen to the airwaves.  In the case of The Falcon, it was a little of each as two different characters were blended into one of radio’s longest-running sleuths. The exploits of the gumshoe first came to radio on April 10, 1943.

The first Falcon was introduced by Drexel Drake in a 1936 novel The Falcon’s Prey.  Drake’s Falcon, featured in multiple novels and stories, was Malcolm Wingate, a shadowy crime-fighter and Robin Hood figure born in America but raised in England.  Aided by an ex-cop nicknamed “Sarge,” the Falcon preyed on evildoers and came to the aid of the oppressed.

Drake’s Falcon predated Gay Stanhorpe Falcon, a freelance adventurer created by Michael Arlen in his 1940 short story “The Gay Falcon.”  It was this Falcon who came to the big screen in 1941 with George Sanders (fresh off a movie run as The Saint) starring as the character.  As if that wasn’t complicated enough, the movie (and its sequels) changed the character’s name to Gay Lawrence, with no explanation of how he earned the name “The Falcon.”  The Falcon of the films began as a replacement for The Saint at RKO, but he evolved into more of a classic private detective.  In fact, his third movie, The Falcon Takes Over (1942), was an adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely with The Falcon subbing in for Philip Marlowe.  After four movies, Sanders had enough and his real-life brother Tom Conway took over the franchise as “Tom Lawrence” in The Falcon’s Brother, and played the role for eight more movies.

The success of the films led to a radio version in 1943.  The Falcon of the radio was a private eye named Michael Waring, neither the Drake character nor the Arlen character.  The radio series referred to the Falcon’s past in novels and in films, and Drexel Drake was credited as the character’s creator on the air.  Just to add another wrinkle to the genealogy of the character, the Waring Falcon hit the big screen in three films starring John Calvert.

Berry Kroger was the first actor to play Waring on the air, and he was succeeded by James Meighan.  For the bulk of the run, The Falcon was played by Les Tremayne and Les Damon.  The actors shared several roles along with their first name; in addition to The Falcon, they each took a turn starring as Nick Charles in The Adventures of The Thin Man.  George Petrie, who played radio private eye Charlie Wild and District Attorney Markham on Philo Vance, was the last actor to play The Falcon on the air.

Most of the shows began with The Falcon answering a phone call from one of his many lovely female companions.  He’d politely decline their company for the evening before offering a tease of the adventure he was about to undertake.  Like his radio private eye brethren, Waring’s cases were about equally divided between clients seeking his help and the police calling him in on tough-to-crack cases.  In the early 1950s, owing to the popularity of espionage programs, The Falcon became an intelligence agent for the US Government.  His work took him overseas where he battled enemy spies with the same skills he used on gangsters back in the Big Apple.

Despite the long run of the program (The Falcon aired from 1943 until 1954 in multiple runs over NBC and Mutual), only about 100 episodes survive.  Most of them come from the Tremayne/Damon years, so listeners today can hear a mix of Falcon adventures both foreign and domestic.  With his mix of hard-boiled private eye and suave gentleman adventurer, The Falcon is a great character with whom to spend an evening.

Apr 10, 2021
Wolfe in Sheep's Clothing

“I rarely leave my house. I do like it here. I would be an idiot to leave this chair, made to fit me.” (Rex Stout, Before I Die)

Nero Wolfe made his first appearance in 1934, and his adventures are still being enjoyed nearly eighty years later in books, TV shows, and - beginning on April 10, 1943 - radio dramas.  Not bad for a man who hated leaving his house more than nearly anything in the world.

Wolfe, the eccentric genius who weighs a seventh of a ton, was created by writer Rex Stout.  Stout made a tidy sum inventing a system to track the money school children saved in their accounts, and he used his earnings and royalties to travel the world and embark on a career as a writer.  His first Wolfe novel, Fer-de-Lance, was published in 1934, and Stout would go on to write 33 novels and 39 stories featuring Wolfe until his death in 1975.  Over the course of the novels and stories, Stout fleshed out the character, who enjoyed fine food and good beer, tended to his orchids, and solved mysteries when he had to earn a fee, always with the aid of his assistant (and the narrator of the stories), Archie Goodwin.

Stout’s brilliant stroke was to combine two archetypes of detective fiction into one duo.  Nero Wolfe was a classic refined detective in the mold of Sherlock Holmes, right down to his eccentricities, anti-social personality, and acute agoraphobia.  He could listen to clues as they were presented to him in his drawing room and deduce the solution to a crime without ever leaving the chair especially designed for his massive weight.  At his side was Archie, a more streetwise sleuth in the mold of (though not nearly as hard-boiled) Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe.  Archie carried a gun and had an eye for a blonde like his brethren, but he drank milk instead of bourbon and he had a playful demeanor - particularly with his boss and their frequent foil on the police force, Inspector Cramer.

Wolfe came to the screen in 1934 and 1937, but it would take almost ten years for the character to make his radio debut.  From 1943 to 1944, ABC aired The Adventures of Nero Wolfe which starred J.B. Williams, Santos Ortega, and Luis Van Rooten as Wolfe during various points in the run.  A falling out between ABC and Stout’s representatives prevented the series from continuing, but a new version would premier on the Mutual Network in 1946.  Francis X. Bushman starred as Wolfe, with Elliott Lewis, a veteran radio actor who would soon take the director’s chair on Suspense, as Archie.  

But it is the 1950 NBC series The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe that is most fondly remembered and which came the closest to capturing the essence of Stout’s stories.  First and foremost, they found an actor who could fully embody Wolfe’s larger than life persona - Sydney Greenstreet.

A longtime theater actor, Greenstreet’s big break came as Kasper Gutman (“The Fat Man”) opposite Humphrey Bogart’s Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon in 1941 at age 62. After receiving an Academy Award nomination for the role, Greenstreet appeared in films like CasablancaThe Mask of Demetrios, and Across the Pacific.  At age 71, he was cast as Wolfe, and his trademark characteristics - arched speech, droll laugh, deliberate intonation - perfectly fit Nero Wolfe’s larger than life personality.

Over the course of the series, no fewer than six actors were heard as Archie Goodwin. Each of the first three episodes featured a different Archie: Wally Maher (October 20); Lamont Johnson (October 27); and Herb Ellis (November 10). Beginning on November 24, actor Larry Dobkin assumed the role.  Dobkin had previously been heard as Louie the cab driver on The Saint and as Detective Lt. Matthews on The Adventures of Philip Marlowe.  After eight episodes, Dobkin left and his old co-star Gerald Mohr voiced Goodwin for the next four episodes. Mohr was on a radio detective roll; he had just wrapped his two-year run as Marlowe and would return for a Marlowe summer series a few months after his gig as Archie came to a close.  Harry Bartell, a veteran of Escape and Dragnet as well as the Petri Wine announcer for The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, stepped into Archie’s shoes for the final ten episodes of the series.

Why so many Archies to one Nero?  There’s no definite answer.  Some have said it was because Greenstreet was difficult to work with; others speculate the revolving door of co-stars was a sign of retooling to see if the ratings would improve.

And while the series was well done, with even Rex Stout praising Greenstreet’s performance (he was less complimentary of the program itself), it did not fare well enough in the ratings to earn a second year.  The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe wrapped up its run on April 27, 1951.  Fortunately for fans, the entire series run are available in great condition.  One can listen to the full run and hear Greenstreet lend his one-of-a-kind voice to Wolfe, and even with so many actors playing Archie Goodwin, none is sub-par.  Each brings his own style to the character while staying true to Stout’s creation.  And backing up Greenstreet and his Goodwins every week are a great cast, including Bill Johnstone as Inspector Cramer, Howard McNear, Betty Lou Gerson, Peter Leeds, and Barney Phillips.

Since the radio era came to an end, Nero Wolfe has continued to entertain fans outside of the books. Several TV shows have aired, including one single-season program starring radio veteran William Conrad as Wolfe and an absolutely delightful but criminally short-lived production on A&E with Timothy Hutton as Archie and Maury Chaykin as Wolfe. And for fans who want more audio adventures of the pair, the CBC mounted an impressive series of adaptations in 1982.

Apr 10, 2021
Back to the Future

“Adventures in time and space…told in future tense!”

Dimension X, one of radio’s first and best “adult” science fiction programs, premiered on NBC on April 8, 1950. The series presented a mix of original stories as well as adaptations of works by masters of the genre like Robert Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ray Bradbury. It was this collection of adaptations that gave Dimension X a boost in credibility with science fiction fans; earlier shows had consisted entirely of original radio plays.

With radio creative talents like George Lefferts and Ernest Kinoy and New York radio actors like Wendell Holmes, Santos Ortega, Arnold Moss, Joe Julian, and Joan Alexander, Dimension X presented high-quality stories that helped to bring science fiction out of the realm of kids’ entertainment, and it helped to pave the way for more sophisticated sci-fi on radio and later television.

Fortunately for fans of these tales of tomorrow, all 50 episodes of Dimension X survive to be enjoyed today. Here are a few of my favorites…

“The Outer Limit” - The one that started it all! This adaptation of Graham Doar’s short story centers on a test pilot who vanishes in his experimental aircraft only to return with a dire warning from beyond the stars. (4/8/1950)

"Knock" - "The last man on Earth sat alone in a room. There was a knock at the door." With that incredible opening, we're off on Frederic Brown's story of the survivor of an alien apocalypse and his unusual relationship with his otherworldly captors. (5/6/50)

“A Logic Named Joe” - Based on a story by Murray Lennister, this one predates/predicts smartphone technology with “Logics.” These supercomputers can answer any question, but when they start advising on how to get away with murder it falls to one engineer to save the world. (7/1/1950)

“Mars is Heaven” - Ray Bradbury’s classic story was adapted several times for many different radio shows, but the Dimension X version is my favorite. The astronauts on the first mission to Mars are shocked to find the red planet is full of their deceased friends and family members. Is Mars really heaven? (7/7/1950)

“The Martian Chronicles” - More from Ray Bradbury, this collection of vignettes contains comedy, romance, tragedy, and at the end a glimmer of hope as we follow several people who leave Earth behind for life on Mars. (8/18/1950)

“The Roads Must Roll” - This story from Robert Heinlein tells of a future where mechanized roads haul people and goods across the country. When a deadly strike among the engineers threatens to derail the roads and threaten the stability of the nation, it falls to a handful of heroes to keep the roads rolling. (9/1/50)

Apr 08, 2021
BONUS - Shades of Brown (My Friend Irma & Life of Riley)
01:08:10

One of radio's most versatile and in-demand performers, John Brown could be heard in regular roles almost every night of the week through the 40s and 50s. He was Ozzie Nelson's next door neighbor, Dennis Day's boss, and Broadway - narrator of The Damon Runyon Theatre. We'll hear him as Al, the ne'er do well boyfriend of My Friend Irma (originally aired on CBS on May 16, 1947). Then, Brown is Digger O'Dell - "the friendly undertaker" - in The Life of Riley (originally aired on NBC on December 30, 1949).

Apr 07, 2021
Episode 431 – Three Jacks (Pat Novak, Jeff Regan, & Pete Kelly’s Blues)
01:40:21

He's best known for Dragnet and Joe Friday, but there was a lot more to Jack Webb's radio career than the groundbreaking police procedural. We'll hear him in three old time radio mysteries as a trio of down on their luck detectives. First, he's Pat Novak for Hire in "Dixie Gillian" (originally aired on ABC on November 24, 1946). Then, Webb stars in "The Man Who Liked the Mountains" from Jeff Regan, Investigator (originally aired on CBS on August 7, 1948). Finally, it's a tale of jazz and crime in "Gus Trudeau" from Pete Kelly's Blues (originally aired on NBC on July 4, 1951).

Apr 04, 2021
Jack of All Trades

Is there anybody who doesn’t know Dragnet?  Even if you don’t know the series or couldn’t pick Sgt. Joe Friday out of a line-up, chances are you know the distinct “dum-da-dum-dum” opening. Like the eerie sounds of the theme to The Twilight Zone, the opening notes of the Dragnet march have become shorthand for someone in trouble about to get busted, or the arrival of an authority figure on the scene. This writer discovered the taut police series in between Get Smart and The Dick Van Dyke Show on Nick at Nite in the early nineties, and it wasn’t until years later that he discovered the radio series. It’s hard for modern audiences to appreciate just how revolutionary Dragnet was when it hit radio. The style it perfected and the approach to docudrama realism it produced can still be seen in TV procedural programs and films today, more than sixty years after it premiered.

But none of it would have been possible without actor, producer, and director Jack Webb. Born April 2, 1920, there was more to the man than Joe Friday’s no-nonsense demeanor. Webb was a talented writer, director, and producer, a music aficionado, and - perhaps least well known - a man with a wicked sense of humor. Along with Rod Serling and Quinn Martin, Webb was arguably one of the biggest creative forces in the Golden Age of Television, and he is undeniably a legend of the Golden Age of Radio.

Webb grew up in Los Angeles. His father left before Webb was born, and Webb was raised by his mother and grandmother. As a boy, Webb grew up with a love of movies and jazz music, the latter cultivated by a jazzman tenant in his mother’s rooming house. 

He enlisted in the Air Force in World War II, but he did not make it through flight training (in his words, he “washed out”).  After his discharge, Webb moved to San Francisco where he got into radio. The lack of announcers due to the war left vacancies on the schedule of ABC’s San Francisco affiliate KGO, and Webb served as an announcer, DJ, and as host of his own comedy show, The Jack Webb Show, a sketch comedy series that poked fun at current events and featured a house band playing Dixieland jazz numbers. His comedy career on the air would be short-lived, as he turned his attention to the crime genre that would come to define his output for the rest of his career.

During his time at KGO, Webb struck up a friendship with writer Richard Breen and the two collaborated on The Jack Webb Show. The two were approached to fill some holes in KGO’s programming schedule, and they created a character who was perfectly suited for Webb’s downbeat, naturalistic style. Novak would be a detective of the hard-boiled school, operating out of an office on the San Francisco waterfront, and he would deliver some of the best dialogue this side of a pulp novel.

Pat Novak For Hire premiered on KGO in 1946 and was a hit almost immediately. The combination of Webb’s voice and Breen’s words was unlike anything radio listeners had heard up until that point. Novak was cynical and world-weary, and he had great reason to be both. He was often double-crossed by his clients; he rarely got the girl; and he was always on the outs with the law, particularly with the block-headed Inspector Hellman.  His only friend (if you could call him that) was Jocko Madigan, an ex-doctor and full-time boozer who could come to Novak’s aid, but not without dropping a ton of unwanted tipsy advice on Novak.

Despite the success, Webb and Breen jumped ship for reasons that have never fully been explained.  ABC soldiered on with Ben Morris stepping in as the new Pat Novak, while Breen and Webb set up shop on Mutual with the very similar program Johnny Madero, Pier 23.  Listeners didn’t take to Morris in the role, and the series signed off in early 1948.  Webb continued in the detective business, and he starred for a season as Jeff Regan, Investigator for CBS before returning to Pat Novak for a national run on ABC in 1949.  It was during this period where Webb was beginning to get the ideas for what would become his signature series and role.

In 1948, Webb played the role of a crime scene technician in He Walked By Night.  During breaks in the filming, he struck up a friendship with the movie’s technical advisor, Sgt. Marty Wynn.  Webb believed there was an opportunity to dramatically depict police work in an authentic manner; most radio shows (including Webb’s own Pat Novak and Jeff Regan usually played cops as incompetent at best and corrupt at worst).  Working with Wynn and other police officers, along with writer James Moser, Webb pitched the concept to NBC.  That series would become Dragnet, and its combination of authentic cases and a “ripped from the headlines” style with Webb’s signature realistic approach made for a series that - once again - was unlike anything radio audiences had heard.

Webb starred as Sgt. Joe Friday, the epitome of a professional policeman, who rotated in and out of different divisions of the LAPD (Homicide, Narcotics, Traffic, etc.).  This allowed Webb and his team to tell a full range of stories, all taken from LAPD files.  Sometimes there was a corpse and the thrill of the hunt of a killer; in other episodes, there were stake-outs and spent shoe leather running down leads.  Through it all, Webb pushed for authenticity: “We try to make cops human beings.  We try to combine the best qualities of the men I’ve seen downtown, incorporate their way of speaking, make a composite.”

Dragnet exploded in popularity not long after it premiered in 1949. A TV version followed in 1951 and a film version hit the big screen in 1954. Perhaps the surest sign of success came in the form of parody when satirist Stan Freberg released his dead-on send-up of the show "St. George and the Dragonet." Webb, who had a better sense of humor than he's given credit for, loved it and allowed the use of the trademark Dragnet theme music.

Even during this time, when he was on Dragnet twice a week on radio and TV, Webb continued to work elsewhere. He created and starred in the short-lived 1951 radio crime drama Pete Kelly’s Blues, a Prohibition-era crime drama centered on a cornet player in a Kansas City speakeasy who frequently rubbed elbows with the city's unsavory elements. The series incorporated his lifelong love of jazz into the mystery stories, and Webb strove for authenticity just as he did on Dragnet. Pete Kelly's cornet - the instrument played on the air by Dick Cathcart - was presented to Webb by a San Francisco fan whose father had played it in Chicago speakeasies during the 1920s.  This blend of music was something new to dramatic radio, and it coincided with the entrance of jazz into the American mainstream.

Big screen success eluded Webb, and after a few misfires at the box office in the late 1950s, he was back in television.  In 1963, he was given the reins of the private eye drama 77 Sunset Strip, which he rebranded in his own style.  The series, which had been one of the more “hip” mystery shows on TV, suffered a ratings hit as a result of the shift and was cancelled. Fortunately for Webb, there was still a demand for his style - and his signature series. He was approached by Universal in 1966 to develop a new Dragnet TV movie. The product was so well received that NBC put a new Dragnet series on the air, with Webb back as Sgt. Joe Friday. It’s this color run of Dragnet (which aired often on Nick at Nite in the early 1990s) with which Webb is most closely associated. It also kicked off the next phase of his career, as a producer of TV content through his Mark VII production company. In addition to Dragnet, Webb produced the squad car-based police drama Adam-12 and the EMT/paramedic series Emergency!, both of which enjoyed long runs in the late 1960s and early 1970s. (His Adam-12 star Martin Milner got one of his first jobs on the radio version of Dragnet, playing one of Joe Friday’s young partners.)

In the early 1980s, Webb was prepping for yet another Dragnet revival, and he tapped Kent McCord of Adam-12 to play Joe Friday’s new partner. Before the series could go into production, Webb passed away at the age of 62 from a heart attack on December 23, 1982. In recognition of his long partnership with the Los Angeles Police Department, the LAPD retired 714, Joe Friday’s badge number. All flags in Los Angeles flew at half-staff in his honor.

One doesn’t need to look far to see Jack Webb’s legacy alive and well today. Reality-based police procedurals cover the prime-time landscape, and the realistic style of acting he helped introduce to the mainstream has influenced generations of writers and actors. He was a tireless professional who worked right up until the end of an unfortunately short life, but his body of work will continue to outlive him and entertain new generations of fans.

Apr 02, 2021
BONUS - Hey, Paula (Life of Riley)
01:07:11

Over a long radio career, Paula Winslowe effortlessly moved between dramas, thrillers, mysteries, and comedies. But her signature role came in one of the era's best domestic sitcoms as Peg opposite William Bendix in The Life of Riley. As the Riley family's level-headed matriarch, Winslowe gave radio one of its best female characters and created a funny and loving couple with her co-star. We'll hear a pair of episodes - first, Peg's ex-boyfriend sells Riley a life insurance policy (originally aired on NBC on March 16, 1946). Then, Peg tells son Junior the story of her first date with Riley (originally aired on NBC on November 17, 1950).

Mar 31, 2021
And the Oscar goes to...

Academy Award, one of the more prestigious Hollywood radio programs, premiered on CBS on March 30, 1946. The series presented recreations of films that had been nominated for or won - you guessed it - the Academy Award. The Oscar distinction set it apart from other Hollywood anthologies like The Lux Radio Theatre and Screen Directors Playhouse. Humphrey Bogart, Ginger Rogers, Gregory Peck, and Lana Turner were just some of the stars who appeared at the microphone to recreate their screen roles on the air.

Ultimately, that Oscar-prestige helped to spell a premature end for the series, as the cost for licensing the mentions of the Academy Awards (combined with the big salaries for the Hollywood stars) proved prohibitive for a long run. The program came to an end after only 39 episodes, despite being a hit with audiences.

To celebrate the show's anniversary, here are some of my favorite big screen adaptations from the short run of Academy Award.

"Stagecoach" - Claire Trevor is among the passengers on this eventful trip through the west. John Ford's classic film comes to radio without co-star John Wayne, but it's still a great production following an unlikely band of travelers as they try to survive the elements and an Indian attack en route to safety. (Originally aired on CBS on May 4, 1946)

"The Maltese Falcon" - Humphrey Bogart, Mary Astor, and Sydney Greenstreet recreate their roles in this abridged production of the classic film noir drama. Sam Spade is on the hunt for the titular black bird, and he's surrounded by characters who will try to woo him or kill him to steal the prize for themselves. (Originally aired on CBS on July 3, 1946)

"Young Mr. Lincoln" - John Ford's tale of the pre-presidential life of Honest Abe gets the radio treatment with original star Henry Fonda. He's superb as Lincoln as a young attorney trying to clear two men of a murder charge. (Originally aired on CBS on July 10, 1946)

"Foreign Correspondent" - One of several Hitchcock films adapted for the program, this radio play finds Joseph Cotten stepping in for Joel McCrea as a reporter abroad in the earliest days of World War II. He stumbles into an assassination plot and must stay alive to get his story back to his readers in the United States. (Originally aired on CBS on July 24, 1946)

"Shadow of a Doubt" - Alfred Hitchcock's favorite film of all the pictures he directed gets a great radio adaptation with Joseph Cotten back at the microphone. He recreates his role as Uncle Charlie, the lovable relative who comes to town with a cloud of suspicion hanging over his head. His niece and namesake Charlie begins to suspect her beloved uncle may be hiding a murderous secret. (Originally aired on CBS on September 11, 1946)

Mar 30, 2021
Episode 430 – Treasury Map (Treasury Agent & T-Man)
01:39:49

For much of its history, the US Treasury Department was extensively involved in law enforcement. The Coast Guard, the Bureau of Prohibition, the Secret Service - all were under the umbrella of the Treasury at one point. The exploits of its agents - men and women who battled counterfeiters and other crooks - inspired films, comic books, and radio shows. We'll hear Raymond Edward Johnson and Ralph Bell in "The Case of the Faithful Wife" from Treasury Agent (originally aired on ABC on August 11, 1947). Then, Dennis O'Keefe stars as a two-fisted agent in a pair of episodes from T-Man: "The Case of the Bleeding Gold" (audition recorded on April 29, 1950) and "The Case of the Big Mexican Dope" (originally aired on CBS on July 29, 1950).

Mar 28, 2021
BONUS - Still Smiling One Year Later (Jack Benny & Our Miss Brooks)
01:07:53

We mark the first anniversary of our bonus comedy episodes with the shows that kicked off the series. First, Jack Benny and his gang try and solve a murder with an all-star cast of suspects (including Gene Kelly, Rosalind Russell, and Frank Sinatra) in The Jack Benny Program (originally aired on CBS on January 8, 1950). Then, Eve Arden stars as Our Miss Brooks. She's placed in charge of Madison High School's new student banking system (originally aired on CBS on January 30, 1949).

Mar 24, 2021
Episode 429 – Let’s Be Frank (Here Comes McBride, Escape, & Night Beat)
01:39:08

Before his big screen turns in The Hitchhiker and In a Lonely Place, Frank Lovejoy made a name for himself on radio. His best known role was reporter and amateur sleuth Randy Stone in Night Beat, but before that he could be heard on everything from The Shadow to Suspense in supporting and starring roles. We'll hear him as a tough insurance investigator in Here Comes McBride (originally aired on NBC on May 19, 1949). Then, Lovejoy is a private eye guarding a fabulous emerald in "Figure a Dame" from Escape (originally aired on CBS on December 20, 1949). Finally, he stars in "The Girl from Kansas" from Night Beat (originally aired on NBC on June 5, 1950).

Mar 21, 2021
BONUS - Nutty and Disorderly (Martin and Lewis)
01:06:41

It's a birthday salute to Jerry Lewis with a pair of shows from his radio comedy series with partner Dean Martin. The cool crooner and the goofball with the squeaky voice were a hit on the air, on stage, and on the big screen in the late 40s and early 50s, and we'll hear them welcome some big stars to their microphones. First, Dinah Shore stops by (originally aired on NBC on October 5, 1951), and then Marlene Dietrich visits (originally aired on NBC on March 21, 1952).

Mar 17, 2021
Episode 428 – Legal Eagles (Defense Attorney, Amazing Mr. Tutt, & Academy Award)
01:39:04

We're headed to court for three old time radio mysteries starring crusading counselors at law. First, Mercedes McCambridge finds clues and cross-examines to find the truth in "Client Grady Daniels" from Defense Attorney (originally aired on ABC on August 24, 1951). Then, wily New England lawyer Ephraim Tutt springs from the pages of the Saturday Evening Post in The Amazing Mr. Tutt. Will Wright stars as the attorney in "Advice for a Young Lawyer" (originally aired on CBS on July 5, 1948). Finally, Henry Fonda reprises his role of Honest Abe in a radio recreation of Young Mr. Lincoln from Academy Award (originally aired on CBS on July 10, 1946).

Mar 14, 2021
BONUS - Stan, Stan, He’s Our Man (Stan Freberg Show)
01:05:56

We're back with Stan Freberg and company for more from The Stan Freberg Show, The unique blend of satire and shenanigans was one of the last original comedies of the radio era, and though it was short-lived we can enjoy the entire run today. We'll hear the western psychiatric adventures of "The Lone Analyst" (originally aired on CBS on August 25, 1957) and a saga of the ordeals of ice cream men (originally aired on CBS on September 1, 1957).

Mar 10, 2021
Episode 427 – My Fair Rex (Private Files of Rex Saunders & Academy Award)
01:33:32

Before he won a Tony and an Oscar as Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady, Rex Harrison had a brief stint as a radio private eye. We'll hear the star of stage and screen as a debonair detective in a pair of episodes from The Private Files of Rex Saunders - "The Most Malignant of Diseases...Namely Murder" (originally aired on NBC on June 27, 1951) and "Until Death Do Us Part" (originally aired on NBC on July 18, 1951). Then, he recreates his big screen role as a British spy out to save a scientist and his daughter from the Nazis in "Night Train" from Academy Award (originally aired on CBS on November 13, 1946).

Mar 07, 2021
BONUS - Lou's on First (Abbott & Costello)
01:09:08

It's a birthday bash for Lou Costello in this week's bonus comedy show. We'll hear Costello and Bud Abbott trade barbs and backwards logic in a pair of episodes from their long-running radio series. First, Costello wants to join the Merchant Marines (originally aired on NBC on January 25, 1945). Then, Bud and Lou hit the road to hire the Andrews Sisters (originally aired on NBC on April 5, 1945).

Mar 03, 2021
Episode 426 – International Men of Mystery (Rocky Jordan, Mr. I.A. Moto, & Dangerous Assignment)
01:39:17

It's a trip around the world with three old time radio detectives who walked an international beat. First, Rocky Jordan investigates a killing in Cairo in "The Man With No Name" (originally aired on CBS on October 9, 1949). Then, secret agent Mr. I.A. Moto journeys to Rome in "Escape" (originally aired on NBC on July 22, 1951). Finally, Brian Donlevy stars as Steve Mitchell in Dangerous Assignment on an adventure to Bombay (originally aired on NBC on August 23, 1950).

Feb 28, 2021
"The lonesomest mile in the world..."

“Broadway is my beat. From Times Square to Columbus Circle - the gaudiest, the most violent…the lonesomest mile in the world.”

On February 27, 1949, Broadway is My Beat premiered on CBS. Rising above the din of radio mysteries Broadway is My Beat was a New York-set police procedural that followed Detective Danny Clover as he solved crimes along the Great White Way.  Thanks to the expert direction, the sharp writing, and an impressive lead performance, Broadway is My Beat broke the mold of a police drama and holds up today as one of the best shows from the era.

The series premiered in February 1949 on CBS as a competently made police drama with a capable lead performance from stage veteran Anthony Ross as Danny Clover.  It attracted little attention from the public and the series left the air after four months.  Originating from New York for the first go-round, CBS moved production across the country to Los Angeles and engaged a new production team to retool the series.

The reins were turned over to Elliot Lewis, who was about to break out as one of the great radio talents of the era.  Lewis was best known in 1949 as an actor; he starred in the Mutual adventure series Voyage of the Scarlet Queen, and he played Frankie Remley, the dim bulb sidekick of Phil Harris on The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show.  He cut his teeth in the Armed Forces Radio Service and learned the ins and outs of radio, from scriptwriting to directing, during World War II.  Lewis wasn’t interested in making just another police drama.  He wanted to make the city of New York as much a character on the show as the cops and the criminals.  To that end, he employed a team of three sound effects artists to create one of radio’s richest soundscapes.  It was rare that the sounds of traffic and the hustle of the city weren’t heard as Danny Clover walked up flights of stairs at apartment houses or ducked into bars still waking up from the previous’ nights revelries.

Lewis added scriptwriting duo Morton Fine and David Friedkin to the Broadway is My Beat team.  This veteran radio duo (who would later create the classic 1960s TV series I Spy) put a spin on Danny Clover that was more in line with Jack Webb’s Joe Friday than brilliant super-cops.  Clover cracked cases through determination and hard work; he was no deductive genius but he wasn’t a dullard either.  In a June 15, 1950 article in The Sherbrooke Telegram, Fine and Friedkin described Danny Clover as “a nice, human guy who is a policeman and who solves crimes by piling human emotion against human emotion.“

But Clover wasn’t going to be the man Fine and Friedkin imagined without the right voice at the microphone.  Fortunately, the right man got the job.  Larry Thor was a CBS announcer (he could be heard introducing Rocky Jordan and other programs) who started acting along with his announcing chores.  He brought a dignity and determination to the work of a policeman, and he delivered the lyrical dialogue of the scripts effortlessly.  Supporting Clover at police headquarters were Charles Calvert as the quirky desk sergeant Gino Tartaglia, and Jack Kruschen as Clover’s sidekick in the field, Detective Muggavan.  Just like Clover, these weren’t the typical radio cops, but they added some color and levity to the downbeat scripts and harsh world of the series.

The combination of rich performances, poetic, complex scripts, and a vivid soundscape created one of radio’s most poignant and memorable police dramas.  For much of the run, the show was sustained by CBS and was used to fill gaps on the network’s lineup.  it moved consistently, which is never the right way to build an audience.  The series left the air in 1953, but one listen to Broadway is My Beat today reveals a show that succeeded in spite of its scheduling woes; it wasn’t just another radio cop show, and it may be a program that plays better to a 21st century audience more accustomed to realism and morally complex plots than some of the white-hat derring do of the Golden Age of Radio.

Feb 27, 2021
BONUS - Pops is Tops (Jack Benny Program & Jubilee)
01:09:49

We'll close out our Black History Month series with music and comedy from Louis Armstrong. Satchmo teams up with Rochester in an episode of The Jack Benny Program (originally aired on NBC on May 9, 1943). Then, he jams on an episode of the Armed Forces Radio Service showcase Jubilee (recorded on May 24, 1943).

Feb 24, 2021
Episode 425 – Change for a Dollar (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
01:34:54

Seventy-two years ago this month, "the man with the action-packed expense account" made his two-fisted radio debut. Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar ran until 1962 and helped to bring down the curtain on the golden age of radio. We'll hear three radio adventures of "America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator," each starring a different actor as Dollar. First, Charles Russell stars in "Murder is a Merry-Go-Round" (originally aired on CBS on March 11, 1949). Then, John Lund is Dollar in "The Marigold Matter" (originally aired on CBS on January 23, 1953). Finally, Mandel Kramer plays Johnny in "The Three for One Matter" (originally aired on CBS on October 22, 1961).

Feb 21, 2021
BONUS - Eddie Takes Your Order (Duffy’s Tavern)
01:08:32

Eddie Green's signature radio role was as Eddie, the waiter at Duffy's Tavern. But before he joined the cast of the Ed Gardner comedy series, Green was a successful entertainer on stage and screen. He was an actor, director, and songwriter who reached tremendous heights as an African American performer in the first half of the twentieth century. We'll hear Green in a pair of episodes from Duffy's Tavern (originally aired on NBC on November 9, 1945 and December 28, 1945).

Feb 17, 2021
Episode 424 – Ladies’ Night (Meet Miss Sherlock, Sara’s Private Caper, & Candy Matson)
01:40:38

We're saluting some of the women who solved crimes during the radio era. First, we'll Meet Miss Sherlock, a scatterbrained amateur detective (originally aired on CBS on September 12, 1946). Then, comedy star Sara Berner shows off her trademark silliness as she sleuths in Sara's Private Caper (originally aired on NBC on June 15, 1950). And finally, Natalie Masters is on the case as Candy Matson - the gorgeous gumshoe from San Francisco - in "A Symphony of Death" (originally aired on NBC on June 20, 1950).

Feb 14, 2021
Strange Visitor from Another Planet...

“It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s SUPERMAN!”

On February 12, 1940, two years after his debut in the pages of Action Comics, Superman took flight on radio.  As he thrilled readers in the comic books and dazzled audiences in movie theaters, the Man of Steel soared on the airwaves, battling the mob, Nazi spies and saboteurs, mad scientists, and aliens from other planets, all while cementing the character’s popularity as an American icon.

In fact, much of Superman’s mythology grew out of his radio adventures and later worked its way into the comic stories.  Plucky cub reporter Jimmy Olsen and blustery newspaper editor Perry White were both original creations for the radio series. Ditto Metropolis Police Inspector Henderson, one of Superman’s allies on the police force. The first meeting of Superman and Batman happened on radio in 1945 (they’d appeared on covers of comics before, but radio featured the first story where the characters teamed up), and Superman had his first encounter with his Achilles’ heel - Kryptonite - not on the pages of the comics, but on the radio series.

The show was a ratings success practically from the start.  Radio veteran Jack Johnstone (who later directed Bob Bailey as Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar) directed the early shows, and the series topped the charts among three-day-a-week children’s serials.  The series aired in syndication until March 9, 1942.  Six months later, it returned over the entire Mutual Network in a five-day-a-week series.  Directed by George Lowther and later Allen Ducovny, Superman exploded during the World War II era, as Kryptonite was thrown into the mix in 1943 and Superman and his friends fought Nazis as often as they fought domestic villains.  One of these baddies led to one of the show’s longest and most celebrated storylines when Superman battled a Nazi-engineered, Kryptonite-fueled Atom Man out to avenge the defeat of Germany from October to December 1945.

But it wasn’t all fights with Atom Men and imaginary monsters.  On the air, Superman fought racial intolerance and bigotry, and today the series is as fondly remembered for its social consciousness as much as for its thrilling adventures.  In one memorable arc (the “Unity House” series), Superman defended an interfaith community center from a gang of bigots; in another, he battled the “Clan of the Firey Cross,” a thinly veiled substitute for the Ku Klux Klan.  Despite pressure from some listeners (and a threatened boycott by the KKK itself), Mutual and Kellogg’s, the show’s sponsor, stuck by their program, and the series received seals of approval from the Boys Clubs of America, the Associated Negro Press, and the United Parents Association, among others.

At the center of this series, providing the voice of a man who could change the course of mighty rivers and bend steel in his bare hands, was a busy radio actor who initially didn’t want the gig.  By age 32, Clayton “Bud” Collyer  was appearing on all four major networks over several dozen series.  And while he won the job by creating two distinct voices for Superman and his secret identity of mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, he initially turned down the role.  “The whole idea embarrassed me, so I said no,” he recalled years later.  Collyer would also voice the Man of Steel in the classic cartoons from Max Fleischer, and he returned in 1966 for Filmation’s New Adventures of Superman.  Later, in the years following the Golden Age of Radio, Collyer would find fame as a game show host on television, anchoring shows like Quick as a Flash and To Tell the Truth.  He played Superman in close to 1,700 shows and was the “voice” of the Man of Steel to a generation as much as George Reeves was the “face” on television.

Collyer was backed up by a great cast in the Superman family.  Joan Alexander set the template for Lois Lane - smart, spunky, and willing to jump into the fray as no damsel in distress.  Julian Noa voiced the perpetually frustrated editor Perry White, and Jackie Kelk (Homer on The Aldrich Family) gave the right dose of “gee whiz” enthusiasm to Jimmy Olsen.  But a comic book adventure is lost without a narrator, and for most of its run Superman had a humdinger in Jackson Beck, who famously intoned the legendary introduction that began with “Faster than a speeding bullet!” (Yep, that was coined for the radio series as well.)

Today, the radio adventures of Superman still pack a ton of excitement into every fifteen or thirty minute episode.  Even if you can only see him in the theater of your own mind, Superman rockets through the air when Bud Collyer’s voice drops an octave, that wind machine kicks in, and Jackson Beck’s stentorian boom erupts over the speakers.

Feb 12, 2021
Expense Account, First Page...

On February 11, 1949, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar premiered on CBS and kicked off the career of “America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator.” Dollar traveled the world investigating cases of insurance fraud until 1962. Each mystery was narrated by Johnny as he itemized his expense account for his bosses at “the home office.” The series aired up until the end of the Golden Age of Radio in 1962, and it remains one of the most beloved detective programs of the era.

What made the show work?  The format of the show is a great hook - Dollar narrates the story as he itemizes his expense account for his employers.  As the case progresses, another expense is rattled off.  This was played up for humorous effect in the show’s early days, leading to a frequent announcer tag line - “At insurance investigation, he’s only an expert.  At making out his expense account, he’s an absolute genius!“  Dollar was sharp, a bit cynical, and had brains to match his brawn.

But in his first several years on the air, Johnny Dollar was a good - but not great - radio detective.  There was little about the show to distinguish it from the sea of detective shows cluttering the airwaves.  Three different actors (Charles Russell, Edmond O'Brien, and John Lund) played Dollar between 1949 and 1954.  (Dick Powell was actually the first to play Johnny Dollar in a 1948 audition program.  Before the show went to series, Powell opted to star in Richard Diamond, Private Detective on NBC.)  The insurance investigation angle provided a different flavor for the show, but those early shows weren’t quite in the same league as Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe.  The show actually left the airwaves in 1954, and Johnny Dollar might have ended up as a radio footnote had it not been for a revamped series that returned to the air in 1955.

Under the direction of Jack Johnstone, Johnny Dollar was reinvented as a five-night-a-week 15 minute serial.  Johnstone was a veteran radio writer and director who previously brought Buck Rogers and Superman to radio. Just before he took the helm of Johnny Dollar, he served as producer and director for the outstanding NBC western series The Six Shooter, which brought Jimmy Stewart to weekly radio as its star.  Johnstone served as producer and director of the new series, and he frequently provided scripts.  With 75 minutes instead of 30 for stories every week, Johnstone and his fellow writers could deliver complex plots with plenty of twists and turns and nuanced characters with more depth than the usual supporting players in a weekly detective show.

But talent behind the scenes is only part of the story.  Johnny Dollar’s renaissance owes as much to the man in front of the microphone - a strong, dynamic actor who breathed life and a personality into the detective.  And it was an actor who was no stranger to solving crimes on the airwaves.

Bob Bailey was fresh off a run as private eye George Valentine in Let George Do It when he was cast as Dollar.  He sank his teeth into the king-size scripts, and his performance fleshed out the character in a way that the previous actors had never quite managed to nail down.  His Johnny Dollar would more often than not get too involved in his cases, and he might fall too hard for a female suspect.  He loved to fish, and his clients might exploit that to persuade him to take a dangerous job in a far-off locale where he could be promised a good catch.  He was unpredictable, funny, and dangerous.  In the early years, Johnny Dollar was just a radio detective. With Jack Johnstone’s words and Bob Bailey’s voice, he joined the ranks of Marlowe and Spade, characters with long histories on the page behind them.

The series continued in the serial format until 1956 when it returned to 30 minutes once a week.  While the individual shows may not have always been as rich as the five-part stories, Bailey’s performance remained strong.  He remained in the role until 1960, when CBS shut down its West Coast radio operations and moved its dramatic productions to New York.  The show continued for another two seasons; Jack Johnstone continued to provide scripts but was replaced as director.  Bob Readick and Mandel Kramer starred as Dollar until he turned in his last expense account on the final night of network radio on September 30, 1962.

Nearly all of the episodes of the show survive, and while each actor brought something unique to the character, it is Bailey’s Johnny Dollar that stands head and shoulders above them all.  His wry humor, his hard edge, and his world-weary cynicism come through in every line of his performance, and there are years of episodes for today’s audiences to rediscover and enjoy.

Feb 11, 2021
BONUS - Oh, Rochester (Jack Benny Program & Private Life of Rochester Van Jones)
01:11:16

Eddie Anderson, the vaudeville star and comedian with a trademark gravelly voice, made his first appearance on The Jack Benny Program in 1937. He'd become an iconic part of the series and a member of Benny's cast on radio and television for nearly 30 years. Anderson was the first African American actor with a regular role on a national radio series, and his character of Rochester Van Jones was one of the most popular on the show. We'll hear him as Sam in the show's production of Casablanca (originally aired on NBC on October 17, 1943). Then, Anderson stars in the audition recordings of what would have been his own comedy series - The Private Life of Rochester Van Jones (recorded May 12, 1950).

Feb 10, 2021
Episode 423 – Nigel the Bruce (Sherlock Holmes & Screen Guild Theatre)
01:37:34

In 14 films and hundreds of radio episodes, Nigel Bruce personified Dr. Watson for generations of Sherlock Holmes fans. The actor created a companion for Sherlock Holmes who was avuncular, fiercely loyal, and awestruck at his friend's deductive powers. We'll hear Bruce opposite Basil Rathbone in "The Telltale Pigeon Feathers" (originally aired on Mutual on January 21, 1946) and with Tom Conway in "The Adventure of the Elusive Emerald" (originally aired on ABC on December 14, 1946). Plus, Bruce recreates his role from Suspicion in a production of The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre (originally aired on CBS on January 21, 1946).

Feb 07, 2021
Stories Start in Many Different Ways...

On February 6, 1950, reporter Randy Stone took his first walk on the Night Beat. Frank Lovejoy starred as Randy, an intrepid newspaperman working at the Chicago Star. Every night, Randy explored the darkened streets of the Windy City in search of stories for his column. Randy Stone was looking for the good and the bad of human nature - anything that would make for a good yarn to follow his byline. Along the way, he usually found trouble among the desperate and the dangerous residents of the city at night.

In each episode of the show, columnist Randy Stone went to work when the sun went down and set off through the city streets in search of stories about people that had fallen through the cracks.  The “human” in human interest stories was of paramount importance to him, and like a knight on a romantic crusade, Stone did his best to help the subjects of his stories and ensure as much of a happy ending as he could for his column.  Randy Stone wasn’t a detective; he wasn’t even an amateur sleuth like Box 13’s Dan Holiday or Casey, Crime Photographer.  But he walked the streets of Chicago after dark and as a sucker for a hard luck story, he frequently found himself in conflict with the mob, gamblers and thieves, con men, and killers.  He could be taken in by a sob story or come around to discover a perceived villain had been wronged as badly as the victim.  He didn’t carry a gun, and he wasn’t a fighter, but he had dogged persistence in chasing down a story to the end.  It was the kind of persistence that was finely honed from walking the streets and wearing out who knows how many pairs of shoes.

On May 19, 1949, an audition program for the series was recorded starring Edmond O’Brien as reporter “Hank Mitchell.”  Directed by Bill Rousseau (director of hard-boiled private eye shows Pat Novak and Michael Shayne), O’Brien’s performance was closer to how he’d sound as Johnny Dollar a year later: tougher, cynical, and harder-edged.  Not a bad performance (in fact, it served him well in the role of “America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator”), but it was a little too tough for what producers were looking for. Night Beat got a second bite at the apple almost a year later.  This time, actor Frank Lovejoy stepped to the microphone as the lead character, rechristened “Randy Stone.”  Where Hank Mitchell was cynical, Randy Stone was a kind of cock-eyed optimist.  Where Mitchell was tough, Stone was compassionate.  Of the voices, Randy Stone’s sounded more like that of a champion for the little guy.  And delivering that winning performance for over 100 episodes was Frank Lovejoy.

Lovejoy had been a radio actor in the 1930s and early 1940s, appearing on Gang Busters and This is Your FBI.  He was the first actor to play the Blue Beetle on radio, and he was frequently heard as a supporting player on Sam Spade, Box 13, and Adventures of Superman; he also took more than a few starring turns on Suspense.  In films, Lovejoy was often a supporting player in everyman roles in films like The Hitch-Hiker, House of Wax, and In a Lonely Place.  This “man of the people” streak to his work served him well as Randy Stone, and Lovejoy delivers one of the best dramatic lead performances from the Golden Age of Radio in Night Beat. It helped that he was given wonderful words to say and characters to say them to with scripts by Larry Marcus, Russell Hughes (main writer for Box 13), and others.

One of the great dramatic shows of the 1950s, Night Beat was anchored by Frank Lovejoy’s performance and strong scripts. Though not strictly a detective program, Night Beat often featured stories of crime and killers, of cops and robbers. Night Beat was a bright spot in the Golden Age of Radio as it gradually gave way to the rise of television.

Here are a few of my favorite episodes of this fantastic series. You can celebrate the anniversary of the show’s premiere and hear what made it such a unique entry in the world of old time radio drama.

“Zero” – In the show’s first episode, Randy Stone stumbles across a young woman on a frantic citywide search for a man about to die because of her clerical error. They hunt high and low through the streets of the Windy City to find the man and to save two lives – the man who mistakenly believes he has a terminal illness and the woman who would never forgive herself if she cost a man his life. (Originally aired on NBC on February 6, 1950)

“I Wish You Were Dead” – Randy is fascinated by a mild-mannered man who claims to have a deadly ability – the power to kill people using only his mind. (Originally aired on NBC on May 22, 1950)

“The Football Player and the Syndicate” – William Conrad guest stars as a college football hero long past his gridiron glory days. Now working as a broken down private investigator and trying to stay a step ahead of his gambling debts, he asks for Randy’s help on a job. If he can find a man for a notorious Chicago political boss, he can make enough money to clear his debts and dig himself out of his hole. (Originally aired on NBC on June 12, 1950)

“The City at Your Fingertips” – On a quiet night, Randy lets his fingers do the walking and dials a random phone number. To his surprise, the woman on the other end of the line begs for help. She’s being held prisoner by a man who may return to kill her at any moment. Can Randy save her life when even she doesn’t know where she’s been trapped? (Originally aired on NBC on July 31, 1950)

Feb 06, 2021
BONUS - Maid in Hollywood (Beulah & Philco Radio Time)
01:01:25

In honor of Black History Month, we're saluting African American performers in old time radio comedies. Seven years after she became the first Black performer to win an Oscar, Hattie McDaniel broke another barrier as the first Black woman to headline a national radio series. McDaniel starred as Beulah in the comedy series about the titular maid and housekeeper. We'll hear her in a pair of Beulah episodes (originally aired on CBS on June 27 and June 28, 1950). Plus, she reprises the role in an episode of Philco Radio Time with Bing Crosby (originally aired on ABC on January 19, 1949).

Feb 03, 2021
"Frontier Gentleman" - Ten Great Episodes

Frontier Gentleman, the story of an English reporter traveling the wild west, premiered on this day in 1958. Along with Gunsmoke, it's one of the best "adult western" dramas of the radio era. While the entire series (an unfortunately too-short run of 41 episodes) is well worth a listen, here are ten episodes that – if you’re new to the show – are a great place to start.

“Kendall’s Last Stand” – It’s the eve of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, and Kendall, a small party of soldiers, and an Indian scout break off from the 7th cavalry under the command of General Custer. But Kendall and company may meet the same fate as Custer and his men after they’re pinned down by a war party. With limited ammunition, Kendall and the scout seek refuge with a brave widow in her cabin, and they face a long night with their adversaries lurking outside. (Originally aired on CBS on February 23, 1958)

“The Powder River Kid” – Kendall comes across an infamous gunfighter and robber, but the man is wounded and succumbing to gangrene. Knowing his time is running out, the man asks Kendall to kill him and collect the reward on his head so his wife can collect the money. This one features a great supporting performance from Larry Dobkin as the Powder River Kid, and the story is a perfect example of the drama that could come from a well-written “adult western.” (Originally aired on CBS on April 6, 1958)

“The Trial” (also known as “Kendall for the Defense”) – J.B. Kendall, reporter, becomes J.B. Kendall, attorney in this humorous story of a murder trial held in a makeshift saloon courtroom. There’s a defendant who refuses to surrender his shootin’ irons, a hostile judge, and a dubious eyewitness that Kendall must overcome to see that justice is served. (Originally aired on CBS on April 13, 1958)

“Aces and Eights” – This is my pick for the best episode of the series. Kendall makes his way to Deadwood just in time to grab a seat at the table for the west’s most infamous game of poker. He meets legends Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane, and he gets the chance to see the real people behind the tall tales. If you’ve ever wondered why “aces and eights” is known as a “dead man’s hand,” this story will give you the answer. (Originally aired on CBS on April 20, 1958)

“Random Notes” – Another great episode with several stories in one. Kendall is taking the stagecoach and takes advantage of the time to recount some of the tales that didn’t make it into his regular reports. He’s in the audience for an amateur western production of Othello, he witnesses a duel between two women fighting over the same man, he talks to a condemned killer, and he watches as a Chinese shopkeeper gets the last laugh on a group of men who try to cheat him. (Originally aired on CBS on April 27, 1958)

“School Days” (also known as “Duel for a School Marm”) – Kendall has barely arrived in a town before he’s being pressed into voting for a schoolhouse. The town and its rival city are competing for the attentions of a beautiful young teacher – even though the towns are devoid of children. The teacher doesn’t appreciate the predicament and the fact that the men of the towns are willing to go to war to get their educations. (Originally aired on CBS on June 1, 1958)

“Gambling Lady” – Jeanne Bates gives a great performance and has tremendous chemistry with John Dehner in this story of a new gambling palace run by the mysterious “Madam Verdi.” As Kendall becomes fascinated with this beautiful, independent western woman, her secret (and deadly) past resurfaces with tragic results. Bates would return as Madam Verdi, also known as “Belle Siddons,” in a memorable three-part episode later in the series’ run. (Originally aired on CBS on June 29, 1958)

“Justice of the Peace” – In this powerful episode, Kendall meets one of the few women acting as a justice of the peace on the frontier (voiced brilliantly by Paula Winslowe) and he witnesses firsthand as she stands up to a mob hoping to lynch her prisoner – an Indian accused of murder. (Originally aired on CBS on July 13, 1958)

“Mighty Mouse” and “Mighty Tired” – One of the things that I love about Frontier Gentleman is its continuity. Characters recur, Kendall’s previous adventures are referenced, and sometimes stories stretch across multiple episodes. In this two-parter, a stagecoach carrying Kendall and a miner is robbed. A blustery lawman is on the case, but all he manages to do is let the thieves (later revealed to be Jesse James and his gang) slip through his fingers. In the follow-up story, Kendall and his miner friend get a chance for justice when they spot some of the robbers on a train. (Originally aired on CBS on July 20 and July 27, 1958).

Feb 02, 2021
Episode 422 – Hard-Boiled Heroics (Philip Marlowe, Pat Novak, & Barrie Craig)
01:37:28

Two-fisted action, tough guy narration, dangerous dames - the hard-boiled detective shows of the golden age of radio had it all. We'll hear three of those gumshoes in radio mysteries. First, Gerald Mohr is Philip Marlowe in "The Lady Killer" (originally aired on CBS on August 20, 1949). Then, Jack Webb stars as Pat Novak For Hire in "Fleet Lady" (originally aired on ABC on March 6, 1949). Finally, William Gargan plays Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator in "Crimson Queen" (originally aired on NBC on January 4, 1953).

Jan 31, 2021
BONUS - AKA Archibald Leach (Burns and Allen & Mr. and Mrs. Blandings)
01:06:06

It's a belated birthday party for screen legend Cary Grant with a pair of old time radio showcases for his comedic talents. We'll hear him try to dodge a proposal from Gracie's cousin on The Burns and Allen Show (originally aired on NBC on February 13, 1947). Then, Cary Grant is joined by his wife Betsy Drake in the radio spinoff Mr. and Mrs. Blandings, a series that continues the story from Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (originally aired on NBC on March 18, 1951).

Jan 27, 2021
Episode 421 – Signed, Sealed, Delivered (Let George Do It & Box 13)
01:32:33

When the mail arrives for George Valentine and Dan Holiday, it means mystery and adventure are soon to follow. Both gumshoes find cases in the responses they receive to their newspaper ads offering their help to people in dangerous situations. We'll hear Bob Bailey in "Destination: Dead End" from Let George Do It (originally aired on Mutual on February 14, 1949). Then, Alan Ladd stars in a pair of syndicated episodes of Box 13 - "Book of Poems" and "The Great Torino."

Jan 24, 2021
BONUS - Special Kaye (Danny Kaye Show)
01:08:01

Sing, dance, act, and make audiences howl with laughter - Danny Kaye could do it all, and he found a magnificent showcase for many of his talents in his own weekly radio series. The Danny Kaye Show found the star at the top of his game surrounded by an A-list supporting cast of Eve Arden, Lionel Stander, and more. We'll hear the first two episodes of the program (originally aired on CBS on January 6 and January 13, 1945).

Jan 20, 2021
Episode 420 – It Takes Some Thieves (Lone Wolf & Boston Blackie)
01:26:41

Crime used to pay for our old time radio super sleuths this week, but Michael Lanyard (The Lone Wolf) and Boston Blackie left their criminal careers behind and used the tricks of their trade to bring crooks to justice. We'll hear three adventures of these reformed robbers. First, Walter Coy stars as the Lone Wolf in "The Golden Santa" (originally aired on Mutual on January 1, 1949). Then, Richard Kollmar is Boston Blackie in a pair of syndicated shows: "The Stolen Radway's Faust" and "Blackie's Framed for Fur Thefts."

Jan 17, 2021
BONUS - Bendix Birthday Bash (Life of Riley)
01:05:52

It's a party in this week's bonus comedy episode. We're celebrating the birthday of William Bendix and the anniversary of the debut of his radio sitcom The Life of Riley. Join Chester A. Riley, wife Peg, son Junior, and daughter Babs on misadventures in a pair of shows. First, Riley is excited for a promotion at work - but it isn't his (originally aired on NBC on September 7, 1946). Then, Riley's worried his family forgot his birthday (originally aired on NBC on February 8, 1947).

Jan 13, 2021
Episode 419 – Three Halos (The Saint)
01:36:39

We're saluting Simon Templar today, and we'll hear three of his radio adventures including the audition recording that kicked off the on-air career of The Saint. Vincent Price is Simon in "The Horrible Hamburger" (originally aired on NBC on September 10, 1950) and Tom Conway plays Templar in "No, My Darling Daughter" (originally aired on NBC on July 15, 1951). Then, Leslie Charteris himself is on hand to introduce "The Miracle Tea Party," an audition recording starring Denis Green as The Saint.

Jan 10, 2021
BONUS - Wistful Vista Winter Wonderland (Fibber McGee and Molly)
01:04:21

Snow is falling on Wistful Vista in this week's bonus comedy episode. Join Fibber McGee and Molly for a pair of stories about sleds, sleigh rides, and silliness courtesy of the comedic couple and their neighbors. First, Fibber wants to spruce up a childhood toy (originally aired on NBC on February 10, 1948). Then, the whole gang takes a sleigh ride through the snowy streets (originally aired on NBC on January 31, 1950).

Jan 06, 2021
Episode 418 – Some Inspectors Call (Black Museum, Whitehall 1212, & Pursuit)
01:30:16

The dogged detectives of Scotland Yard are on the case in three old time radio mysteries. First, Orson Welles narrates the story of "The Car Tire" and its brush with murder from The Black Museum. Then, an artificial pearl holds the solution to a murder in "The Case of Marjorie Tate" from Whitehall 1212 (originally aired on NBC on May 11, 1952). Finally, Ben Wright plays Inspector Peter Black in "Pursuit of the Woman in Gray" from Pursuit (AFRS rebroadcast from February 26, 1952).

Jan 03, 2021
BONUS – Dropping the Ball (Alan Young Show & Our Miss Brooks)
01:07:48

We sign off for the year with two New Year's comedies from the golden age of radio. First, Alan Young tries to keep the plans for a Rose Bowl parade float a secret (originally aired on NBC on December 27, 1946). Then, Eve Arden's Our Miss Brooks is stuck babysitting on New Year's Eve (originally aired on CBS on January 1, 1950).

Dec 30, 2020
Episode 417- Cornered (Lux Radio Theatre)
01:09:10

Before the world loved Lucy, Lucille Ball starred as a tough noir heroine in The Dark Corner. She played a loyal secretary out to clear the name of her private eye boss. In this Lux Radio Theatre adaptation (originally aired on CBS on November 10, 1947). Lucille Ball reunites with her big screen co-star Mark Stevens in this terrific mystery drama.

Dec 27, 2020
Christmas Crimes and Capers

Happy Holidays!

As you wait for Santa’s sleigh to touch down on your roof tonight, enjoy these yuletide adventures of some of our favorite old time radio detectives!

“The Night Before Christmas” – A pair of Santas leads Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson to a Christmas caper perpetrated by their old enemy Professor Moriarty. Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce star in this episode, originally aired on Mutual on December 24, 1945.

“Jack Frost” – Candy Matson (Natalie Master) is on the case when one of Santa’s helpers disappears. The beautiful and brilliant private eye uncovers a holiday murder in this episode originally aired on NBC on December 10, 1949.

“The Department Store Swindle (How I Played Santa Claus and Almost Got Left Holding the Bag” – Charles Russell plays Johnny Dollar in this early adventure of “the man with the action-packed expense account.” Johnny heads to the department store to fight the crowds. But he’s also there to find a gang of thieves that may resort to murder to stay a step ahead of the law in this episode originally aired on CBS on December 24, 1949.

“Santa Claus is No Saint” – Simon Templar puts on padding to play Santa at a charity event, but before he can make merry, he has to solve a murder. Vincent Price is “the Robin Hood of modern crime” in this episode originally aired on NBC on December 20, 1950.

“The Case of the Slaughtered Santas” – Someone is bumping off sidewalk St. Nicks, and one of the scared Santas hires Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin to get him safely home for the holidays. Sydney Greenstreet is Wolfe and Larry Dobkin is Archie in this episode originally aired on NBC on December 22, 1950.

“The Big Little Jesus” – The cops of Dragnet are on the hunt for a figurine of the Christ child stolen from a poor church’s nativity scene. It’s a heartfelt story with a wonderful ending – and a far cry from the other Dragnet holiday episode about the dangers of giving a child a gun for Christmas. Jack Webb is Sgt. Joe Friday and Ben Alexander is Officer Frank Smith in this episode originally aired on NBC on December 22, 1953.

“The Plot to Murder Santa Claus” – Frank Sinatra stars as Rocky Fortune in this tale of holiday homicide. Rocky’s latest job is playing Santa in a crowded department store just before Christmas. He tries to make a little girl’s holiday wish come true (and win over her beautiful older sister in the process), but a gun-toting gang may keep the season from looking bright in this episode originally aired on NBC on December 22, 1953.

Dec 24, 2020
BONUS - Bells on Benny Ring (Jack Benny Program)
01:37:43

Department store sales clerks had a lot to face during the holiday season - crowds of last minute shoppers, long hours, and Jack Benny agonizing over the perfect gift. We'll hear three episodes that find Benny driving clerks up the wall as he struggles to select the right shoelaces, wallets, and golf tees. Listen as Mel Blanc fights to remember the customer is always right in these shows originally aired on NBC on December 8, 1946 and December 19, 1948 and on CBS on December 17, 1950.

Dec 23, 2020
Episode 416 – A Very Casey Christmas (Casey, Crime Photographer)
01:20:22

Criminals work on Christmas, but fortunately so do the ace crimesolvers of the golden age of radio! Staats Cotsworth stars as newshound and amateur sleuth Casey, Crime Photographer in a pair of holiday mysteries: "Christmas Shopping" (originally aired on CBS on December 19, 1946) and "The Santa Claus of Bum Boulevard" (originally aired on CBS on December 25, 1947). Plus, we'll hear an old time radio recreation of O. Henry's classic story "The Gift of the Magi" from The Coronet Little Show (originally aired on Mutual on December 19, 1943).

Dec 20, 2020
BONUS - Holly Jolly (Burns and Allen & Fibber McGee and Molly)
01:06:32

Our comedy countdown to Christmas continues with two beloved radio couples and a Hollywood legend pinch hitting for the holidays. First, Jane Wyman steps in for a flu-stricken Gracie Allen in a Christmas night episode of The Burns and Allen Show (originally aired on NBC on December 25, 1947). Then, Fibber paints the McGee's tree white on Fibber McGee and Molly (originally aired on December 18, 1945).

Dec 16, 2020
Episode 415 - Ever-Greenstreet (Nero Wolfe, Fred Allen, & Screen Guild Theatre)
01:38:24

Sydney Greenstreet was 61 years old when he made his screen debut as Kasper Gutman in The Maltese Falcon, and his larger than life villainous performance earned him an Oscar nod and it kicked off a second career in films. Greenstreet appeared in Casablanca, They Died With Their Boots On, and more, and on radio he lent his voice to Rex Stout's gargantuan gourmet Nero Wolfe. We'll hear Greenstreet as Wolfe in "The Case of the Tell-Tale Ribbon" (originally aired on NBC on March 30, 1951). Plus, he joins Fred Allen on a comedic caper through Cairo (AFRS rebroadcast from May 12, 1946) and finally Greenstreet joins Peter Lorre as they recreate their roles from The Mask of Dimitrios in The Lady Esther Screen Guild Theatre (originally aired on CBS on April 16, 1945).

Dec 13, 2020
BONUS - Jingle All the Way (Our Miss Brooks & My Favorite Husband)
01:10:16

The countdown to Christmas continues with more old time radio holiday comedies. First, Eve Arden hosts a Christmas party with yuletide magic in the air in Our Miss Brooks (originally aired on CBS on December 25, 1949). Then, Lucille Ball rounds up a gang of carolers to take a musical sleigh ride on My Favorite Husband (originally aired on December 23, 1949).

Dec 09, 2020
Episode 414 - Sleight of Hand Sleuthing (Chandu the Magician, Blackstone the Magic Detective, & Lights Out)
01:37:14

Say the magic word and join three old time radio detectives with something extra up their sleeves. Whether they used supernatural powers or just tricks of the trade, these masters of mystery and magic solved the crime with style. We'll hear an adventure of Chandu the Magician pitting the hero against a master schemer (originally aired on ABC on August 2, 1950). Then, art imitates life in Blackstone, the Magic Detective. We'll hear a pair of syndicated shows inspired by the life of magician Harry Blackstone: "The Coin of Cleopatra" and "The Accusing Corpse." Finally, two magicians - one good, one evil - pit their powers against each other in "The Battle of the Magicians" from Lights Out (originally aired on NBC on July 27, 1946).

Dec 06, 2020
BONUS - Deck the Halls (Abbott and Costello & Phil Harris-Alice Faye)
01:06:27

With Christmas right around the corner, we're launching a month of holiday comedies from the golden age of radio. First, Bud and Lou trim the tree and get a visit from Santa in The Abbott and Costello Show (originally aired on ABC on December 24, 1947). Then, Phil Harris and Alice Faye enlist an old friend to play St. Nick in The Fitch Bandwagon (originally aired on NBC on December 21, 1947).

Dec 02, 2020
Episode 413 – We Like Mike (Michael Shayne)
01:35:11

Wally Maher and Jeff Chandler starred on radio as red-headed shamus Michael Shayne, and each actor brought his own style to the detective. Maher, along with Cathy Lewis as loyal assistant Phyllis Knight, stars as Shayne in "Behind the Footlights" (originally aired on Mutual on August 27, 1945). Then, Chandler is ultra hard-boiled as Shayne in the syndicated mysteries "The Case of the Carnival Killer" and "The Case of the Eager Victim."

Nov 29, 2020
Talking Turkey

Happy Thanksgiving! In honor of Turkey Day – and to keep you company while you’re in the kitchen or waiting to eat – here are five old time radio mysteries starring some of your favorite sleuths as they mix in solving crimes with their stuffing and cranberry sauce.

Casey, Crime Photographer

All Casey (Staats Cotsworth) wants is to enjoy his Thanksgiving dinner, but before he can eat he’ll have to clear a young ex-con framed for a robbery in “After Turkey, the Bill” (originally aired on CBS on November 27, 1947).

Jeff Regan, Investigator

A turkey shoot turns deadly when a man catches the bullet instead of the bird. Now it’s up to Jeff Regan (Jack Webb) to solve the crime as he contends with some modern-day Mayflower passengers in “The Pilgrim’s Progress” (originally aired on CBS on November 13, 1948).

Casey, Crime Photographer

Casey and Ann Williams (Jan Miner) put another Thanksgiving dinner on hold to help a paroled safecracker whose old gang is trying to thwart his attempts to go straight in “Holiday” (originally aired on CBS on November 25, 1948).

Let George Do It

It’s not a happy Thanksgiving for a ten year-old boy who refuses to speak. George Valentine (Bob Bailey) tries to uncover the mystery – and to see if he can coax some words from the boy – in “Cause for Thanksgiving” (originally aired on Mutual on November 20, 1950).

The Adventures of Sam Spade

Normally, the death of a turkey wouldn’t make news on Thanksgiving but Sam Spade’s new client is a human Turkey – Tom Turkey, to be precise. He hires Spade (Steve Dunne) to find out who wants to rub him out in “The Terrified Turkey Caper” (originally aired on NBC on November 24, 1950).

Nov 26, 2020
BONUS - Comedy Cranberry Sauce (My Friend Irma & Life with Luigi)
01:05:07

Before you dig in to your Thanksgiving dinner, enjoy a pair of Turkey Day comedies from the golden age of radio. First, My Friend Irma brings a live turkey for dinner (originally aired on CBS on November 15, 1948). Then, in Life with Luigi, J. Carrol Naish's Luigi finds himself without a dinner on the big day (originally aired on CBS on November 22, 1949).

Nov 25, 2020
Episode 412 – Father Knows Best (Big Guy)
01:42:54

Joshua Sharpe was a rarity in the world of radio private eyes. When he closed up his shop for the day, he headed home to his two kids who he raised as a single dad. His son and daughter gave him the affectionate nickname The Big Guy. Together, they starred in the unique radio detective drama where their family lives occasionally intersected with Sharpe's case of the week. Henry Calvin stars as the Big Guy in three radio mysteries: "The Unheard Voice" (originally aired on NBC on May 7, 1950), "The Case of the Villainous Friend" (originally aired on NBC on August 27, 1950), and "The Case of the Patent Leather Bag" (originally aired on NBC on November 5, 1950).

Nov 22, 2020
BONUS - Turkey Tales (Jack Benny & Fibber McGee and Molly)
01:08:50

We kick off our Thanksgiving celebration with a pair of old time radio Turkey Day comedies. First, Jack Benny dreams he's the main course on the menu (originally aired on NBC on November 21, 1943). Then, Fibber McGee and Molly plan to dine out for Thanksgiving, but a tax bill casts a cloud over the celebration for Fibber (originally aired on NBC on November 22, 1949).

Nov 18, 2020
Episode 411 – Say a Little Prayer (Father Brown & Bishop and the Gargoyle)
01:09:22

Our sleuths this week are men of the cloth as well as men of mystery. We'll hear Karl Swenson as G.K. Chesterton's Father Brown in "The Mystified Mind" (originally aired on Mutual on August 13, 1945). Then, a retired priest and a reformed ex-con join forces for justice in The Bishop and the Gargoyle (originally aired on NBC on July 14, 1940).

Nov 15, 2020
BONUS - Over There (Command Performance)
01:11:40

In honor of Veterans Day, we'll hear a pair of shows produced exclusively for our fighting men and women during World War II. Every week, the biggest names in Hollywood donated their time and talent to Command Performance, a showcase of sketches and songs designed to entertain the troops "till it's over - over there." We'll hear two episodes, both featuring longtime USO performer Bob Hope. First, Hope emcees and Lena Horne sings in a show from July 7, 1942. Then, Bob is joined by Bing Crosby in a show from September 25, 1943.

Nov 11, 2020
Episode 410 – Marlowe, My Sweet (Lux Radio Theatre)
01:09:06

Dick Powell reinvented himself and embarked on a new phase of his career when he starred as Philip Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet. The noir drama broke Powell out of boyish leading roles in musicals and put him on the path to Rogue's Gallery and Richard Diamond, Private Detective. We'll hear him join co-stars Claire Trevor and Mike Mazurki in a Lux Radio Theatre creation of the film - a production that finds him facing off against future radio Marlowe Gerald Mohr (originally aired on CBS on June 11, 1945).

Nov 08, 2020
BONUS - Vote for Comedy (Fibber McGee and Molly & Life with Luigi)
01:05:18

Americans head to the polls tomorrow after a long and contentious election cycle, and to celebrate the casting of our ballots I've got a pair of old time radio comedies that find our stars exercising their rights. First, Fibber McGee and Molly are poll workers (originally aired on NBC on November 5, 1940). Then, as Luigi Basco, J. Carrol Naish's misguided efforts to get out the vote land him in hot water on Life with Luigi (originally aired on CBS on October 31, 1950).

Nov 02, 2020
Episode 409 – Candy Bag (Candy Matson)
01:08:40

Candy Matson is on the case, so if you're a crook in San Francisco - beware! Natalie Masters stars as the glamorous and gritty private detective, one of the few female gumshoes to headline her own series during the golden age of radio. We'll hear two of Candy's capers: "The Eric Spaulding Concert" (originally aired on NBC on February 7, 1950) and "San Juan Batista" (originally aired on NBC on November 26, 1950).

Nov 01, 2020
BONUS – Bud and Lou Meet the Monsters (Abbott and Costello)
01:31:07

We wrap up our month of Halloween comedies with Bud Abbott and Lou Costello hosting some of Hollywood's legends of horror. First, Peter Lorre offers Costello a trip to his sanitarium (originally aired on NBC on January 13, 1944). Next, Bud and Lou investigate Bela Lugosi's haunted house (originally aired on ABC on May 5, 1948). Finally, Lon Chaney, Jr. is after Costello's girl (originally aired on ABC on June 2, 1948).

Oct 28, 2020
Episode 408 – Baker Street Trick or Treat (New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
02:07:46

As Halloween approaches, we'll hear Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson face off against supernatural foes - or at least foes who appear to be supernatural. Werewolves, ghosts, vampires - none of them stand a chance against the world's greatest detective. We'll hear Tom Conway as Holmes and Nigel Bruce as Watson in "The Adventure of the Black Angus" (originally aired on ABC on October 19, 1946) and "The Adventure of the Carpathian Horror" (originally aired on ABC on April 14, 1947). Then, John Stanley and Alfred Shirley star in "The Case of the Sanguinary Spectre" (originally aired on Mutual on February 8, 1948) and "The Case of the Everblooming Roses" (originally aired on Mutual on May 16, 1948).

Oct 25, 2020
BONUS - Jack O’Lantern (Jack Benny Program)
01:05:03

Celebrate Halloween with Jack Benny and his gang - Mary Livingstone, Phil Harris, Don Wilson, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, and Dennis Day - in a pair of old time radio comedies. First, Jack throws a Halloween party (originally aired on NBC on November 3, 1940). Then, a trick-or-treating prank on guest star Basil Rathbone backfires (originally aired on NBC on November 2, 1941).

Oct 21, 2020
Episode 407 - Please Mr. Postman (Box 13)
01:29:14

Alan Ladd is back as Dan Holiday, writer and solver of mysteries in Box 13. Holiday hires himself out as an adventurer - all to get story ideas - with a tantalizing classified ad offering to "go anyplace, do anything." We'll hear the big screen star in a trio of syndicated old time radio adventures: "Actor's Alibi," "The Dowager and Dan Holiday," and "Last Will and Nursery Rhyme,"

Oct 18, 2020
BONUS - Haunted and Hilarious (Life of Riley & Sealtest Variety Theatre)
01:07:32

Ghosts, ghouls, and grins are in the air with two more old time radio Halloween comedies. We'll hear William Bendix take a trip to a haunted house on The Life of Riley (originally aired on ABC on October 29, 1944). Then, Dorothy Lamour and Eddie Bracken receive a late night visit from Hollywood horror icon Boris Karloff on The Sealtest Variety Theatre (originally aired on NBC on June 23, 1944).

Oct 14, 2020
Episode 406 – Start Spreading the News (Rocky Fortune)
01:22:14

As he reinvented his career with an Oscar-winning role and a new recording contract, Frank Sinatra came to radio in his own detective drama. Sinatra starred as Rocky Fortune, whose weekly hunt for a new job landed him in cases of robbery, fraud, and even murder. We'll hear the Chairman of the Board in three radio mysteries: "Pint-Sized Payroll Bandit" (originally aired on NBC on October 27, 1953); "The Football Fix" (originally aired on February 2, 1954); and "The Twice-Murdered Man" (originally aired on March 9, 1954).

Oct 11, 2020
BONUS - Tricks and Treats (Our Miss Brooks & Life with Luigi)
01:08:13

Our month of Halloween comedy kicks off with Eve Arden and J. Carrol Naish in a pair of trick-or-treating tales to keep you smiling like a jack-o-lantern. First, the Madison High gang is preparing for a Halloween party on Our Miss Brooks (originally aired on CBS on October 30, 1949). Then, Luigi celebrates his first Halloween in the USA in Life with Luigi (originally aired on CBS on October 30, 1951).

Oct 07, 2020
Episode 405 – Dollar Store (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
01:20:31

Sixty-five years ago, Bob Bailey stepped into the role of "America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator" and Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar relaunched as a nightly serialized series. Those five-part stories rank among the best radio dramas of the era, and Bailey's performance as the ace detective is a big reason for the success of the series. We'll hear him in the complete five-part adventure "The Lorko Diamonds Matter" (originally aired on CBS between November 7th and November 11th, 1955).

Oct 04, 2020
BONUS - Gang’s All Here (A Day in the Life of Dennis Day & Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show)
01:10:26

Jack Benny's supporting cast was one of the best in radio, so it was no surprise when two of his co-stars launched shows of their own. We'll hear A Day in the Life of Dennis Day, starring the gullible and goofy tenor (originally aired on NBC on April 21, 1948) and The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show with Benny's boisterous bandleader and his actress wife in their domestic misadventures (originally aired on NBC on December 18, 1953).

Sep 30, 2020
Episode 404 – A Couple of Crimesolvers (Mr. and Mrs. North)
01:24:02

For over ten years, Joseph Curtin and Alice Frost starred as Mr. and Mrs. North, radio's most popular married crimesolvers. No matter where the amateur sleuths went, they managed to stumble over a corpse and uncover a new crime. We'll hear three of their adventures - all from rebroadcasts on the Armed Forces Radio Service: "Who Killed Mr. Stefano?," "The Charles Wyatt Murder," and "Murder Mismanaged."

Sep 27, 2020
BONUS - Happily and Hilariously Married (Burns and Allen)
01:05:29

We're catching up with radio's funniest couple in a pair of episodes starring George Burns and Gracie Allen. First, Gracie thinks George needs a break from making decisions (originally aired on NBC on February 19, 1948). Then, Gracie suspects George forgot their 15th wedding anniversary (originally aired on NBC on November 11, 1948).

Sep 23, 2020
Episode 403 – Everybody Comes to Rocky’s (Rocky Jordan)
01:07:40

The streets of Cairo are full of intrigue and adventure, and neither is in short supply at the Cafe Tambourine run by Rocky Jordan. Jack Moyles stars as the tough ex-pat club owner who can't help but get tangled up in exotic mysteries. We'll hear "A Stranger to the Desert" (originally aired on CBS on September 4, 1949) and "The Big Heist" (originally aired on November 10, 1949).

Sep 20, 2020
BONUS - A Day for a Dark Knight (Adventures of Superman)
02:46:19

Holy Batman Day! We're celebrating the Caped Crusader with a bonus podcast episode starring Batman, Robin, and Superman. The Dynamic Duo co-stars with the Man of Steel in "Batman's Great Mystery," a serialized story from The Adventures of Superman (originally aired on Mutual between February 10 and February 17, 1948). 

Sep 19, 2020
BONUS - Stanning Freberg (Stan Freberg Show)
01:05:38

In this week's bonus comedy episode, we'll hear more satire and spoofs from The Stan Freberg Show. Freberg and his cast send up politics, music, and more in a pair of shows. Stan welcomes an alien to Earth (originally aired on CBS on August 11, 1957) and he battles a censor with an itchy trigger finger (originally aired on CBS on August 18, 1957).

Sep 16, 2020
Episode 402 – There’s Nothing Like a Dame (Radio City Playhouse & Hercule Poirot)
01:08:02

We're celebrating the birthday of master of mystery Agatha Christie with a pair of old time radio shows. First, her story "Witness for the Prosecution" is adapted for Radio City Playhouse (originally aired on NBC on April 25, 1949). Then, Harold Huber is Christie's Belgian super sleuth Hercule Poirot in "Rendezvous with Death," an original radio mystery (originally aired on Mutual on July 12, 1945).

Sep 13, 2020
BONUS - Silver Screen Spoofs (Jack Benny Program)
01:06:32

New movies are headed back to theaters, and while it isn't safe yet to grab a seat in a theater, you can enjoy a double feature of classic films presented by the cast of The Jack Benny Program. First, Ray Milland joins their spoof of "The Lost Weekend" (originally aired on NBC on March 10, 1946). Then, the gang sends up "Sunset Boulevard" (3/25/51).

Sep 09, 2020
Episode 401 - Compassionate Cop (Broadway is My Beat)
01:12:13

Detective Danny Clover stands out from the crowd of radio detectives. He was introspective and insightful, and he only drew his gun as a last resort. And as the star of Broadway is My Beat, Larry Thor brought Clover to life and gave us a romantic, but slightly cynical, cop with a worldview that governed how he tackled his cases. We'll hear "The Jane Darnell Murder Case" (originally aired on CBS on August 11, 1949) and "The Lt. Hunt Suicide Case" (originally aired on CBS on February 3, 1950).

Sep 06, 2020
BONUS - Back to School (Our Miss Brooks)
01:09:26

School is back in session across the country, and this week we'll head to class at Madison High with Eve Arden in Our Miss Brooks. The faculty and students star in a pair of comedies: first, the school's star basketball player has to pass Connie's exam or he can't play (originally aired on CBS on February 13, 1949). Then, Miss Brooks has to sneak out for traffic court without Mr. Conklin finding out about her case (originally aired on CBS on May 28, 1950).

Sep 02, 2020
Episode 400 - Fabulous Firsts
03:04:16

It's the 400th episode of "Down These Mean Streets!" To celebrate, I'm sharing the first detective shows I heard - the episodes that sparked my love of old time radio mystery drama. Join me for "The Big Scoop Matter" from Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar (originally aired on CBS on November 11, 1956); "The Case of the Careworn Cuff" from The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe (originally aired on NBC on October 27, 1950); "Night Tide" from The Adventures of Philip Marlowe (originally aired on CBS on May 21, 1949); "The Death Bed Caper" from The Adventures of Sam Spade (originally aired on CBS on June 20, 1948); "The Louis Spence Case" from Richard Diamond, Private Detective (originally aired on NBC on March 3, 1950); and "Greed Causes Murder" from The Saint (originally aired on NBC on September 14, 1949).

Aug 30, 2020
BONUS - Vacation Plans (Fibber McGee and Molly & Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show)
01:05:50

Summer is winding down, and some of radio's comedy couples are planning a getaway! We'll hear Fibber McGee angle for Molly to join him on a two-week fishing trip (originally aired on NBC on June 11, 1946). Then, Phil Harris and Alice Faye try to leave Elliott Lewis at home during their two-month mountain vacation (originally aired on NBC on June 28, 1953).

Aug 26, 2020
Episode 399 – The Great Willard (Escape & The Whistler)
01:10:32

Willard Waterman may be best known for his long and very funny run on radio as The Great Gildersleeve, but he showed off his serious side on some of the era's best crime dramas. We'll hear him as a detective tracking a killer in the jungle of Borneo in "Red Wine" from Escape (originally aired on CBS on August 11, 1949). Then, he's a murderer plotting the perfect crime in "The New Mrs. Devlin" from The Whistler (originally aired on CBS on November 6, 1949).

Aug 23, 2020
BONUS - Yabba Dabba Dude (My Friend Irma & Life with Luigi)
01:11:25

Before he moved to Bedrock and voiced Fred Flintstone, Alan Reed was a busy radio actor. He popped up on The ShadowPhilip Marlowe, and Sam Spade, but he was most frequently heard on comedies. We'll shine the spotlight on Reed for this week's bonus comedy episode in two old time radio sitcoms. First, he's Mr. Clyde, the long-suffering boss of Marie Wilson in My Friend Irma (originally aired on CBS on March 1, 1948). Then, he plays Pasquale, patron and neighbor of J. Carrol Naish's Luigi Basco in Life with Luigi (originally aired on CBS on October 17, 1950).

Aug 19, 2020
Episode 398 – Man in Black (Have Gun – Will Travel)
01:22:36

The man called Paladin - a gentleman gunfighter for hire in the west of 1875 - rode from television to radio in Have Gun - Will Travel. A rare radio spin-off of a TV series, it continued the adventures of the gunman who dressed in black and hired himself out to anyone who could pay his fee - a sort of cowboy private eye. John Dehner stars as Paladin in "Three Bells to Perdido" (originally aired on CBS on January 18, 1959); "The Monster of Moon Ridge" (originally aired on CBS on March 8, 1959); and "The Colonel and the Lady" (originally aired on CBS on April 12, 1959).

Aug 16, 2020
BONUS - Second Round of Stan (Stan Freberg Show)
01:04:18

We'll hear more of The Stan Freberg Show - one of the most original and inspired comedies the radio era ever produced - in this week's bonus episode. Stan and his cast (June Foray, Peter Leeds, and Daws Butler) send up the Miss Universe pageant, American history, The Lux Radio Theatre, and more in episodes originally aired on CBS on July 28 and August 4, 1957).

Aug 12, 2020
Episode 397 – Bless You (The Saint)
01:07:43

Vincent Price returns as "the Robin Hood of modern crime" in two old time radio adventures of The Saint. Simon Templar solves crimes with charm and style with the help (and car) of his loyal cabbie sidekick Louie. We'll hear "The What-Not What Got Hot" (originally aired on NBC on March 4, 1951) and "Fishes Gotta Eat" (originally aired on April 29, 1951).

Aug 09, 2020
BONUS - Take Me Out to the Ballgame (Jack Benny & Our Miss Brooks)
01:06:38

In this week's bonus comedy show, we celebrate the return of baseball with a pair of shows featuring stars enjoying America's pastime. First, Jack Benny and his gang listen to the World Series (originally aired on October 10, 1948). Then, Eve Arden's Our Miss Brooks tries to come up with money for uniforms for the school's baseball team (originally aired on CBS on March 26, 1950).

Aug 05, 2020
Episode 396 – Let It Rip (Mollé Mystery Theatre & Crime Classics)
01:07:23

The crimes of Jack the Ripper and the mystery of his identity have captivated scholars and readers for over a century, including old time radio writers. We'll hear a pair of shows inspired by the still unsolved crime spree of 19th century London. First, the hunt for the Ripper extends to Chicago in "Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper," an Armed Forces Radio Service production from The Mollé Mystery Theatre. Then on Crime Classics, Thomas Hyland tells the story "Good Evening. My Name is Jack the Ripper" (originally aired on CBS on June 30, 1954).

Aug 02, 2020
BONUS - Just Wild About Harold (Great Gildersleeve & Harold Peary Show)
01:10:14

With his booming voice and signature giggle, Harold Peary was an audience favorite during the golden age of radio - first as a foil on Fibber McGee and Molly and later in his own spin-off The Great Gildersleeve. Later, he launched a star vehicle all his own in The Harold Peary Show. We'll hear episodes of both series in this week's bonus comedy episode. First, Gildy is finishing his summer vacation (originally aired on NBC on August 29, 1943). Then, "Honest Harold" falls victim to a con man (originally aired on CBS on October 4, 1950).

Jul 29, 2020
Episode 395 – Accustomed to His Face (Private Files of Rex Saunders)
01:06:52

Before his award-winning stage and screen turns in My Fair Lady and long before he talked to the animals, Rex Harrison starred as a debonair radio detective in The Private Files of Rex Saunders. Joined by his loyal assistant Alec, Saunders used smarts and a sophisticated flair to solve crimes. We'll hear Rex as Rex in "High Dividends...Or Shallow Graves" (originally aired on NBC on May 30, 1951) and "When Murder Is Along...As a Silent Companion" (originally aired on NBC on July 11, 1951).

Jul 26, 2020
BONUS - We Love Lucy (Abbott and Costello & My Favorite Husband)
01:06:53

Before her landmark sitcom hit the small screen, Lucille Ball was a comedy star on radio. We'll hear the legendary redhead in a guest spot alongside Bud and Lou on The Abbott and Costello Show (originally aired on NBC on November 18, 1943). Then, as Liz Cooper, she takes French lessons in My Favorite Husband (originally aired on CBS on December 9, 1949).

Jul 22, 2020
Episode 394 – Discreet Detection (Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator)
01:07:41

William Gargan played several cops on screen and the radio, but his most famous role may have been Barrie Craig, the sardonic New York shamus who qupped his way through cases for five years on the air. We'll hear Gargan in a pair of mysteries, beginning with "Zero Hour" (originally aired on NBC on February 2, 1954). Then we'll hear "Mid-Summer Lunacy" (originally aired on NBC on August 17, 1954).

Jul 19, 2020
BONUS - Fun and Fancy Freberg (Stan Freberg Show)
01:10:31

For 15 fabulous weeks in 1957, Stan Freberg brought his signature satirical style to radio in one of the last original comedies of the era. Freberg and his immensely talented cast skewered pop culture and presented zany characters that were unlike anything radio had presented before. We'll hear the first two episodes of this too short-lived series, originally aired on CBS on July 14 and July 21, 1957.

Jul 15, 2020
Episode 393 – By the Seat of His Vance (Philo Vance)
01:26:32

Jackson Beck was one of the busiest voice artists of the twentieth century with a career that extended far beyond the Golden Age of Radio. But before he introduced G.I. Joe and pitched Little Caesars, Frosted Flakes, and Battleship on television, Beck starred as dapper detective Philo Vance in a syndicated series. We'll hear Beck in three mysteries: "The Cardinal Murder Case," "The Nightmare Murder Case," and "The Chicken Murder Case."

Jul 12, 2020
BONUS - Seeing Red (Red Skelton Show)
01:08:02

Comedian Red Skelton is a one-man cast of characters in this week's bonus comedy episode. We'll hear Deadeye, Willie Lump-Lump, Junior "the mean widdle kid," and more in a pair of episodes from The Raleigh Cigarette Program. First, it's a salute to traffic court (originally aired on NBC on April 1, 1947). Then, Deadeye rides again in a show from April 15, 1947.

Jul 08, 2020
Episode 392 – To Catch a Thief (Boston Blackie)
01:08:25

Chester Morris puts his criminal past to work for the forces of good as Boston Blackie - "enemy to those who make him an enemy, friend to those who have no friend." We'll hear the reformed safe cracker turned super sleuth in two old time radio mysteries: "Fifty Hunter Street" (originally aired on NBC on June 30, 1944) and "The Caretaker of the Devon Estate" (originally aired on NBC on July 28, 1944).

Jul 05, 2020
BONUS - With Friends Like These (My Friend Irma)
01:09:21

Radio characters didn't come daffier than Irma Peterson, the scatterbrained secretary who never met a phrase she couldn't twist. And Irma had one of radio's best straight women in roommate Jane Stacy. Together, they made wonderful radio comedy in My Friend Irma. Marie Wilson and Cathy Lewis star in this week's bonus comedy show; we'll hear a pair of episodes originally aired on CBS on March 15, 1948 and April 19, 1948).

Jul 01, 2020
Episode 391 – Special Delivery (Box 13)
01:29:30

"Adventure wanted." That's how Dan Holiday advertised in Box 13 and he used his exploits to fuel plots for his novels. Alan Ladd stars as Holiday in three syndicated old time radio tales of mystery. We'll hear the show's first episode, along with "The Sad Night" and "Flash of Light."

Jun 28, 2020
BONUS - Here Comes Mr. Jordan (Lux Radio Theatre)
01:05:50

We're taking a trip to the movies in this week's bonus comedy episode. Cary Grant stars as a boxer prematurely pulled up to Heaven only to return to Earth in a new body in Here Comes Mr. Jordan from The Lux Radio Theatre (originally aired on CBS on January 26, 1942). Grant is joined by big screen cast members Claude Rains, Evelyn Keyes, and James Gleason in this delightful adaptation of the classic romantic comedy fantasy.

Jun 24, 2020
Episode 390 – Simple Art of Murder (Adventures of Philip Marlowe)
01:37:32

As Philip Marlowe, Gerald Mohr patrolled the City of Angels and proved "crime is a sucker's road" in one of radio's best detective shows. We'll hear Mohr as Raymond Chandler's private eye in three radio mysteries: "The Lady in Mink" (originally aired on CBS on April 30, 1949); "The Busy Body" (originally aired on CBS on June 18, 1949); and "The Key Man" (originally aired on CBS on June 25, 1949).

Jun 21, 2020
BONUS - Love and Marriage (Drene Time)
01:06:29

Take a polished emcee, a beautiful singer, and an oddball comedian, throw them together, and add a dollop of Drene Shampoo and you get Drene Time. Don Ameche, Frances Langford, and Danny Thomas headline this mix of comedy and music featuring the sparring spouses John and Blanche Bickerson. In this week's bonus comedy episode, we'll hear this talented trio in two shows (originally aired on NBC on February 23, 1947 and March 2, 1947).

Jun 17, 2020
Episode 389 – Won’t You Come Home, Bob Bailey (Let George Do It & Johnny Dollar)
02:05:07

To celebrate Bob Bailey's birthday, we'll hear the actor in four old time radio detective dramas. First, he's George Valentine in a pair of mysteries from Let George Do It: "Murder and One to Go" (originally aired on Mutual on January 3, 1949) and "The Man Under the Elm Trees" (originally aired on Mutual on September 26, 1949). Then, he's "the man with the action-packed expense account" in two shows from Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: "The Rasmussen Matter" (originally aired on CBS on December 16, 1956) and "The Killer's Brand Matter" (originally aired on CBS on August 11, 1957).

Jun 14, 2020
BONUS - Summer School (Our Miss Brooks)
01:08:30

School is back in session with the faculty and students of Madison High School in Our Miss Brooks. In this week's midweek bonus comedy show, Eve Arden, Gale Gordon, and Jeff Chandler star in two episodes of one of the funniest shows from the golden age of radio. We'll hear Connie Brooks' attempts to become head of the Madison English department (originally aired on CBS on January 23, 1949) and the school's efforts to close down on the hottest day of the year (originally aired on CBS on August 7, 1949).

Jun 10, 2020
Episode 388 – Crime Paired with Wine (Casebook of Gregory Hood)
01:07:17

Comedy star Gale Gordon crosses over to the crimesolving side of the street in The Casebook of Gregory Hood. Join Hood - an importer and amateur detective - as he solves cases in San Francisco with the help of his friend and attorney Sanderson Taylor. Then, the pair relates their adventures to announcer Harry Bartell over a glass of fine Petri Wine. We'll hear "The Derringer Society" (originally aired on Mutual on July 8, 1946) and "South of the Border" (originally aired on Mutual on July 15, 1946).

Jun 07, 2020
BONUS - Secret Words (You Bet Your Life)
01:07:42

It's always a safe bet when Groucho Marx is on hand, especially when he's hosting the madcap game show You Bet Your Life. The legendary comedian and rapid-fire ad libber keeps things moving (and audiences laughing) as pairs of contestants wager their way through trivia questions to a grand prize. And there may be a secret word dropped along the way. We'll hear a pair of episodes originally aired on NBC on March 10, 1948 and April 14, 1948.

Jun 03, 2020
Episode 387 – Brilliant Deductions (Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
02:01:50

To celebrate Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday, we'll hear radio adaptations of four Sherlock Holmes short stories, each featuring a different actor as the great detective. First, Basil Rathbone stars in "The Speckled Band" (originally aired on Mutual on November 12, 1945). Next, we'll hear Tom Conway in "The Adventure of the Dying Detective" (originally aired on ABC on February 3, 1947). Then, it's "The Adventure of the Empty House" (originally aired on Mutual on April 11, 1948). Finally, John Gielgud plays Holmes in "The Bruce-Partington Plans."

May 31, 2020
BONUS - Seven Keys to Baldpate (Lux Radio Theatre)
01:06:59

In this week's bonus comedy episode, Jack Benny, Mary Livingstone, and Cecil B. DeMille star as themselves in a delightful comedy mystery from The Lux Radio Theatre. The trio headlines "Seven Keys to Baldpate," the mystery novel turned smash comedy play that was brought to the silver screen several times. This production originally aired on CBS on September 26, 1938.

May 27, 2020
Episode 386 – Capering Through Crime (Adventures of Sam Spade)
01:32:12

Sam Spade made a dynamic debut in Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon before lighting up the big screen in John Huston's classic noir drama. In 1946, Spade came to radio in a weekly series of adventures that became a critical and listener favorite. We'll hear Howard Duff in "The Bail Bond Caper" (originally aired on CBS on June 27, 1948) and "The S.Q.P. Caper" (AFRS rebroadcast, originally aired on CBS on November, 1948). Then, Steve Dunne is Spade in "The Sure Thing Caper" (originally aired on NBC on February 9, 1951).

May 24, 2020
BONUS - Hope Floats (Screen Directors' Playhouse)
01:07:24

It's a double feature of classic comedy films recreated for radio in this week's bonus episode. Bob Hope reprises his screen roles in two productions from the Screen Directors' Playhouse: "The Ghost Breakers" (originally aired on NBC on April 3, 1949) and "The Paleface" (originally aired on NBC on March 3, 1950).

May 20, 2020
Episode 385 – Cowardly Lyon (Jeff Regan, Investigator)
01:36:39

Jeff Regan wasn't a lone wolf operator like other radio gumshoes; he reported to Anthony J. Lyon, head of the International Detective Bureau. Known throughout the city as "the Lyon's Eye," Regan worked cases sometimes in spite of the penny-pinching interference of his boss. We'll hear Jack Webb as Regan in "The Diamond Quartet" (originally aired on CBS on August 14, 1948) and "The Man Who Came Back" (originally aired on CBS on August 21, 1948). Then Frank Graham stars in "No Sad Clowns for Me" (originally aired on CBS on June 25, 1950).

May 17, 2020
BONUS - Spring Fling (Fibber McGee and Molly & Milton Berle)
01:04:12

Spring is in the air on this week's bonus comedy quarantine show. We'll hear an unseasonable prediction of snow on Fibber McGee and Molly (originally aired on NBC on May 11, 1943). Then, Uncle Miltie and his gang present their salute to the season in The Milton Berle Show (originally aired on March 23, 1948).

May 13, 2020
Episode 384 – Freedom of the Press (The Big Story)
01:09:04

Thrill to the exploits of America's newspaper reporters in The Big Story with dramas of the hard work of the men and women of the press. The true tales ripped from the pages of America's papers made for compelling - and popular - radio. We'll hear two stories of reporters who double as detectives to get to the bottom of murder cases and - in one instance - clear a wrongfully convicted man. We'll hear "The Deadline Murder" (originally aired on NBC on May 19, 1948) and "The Bitterest Man on the Earth" (originally aired on NBC on June 8, 1949).

May 10, 2020
BONUS - Mother’s Day (Burns and Allen & My Favorite Husband)
58:43

With Mother's Day right around the corner, our midweek bonus comedy show features visits from a pair of mothers-in-law much to the chagrin of George Burns and Lucille Ball. First, Gracie's mom comes to town in The Burns and Allen Show (AFRS rebroadcast from May 20, 1948). Then on My Favorite Husband, George's mother's visit stretches on and on...and on (AFRS rebroadcast from March 4, 1949).

May 06, 2020
Episode 383 – Mild-Mannered Reporter (Adventures of Superman)
01:09:28

Even though he could leap tall buildings in a single bound and bend steel in his bare hands, most of Superman's radio adventures were down to earth. In many shows, the Man of Steel (and his alter ego Clark Kent) battled gangsters and swindlers rather than mad scientists and monsters. We'll hear Clayton "Bud" Collyer as Superman with Joan Alexander as Lois Lane in two thirty-minute mysteries: "One Minute to Death" (originally aired on ABC on November 19, 1949) and "The Diamond of Death" (originally aired on ABC on December 17, 1949).

May 03, 2020
BONUS - Dynamic Duos (Abbott and Costello & Martin and Lewis)
01:10:34

Two classic comedy pairs headline our midweek bonus episode. First, Bud and Lou perform some of their classic routines in an episode of The Abbott and Costello Show (originally aired on NBC on February 27, 1947). Then, Dean and Jerry welcome guest Henry Fonda to The Martin and Lewis Show (originally aired on NBC on June 5, 1949).

Apr 29, 2020
Episode 382 – Vocalist Violence (Richard Diamond, Private Detective)
01:36:45

There was no other radio detective like Richard Diamond - a tough, glib ex-cop turned private eye who had a powerful pair of fists and a healthy set of pipes. Dick Powell starred as the singing gumshoe in one of the era's best detective dramas. We'll hear a trio of shows - "The Fred Sears Murder Case" (originally aired on NBC on June 19, 1949); "The Angelino Giuseppe Case" (originally aired on NBC on January 7, 1950); and "The Bald Head Case" (originally aired on NBC on September 20, 1950).

Apr 26, 2020
BONUS - Say Goodnight, Gracie (Burns and Allen)
01:06:37

For this week's bonus comedy episode, we'll visit with George Burns and Gracie Allen. The beloved comedy couple kept audiences laughing from the vaudeville stage to their own radio show and on to their long-running TV series. We'll hear Gracie take inspiration from her favorite radio sleuths and play detective (originally aired on NBC on March 6, 1947). Then, Jack Benny stops by to start a musical act with George (originally aired on NBC on January 8, 1948).

Apr 22, 2020
Episode 381 – Members Only (Crime Club)
01:05:38

Murder and mayhem leap from the printed page to the airwaves in The Crime Club. This anthology show blended adaptations of mystery novels with original radio plays to deliver tales of mystery emceed by the eerie tones of the club's Librarian. We'll hear "Dead Men Control" (originally aired on Mutual on March 20, 1947) and "Death Swims at Midnight" (originally aired on Mutual on August 27, 1947).

Apr 19, 2020
BONUS - Taxes Take a Holiday (Milton Berle & Jack Benny)
01:00:10

Tax Day has been pushed out a few months, but there's no reprieve for the stars of this week's comedy bonus show. We'll hear Milton Berle present a salute to income tax in The Milton Berle Show (originally aired on NBC on March 9, 1948). Then, Jack Benny gets a visit from a pair of inquisitive IRS agents in an AFRS rebroadcast of The Jack Benny Program (original episode aired on CBS on March 16, 1952).

Apr 15, 2020
Episode 380 – Betty Lou’s Gettin' Out Tonight (The Whistler & Philip Marlowe)
01:07:28

Before she menaced puppies as Cruella de Vil, Betty Lou Gerson was one of radio's busiest character actresses. Her husky voice and powerful characterizations added flair to shows like SuspenseEscapeJohnny Dollar, and Sam Spade. We'll hear her as a murderess trying to stay a step ahead of her conscience in "Beyond Reasonable Doubt" from The Whistler (originally aired on CBS on July 16, 1947). Then, she co-stars in "The Indian Giver" from The Adventures of Philip Marlowe (originally aired on CBS on August 13, 1949).

Apr 12, 2020
BONUS - Easter Parade (Fibber McGee and Molly & Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show)
01:05:47

With Easter right around the corner, our midweek comedy break finds two of radio's funniest couples preparing for the holiday. First, Fibber McGee and Molly are after a new Easter dress (originally aired on NBC on March 23, 1948). Then, Phil Harris, Alice Faye, and Elliott Lewis as Frankie Remley are going out to eat for Easter in The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show (originally aired on NBC on March 25, 1951).

Apr 08, 2020
Episode 379 – Read All About It (Big Town)
01:39:07

The citizens of Big Town were protected from mobsters, racketeers, and fraudsters by the crusading staff of the Illustrated Press. Editor Steve Wilson (Edward Pawley) and society reporter Lorelei Kilbourne (Fran Carlon) chased down leads with the help of their colorful crew of friends and sources and shined the light of justice on evildoers. We'll hear three radio mysteries: "Double Murder" (originally aired on NBC on October 12, 1948); "I Remember Murder" (originally aired on NBC on November 30, 1948); and "The Fatal Alibi" (originally aired on NBC on May 3, 1949).

Apr 05, 2020
BONUS - No Fooling (Mel Blanc & My Favorite Husband)
53:28

It's another midweek dose of quarantine comedy from the Golden Age of Radio! We'll hear a pair of shows featuring goofs and gags for April Fool's Day. First, the man of a thousand voices headlines his own series in The Mel Blanc Show (originally aired on CBS on April 1, 1947). Then, Lucille Ball plans to fool My Favorite Husband (AFRS rebroadcast from April 1, 1949).

Apr 01, 2020
Episode 378 – Man With the Yellow Hat (Dick Tracy)
03:34:34

The comic strip adventures of Chester Gould's two-fisted super cop Dick Tracy thrilled readers across the country, and the detective soon made the leap to the big screen and to radio. Ned Wever stars as Tracy, a cop equally skilled in the crime lab and on the shooting range, in the serialized adventure "The Black Pearl of Osiris" (originally aired on Mutual between February 8 and February 25, 1938).

Mar 29, 2020
BONUS - Keep Smiling (Jack Benny & Our Miss Brooks)
01:09:00

After a few weeks of quarantine and social distancing, I could use a few laughs and I bet you could too. So enjoy a midweek comedy break with two of the radio era's funniest shows. Listen as Jack Benny opens a new season of his program (originally aired on NBC on September 29, 1946). Then, as Our Miss Brooks, Eve Arden tries to steer clear of Mr. Conklin's "carelessness code" (originally aired on CBS on July 17, 1949).

Mar 25, 2020
Episode 377 – Itemized for Adventure (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
02:16:05

From 1955 until 1960, Bob Bailey starred as Johnny Dollar - "America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator" - and gave radio one of its all-time great detectives. Bailey first played the gumshoe in a series of five-part nightly serials before the series reverted to a weekly 30 minute format for the rest of its run. We'll hear him in all five installments of "The Plantagenet Matter" (originally aired on CBS on between March 5 and March 9, 1956). Plus, we'll hear a two-part mystery: "The Mason-Dixon Mismatch Matter" (originally aired on CBS on June 9, 1957) and "The Dixon Murder Matter" (originally aired on CBS on June 16, 1957).

Mar 22, 2020
Episode 376 – Big Red (I was a Communist for the FBI)
01:29:04

Dana Andrews starred in the sensational spawn of Red Scare paranoia I Was a Communist for the FBI. Loosely inspired by the real-life exploits of undercover operative Matt Cvetic, the series pit Andrews against dastardly Russian forces working to topple the US of A. We'll hear three of his radio adventures: "A Riot Made to Order," "Hate Song," and "Fifteen Minutes to Murder."

Mar 15, 2020
Episode 375 – Casual Friday (Dragnet)
01:07:18

We're back in Los Angeles for the grandfather of all police procedurals - Dragnet. Jack Webb is Sgt. Joe Friday and Barton Yarborough is Sgt. Ben Romero in two cop dramas on the streets of the City of Angels - "The Big Bomb" (originally aired on NBC on July 13, 1950) and "The Big Couple" (originally aired on February 22, 1951).

Mar 08, 2020
Episode 374 – Homicide on the Range (Tales of the Texas Rangers)
01:06:15

Big screen western star Joel McCrea uses old cowboy tricks and modern forensic science to track down crooks in Tales of the Texas Rangers. The series pulled cases from the files of the legendary lawmen and dramatized the thrilling pursuit of justice all across the Lone Star State. We'll hear McCrea as Ranger Jayce Pearson in "Soft Touch" (originally aired on October 15, 1950) and "Dead Head Freight" (originally aired on January 7, 1951).

Mar 01, 2020
Episode 373 – She’s Always The Woman to Me (New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
01:07:17

In "A Scandal in Bohemia," Arthur Conan Doyle gave Sherlock Holmes an adversary who matched the Great Detective's cunning - actress, singer, and blackmailer Irene Adler. She became one of the most popular and intriguing characters in the Holmes canon, and she continues to appear in adaptations and derivative works. We'll hear Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce as Holmes and Watson in a radio adaptation of the classic story (originally aired on Mutual on December 10, 1945) along with a sequel written especially for radio - "The Second Generation" (originally aired on Mutual on December 17, 1945).

Feb 23, 2020
Episode 372 – Amazing Race (Adventures of Frank Race)
01:26:28

Globetrotting and intrigue are all part of a day's work for Frank Race. The OSS spy turned insurance investigator traveled the world and cracked the toughest cases in this syndicated radio detective series. We'll hear Tom Collins and Paul Dubov starring as Race in "The Istanbul Adventure," "The Adventure of the Garrulous Bartender," and "The Adventure of the House Divided."

Feb 16, 2020
Episode 371 – My Funny Valentine (Let George Do It)
01:08:28

Celebrate Valentine's Day with two old time radio adventures of George Valentine as he invites clients facing danger to Let George Do It. Bob Bailey is George with Frances Robinson as his loyal secretary Brooksie in "The Seven Dead Years" (originally aired on the Mutual-Don Lee network on September 25, 1948) and "Mayhem by Experts" (originally aired on the Mutual-Don Lee network on January 31, 1949).

Feb 09, 2020
Episode 370 - Thank the Academy (Rex Saunders, Rocky Fortune, & Johnny Dollar)
01:33:05

With the Academy Awards right around the corner, we've got a bonus episode featuring three radio detectives who took home Oscars. First, Rex Harrison stars in "Worth More Than Its Weight in Murder" from The Private Files of Rex Saunders (originally aired on NBC on July 25, 1951). Then, Frank Sinatra is Rocky Fortune in "The Catskills Cover-up" (originally aired on NBC on February 9, 1954). Finally, Edmond O'Brien stars in "The Jackie Cleaver Matter" from Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar (originally aired on CBS on March 31, 1951).

Feb 05, 2020
Episode 369 – Above the Fold (Night Beat)
01:05:57

When the Windy City goes to sleep, Randy Stone goes to work. Frank Lovejoy stars as the intrepid reporter in Night Beat. We'll join him on two nocturnal sojourns as he searches for the right story for his column and for people in need of help. We'll hear "The Night is a Weapon" (originally aired on NBC on February 13, 1950) and "Marty" (originally aired on NBC on July 3, 1950).

Feb 02, 2020
Episode 368 – Number, Name, and Charge (The Line-Up)
01:39:30

In a great American city, Lt. Ben Guthrie and his men patrol the streets and grill the suspects under the cold, glaring lights of The Line-Up. Bill Johnstone stars as Guthrie, with support from Wally Maher and Jack Moyles in one of radio's greatest police dramas. We'll hear "Yudo in Ypsilanti" (originally aired on CBS on January 18, 1951); "The Senile Slugging Case" (originally aired on CBS on February 8, 1951); and "The Fresno Break Case" (originally aired on CBS on September 17, 1952).

Jan 26, 2020
Episode 367 – I’m Just a Poe Boy (Weird Circle, Suspense, & NBC University Theatre)
01:35:04

We're celebrating the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe - the master of the macabre and the father of the modern detective story. Poe's super sleuth C. Auguste Dupin and his methods of solving crimes through logic and observation inspired a genre and directly led to the creation of Sherlock Holmes. We'll hear old time radio adaptations of the three Dupin mysteries: "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" from The Weird Circle; "The Mystery of Marie Roget" from Suspense (originally aired on CBS on December 14, 1953); and "The Purloined Letter" from The NBC University Theatre (originally aired on NBC on September 17, 1948).

Jan 19, 2020
Episode 366 – It’s a Miracle (The Saint)
01:04:27

The adventures of The Saint came to radio seventy-five years ago this month, and we're tipping our hats (and halos) to Simon Templar with a pair of his old time radio adventures. Vincent Price stars as "the Robin Hood of modern crime" in "The Frightened Author" (originally aired on NBC on July 23, 1950) and "Simon Carries the Ivy" (originally aired on NBC on April 1, 1951).

Jan 12, 2020
Episode 365 – Queen of Smarts (Ford Theatre)
01:07:45

Master detective Ellery Queen returns in a special sixty-minute mystery from The Ford Theatre. The cast consists of actors who starred in earlier versions of the Ellery Queen radio shows: Hugh Marlowe as Ellery, Charlotte Keane as Nikki Porter, Santos Ortega as Inspector Queen, and Ted de Corsia as Sgt. Velie. We'll hear them all in "The Adventure of the Bad Boy" (originally aired on NBC on January 4, 1948).

Jan 05, 2020
Episode 364 – Auld Lang Crime (Casey, Crime Photographer & The Whistler)
01:04:45

It's time to bid goodbye to 2019 and ring in 2020, and we've got a pair of old time radio New Year's Eve mysteries to close out the year. We'll hear Staats Cotsworth as Casey, Crime Photographer in "Hot New Year's Party" (originally aired on CBS on January 1, 1948). Then, Gerald Mohr and Betty Lou Gerson star in "The First Year" from The Whistler (originally aired on CBS on December 31, 1947).

Dec 29, 2019
Episode 363 – Yule Be Laughing (My Favorite Husband & Our Miss Brooks)
01:05:18

Before you set cookies out for Santa, tune in for this bonus episode and a pair of old time radio Christmas comedies. First, Lucille Ball tries to figure out what she's getting under the tree in My Favorite Husband (originally aired on CBS on December 16, 1949). Then, Eve Arden sends a letter to St. Nick as Our Miss Brooks (originally aired on CBS on December 18, 1949).

Dec 24, 2019
Episode 362 – The Five Days of Christmas Matter (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
01:16:41

We're decking the halls with Johnny Dollar. Bob Bailey stars as "America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator" in a five-part Christmas radio mystery. We'll hear the complete adventure of "The Nick Shurn Matter" (originally aired on CBS between December 19th and 23rd, 1955).

Dec 22, 2019
Episode 361 – For the Boys (Command Performance)
01:04:22

In a madcap musical comedy adventure, Bing Crosby is Dick Tracy, Dinah Shore is Tess Trueheart, and Bob Hope is Flat Top in "Dick Tracy in B-Flat." They're just the tip of the iceberg of an incredible cast assembled for the production on Command Performance - a special series presented for the fighting men and women of the US Armed Forces. This silly song-filled take on Chester Gould's celebrated super cop was recorded on February 15, 1945.

Dec 15, 2019
Episode 360 – Triple Bogie (Bold Venture)
01:29:09

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall's chemistry sizzled on screen, and they brought their star power to radio in their own weekly dramatic series. Set in exotic Havana, Bold Venture followed Slate Shannon (Bogart) and Sailor Duval (Lauren Bacall) as they found intrigue and adventure on the island and on the high seas. We'll hear a trio of radio episodes: "That Gun Will Kill You," "The Tabard of Pizarro," and "Welcome to Civilization, Deadman."

Dec 08, 2019
Episode 359 – Wolfe Whistle (New Adventures of Nero Wolfe)
01:07:33

Sydney Greenstreet stars as Nero Wolfe - Rex Stout's eccentric orchid fancier and gourmand who's also a brilliant detective. We'll hear Greenstreet - with Larry Dobkin as loyal assistant Archie Goodwin - in "The Case of the Beautiful Archer" (originally aired on NBC on November 24, 1950) and "The Case of the Girl Who Cried Wolfe" (originally aired on NBC on December 15, 1950).

Dec 01, 2019
Episode 358 – Talking Turkey 2019 (Abbott and Costello & Our Miss Brooks)
01:01:16

Here's a side dish of old time radio comedy to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. In this bonus episode, we'll hear Turkey Day comedies starring Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, and Eve Arden. First, Bud and Lou host a fancy Thanksgiving dinner (originally aired on NBC on November 23, 1944) and then Our Miss Brooks has a long list of guests and a very small bird to serve (originally aired on CBS on November 27, 1949).

Nov 27, 2019
Episode 357 – In the Wee Small Hours (Rocky Fortune)
01:18:46

Frank Sinatra takes a break from crooning to solve radio crimes as Rocky Fortune. Each week, the "footloose and fancy-free young gentleman" takes a new job and finds himself up to his ears in trouble. We'll hear Sinatra in three mysteries: "Double Identity" (originally aired on NBC on October 13, 1953); "The Prize Fight Fix" (originally aired on December 29, 1953); and "Hollywood or Boom" (originally aired on NBC on January 26, 1954).

Nov 25, 2019
Episode 356 – Whole Lot of Howard (Sam Spade & Philip Morris Playhouse)
01:25:58

When Howard Duff stepped up to the microphone as Sam Spade, he brought the gumshoe to life as a tongue-in-cheek tough guy and delivered one of radio's best performances. We'll hear Duff in two adventures of Spade: "The Calcutta Trunk Caper" and "The Cheesecake Caper" (rebroadcasts from the AFRS). Plus, he plays a man on the wrong side of the law in "Four Hours to Kill" from The Philip Morris Playhouse (originally aired on CBS on May 13, 1949).

Nov 17, 2019
Episode 355 – Perils of Powell (Rogue’s Gallery & Richard Diamond)
01:06:35

In honor of Dick Powell's November 14th birthday, we'll hear the crooner turned big screen crimesolver in two old time radio mysteries. First, he's gumshoe Richard Rogue in "Special Added Attraction" from Rogue's Gallery (originally aired on Mutual on January 31, 1946). Then, Powell stars as Richard Diamond, Private Detective in "The Jerome J. Jerome Case" (originally aired on NBC on September 17, 1949).

Nov 10, 2019
Episode 354 – Radio Days (Stand By For Crime)
01:21:54

Real-life husband and wife Glenn Langan and Adele Jurgens star as a radio reporter and his secretary - a pair of amateur sleuths in the city of angels - in Stand By For Crime. The syndicated mystery series follows the pair as the probe the cases they cover for the radio news. We'll hear three episodes: "The Luke Larson Murder," "The Kidnapper's New Shoes," and "The Clueless Crime Spree."

Nov 03, 2019
Episode 353 – Gumshoes and Ghosts: Halloween 2019 (Let George Do It & The Saint)
01:33:22

For our annual Halloween special, we're spotlighting radio sleuths doing battle with the (seemingly) supernatural. First, it's "The Ghost on Bliss Terrace" from Let George Do It (originally aired on Mutual on August 16, 1948) with Bob Bailey and Frances Robinson. Then, Vincent Price is Simon Templar in "The Ghosts Who Came to Dinner" from The Saint (originally aired on NBC on April 8, 1951).

Oct 30, 2019
Episode 352 – Eliminate the Impossible (New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
01:37:30

The game's afoot as we head back to 221B Baker Street for three old time radio adventures of Sherlock Holmes. John Stanley is the great detective and Alfred Shirley is Dr. Watson in "Professor Moriarty and the Diamond Jubilee" (originally aired on Mutual on December 7, 1947); "The Mazarin Stone" (originally aired on Mutual on January 4, 1948); and "The Adventure of the Wooden Claw" (originally aired on Mutual on February 22, 1948).

Oct 27, 2019
Episode 351 – Casey at the Bat (Casey, Crime Photographer)
01:06:58

Armed with a camera and an insatiable appetite for the truth, Casey, Crime Photographer will get to the bottom of the baffling mysteries he covers for his big city paper. Staats Cotsworth stars as Casey, with Jan Miner as reporter Ann Williams and John Gibson as bantering bartender Ethelbert, in "Self-Made Hero" (originally aired on CBS on July 17, 1947) and "Fog" (originally aired on CBS on March 11, 1948).

Oct 20, 2019
Episode 350 – Long Goodbyes (Adventures of Philip Marlowe)
02:06:57

It's the 350th episode of Down These Mean Streets, and to mark the occasion I'm celebrating with Gerald Mohr as Raymond Chandler's celebrated shamus Philip Marlowe. One of radio's best actors brings vibrant life to one of literature's greatest detectives in four old time radio mysteries: "Red Wind" (originally aired on CBS on September 26, 1948); "The Black Halo" (originally aired on CBS on January 15, 1949); "The Fatted Calf" (originally aired on CBS on September 24, 1949); and "The Open Window" (originally aired on CBS on October 8, 1949).

Oct 13, 2019
Episode 349 - Jumping Jack (Somebody Knows, Johnny Dollar, & CBS Radio Workshop)
02:16:58

If all he did was revive Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar, Jack Johnstone would still be a radio legend. But the multi-talented Johnstone brought listeners everything from true crime tales to offbeat western adventures. We're saluting the man who wrote scripts for Buck Rogers and Superman and who directed James Stewart in the Hollywood legend's only regular series radio role with a block of his shows. First, he narrates "The Unsolved Murder Of Joseph P. Bohanak" from Somebody Knows (originally aired on CBS on July 28, 1950). Then, he writes, produces, and directs "The Curse of Kamashek Matter," a five-part Johnny Dollar adventure (originally aired between September 3 and September 7, 1956). Finally, Johnstone is in the director's chair for "Report on E.S.P." - an all-star exploration of the psychic world from The CBS Radio Workshop (originally aired on CBS on March 9, 1956).

Oct 09, 2019
Episode 348 – History’s Mysteries (Crime Classics)
01:08:51

Travel back in time with Thomas Hyland - connoisseur of crime, student of violence, and teller of murders - in Crime Classics. One of the all-time great radio dramas, Crime Classics was the brainchild of actor, producer, and director Elliott Lewis, and it colorfully dramatized some of history's most notorious murders. Each week, Hyland (played by Lou Merrill) related accounts of Lizzie Borden, Blackbeard, Trotsky, Billy the Kid, and more. We'll hear two tales of historical murder: "The Death of a Picture Hanger" (originally aired on CBS on July 20, 1953) and "Twenty-three Knives Against Caesar" (originally aired on CBS on February 10, 1954).

Sep 29, 2019
Episode 347 – Please Come to Boston (Boston Blackie)
01:20:29

"Enemy to those who make him an enemy, friend to those who have no friend" is how Boston Blackie was introduced to radio listeners, and the former jewel thief turned detective proved week after week that he was always ready to lend a hand to a friend or throw a punch at a criminal. Richard Kollmar stars as the charming rogue who uses all of the tricks of his trade to turn the tables on dangerous crooks in three syndicated old time radio mysteries: "The John Austin Murder," "The Armored Car Murder Case," and "The Bombing of Joe Ingalls."

Sep 22, 2019
Episode 346 – Everybody Comes to Rocky’s (Rocky Jordan)
01:07:28

Travel to Cairo and make sure to grab a drink at the Cafe Tambourine - the nightclub owned and operated by Rocky Jordan. Jack Moyles stars as the expat and adventurer cut from the Casablanca cloth, with Jay Novello as the ever-watchful Captain Sam Sabayya of the Cairo police. We'll hear "Up in Flames" (originally aired on CBS on December 19, 1948) and "Journey to Nashier" (originally aired on CBS on June 26, 1949).

Sep 15, 2019
Episode 345 – Addressed for Adventure (Box 13)
01:28:03

Dan Holiday will beat writer's block even if it kills him. The reporter turned author offers his services as an adventurer for hire, and his only payment is to get fuel for his novels. Alan Ladd stars as Holiday in Box 13, and we'll hear three of his syndicated radio mysteries: "Three to Die," "The Biter Bitten," and "The Clay Pigeon."

Sep 08, 2019
Episode 344 – Zither Dither (Lux Radio Theatre)
01:08:58

Released 70 years ago this week in the UK, The Third Man remains one of the greatest films ever made. It's an engrossing, morally ambiguous noir drama set in the ruins of postwar Vienna and it finds Joseph Cotten's Holly Martins searching for the truth behind the death (and alleged crimes) of his oldest friend. Cotten recreated his role in an adaptation from The Lux Radio Theatre (originally aired on CBS on April 9, 1951) - a broadcast that retained the iconic and instantly recognizable zither score from Anton Karras.

Sep 01, 2019
Episode 343 - Some Very English Murders (Whitehall 1212)
01:06:11

Using stories from the files of Scotland Yard, writer-director Wyllis Cooper crafted an outstanding and authentically British crime drama with Whitehall 1212. Each episode followed the dedicated detectives of Scotland Yard as they tracked down and apprehended the guilty. We'll hear a pair of episodes: "The Case of Dr. Duncan Allen" (originally aired on NBC on March 9, 1952) and "The Case of Maggie Rawlinson" (originally aired on May 25, 1952).

Aug 25, 2019
Episode 342 – Vance Can’t Dance (Philo Vance)
01:23:50

No matter how baffling the crime appears, no matter how stumped the police may be, master detective Philo Vance will unmask the culprit. Jackson Beck - the man whose booming voice introduced Superman to a generation of radio listeners - stars as S.S. Van Dine's brilliant sleuth in three syndicated radio mysteries: "The Movie Murder Case," "The Birdcage Murder Case," and "The Golden Key Murder Case."

Aug 18, 2019
Episode 341 – Hot Mike (Adventures of Michael Shayne)
01:34:49

Over the course of two radio shows, Brett Halliday's Michael Shayne shifted from a happy-go-lucky gumshoe with a lovely secretary and a good rapport with the cops to a burned-out loner who regularly found himself short on money and up to his neck in trouble. Both were great, and this week we'll hear episodes from both of the shows. First, Wally Maher is Mike, with Cathy Lewis as Phyllis Knight, in "The Body in the Trunk" (originally aired on Mutual on April 23, 1945) and "Murder, RSVP" (originally aired on Mutual on May 28, 1945). Then, Jeff Chandler stars as Shayne in the syndicated mystery "The Case of the Left-Handed Fan."

Aug 11, 2019
Episode 340 – Go Marching In (The Saint)
01:05:51

When people find themselves in trouble, it only makes sense that they'd ask a Saint for help. Vincent Price starred on radio as Leslie Charteris' "Robin Hood of modern crime" and lent an air of sophistication to crimesolving. We'll Simon Templar in a pair of old time radio mysteries: "Tuba or Not Tuba - That Is the Question" (originally aired on NBC on January 21, 1951) and "The Birds and Bees of East Orange" (originally aired on NBC on March 18, 1951).

Aug 04, 2019
Episode 339 – Sing-A-Long Shamus (Richard Diamond, Private Detective)
01:36:03

There was no shortage of private eyes during the Golden Age of Radio, but only one could carry a tune as well as he could crack a case. Dick Powell starred as Richard Diamond, Private Detective - the gumshoe who cracked wise, packed a punch, and crooned a song to his girlfriend every week. We'll hear Powell in three radio mysteries: "The Private Eye Test" (originally aired on NBC on March 19, 1950); "The Hatpin Murder Case" (aka "The Oklahoma Cowboy Murder Case" - originally aired on NBC on September 27, 1950); and "The Red Rose" (originally aired on ABC on March 2, 1951).

Jul 28, 2019
Episode 338 – Fit for a Queen (Ellery Queen)
01:31:05

It's time to match wits with Ellery Queen! The brilliant amateur sleuth takes a break in the program to give you - and a special guest armchair detective - a chance to solve the crime before he reveals the solution to the mystery. We'll hear three old time radio mysteries starring Sydney Smith as Ellery: "The Adventure of the Vanishing Magician" (originally aired on NBC on November 6, 1943); "The Adventure of Dead Man's Cavern," and "The Adventure of Nick the Knife" (AFRS Rebroadcasts).

Jul 21, 2019
Episode 337 – Sitting on the Dock of the Bay (Pat Novak For Hire)
01:07:15

There's murder and mystery on the waterfront in San Francisco - "where the best trouble always looks good from the outside" - and Pat Novak is at the center of the storm. Jack Webb stars as the hard-boiled gumshoe in a pair of mysteries: "Find John St. John" (AFRS rebroadcast from May 22, 1949) and "Joe Dineen" (originally aired on ABC on June 19, 1949).

Jul 14, 2019
Episode 336 – The Neon Lights are Bright (Broadway is My Beat)
01:06:30

It's time to revisit "the gaudiest, the most violent, the lonesomest mile in the world" with Detective Danny Clover. Larry Thor stars as the cop with the heart of a poet in Broadway is My Beat - the police procedural drama with lyrical dialogue and Runyonesque characters. We'll hear two of his cases from the Great White Way - "The Joe Gruber Murders" (originally aired on CBS on July 8, 1951) and "The Alice Mayo Murder" (AFRS rebroadcast from May 24, 1952).

Jul 07, 2019
Episode 335 – Frees as a Bird (Green Lama & The Whistler)
01:08:24

Whether he was thwarted by Rocky and Bullwinkle or leading visitors on a tour of the Haunted Mansion, Paul Frees' rich voice has been a part of pop culture for generations. But before all of that, he was a versatile voice actor on radio - one of the era's men of a thousand voices. We'll hear him starring as Jethro Dumont in "The Man Who Never Existed" from The Green Lama (originally aired on CBS on June 5, 1949). Then he's an impressionist roped into a scheme in "Fatal Fraud" from The Whistler (originally aired on CBS on May 22, 1949).

Jun 30, 2019
Episode 334 - Basil of Baker Street (New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
01:36:25

He dueled on screen with Errol Flynn, Tyrone Power, and Danny Kaye, he was twice nominated for Oscars, and for 14 films and hundreds of radio episodes, Basil Rathbone brought Sherlock Holmes to life. We'll celebrate one of the best actors to wear the deerstalker cap with two of his radio mysteries: "Murder Beyond the Mountains" (originally aired on Mutual on January 14, 1946) and "The Waltz of Death" (originally aired on Mutual on April 29, 1946). Plus, Rathbone teams up with Fred Allen to solve a comedy mystery in an episode of The Fred Allen Show (originally aired on NBC on April 11, 1948).

Jun 23, 2019
Episode 333 – Baileywick (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
01:14:59

For radio detective fans, it doesn't get much better than Bob Bailey as "the man with the action-packed expense account." In honor of the actor's birthday, we'll hear him in a complete five-part adventure of Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: "The Long Shot Matter" (originally aired on CBS between June 25th and June 29th, 1956).

Jun 16, 2019
Episode 332 - Nothing's Better than Mohr (Philip Marlowe & Nero Wolfe)
02:05:24

Gerald Mohr lent his voice to hundreds of radio episodes, but he's best remembered today for his run as Philip Marlowe. Mohr's voice was perfect for the hard-boiled narration and rough and tumble action, and his Marlowe stands out as one of the best gumshoes of the era. We'll hear Mohr as Marlowe in "The Last Laugh" (originally aired on CBS on April 2, 1949) and "The Last Wish" (originally aired on CBS on July 19, 1950). We'll also hear him as Archie Goodwin in "The Case of the Vanishing Shells" from The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe (originally aired on NBC on February 2, 1951), and as an amorous French teacher in a December 5, 1948 episode of Our Miss Brooks.

Jun 09, 2019
Episode 331 - The Names Have Been Changed (Dragnet)
01:59:37

Seventy years ago this week, Dragnet made its radio debut and changed the face of crime drama forever. That first episode launched a franchise that stretched into the 21st century and made its creator and star Jack Webb a household name. We'll celebrate the anniversary with four cases pulled from the files of the LAPD: "Homicide" (originally aired on NBC on June 10, 1949); "The Big Fake" (originally aired on NBC on June 1, 1950); "The Big Bible" (AFRS rebroadcast from 9/28/1954); and "The Big No Tooth" (AFRS rebroadcast from 4/5/1955).

Jun 02, 2019
Episode 330 - Dash It All (Adventures of Sam Spade)
01:31:46

We're saluting Dashiell Hammett - born May 27, 1894 - with three old time radio adventures of his famous private eye Sam Spade. Spade's adventures made for one of the best radio detective shows of the era - a hard-boiled mystery that poked gentle fun at the conventions of the genre. Howard Duff stars as the gumshoe in "The Wheel of Life Caper" (originally aired on CBS on July 11, 19498) and "The Battles of Belvedere" (AFRS rebroadcast from May 1, 1949). Then Steven Dunne stars as Spade in "The Spanish Prisoner Caper" (originally aired on NBC on 

May 26, 2019
Episode 329 - Bird is the Word (The Falcon)
01:07:53

The ringing of that phone means Mike Waring has to break another date and The Falcon has a new case. The suave private eye solved crimes in print, on the big screen, and for over a decade on radio. Les Damon starred as Waring for several years, including a run when the Falcon got a new client – Uncle Sam and Army intelligence. We’ll hear the Falcon solve “The Case of the Sweet Swindle” (originally aired on NBC on June 13, 1951) and “The Case of the Babbling Brooks” (originally aired on NBC on July 3, 1952).

May 19, 2019
Episode 328 - Hey Bulldog (Bulldog Drummond)
01:07:20

Captain Hugh Drummond comes out of the fog, into the night, and earns his nickname “Bulldog” as he fights evildoers everywhere. The gentleman adventurer of H.C. McNelie’s novels came to the big screen with Ronald Colman and Ray Milland logging time as the man of mystery. In 1941, Bulldog Drummond came to radio and continued his battle for justice. We’ll hear George Coulouris as Drummond in a September 1941 audition program. Then Ned Wever steps in as the detective in “Death Loops the Loop” (originally aired on Mutual on March 10, 1948).

May 12, 2019
Episode 327 – Orson’s Swell (Lives of Harry Lime & Black Museum)
01:51:02

Orson Welles’ radio work is defined by a skirmish between a couple of planets, but there was far more to his career than an invasion from outer space. We’ll celebrate the actor, writer, and director’s birthday with some of his performances on the air. First, he recreates his Third Man movie role in “Horse Play” from The Lives of Harry Lime. Then, he narrates the bloody history of “The Khaki Handkerchief” from The Black Museum.

May 05, 2019
Episode 326 - Their Girl Friday: Frances Robinson (Let George Do It, Richard Diamond, & The Whistler)
01:38:45

What do Philo Vance, George Valentine, Richard Diamond, and John J. Malone have in common? They all romanced – and were frequently assisted by – Frances Robinson. The busy and talented actress was a mainstay on radio crime dramas, and her performances gave us some of the genre’s all-time great partners in crime. We’ll hear her in “The Elusive Hundred Grand” from Let George Do It (originally aired on Mutual on April 18, 1949); “The Pop Skoals Case aka The Blind Man and the Cop Killer” from Richard Diamond, Private Detective (originally aired on NBC on February 26, 1950), and in “Murder in Mind” from The Whistler (originally aired on CBS on April 16, 1950).

Apr 28, 2019
Episode 325 - Master Class (Nick Carter, Master Detective)
01:04:37

Nick Carter was a super sleuth in the pulps and on the big screen before he came to radio in 1943, and he found success on the air as well. Lon Clark starred as Carter – “the most famous of all manhunters” – for twelve years in hundreds of radio mysteries. Hear Nick, along with his friends Patsy Bowen and Sgt. Mathison in “The Double Disguise” (originally aired on Mutual on January 8, 1944) and “The Case of the Candidate’s Corpse” (September 26, 1948).

Apr 21, 2019
Episode 324 - G-Men Get Their Man (This is Your FBI)
01:05:15

Criminals and spies can run, but they can’t hide from the FBI. Stacy Harris stars as Special Agent Jim Taylor in This is Your FBI, the only dramatic radio program endorsed by the Bureau and J. Edgar Hoover. We’ll hear a pair of FBI adventures: “The Case of the Curious Coin Collector” (originally aired on ABC on October 4, 1946) and “The Agent Apprentice” (originally aired on ABC on August 11, 1950).

Apr 14, 2019
Episode 323 - Hit the Road, Jack (Jeff Regan, Pat Novak, & Pete Kelly's Blues)
01:37:50

We're celebrating Jack Webb's birthday, but instead of cake we have three old time radio mysteries starring Webb as three hard-boiled sleuths. First, he's Jeff Regan, Investigator in "The Gambler and the Lady" (originally aired on CBS on December 11, 1948). Then Webb stars as Pat Novak for Hire in "Rory Malone" (originally aired on ABC on March 20, 1949). Finally, we'll hear "June Gould" from Pete Kelly's Blues (an AFRS rebroadcast of an episode from NBC on September 19, 1951).

Apr 07, 2019
Episode 322 - Same Bat-Time (Adventures of Superman)
03:55:17

Holy 80th Anniversary, Batman! The Caped Crusader made his first comic book appearance on March 30, 1939, and we're marking the occasion with a complete serialized adventure of Superman co-starring Batman and Robin, the Boy Wonder. It's "The Mystery of the Dead Voice," a tale with ties to young Robin's origin, and it originally aired on the Mutual Network between September 25 and October 16, 1946.

Apr 03, 2019
Episode 321 - The Buck Starts Here (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
01:37:41

When Johnny Dollar itemized his first expense account on February 11, 1949, he was played by actor Charles Russell, and Russell would fill the role for just over one year. Though his tenure was short, Russell’s take on the character – glib, sarcastic, and a little unscrupulous – makes him stand out in the fraternity of actors who brought Dollar to radio life. We’ll hear him in three episodes: “The Perikoff Policy” (originally aired on CBS on 2/11/1949); “Melanie Carter and the Un-Nice Niece” (originally aired on CBS on November 12, 1949); and “The Animal Show Unscheduled Performances” (originally aired on CBS on December 10, 1949).

Mar 31, 2019
Episode 320 - Don't Fence Me In (Tales of the Texas Rangers)
01:08:51

When criminals strike in the Lone Star State, they know it won’t be long before the Texas Rangers are on their trail. Joel McCrea brought his big screen western star power to radio as Jayce Pearson in Tales of the Texas Rangers. The crime drama presented actual cases from the Rangers’ files in a blend of police procedural and western. We’ll hear two episodes from the series: “Quicksilver” (originally aired on NBC on August 12, 1950) and “The Trap” (originally aired on NBC on February 25, 1951).

Mar 24, 2019
Episode 319 - Hite Writes (Philip Marlowe & Fort Laramie)
01:38:14

Kathleen Hite started at CBS as a secretary only to become the network’s first female staff writer. She would go on to pen hundreds of radio and TV scripts for shows like Gunsmoke, The Whistler, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents. We’ll hear two of her mysteries from The Adventures of Philip Marlowe: “The Good Neighbor Policy” (originally aired on CBS on July 28, 1951) and “The Young Man’s Fancy” (originally aired on CBS on August 18, 1951). Plus we’ll hear one of Hite’s episodes of Fort Laramie: “The Buffalo Hunters” (originally aired on CBS on September 9, 1956).

Mar 17, 2019
Episode 318 - Take a Letter (Box 13)
01:01:38

“Adventure wanted. Will go anyplace, do anything. Write Box 13.” That’s the newspaper ad Dan Holiday runs and each week a new letter brings him to the doorstep of danger. Holiday runs the ad to get plots for his mystery novels, but he has to survive each case before he can start writing. Big screen star Alan Ladd puts his film noir bona fides to work as Holiday in two old time radio mysteries: “Mexican Maze” and “House of Darkness.”

Mar 10, 2019
Episode 317 - Their Girl Friday: Virginia Gregg (Richard Diamond, Let George Do It, & Frontier Gentleman)
01:34:10

No matter what old time radio genre you prefer, you’ve probably heard Virginia Gregg’s voice. You’ve almost certainly heard her as Mrs. Bates in the Psycho films or seen her in one of her many on-screen performances. She was one of radio’s most versatile and talented actresses, and in honor of her birthday we’ll hear Virginia Gregg in three old time radio shows. First, she plays Helen Asher opposite Dick Powell’s Richard Diamond, Private Detective in an episode originally aired on NBC on July 9, 1949. Then, she’s Claire Brooks, loyal assistant to George Valentine in “Seed of Destruction” from Let George Do It (originally aired on Mutual on August 18, 1952. Finally, she plays a Chinese immigrant won in a poker game in “Gentle Virtue,” an episode of Frontier Gentleman from March 30, 1958.

Mar 03, 2019
Super Friends

Today in 1945, Superman first encountered the caped crusaders, Batman and Robin. This momentous meeting of heroes didn’t take place in a comic book or film serial; it happened on radio on The Adventures of Superman. That first meeting found Superman rescuing an unconscious Robin from a rowboat, a discovery that kicked off a hunt for the missing Batman. The Man of Steel had enjoyed radio success since his debut on the air in 1940, and though the Dark Knight Detective would go on to conquer the big and small screens success on radio eluded him.

The first attempt to bring the Caped Crusader to the air came in 1943.  DC Comics, the publisher of Batman comics, was eager to duplicate the success it enjoyed years earlier with Superman.  The Man of Steel was the star of his own popular radio series airing on the Mutual Network, and he’d appeared on the big screen in a series of sharply produced animated shorts from Max Fleischer.  In 1943, Batman hit the big screen in a 15 chapter Columbia Pictures serial, and he took to the airwaves in an audition program for a Mutual series.  The story, titled “The Case of the Drowning Seal,” found Batman and Robin pursuing the Nazi agents who murdered Robin’s parents.  Comic fans may recognize this was a departure from the origin of Robin’s sidekick, but these were the years when everyone, from Superman to Sherlock Holmes, joined the fight against Nazis.  The introduction for the series set the tone for what was to come:

“You are about to hear the first in a series of programs starring - The Batman!  The legendary feats of this 20th century Robin Hood are tales of high adventure and stark mystery.  In his ceaseless struggle against the forces of evil and corruption, The Batman has enlisted the aid of no one!  He fights alone; his keen brain and athlete’s body, combined with the almost unbelievable acrobatic skill, have made the horned black mask and the flapping black cape the symbol of law and decency.”

Thrilling stuff, and very true to the way Batman was depicted in the comics of the era.  Unfortunately, the program did not make it to series, and “The Case of the Drowning Seal” is lost.  Producers moved away from attempts to bring Batman to the air in his own series, but saw an opportunity to pair him up with one of his fellow heroes.

In the early 1940s, Superman and Batman shared comic book covers, but they did not appear in the same stories.  Years before they would ever share an adventure in a comic panel or newspaper strip, the heroes would meet and team up on radio.  In March 1945, Superman (voiced on radio by Clayton “Bud” Collyer) rescued Robin, and the Dynamic Duo arrived on the air.  Over the years on The Adventures of Superman, Batman and Robin would appear, sometimes to join Superman in adventures and other times to give the busy Collyer a chance for a vacation.  This was especially true during the story arcs involving Superman’s battles against Kryptonite (his greatest weakness, the radioactive fragments of his home planet, were a creation of the radio series).  Superman would be “unconscious” with Batman and Robin hunting for their friend; in reality, Collyer was enjoying some time off!

For most of the appearances on Superman, Batman was played by actor Matt Crowley, a veteran of juvenile adventure shows.  He was also played on occasion by Stacy Harris, a veteran of Jack Webb’s Dragnet who also starred as FBI Special Agent Jim Taylor in This is Your FBI.  Robin was played by actor Ronald Liss.

A second attempt was made to bring Batman to radio in 1950, with Ronald Liss again donning the mask and cape of the Boy Wonder.  John Emery played Batman in the audition story “The Monster of Dumphrey’s Hall."  The frame of the show found Batman and Robin presiding over a meeting of the "Batman Mystery Club,” a gaggle of tykes who met to hear cases from the Caped Crusader’s files.  Oddly enough, all of these kids knew Batman’s true identity!  The plot, which involved an old estate with a possibly haunted room, would be more suitable for Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson (ironically, Alfred Shirley, himself fresh off a radio run as Watson, appeared in a supporting role!).  The episode didn’t provide the solution; perhaps producers were confident they’d go to series.  Unfortunately (or fortunately?), this dreadful audition didn’t go to series.

Just four years after the end of the Golden Age of Radio, Batman would explode in popularity thanks to television.  He may have missed his shot at radio stardom, but the pop culture phenomenon that was the Adam West TV series catapulted him into stardom that has never really gone away, and even managed to eclipse the hero who graciously shared the microphone with him in the 1940s.

Mar 02, 2019
"The lonesomest mile in the world..."

Broadway is My Beat, the story of Detective Danny Clover and “the gaudiest, the most violent, the lonesomest mile in the world,” premiered on CBS on February 27, 1949. Thanks to the expert direction, the sharp writing, and an impressive lead performance, Broadway is My Beat broke the mold of a police drama and holds up today as one of the best shows from the era.

Admittedly, it got off to an inauspicious start.  The series premiered as a competently made police drama with a capable lead performance from Anthony Ross as Danny Clover.  It attracted little attention from the public and the series left the air after four months.  Originating from New York for the first go-round, CBS moved production across the country to Los Angeles and engaged a new production team to retool the series.

The reins were turned over to Elliot Lewis, who was about to break out as one of the great radio talents of the era.  Lewis was best known in 1949 as an actor; he starred in the Mutual adventure series Voyage of the Scarlet Queen, and he played Frankie Remley, the dim bulb sidekick of Phil Harris on The Phil Harris-Alice Faye Show.  He cut his teeth in the Armed Forces Radio Service and learned the ins and outs of radio, from scriptwriting to directing, during World War II.  Lewis wasn’t interested in making just another police drama.  He wanted to make the city of New York as much a character on the show as the cops and the criminals.  To that end, he employed a team of three sound effects artists to create one of radio’s richest soundscapes.  It was rare that the sounds of traffic and the hustle of the city weren’t heard as Danny Clover walked up flights of stairs at apartment houses or ducked into bars still waking up from the previous’ nights revelries.

Lewis added scriptwriting duo Morton Fine and David Friedkin to the Broadway is My Beat team.  This veteran radio duo (who would later create the classic 1960s TV series I Spy) put a spin on Danny Clover that was more in line with Jack Webb’s Joe Friday than brilliant super-cops.  Clover cracked cases through determination and hard work; he was no deductive genius but he wasn’t a dullard either.  In a June 15, 1950 article in The Sherbrooke Telegram, Fine and Friedkin described Danny Clover as “a nice, human guy who is a policeman and who solves crimes by piling human emotion against human emotion.“

But Clover wasn’t going to be the man Fine and Friedkin imagined without the right voice at the microphone.  Fortunately, the right man got the job.  Larry Thor was a CBS announcer (he could be heard introducing Rocky Jordan and other programs) who started acting along with his announcing chores.  He brought a dignity and determination to the work of a policeman, and he delivered the lyrical dialogue of the scripts effortlessly.  Supporting Clover at police headquarters were Charles Calvert as the quirky desk sergeant Gino Tartaglia, and Jack Kruschen as Clover’s sidekick in the field, Detective Muggavan.  Just like Clover, these weren’t the typical radio cops, but they added some color and levity to the downbeat scripts and harsh world of the series.

The things that set Broadway is My Beat apart from the crowd also made it hard to sell to a sponsor.  For much of the run, the show was sustained by CBS and was used to fill gaps on the network’s lineup.  it moved consistently, which is never the right way to build an audience.  The series left the air in 1953, but one listen to Broadway is My Beat today reveals a show that succeeded in spite of its scheduling woes; it wasn’t just another radio cop show, and it may be a program that plays better to a 21st century audience more accustomed to realism and morally complex plots than some of the white-hat derring do of the Golden Age of Radio.

Feb 27, 2019
Episode 316 - A Chorus Crime (Broadway is My Beat)
01:05:44

It’s back to Broadway this week, as Detective Danny Clover walks his beat - “the gaudiest, the most violent, the lonesomest mile in the world.” Larry Thor stars as Clover, the cop with the soul of a poet, in two mysteries from Broadway is My Beat: “The Val Dane Starvation Murder Case” (originally aired on CBS on August 25, 1949) and “The Gridiron Hero Murders” (an AFRS rebroadcast of an episode from November 22, 1952).

Feb 24, 2019
Episode 315 - Wealthy Young Man About Town (The Line-Up)
01:39:43

Bill Johnstone may be best known as the voice of The Shadow, but old time radio fans can enjoy his performances from shows ranging from Escape and Suspense to My Favorite Husband and Our Miss Brooks. In honor of his birthday, we’ll hear him as Lt. Ben Guthrie, the determined detective of The Line-Up in “The Topaz Earring Case” (originally aired on CBS on November 23, 1950) and “The Jersey Parallel” (originally aired on CBS on December 7, 1950).

Feb 17, 2019
"Faster than a speeding bullet..."

“Look, up in the sky!” Today, in 1940, Superman flew from the pages of Action Comics on to radio. As he thrilled readers in the comic books and dazzled audiences in movie theaters, the Man of Steel soared on the airwaves, battling the mob, Nazi spies and saboteurs, mad scientists, and aliens from other planets, all while cementing the character’s popularity as an American icon.

In fact, much of Superman’s mythology grew out of his radio adventures and later worked its way into the comic stories.  Plucky cub reporter Jimmy Olsen and blustery newspaper editor Perry White were both original creations for the radio series. Ditto Metropolis Police Inspector Henderson, one of Superman’s allies on the police force. The first meeting of Superman and Batman happened on radio in 1945 (they’d appeared on covers of comics before, but radio featured the first story where the characters teamed up), and Superman had his first encounter with his Achilles’ heel - Kryptonite - not on the pages of the comics, but on the radio series.

The show was a ratings success practically from the start when it premiered on February 12, 1940.  Radio veteran Jack Johnstone (who later directed Bob Bailey as Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar) directed the early shows, and the series topped the charts among three-day-a-week children’s serials.  The series aired in syndication until March 9, 1942.  Six months later, it returned over the entire Mutual Network in a five-day-a-week series.  Directed by George Lowther and later Allen Ducovny, Superman exploded during the World War II era, as Kryptonite was thrown into the mix in 1943 and Superman and his friends fought Nazis as often as they fought domestic villains.  One of these baddies led to one of the show’s longest and most celebrated storylines when Superman battled a Nazi-engineered, Kryptonite-fueled Atom Man out to avenge the defeat of Germany from October to December 1945.

But it wasn’t all fights with Atom Men and imaginary monsters.  On the air, Superman fought racial intolerance and bigotry, and today the series is as fondly remembered for its social consciousness as much as for its thrilling adventures.  In one memorable arc (the “Unity House” series), Superman defended an interfaith community center from a gang of bigots; in another, he battled the “Clan of the Firey Cross,” a thinly veiled substitute for the Ku Klux Klan.  Despite pressure from some listeners (and a threatened boycott by the KKK itself), Mutual and Kellogg’s, the show’s sponsor, stuck by their program, and the series received seals of approval from the Boys Clubs of America, the Associated Negro Press, and the United Parents Association, among others.

At the center of this series, providing the voice of a man who could change the course of mighty rivers and bend steel in his bare hands, was a busy radio actor who initially didn’t want the gig.  By age 32, Clayton “Bud” Collyer  was appearing on all four major networks over several dozen series.  And while he won the job by creating two distinct voices for Superman and his secret identity of mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, he initially turned down the role.  “The whole idea embarrassed me, so I said no,” he recalled years later.  Collyer would also voice the Man of Steel in the classic cartoons from Max Fleischer, and he returned in 1966 for Filmation’s New Adventures of Superman.  Later, in the years following the Golden Age of Radio, Collyer would find fame as a game show host on television, anchoring shows like Quick as a Flash and To Tell the Truth.  He played Superman in close to 1,700 shows and was the “voice” of the Man of Steel to a generation as much as George Reeves was the “face” on television.

Collyer was backed up by a great cast in the Superman family.  Joan Alexander set the template for Lois Lane - smart, spunky, and willing to jump into the fray as no damsel in distress.  Julian Noa voiced the perpetually frustrated editor Perry White, and Jackie Kelk (Homer on The Aldrich Family) gave the right dose of “gee whiz” enthusiasm to Jimmy Olsen.  But a comic book adventure is lost without a narrator, and for most of its run Superman had a humdinger in Jackson Beck, who famously intoned the legendary introduction that began with “Faster than a speeding bullet!” (Yep, that was coined for the radio series as well.)

Today,the radio adventures of Superman still pack a ton of excitement into every fifteen or thirty minute episode.  Even if you can only see him in the theater of your own mind, Superman rockets through the air when Bud Collyer’s voice drops an octave, that wind machine kicks in, and Jackson Beck’s stentorian boom erupts over the speakers.

Feb 12, 2019
"Expense account, item one..."

On February 11, 1949, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar premiered on CBS and kicked off the career of “America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator.” Dollar traveled the world investigating cases of insurance fraud until 1962. Each mystery was narrated by Johnny as he itemized his expense account for his bosses at “the home office.” The series aired up until the end of the Golden Age of Radio in 1962, and it remains one of the most beloved detective programs of the era.

What made the show work?  The format of the show is a great hook - Dollar narrates the story as he itemizes his expense account for his employers.  As the case progresses, another expense is rattled off.  This was played up for humorous effect in the show’s early days, leading to a frequent announcer tag line - “At insurance investigation, he’s only an expert.  At making out his expense account, he’s an absolute genius!“  Dollar was sharp, a bit cynical, and had brains to match his brawn.

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But in his first several years on the air, Johnny Dollar was a good - but not great - radio detective.  There was little about the show to distinguish it from the sea of detective shows cluttering the airwaves.  Three different actors (Charles RussellEdmond O'Brien, and John Lund) played Dollar between 1949 and 1954.  (Dick Powell was actually the first to play Johnny Dollar in a 1948 audition program.  Before the show went to series, Powell opted to star in Richard Diamond, Private Detective on NBC.)  The insurance investigation angle provided a different flavor for the show, but those early shows weren’t quite in the same league as Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe.  The show actually left the airwaves in 1954, and Johnny Dollar might have ended up as a radio footnote had it not been for a revamped series that returned to the air in 1955.

Under the direction of Jack Johnstone, Johnny Dollar was reinvented as a five-night-a-week 15 minute serial.  Johnstone was a veteran radio writer and director who previously brought Buck Rogers and Superman to radio. Just before he took the helm of Johnny Dollar, he served as producer and director for the outstanding NBC western series The Six Shooter, which brought Jimmy Stewart to weekly radio as its star.  Johnstone served as producer and director of the new series, and he frequently provided scripts.  With 75 minutes instead of 30 for stories every week, Johnstone and his fellow writers could deliver complex plots with plenty of twists and turns and nuanced characters with more depth than the usual supporting players in a weekly detective show.

But talent behind the scenes is only part of the story.  Johnny Dollar’s renaissance owes as much to the man in front of the microphone - a strong, dynamic actor who breathed life and a personality into the detective.  And it was an actor who was no stranger to solving crimes on the airwaves. 

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Bob Bailey was fresh off a run as private eye George Valentine in Let George Do It when he was cast as Dollar.  He sank his teeth into the king-size scripts, and his performance fleshed out the character in a way that the previous actors had never quite managed to nail down.  His Johnny Dollar would more often than not get too involved in his cases, and he might fall too hard for a female suspect.  He loved to fish, and his clients might exploit that to persuade him to take a dangerous job in a far-off locale where he could be promised a good catch.  He was unpredictable, funny, and dangerous.  In the early years, Johnny Dollar was just a radio detective.  With Jack Johnstone’s words and Bob Bailey’s voice, he joined the ranks of Marlowe and Spade, characters with long histories on the page behind them.

The series continued in the serial format until 1956 when it returned to 30 minutes once a week.  While the individual shows may not have always been as rich as the five-part stories, Bailey’s performance remained strong.  He remained in the role until 1960, when CBS shut down its West Coast radio operations and moved its dramatic productions to New York.  The show continued for another two seasons; Jack Johnstone continued to provide scripts but was replaced as director.  Bob Readick and Mandel Kramer starred as Dollar until he turned in his last expense account on the final night of network radio on September 30, 1962.

Nearly all of the episodes of the show survive, and while each actor brought something unique to the character, it is Bailey’s Johnny Dollar that stands head and shoulders above them all.  His wry humor, his hard edge, and his world-weary cynicism come through in every line of his performance, and there are years of episodes for today’s audiences to rediscover and enjoy.

Feb 11, 2019
Episode 314 - The Final Five Matter (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
01:18:34

Seventy years ago this month, listeners first met “the man with the action-packed expense account” when Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar premiered on CBS. The show ran until 1962 with several actors stepping into the shows of “America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator,” but the best of the bunch was Bob Bailey. Bailey starred as Johnny Dollar from 1955 until 1960, including a tremendous run of five-part nightly stories from 1955 to 1956. We’ll hear the last of those serialized installments - “The Silent Queen Matter” (originally aired on CBS from October 29 to November 2, 1956).

Feb 10, 2019
Stories Start in Many Different Ways

“Hi - this is Randy Stone. I cover the night beat for the Chicago Star.”

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On February 6, 1950, reporter Randy Stone took his first walk on the Night Beat. Frank Lovejoy starred as Randy, an intrepid newspaperman working at the Chicago Star. Every night, Randy explored the darkened streets of the Windy City in search of stories for his column. Randy Stone was looking for the good and the bad of human nature - anything that would make for a good yarn to follow his byline. Along the way, he usually found trouble among the desperate and the dangerous residents of the city at night.

In each episode of the show, columnist Randy Stone went to work when the sun went down and set off through the city streets in search of stories about people that had fallen through the cracks.  The “human” in human interest stories was of paramount importance to him, and like a knight on a romantic crusade, Stone did his best to help the subjects of his stories and ensure as much of a happy ending as he could for his column.  Randy Stone wasn’t a detective; he wasn’t even an amateur sleuth like Box 13’s Dan Holiday or Casey, Crime Photographer.  But he walked the streets of Chicago after dark and as a sucker for a hard luck story, he frequently found himself in conflict with the mob, gamblers and thieves, con men, and killers.  He could be taken in by a sob story or come around to discover a perceived villain had been wronged as badly as the victim.  He didn’t carry a gun, and he wasn’t a fighter, but he had dogged persistence in chasing down a story to the end.  It was the kind of persistence that was finely honed from walking the streets and wearing out who knows how many pairs of shoes.

On May 19, 1949, an audition program for the series was recorded starring Edmond O’Brien as reporter “Hank Mitchell.”  Directed by Bill Rousseau (director of hard-boiled private eye shows Pat Novak and Michael Shayne), O’Brien’s performance was closer to how he’d sound as Johnny Dollar a year later: tougher, cynical, and harder-edged.  Not a bad performance (in fact, it served him well in the role of “America’s fabulous freelance insurance investigator”), but it was a little too tough for what producers were looking for. Night Beat got a second bite at the apple almost a year later.  This time, actor Frank Lovejoy stepped to the microphone as the lead character, rechristened “Randy Stone.”  Where Hank Mitchell was cynical, Randy Stone was a kind of cock-eyed optimist.  Where Mitchell was tough, Stone was compassionate.  Of the voices, Randy Stone’s sounded more like that of a champion for the little guy.  And delivering that winning performance for over 100 episodes was Frank Lovejoy.

Lovejoy had been a radio actor in the 1930s and early 1940s, appearing on Gangbusters and This is Your FBI.  He was the first actor to play the Blue Beetle on radio, and he was frequently heard as a supporting player on Sam SpadeBox 13, and Adventures of Superman; he also took more than a few starring turns on Suspense.  In films, Lovejoy was often a supporting player in everyman roles in films like The Hitch-HikerHouse of Wax, and In a Lonely Place.  This “man of the people” streak to his work served him well as Randy Stone, and Lovejoy delivers one of the best dramatic lead performances from the Golden Age of Radio in Night Beat. It helped that he was given wonderful words to say and characters to say them to with scripts by Larry Marcus, Russell Hughes (main writer for Box 13), and others.

One of the great dramatic shows of the 1950s, Night Beat was anchored by Frank Lovejoy’s performance and strong scripts. Though not strictly a detective program, Night Beat often featured stories of crime and killers, of cops and robbers. Night Beat was a bright spot in the Golden Age of Radio as it gradually gave way to the rise of television.

Feb 06, 2019
Episode 313 - In the Still of the Night (Night Beat)
01:06:03

When the sun goes down in the Windy City, Randy Stone goes to work. Frank Lovejoy stars as Stone, the Chicago reporter who walks the Night Beat in search of a story. What he finds in the darkness will give him material for his column...if it doesn’t kill him first. We’ll hear Lovejoy in a pair of radio mysteries: “Old Home Week” (originally aired on NBC on September 4, 1950) and “The Kenny Day Amnesia Case” (originally aired on NBC on October 6, 1950).

Feb 03, 2019
An Englishman in the West

“Herewith, an Englishman’s account of life and death in the west. As a reporter for the London Times, he writes his colorful and unusual stories. But as a man with a gun, he lives and becomes a part of the violent years in the new territories.”

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Western heroes were in no short supply during the Golden Age of Radio. There were lawmen like Matt Dillon, keeping the peace and fighting to bring law and order to the frontier. There were hired guns like Paladin and roaming cowboys like Britt Ponsett who made every effort not to draw his gun. And of course, there was the granddaddy of all western heroes - the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains known as The Lone Ranger. But one of radio’s most unusual leading men of the old west was Jeremy Brian Kendall, correspondent for the London Times - the Frontier Gentleman. This standout drama made premiered on CBS on February 2, 1958.

For a single radio season (just over 40 episodes) Frontier Gentleman followed Kendall on his journeys through the new territories of the United States. Moving from town to town, Kendall traded notes with fellow reporters, rode along with the cavalry, rubbed elbows with rogues, and shared his experiences - good and bad - with his readers back home. Kendall fought Indians, tangled with the James brothers, and he had a seat at the poker table during Wild Bill Hickok’s last hand. He fell for a beautiful Confederate spy, and he served as impromptu defense counsel and surgeon.

The show was created, written, and directed by Antony Ellis - a native of England who worked extensively in American radio as an actor and behind the scenes talent. And the titular gentleman was played by John Dehner, a Disney animator who became a voice (and later TV and film) actor. Dehner could be heard on everything from Philip Marlowe to Escape to Gunsmoke and Suspense. An unlikely choice to play a Brit, Dehner was born in Staten Island, but he brought a mature, refined quality and an underplayed accent to Kendall. He didn’t sound like he grew up on the London streets, but it was easy to imagine Dehner’s voice coming from a man who had fought for the queen in India and who had picked up on the rough and tumble slang and customs of the American frontier.

The show was fantastic, ranking near the top of the list of great radio westerns. Historian John Dunning said Frontier Gentleman was “the only serious rival to Gunsmoke in the radio Hall of Fame.” Unfortunately, the show came to radio in the medium’s twilight, and it lasted only that single season. The week after Frontier Gentleman ended, John Dehner went on the air as Paladin in the CBS radio adaptation of its TV hit Have Gun - Will Travel.

Feb 02, 2019
Episode 312 - True North (Mr. and Mrs. North)
01:20:43

Some couples play golf, and some like to travel. Pam and Jerry North spend their quality time putting their amateur sleuth skills to work in Mr. and Mrs. North. One of radio’s most popular detective shows, the adventures of the Norths sprang from the pages of novels and kept listeners guessing for over a decade. We’ll hear three of their adventures starring Barbara Britton as Pam and Richard Denning as Jerry: “Coat of Arms,” “Die Hard,” and “Masquerade.”

Jan 27, 2019
Episode 311 - Spy Hard (Dangerous Assignment)
01:07:45

Even if he can’t pronounce the names of the countries he visits, two-fisted secret agent Steve Mitchell knows each Dangerous Assignment means trouble. Brian Donlevy stars as the international man of mystery in two tales of radio espionage and adventure. We’ll hear “Find Hired Killer Lupac” (originally aired on NBC on August 16, 1950) and “Recover Memory Chain Equation” (originally aired on NBC on November 18, 1950).

Jan 20, 2019
Episode 310 - Behind the Badge (Nero Wolfe & Dragnet)
01:07:19

In a special bonus episode, we tip our hat to the late Herb Ellis. The actor passed away in December at age 97, and along with his many radio credits he’s a key figure in radio history because of his collaboration with Jack Webb - a collaboration that yielded Dragnet. We’ll hear Ellis co-star as Officer Frank Smith in “The Big Bull” (originally aired on NBC on September 14, 1952), and we’ll hear him as Archie Goodwin in “The Case of the Dear Dead Lady” from The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe (originally aired on NBC on November 3, 1950).

Jan 16, 2019
Episode 309 - St. Vincent (The Saint)
01:25:13

“The Robin Hood of modern crime” is on the case, and the halo of The Saint is hanging over Vincent Price’s head. Price stars as Simon Templar in three old time radio adventures of Leslie Charteris’ gentleman sleuth: “Murder on the High Seas” (originally aired on Mutual on September 18, 1949); “It’s Snow Use” (originally aired on NBC on October 29, 1950); and “The Terrible Tintype” (originally aired on NBC on November 26, 1950).

Jan 13, 2019
Episode 308 - Raising Cain (Lux Radio Theatre)
01:04:55

Based on a novel by James M. Cain, with screenplay co-written by Raymond Chandler and Billy Wilder behind the camera, Double Indemnity is a film noir classic - one of the best ever produced and it doesn't lose any of its power when adapted for radio. Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck recreate their screen roles as an insurance salesman and an unhappy wife who plot to make the most of her husband's new accidental death policy. The crackling adaptation aired on the Lux Radio Theatre on CBS on October 30, 1950.

Jan 06, 2019
Episode 307 - What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? (Dragnet & Philip Marlowe)
01:04:18

When the bells all ring and the horns all blow, you can ring in 2019 with a bonus episode of Down These Mean Streets! Jack Webb and Gerald Mohr star in New Year’s Eve mysteries from Dragnet and The Adventures of Philip Marlowe. We’ll hear “The Big New Year’s” (originally aired on NBC on March 8, 1951) and “The Old Acquaintance” (originally aired on CBS on December 26, 1948).

Dec 30, 2018
Episode 306 - Holmes for the Holidays (New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
01:32:47

We’re wrapping up 2018 and spending the holidays with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. The dynamic duo of Baker Street stars in three old time radio mysteries taking us from Christmas to New Year’s Eve. First, John Stanley and Alfred Shirley star in “The Adventure of the Christmas Bride” (originally aired on Mutual on December 21, 1947). Then, John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson play Holmes and Watson in an adaptation of the Arthur Conan Doyle Christmas story “The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle.” Finally, Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce ring in the new year in “The Iron Box” (originally aired on Mutual on December 31, 1945).

Dec 23, 2018
Episode 305 - Silver-Haired Shamus (New Adventures of Michael Shayne)
01:28:47

To celebrate what would have been his 100th birthday, we'll hear Jeff Chandler in two old time radio mysteries as "that reckless red-headed Irishman" - two-fisted private eye Michael Shayne. Chandler is an ultra-hard boiled gumshoe in "The Case of the Crooked Wheel" and "The Case of the High-Priced Twins." Then, he shows off his comedic side as Mr. Boynton in Our Miss Brooks (in an episode originally aired on CBS on March 27, 1949).

Dec 16, 2018
Episode 304 - Archie and the Wolfe (New Adventures of Nero Wolfe)
01:07:16

In celebration of the December birthdays of Rex Stout and Sydney Greenstreet, here are two episodes of The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe starring Greenstreet as the gargantuan gourmet created by Stout. There's no case too baffling for the sedentary sleuth and his loyal legman Archie Goodwin, and we'll hear two of their mysteries: "The Case of the Deadly Sellout" with Larry Dobkin as Archie (originally aired on NBC on January 5, 1951); and "The Case of the Hasty Will" co-starring Harry Bartell as Goodwin (originally aired on NBC on March 2, 1951).

Dec 09, 2018
Episode 303 - Luck of the Irish (Mollé Mystery Theater, NBC Radio Playhouse & The Hunters)
01:33:42

Cornell Woolrich - aka William Irish - was one of the great crime writers of the twentieth century with his works winning acclaim and adaptations on radio and the big screen (including Hitchcock's classic Rear Window). We'll celebrate the anniversary of his birth with three of his tales adapted for the airwaves - "The Bride Wore Black" from The Mollé Mystery Theater (originally aired on NBC on February 7, 1947); "Wardrobe Trunk" from the NBC Radio City Playhouse (originally aired on NBC on April 4, 1949); and "You Take Ballistics" from the audition recording for The Hunters.

Dec 02, 2018
Episode 302 - New Carr Smell (Suspense & Cabin B-13)
01:09:25

Master mystery writer John Dickson Carr embraced radio in a big way. He wrote scripts for Suspense and his own anthology show Cabin B-13. Carr also acted as master of ceremonies for Murder by Experts. In honor of his birthday on November 30th, we'll hear two of his original radio mysteries: "Will You Make a Bet with Death?" from Suspense (originally aired on CBS on November 10, 1942), and "A Razor in Fleet Street" (originally aired on CBS on July 5, 1948).

Nov 25, 2018
Episode 301 - Talking Turkey 2018 (Durante-Moore & Jack Benny)
01:05:33

No sleuths today - just a heaping helping of Thanksgiving comedy from the Golden Age of Radio. Jimmy Durante and Garry Moore present a comedy opera about the pilgrims, and Jack Benny and his gang are off to the big football game in this Turkey Day bonus show.

Nov 21, 2018
Episode 300 - The Case of the 300th Episode (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
01:32:36

"Down These Mean Streets" has reached 300 episodes! To mark the occasion, we're hearing again from Bob Bailey as "the man with the action-packed expense account" - Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. Bailey stars as "America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator" in the six-part mystery "The Kranesburg Matter" (originally aired on CBS between August 24 and August 31, 1956).

Nov 18, 2018
Episode 299 - How Now, Howard? (Sam Spade & Suspense)
01:30:07

This week on "Down These Mean Streets," we'll hear Howard Duff in two radio mysteries as Sam Spade and as a scriptwriter plotting the perfect crime in "Suspense."

Nov 11, 2018
Episode 298 - Poor Richards' Almanac (Rogue's Gallery & Richard Diamond)
01:06:45

Dick Powell reinvented himself as a hardboiled hero with his performance as Philip Marlowe in Murder, My Sweet, and several films noir and radio detective shows followed. We'll hear Powell as gumshoe Richard Rogue in "Blood on the Sand" from Rogue's Gallery (originally aired on Mutual on December 13, 1945). Then he's Richard Diamond, Private Detective in "The Martin Hyer Case" (originally aired on NBC on July 23, 1949).

Nov 04, 2018
Episode 297 - Crossing the Jordan (Rocky Jordan)
01:37:29

Grab a drink and a mystery at the Cafe Tambourine in Cairo with two-fisted club owner and adventurer Rocky Jordan. The ex-pat and amateur detective kept audiences thrilled with tales told against an exotic backdrop. Jack Moyles stars as Rocky in "The Bartered Bridegroom" (originally aired on CBS on October 31, 1948) and "Adventure with Andrea" (originally aired on CBS on September 11, 1949). Then, big screen tough guy George Raft plays Jordan in "The Genakos Affair" (originally aired on CBS on July 11, 1951).

Oct 28, 2018
Episode 296 - Trick or Treat (Jack Benny Program & My Favorite Husband)
01:03:24

We're celebrating the lighter side of October 31st with this year's "Down These Mean Streets" Halloween special. Grab your favorite candy and enjoy a pair of trick or treating comedies from The Jack Benny Program (originally aired on NBC on October 31, 1948) and Lucille Ball's My Favorite Husband (originally aired on CBS on October 28, 1949).

Oct 24, 2018
Episode 295 - Fabulous Baker Street Boys (New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
01:38:57

It didn't take a brilliant detective to bring one of fiction's greatest sleuths to radio, but it did take a talented writer and devoted fan. Edith Meiser penned the very first Sherlock Holmes radio show on October 20, 1930, and her efforts behind the scenes kept the character going for nearly twenty years on the air. We'll celebrate Holmes' anniversary with three of Meiser's original mysteries starring John Stanley as Holmes and Alfred Shirley as Dr. Watson: "The Case of the Missing Heiress" (originally aired on Mutual on October 5, 1947); "The Case of the Lucky Shilling" (originally aired on Mutual on January 18, 1948); and "The Case of the Accommodating Valise" (originally aired on Mutual on May 23, 1948). 

Oct 21, 2018
Episode 294 - Their Girl Friday: Jan Miner (Boston Blackie, CBS Radio Workshop, & Casey, Crime Photographer)
01:32:12

Before she became a commercial star as "Madge" for Palmolive, actress Jan Miner was busy working on the stage and the radio. Miner was heard regularly on soap operas, dramas, and radio detective shows. We'll hear her as Mary Wesley in the syndicated episode "Alibi Time" from Boston Blackie and as Ann Williams in "King of the Apes" from Casey, Crime Photographer (originally aired on CBS on May 1, 1947). Plus, we'll hear Jan Miner in a behind-the-scenes look at radio production from The CBS Radio Workshop (originally aired on CBS on October 12, 1956).

Oct 14, 2018
Episode 293 - Fortune Favors the Bold (Rocky Fortune)
56:59

The Chairman of the Board fights crime as Frank Sinatra stars in Rocky Fortune. The singer played Fortune - a man whose odd jobs always led to trouble - for a single season in a fun, well-produced mystery series. To celebrate the sixty-fifth anniversary of the show's debut, we'll hear a pair of Rocky's adventures - the show's first episode (originally aired on NBC on October 6, 1953) and "The Museum Murder" (originally aired on NBC on January 11, 1954).

Oct 07, 2018
Episode 292 - Craig's List (Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator)
01:05:06

William Gargan is on the case as Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator - the sardonic gumshoe with a healthy sense of humor to go along with his powers of deduction. We'll hear "Murder Masquerade" (originally aired on NBC on August 9, 1953) and "Hay is for Homicide" (originally aired on NBC on August 31, 1954).

Sep 30, 2018
Episode 291 - Get Out of Dodge (Gunsmoke)
01:05:17

In celebration of what would have been his 98th birthday, we're tipping our hat to William Conrad. Before he was the narrator of The Fugitive and Rocky and Bullwinkle and before he solved TV crimes as Cannon, Conrad was one of the biggest talents of the golden age of radio. He had thousands of credits to his name but he was best known as Matt Dillon, US Marshal, on Gunsmoke. We'll hear him in a pair of murder mysteries from the old west (originally aired on CBS on May 9 and November 21, 1953).

Sep 23, 2018
Episode 290 - You Can't Con a Conway (Sherlock Holmes & The Saint)
01:05:52

With his polished radio presence and his mellifluous British accent, Tom Conway was a natural as a radio detective, and he put his voice to great use as both Sherlock Holmes and Simon Templar. We'll hear him as Holmes - with Nigel Bruce as Watson - in "The Adventure of the Original Hamlet" (originally aired on ABC on November 2, 1946). Then as The Saint, he stars in "The Girl with the Lower Berth" (originally aired on NBC on June 3, 1951).

Sep 16, 2018
Episode 289 - Let's All Go to the Lobby (Screen Directors Playhouse)
01:06:39

In the film noir classic D.O.A., the detective is also the victim of the crime. Edmond O'Brien, one of radio's Johnny Dollars, recreates his big screen role as Frank Bigelow, a man with only days left to live who is frantically searching for the man who murdered him, in this adaptation from the Screen Directors Playhouse (originally aired on NBC on June 21, 1951).

Sep 09, 2018
Episode 288 - You Can Call Me Al (Box 13 & Lux Radio Theatre)
01:33:23

Alan Ladd didn't just star in mysteries and thrillers on the big screen - audiences could also hear Ladd on their radios in tales of daring detectives and heroes. We'll hear him in "Double Right Cross," an episode of his syndicated series Box 13 where he starred as reporter turned mystery writer and amateur sleuth Dan Holiday. Then he's joined by Veronica Lake in a radio recreation of his wartime action adventure O.S.S. from the Lux Radio Theatre (originally aired on CBS on November 18, 1946).

Sep 02, 2018
Episode 287 - Their Girl Friday: Lesley Woods (Boston Blackie & Casey, Crime Photographer)
01:28:40

From the Broadway stage to the world of daytime soap operas, Lesley Woods found success in every medium she tried during her six decade career. She was very busy on radio, appearing on soaps, sci-fi shows, thrillers, and detective programs. We'll hear her opposite Richard Kollmar in Boston Blackie as Blackie's girlfriend Mary Wesley in "The Wentworth Diamonds." And she's reporter Ann Williams alongside Staats Cotsworth's Casey, Crime Photographer in "The Twenty Minute Alibi" (originally aired on CBS on February 20, 1947).

Aug 26, 2018
Episode 286 - Blind Man's Bluff (Murder Clinic & Suspense)
01:10:16

Crooks made the mistake of underestimating private detectives Max Carrados and Captain Duncan Maclain because both men were blind. After you hear their radio adventures, you'll know that a lack of sight doesn't stand in the way of these gentlemen as they solve seemingly impossible murders. Ernest Bramah's gentlemanly Carrados (voiced by Alfred Shirley) stars in "The Holloway Flat Tragedy" from Murder Clinic (originally aired on Mutual on August 18, 1942). Then, Baynard Kendrick's Maclain (played here by Brian Donlevy) is heard in "Out of Control" from Suspense (originally aired on CBS on August 23, 1946).

Aug 19, 2018
Episode 285 - Auditions for Adventure (Candy Matson)
01:05:20

San Francisco shamus Candy Matson was the greatest girl detective of the radio era. Charming, cool, and cute, Candy made her way in the man’s world of private eye gumshoeing. Before and after her series aired on NBC, two audition shows were recorded to bring the sassy sleuth to audiences. We’ll hear Natalie Masters as Candy in both of those shows – “The Donna Dunham Case” from April 1949 and “The Allison Gray Case” from September 1952.

Aug 12, 2018
Episode 284 - Mohr for Your Money (Adventures of Philip Marlowe)
01:08:10

If you've got to walk down the mean streets of Los Angeles, it helps to have Philip Marlowe by your side. Gerald Mohr brought Raymond Chandler's private eye to life in one of the best detective shows to come out of the radio era. We'll hear a pair of Marlowe's mysteries: "The Bum's Rush" (originally aired on CBS on September 3, 1949) and "The Fox's Tail" (originally aired on CBS on May 23, 1950).

Aug 05, 2018
Episode 283 - Back on the Case (Dragnet)
01:35:07

After a hiatus, it’s time once again to head “Down These Mean Streets.” I’m kicking off a new season with the king of the radio cops – Sgt. Joe Friday. Jack Webb is keeping Los Angeles safe in three old time radio mysteries: "The Big Girl" (originally aired on NBC on February 9, 1950); "The Big Evans" (originally aired on NBC on March 16, 1952); and "The Big Impossible" (originally aired on NBC on March 15, 1953).

Aug 01, 2018
Episode 282 - Play It Again, Sam (Adventures of Sam Spade)
59:57

To celebrate Dashiell Hammett's birthday, we'll hear a pair of radio adventures of his most famous creation - the hard-boiled San Francisco shamus Sam Spade. Howard Duff stars as Spade in "The Queen Bee Caper" (originally aired on CBS on July 10, 1949). Then, Steven Dunne steps into Sam's shoes for "The Biddle Riddle Caper" (originally aired on NBC on January 5, 1951).

May 27, 2018
Episode 281 – Doyle’s Day (Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
01:20:07

We're celebrating the birthday of Arthur Conan Doyle with radio adaptations of three of his greatest Sherlock Holmes mysteries. In these productions from the BBC, John Gielgud stars as Holmes with Ralph Richardson as Dr. Watson. The game's afoot in "A Scandal in Bohemia," "The Red-Headed League," and "The Six Napoleons."

May 20, 2018
Episode 280 – Give a Little Whistle (The Whistler)
01:03:22

Walk in the shoes of a killer as he plans and carries out his crime. Just watch out for a twist ending when the story is told by The Whistler. Bill Forman stars as the sinister storyteller who introduces his tales with a haunting melody. We'll hear "Brief Pause for Murder" (originally aired on CBS on September 11, 1949) and "A Law of Physics" (originally aired on CBS on June 10, 1951).

May 13, 2018
Episode 279 – All’s Welles That Ends Welles (Black Museum & Harry Lime)
01:29:38

We're celebrating Orson Welles' birthday with two of the legendary actor and director's old time radio performances. First, Welles leads us on a tour of The Black Museum, Scotland Yard's archive of murder. He narrates the tale of a faded tartan scarf wielded in the hands of a dangerous man. Then he recreates his big screen role from The Third Man in The Lives of Harry Lime. We'll hear Harry in the syndicated mystery "Mexican Hat Trick."

May 06, 2018
Episode 278 - Cowboy Up (Tales of the Texas Rangers)
01:03:57

We're back in the saddle this week with Joel McCrea in Tales of the Texas Rangers. As Ranger Jayce Pearson, McCrea keeps the Lone Star State safe in true crime stories. We'll hear "Fool's Gold" (originally aired on NBC on August 19, 1950) and "The White Suit" (originally aired on NBC on November 5, 1950).

May 01, 2018
Episode 277 – Say It With a Diamond (Richard Diamond, Private Detective)
02:02:15

It's the fifth anniversary of Down These Mean Streets and the 69th anniversary of the premiere of Richard Diamond, Private Detective. To celebrate both, here's an extra-large episode starring Dick Powell as Diamond. Radio's singing detective gets his man and carries a tune in "The Ralph Chase Case" (originally aired on NBC on May 15, 1949); "The Harry Baker Case" (originally aired on NBC on September 3, 1949); "The Grey Man" (originally aired on ABC on February 16, 1951); and "The Hollywood Story" (originally aired on CBS on August 23, 1953).

Apr 22, 2018
Episode 276 - Monday Through Friday Mystery (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
01:12:26

Bob Bailey is back on the job in another five-part adventure of Johnny Dollar - "the man with the action-packed expense account." Join America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator as he crosses swords with a twentieth century pirate to learn what happened to a sunken ship in "The Jolly Roger Fraud" (originally aired on CBS between March 19 and March 23, 1956).

Apr 15, 2018
Episode 275 – Wolfe Whistle (Adventures of Nero Wolfe)
01:04:40

Nero Wolfe, Rex Stout’s gargantuan gourmet, is back! His career as a radio detective began 75 years ago this month, and we’re marking the occasion with two of his on-air adventures. Sydney Greenstreet plays the eccentric sleuth (with Larry Dobkin as loyal legman Archie Goodwin) in “The Case of the Friendly Rabbit” (originally aired on NBC on December 1, 1950). Then, we’ll hear an early Wolfe radio adventure – “The Last Laugh Murder Case,” broadcast on the Armed Forces Radio Service’s Mystery Playhouse.

Apr 08, 2018
Episode 274 – Jack Be Nimble (Pat Novak & The Whistler)
01:03:01

In honor of his birthday, we'll hear Jack Webb in a pair of old time radio performances - roles that show off a side of the actor/director's persona very different from Sgt. Joe Friday. In "Jack of Clubs" (originally aired on ABC on February 20, 1949), he's waterfront shamus Pat Novak For Hire. Then, he's an unscrupulous private eye who dabbles in crime in "Perfect Alibi" from The Whistler (originally aired on CBS on June 12, 1949).

Apr 02, 2018
Episode 273 - Les is More (The Thin Man, The Falcon, & The Abbotts)
01:32:41

During his nearly three decade run on radio, Les Damon starred as several detectives - Dashiell Hammett's Nick Charles, the debonair private eye known as the Falcon, and half of the husband and wife duo the Abbotts. We'll hear Damon as Nick in "The Strange Case of Professor Waigner" from The Adventures of the Thin Man; as Mike Waring - The Falcon - in "The Case of the Big Talker" (originally aired on NBC on April 29, 1951); and as Pat Abbott in "The Case of the Blood-Red Diamond" from Adventures of the Abbotts.

Mar 25, 2018
Episode 272 - No Stone Unturned (Amazing Mr. Malone, Escape, & Night Beat)
01:34:04

One of the busier actors on radio, Frank Lovejoy starred in everything from soap operas to superhero adventures, from tales of Suspense to the urban newspaper drama Night Beat. We'll hear him in three old time radio shows: as The Amazing Mr. Malone in "Cleanliness is Next to Godliness" (originally aired on ABC on August 28, 1948); in "Danger at Matecumbe" from Escape (originally aired on CBS on March 24, 1950); and finally as Randy Stone in Night Beat in "Old Blind Pop" (originally aired on August 7, 1950).

Mar 18, 2018
Episode 271 - Lullaby of Broadway (Broadway is My Beat)
01:01:21

It's Broadway - "the gaudiest, the most violent, the lonesomest mile in the world." Join Detective Danny Clover as he walks the Great White Way in Broadway is My Beat. Larry Thor stars as the sensitive sleuth in "The Max Wendell Murder Case" (an AFRS rebroadcast of a show from April 28, 1950) and in "The Howard Crawford Murder Case" (originally aired on CBS on August 5, 1951).

Mar 13, 2018
Episode 270 - An Honor to Be Nominated (Nero Wolfe, Michael Shayne, & Barrie Craig)
01:29:24

In a special bonus episode, we’ll hear a trio of radio detectives who were nominated for Academy Awards. Though they didn’t bring home an Oscar, they still won a place in our hearts for their on-air crime solving prowess. Sydney Greenstreet stars as Nero Wolfe in “Stamped for Murder” (originally aired on October 20, 1950). Then, Jeff Chandler is Michael Shayne in “The Case of the Mail-Order Murders.” Finally, William Gargan is Barrie Craig, Confidential Investigator in “The Schemers” (originally aired on NBC on April 6, 1954).

Mar 04, 2018
Episode 269 - Hammer Time (That Hammer Guy)
01:15:39

To celebrate what would have been the 100th birthday of master mystery writer Mickey Spillane, we'll hear three radio adventures of his signature shamus - the hard-boiled Mike Hammer. Ted De Corsia stars as Hammer in three episodes from That Hammer Guy: "The Jim Gordon Case," "The More You Kill, the Simpler It Gets" (originally aired on Mutual on April 20, 1954), and "A Dead Dame in Central Park" (originally aired on Mutual on April 27, 1954).

Mar 04, 2018
Episode 268 – Hello, Neuman (Rocky Jordan, The Line-Up, & Johnny Dollar)
01:33:06

Emmy-nominated writer E. Jack Neuman was one of radio's most prolific mystery scribes. Before he created classic TV shows like Mr. Novak, Neuman penned adventures of Jeff Regan, Richard Diamond, Sam Spade, and many more. In honor of his birthday, we'll hear three of his old time radio mysteries: "Fall Guy" from Rocky Jordan (originally aired on CBS on May 1, 1949); "The LaTourette Matter" from Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar (originally aired on CBS on February 20, 1953); and "The Lugar-Lugging Laddie Case" from The Line-Up (originally aired on CBS on July 8, 1952).

Feb 25, 2018
Episode 267 - Worth a Thousand Words (Casey, Crime Photographer)
01:02:31

Staats Cotsworth gets the shot - and his man - as Casey, Crime Photographer. Each week, Casey covers the news and makes it as he cracks the case and meets his deadline. We'll hear the crusader with a camera in "Loaded Dice" (originally aired on CBS on September 4, 1947) and "The Tobacco Pouch" (originally aired on CBS on September 18, 1947).

Feb 18, 2018
Episode 266 - Holy Roller (The Saint)
01:29:17

Heaven help crooks and thieves - The Saint is on the case! Vincent Price stars as Simon Templar, "the Robin Hood of modern crime," in three old time radio mysteries: "The Sinister Sneeze" (originally aired on NBC on June 11, 1950); "The Dame on the Doorstep" (originally aired on NBC on November 12, 1950); and "Formula for Death" (originally aired on NBC on March 25, 1951).

Feb 11, 2018
Episode 265 - You've Got Mail (Let George Do It & Box 13)
01:01:29

Our old time radio detectives this week drummed up business with newspaper ads - catchy sales pitches that invited potential clients to write in with requests for help. We'll hear Bob Bailey inviting those in need to Let George Do It in "The Father Who Had Nothing to Say" (originally aired on Mutual on September 13, 1948). Then, Alan Ladd opens another letter addressed to Box 13 in the syndicated mystery "The Haunted Artist."

Feb 04, 2018
Episode 264 - Lyon-Hearted Hero (Jeff Regan, Investigator)
01:05:17

If you're in trouble and you can come up with ten dollars a day and expenses, you can get help from Jeff Regan, Investigator. The hard-boiled gumshoe worked for the penny-pinching Anthony J. Lyon and never failed to find dangerous dames and double-crosses as he hustled for that ten a day. We'll hear Jack Webb as Regan in "The Too Many Mrs. Rogers" (originally aired on CBS on October 9, 1948). Then, Frank Graham is the detective in "The Two Little Sisters" (originally aired on CBS on November 16, 1949).

Jan 28, 2018
Episode 263 - Deduction Down Under (The Fat Man)
58:55

Though it was one of radio's most popular shows, The Fat Man left the airwaves in 1951 - a victim of the same anti-Communist hysteria that jailed its creator Dashiell Hammett. But in 1954, an Australian radio series, using scripts from the American show, was launched and its surviving shows give us a chance to hear more from this XXL private eye. We'll hear Lloyd Berrell starring in "Murder and the Peacock" and "Murder Shows a Phantom Face."

Jan 21, 2018
Episode 262 - The Doctor is In (Danger, Dr. Danfield & Sam Spade)
01:28:31

To old time radio fans, Steve Dunne is best known for his single season as Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade. Dunne stepped into the private eye's shoes when the program was resurrected following a cancellation, and he remained in the role until Sam closed up shop for good in 1951. We'll hear Dunne in his very first Spade adventure (originally aired on NBC on November 17, 1950) as well as "The Crab Louie Caper" (originally aired on NBC on January 12, 1951). Plus, we'll hear Dunne as a crimesolving psychologist in Danger, Dr. Danfield in an episode originally aired on ABC on November 17, 1946.

Jan 14, 2018
Episode 261 - The First Five Matter (Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar)
01:15:50

On October 3, 1955, Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar returned to CBS after a year-long hiatus. The adventures of "the man with the action-packed expense account" were revamped into a serial, with a complete adventure playing out each weeknight. Bob Bailey stepped into the shoes of "America's fabulous freelance insurance investigator," and it was a perfect marriage of actor and character. We'll hear that very first five-part mystery - "The McCormack Matter" (originally aired on CBS between October 3 and October 7, 1955).

Jan 07, 2018
Episode 260 - Detect the Halls (Candy Matson, Richard Diamond, Johnny Dollar, & Broadway is My Beat)
01:59:40

Haul out the holly - it's time for the "Down These Mean Streets" holiday special. We're wrapping up 2017 with Christmas capers from four old time radio sleuths. First, Natalie Masters is Candy Matson, the gorgeous girl detective of San Francisco, in "Jack Frost" (originally aired on NBC on December 10, 1949). Next, Dick Powell and his Richard Diamond cast of characters present their version of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (originally aired on NBC on December 24, 1949). Then, Bob Bailey files a holiday expense account as Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar: "The Missing Mouse Matter" (originally aired on CBS on December 23, 1956). Finally, we head to the Big Apple for Larry Thor as Detective Danny Clover in "Santa Takes a Powder" from Broadway is My Beat (originally aired on CBS on December 24, 1949).

Dec 20, 2017
Episode 259 - Blues in the Night (Pete Kelly's Blues)
01:02:03

Head down to 417 Cherry Street for a drink and a set from Pete Kelly and his jazz band. Jack Webb combines his love of jazz and his unique style of radio crime drama in Pete Kelly's Blues, a short-lived series from the summer of 1951. The show featured great tunes and downbeat stories of the Prohibition era, and it inspired a 1955 feature film. We'll hear a pair of episodes - "The Veda Brand Story" (originally aired on NBC on July 11, 1951) and "Dr. Jonathan Budd and the Dutchman" (originally aired on NBC on September 12, 1951).

Dec 17, 2017
Episode 258 - Double Date for Danger (Mr. and Mrs. North & The Abbotts)
01:00:15

Two of old time radio's crime solving couples are on hand to mix marriage and mayhem in a pair of mysteries. First, Richard Denning and Barbara Britton are amateur sleuths Mr. and Mrs. North in "Too Late to Die" (an Armed Forces Radio Service rebroadcast of a show originally aired on CBS on December 15, 1953). Then, Mandel Kramer is private eye Pat Abbott and Claudia Morgan is his wife Jean in "The Gentleman in the Nile Green Suit" from The Adventures of the Abbotts (an Armed Forces Radio Service rebroadcast of a show originally aired on NBC on May 29, 1955).

Dec 10, 2017
Episode 257 – Meet the Press (Casey, Crime Photographer, Big Town, & Night Beat)
01:33:27

We’re running a special edition to salute the radio crime fighters of the Fourth Estate – three newsmen who used the power of the press to solve crimes and keep their cities free of corruption. First, Staats Cotsworth is Casey, Crime Photographer in “The Blonde’s Lipstick” (originally aired on CBS on November 6, 1947). Then, editor Steve Wilson and reporter Lorelei Kilbourne fight the rackets of Big Town. Edward Pawley and Fran Carlon star in “The Final Payment” (originally aired on NBC on September 21, 1948). Finally, Frank Lovejoy is Chicago reporter Randy Stone in “Byline for Frank” from Night Beat (originally aired on NBC on June 29, 1951).

Dec 03, 2017
Episode 256 - Hard-Boiled Howard (Sam Spade & Burns and Allen)
01:30:15

We tip our fedora to Howard Duff in honor of the star’s November 24th birthday. To celebrate, we’ll hear him in his signature role as Dashiell Hammett’s famous private detective Sam Spade. With his wry humor and unique take on the material, Duff as Spade gave us one of the best gumshoes of the era. We’ll hear him in two episodes of The Adventures of Sam Spade: “The Bow Window Caper” (originally aired on CBS on November 9, 1947) and “The Stopped Watch Caper” (originally aired on CBS on April 10, 1949). Finally, Sam gets his craziest caper ever when he meets Gracie Allen in a comedy episode from February 10, 1949.

Nov 26, 2017
"Wire Paladin, San Francisco"

In the latter days of the Golden Age of Radio, several programs made the move to television - chasing advertisers and the public’s focus. Dragnet aired on radio and TV simultaneously for years, along with comedies like Our Miss Brooks and The Jack Benny Program. Generally, it was a one-way street, but in 1958 CBS reversed the trend when it brought its hit TV western Have Gun - Will Travel to radio.

The series premiered on television in 1957. Created by Herb Meadow and Sam Rolfe (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), the series starred Richard Boone as Paladin, a suave but deadly gun for hire. Educated at West Point, Paladin operated out of the luxurious Carlton Hotel in San Francisco. He was aided by hotel bellhop Hey Boy (Kam Tong), and he advertised his services with his trademark card, bearing the words “Have Gun - Will Travel.”

Off duty, he enjoyed fine cigars, good drinks, and the company of lovely women. But when he was on the job, Paladin dressed in black and had nerves of steel. The series successfully blended two of television’s most popular genres: the western and the private eye series. It wasn’t as if Paladin was Sam Spade on horseback, but he was tough, resourceful, and worked by his own moral code. He’d take on dangerous jobs for the right place, but he would turn the tables on his employer if Paladin discovered he was being used. Boone was simultaneously debonair and dangerous as Paladin. The role earned him two Emmy nods and he directed several of the episodes. One of the show’s most prolific writers was Gene Roddenberry; less than ten years later, he’d bring Star Trek to television. Have Gun - Will Travel had a comfortable home in the top five on the Nielsen charts for its first four seasons on the air.

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The radio version of Have Gun - Will Travel had connections to the radio and TV versions of another classic western. Producers brought Gunsmoke to television in 1955, but producer Norman MacDonnell - who, along with writer John Meston had made the radio series one of the finest programs on the air - was largely shut out of the TV series. When CBS planned to bring the adventures of Paladin to radio, MacDonnell campaigned for - and won - the job. Actor Ben Wright, who co-starred as Hey Boy on radio, said “There were definite ill feelings between Norm and the television crew responsible for Gunsmoke. I think Norm came up with the idea for doing a radio version of Have Gun, possibly to show them that ‘Hey, look what I can do with your program, and I did it even better.’”

When it came to casting the radio voice of Paladin, producers did not import the series’ television star. Instead, they tapped an actor who had only recently wrapped a run on another western program. John Dehner was one of the busiest radio actors in the 1950s, frequently guesting on EscapeSuspense, and - for Norman MacDonnell - Philip Marlowe and Gunsmoke. In fact, Dehner had been offered the role of Matt Dillon on Gunsmoke, but he turned it down. From February until November 1958, Dehner starred in Antony Ellis’ acclaimed drama Frontier Gentleman as British newspaper correspondent J.B. Kendall. It was a drama in the “adult western” vein of Gunsmoke, but it left the air in November. The week after J.B. Kendall filed his last report of the west, John Dehner was on the air as Paladin.

Dehner sought to create his own version of Paladin, commenting “I didn’t pay any attention to [Richard Boone] at all. I knew it would be deadly if I were to imitate him or do anything that was even vaguely similar to him.” He made the role his own, creating a Paladin who sounded just as home in an opera box as he did on the trail. Each episode opened with Bernard Hermann’s driving theme (imported from television) and Dehner as Paladin delivering a line from the story to follow.

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Have Gun - Will Travel offered a showcase for some of radio’s greatest players as the era of radio drama was winding down. Harry Bartell, Larry Dobkin, Virginia Gregg, Jeanne Bates, Howard Culver, and many more (most of them members of MacDonnell’s repertory company) turned in supporting performances in a mix of adapted television scripts and original stories.

On television, Paladin continued to hire himself out until 1963, but his radio series ran for 106 episodes. Have Gun - Will Travel left the air just over two years after it premiered and just about two years away from the end of the Golden Age of Radio. In the final episode, Paladin left San Francisco behind and rode to Boston to claim an inheritance. Just as he reversed the trend and rode to radio, Paladin defied his genre and rode east at the end of his story.

Nov 23, 2017
Episode 255 - Talking Turkey (Our Miss Brooks)
34:18

To keep you smiling on Thanksgiving, here’s a comedy side dish courtesy of Eve Arden as Our Miss Brooks. Jeff Chandler – radio’s Michael Shayne – co-stars alongside the amazing Ms. Arden in this Turkey Day story about a live turkey slated to be guest of honor at the Madison High feast. Co-starring Gale Gordon (The Casebook of Gregory Hood), this episode originally aired on CBS on November 19, 1950.

Nov 23, 2017
Episode 254 - It's a Plane! (Adventures of Superman)
01:14:52

Don’t touch that dial – the thrilling conclusion of our Superman-Batman radio team-up is coming your way. The Man of Steel and the Caped Crusader are fighting to save Robin and Jimmy Olsen in the exciting final chapters of “The Monkey Burglar,” originally aired on The Adventures of Superman on the Mutual Network between February 19 and 25, 1947.

Nov 22, 2017
Episode 253 - It's a Bird! (Adventures of Superman)
01:16:45

The Man of Steel and the Dynamic Duo are teaming up to keep the airwaves safe! We’ll hear a serialized story from The Adventures of Superman that brings Batman and Robin to Metropolis to join forces with Superman. Bud Collyer is Superman, Matt Crowley is Batman, and Ronald Liss is Robin in “The Monkey Burglar,” a story that finds Robin as a prime suspect for a series of daring robberies. We’ll hear the first five installments, originally aired on the Mutual Network between February 12 and February 18, 1947.

Nov 19, 2017
Episode 252 - Mustachioed Marvel (Murder Clinic & Hercule Poirot)
59:11

We're putting our little grey cells to work as Hercule Poirot solves two old time radio mysteries. Agatha Christie's brilliant Belgian detective is back on the big screen, and we'll hear two of his adventures from the airwaves. First, Maurice Tarplin is Poirot in an adaptation of Christie's "The Tragedy at Marsdon Manor," originally aired on Murder Clinic on October 6, 1942. Then, Harold Huber steps in for "Murder is a Private Affair," an episode of Hercule Poirot (originally aired on Mutual on November 23, 1945).

Nov 12, 2017
Happy Birthday, Joel McCrea

Actor Joel McCrea was born November 5, 1905. His show business career began when he was still in high school; he’d double for cowboy star Tom Mix in stunt scenes. During his career, McCrea worked with Alfred Hitchcock in Foreign Correspondent and Preston Sturges in Sullivan’s Travels and The Palm Beach Story. Westerns were his favorite films - he admitted as much, saying “I liked doing comedies, but as I got older I was better suited to do Westerns. Because I think it becomes unattractive for an older fellow trying to look young, falling in love with attractive girls in those kinds of situations…Anyway, I always felt so much more comfortable in the Western. The minute I got a horse and a hat and a pair of boots on, I felt easier. I didn’t feel like I was an actor anymore. I felt like I was the guy out there doing it.”

It was fitting that he’d find success on radio in the cowboy crime drama Tales of the Texas Rangers. McCrea starred as Ranger Jayce Pearson in the NBC radio series from 1950 to 1952. McCrea lent a tough, no-nonsense air to the lead role of Ranger Jayce Pearson. He’s Joe Friday with a touch of Gary Cooper; Wyatt Earp with a radio and forensic knowledge. On screen, McCrea earned his spurs in The VirginianFour Faces West, Ride the High Country, and more.

Happiest when he was outdoors, McCrea described himself as a rancher with the hobby of acting. He passed away in 1990 at the age of 84.

Nov 05, 2017
Episode 251 - Powell, P.I. (Rogue's Gallery & Richard Diamond)
01:04:12

Need a case closed and a tune carried? Dick Powell is your man. The crooner reinvented his career when he played Philip Marlowe on screen, and he starred in a pair of radio detective shows as glib but tough private investigators. In honor of Powell’s birthday, we’ll hear two of his mysteries: as Richard Rogue, he solves “The Impossible Murder” from Rogue’s Galley (originally aired on Mutual on May 16, 1946). Then, as Richard Diamond, Private Detective, Powell tackles “The Big Foot Grafton Case” (originally aired on NBC on August 30, 1950).

Nov 05, 2017
Backdrop of Antiquity

“Not far from the Mosque Sultan Hassan in Cairo stands the Cafe Tambourine, run by Rocky Jordan.  The Cafe Tambourine, crowded with forgotten men, alive with the babble of many languages.  For this is Cairo, where modern adventure and intrigue unfold against a backdrop of antiquity.”

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Blend two of Humphrey Bogart’s signature roles - hard-boiled private eye Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon and ex-pat club owner Rick Blaine in Casablanca - and you’d end up with Rocky Jordan, an adventure/detective series that aired on the West Coast over CBS’ Pacific Network from 1945 to 1951.  Rocky ran the Cafe Tambourine, a watering hole and nightspot (not unlike Rick’s Cafe Americain) frequented by characters on both sides of the law.  Despite his best self-interested intentions, Rocky was usually drawn into the postwar intrigue that was being plotted in and around his club.  The combination of mystery and the exotic setting help Rocky Jordan stand out as a unique member of the old time radio detective fraternity.

The series began as a five-night-a-week serial called A Man Called Jordan.  During this 1945 to 1947 run on CBS’ West Coast network, Rocky’s club was located in Istanbul.  When the series returned in a 30 minute format in 1948, Rocky had relocated the club to Cairo, but the premise of the series remained largely the same.  Rocky was an American, but he couldn’t return to his native land due to a murky event in his past in St. Louis.  Like Rick Blaine, he looked out for himself and wasn’t motivated to stick his neck out unless it carried the promise of a reward.  But Rocky discovered there was no shortage of old friends and foes from the states or Cairo criminals whose plans intersected with the Cafe Tambourine.

For most of the run, Rocky was played by Jack Moyles (also heard as Sgt. Pete Carger on The Line-Up).  Moyles delivered Rocky’s tough guy style, but he allowed a hint of a heart to peek through when needed.  He brought a world-weary delivery to the role, and Moyles sold the part of a very American man in a uniquely un-American setting.

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A radio detective series wouldn’t be complete without a friendly rival on the police force; throughout the series, Jay Novello co-starred as Captain Sam Sabayya of the Cairo Police.  While his associates (including the toadyish Sgt. Greco) disliked Rocky, Sam knew he had a cautious ally in the American club owner, and the two frequently collaborated on investigations.

Along with the casting, the production values of Rocky Jordan helped to make the show unique.  There was the musical score, composed by Richard Aurandt, that was heavily inspired by Middle Eastern music.  The Cairo setting was meticulously researched by writers Larry Roman and Gomer Cool to ensure they were authentically portraying the city.  They relied heavily on the Pocket Guide to Egypt issued by the U.S. Army to soldiers during World War II, and they used actual street names as Rocky made his way through Cairo.  Roman and Cool also pulled stories from current events coming out of the region.  The resulting scripts felt as at home in Egypt as Jack Webb’s Dragnet felt in Los Angeles.

The series returned for a brief run in 1951 with 1930s movie star George Raft playing Rocky.  Ironically, Raft turned down the role of Rick in Casablanca, but he eventually played a similar role on this  series.

Oct 31, 2017
Episode 250 - The X Factor (Man Called X)
58:23

Herbert Marshall travels the globe as the dashing and debonair Man Called X. Dispatched on international adventures, the Man Called X is really secret agent Ken Thurston, enemy to spies, saboteurs, and insurgents wherever they may lurk. Marshall gave radio a suave super spy in one of the best espionage programs of the era. We’ll hear Ken Thurston in “Japanese Underground” (originally aired on NBC on January 20, 1951) and “A Ton of Dynamite” (originally aired on NBC on February 26, 1952).

Oct 29, 2017
Across the Pond

Pursuit!  A criminal strikes and fades quickly back into the shadows of his own dark world.  And then, the man from Scotland Yard, the famous Inspector Peter Black, and the dangerous, relentless Pursuit!”

Sherlock Holmes was not the only British detective to solve crimes stateside during the Golden Age of Radio.  A wave of mystery shows featuring Scotland Yard detectives cropped up on American radio in the post-World War II era.  The great Orson Welles hosted The Black Museum, a syndicated series that drew inspiration from Scotland Yard’s warehouse of evidence seized from murder scenes.  Basil Rathbone, Sherlock Holmes himself, got into the act as Inspector Burke on Mutual after he hung up his deerstalker cap.  And CBS offered Pursuit, a series without star power but one with sharp writing and top flight vocal performances from a crew of radio veterans.

Pursuit grew out of an audition program for a series called The Hunters.  Developed by Anton M. Leader (who was coming off a run at the helm of Suspense), The Hunters starred Victor Jory as Scotland Yard’s Inspector Harvey in an adaptation of Cornell Woolrich’s short story “You Take Ballistics."  The Hunters didn’t take off, but the premise was reworked by producer William N. Robson.  Robson enlisted character actor Ted de Corsia to star as the renamed Inspector Peter Black.

The actor was one of the most versatile in the world of west coast radio; de Corsia had a gift for dialects and accents and could be heard as an upper crust member of high society one week and as a fast-talking gunsel the next.  He delivered Inspector Black’s dialogue in an arch, clipped manner that recalled the voice of actor Ronald Colman.  Shortly after he left Pursuit, de Corsia played Lt. Levinson opposite Dick Powell on Richard Diamond, Private Detective.

Pursuit featured scripts by radio veterans Morton Fine and David Friedkin (including the episode on the podcast this week), and supporting performances from Hollywood radio’s deep talent pool.  Actor Bill Johnstone (Lt. Ben Guthrie on The Line-Up) did double duty as Black’s superior Chief Inspector Harkness and as the show’s announcer.

In 1950, Robson left the series.  The production was turned over to Elliot Lewis (the creative force behind Broadway is My Beat), who was also directing and producing Suspense on CBS.  Lewis reworked the show; he brought in Ben Wright as the star (Wright, a British born radio actor, was coming off of a run as Sherlock Holmes when he assumed the lead role on Pursuit).  Wright came by his British accent naturally, but like de Corsia he was a versatile actor and a master of different voices.  Though it was his natural voice that was often in demand, Wright also doubled as Asian characters on shows like Frontier GentlemanThe Green Llama, and as Hey Boy on Have Gun - Will Travel.

Lewis made changes behind the scenes as well.  The orchestral scores that accompanied the earlier run of Pursuit were replaced by the organ music of Eddie Dunstedter, and he enlisted Antony Ellis to write scripts.  Lewis secured sponsorship from Wrigley’s Gum and from Sterling Products, makers of multiple drug store items such as Ironized Yeast and Molle shaving cream.  When the sponsorship ran out, so too did Pursuit, another victim of the increased attention (and advertising dollars) being paid to television.

Pursuit had a relatively short run (less than 70 episodes aired on CBS), but the surviving episodes show some of the best writers, directors, and actors of the Golden Age of Radio doing some of their best work.  Even if it flew under audiences’ radar when it aired, Pursuit can thrill listeners today as Inspector Peter Black searches the streets of London for dangerous criminals.

Oct 27, 2017
Episode 249 - Old Time Radio Halloween 2017 (Suspense)
32:57

It's alive...it's alive! It's the "Down These Mean Streets" Halloween special, presenting an old time radio chiller guaranteed to get you in the mood for trick or treating. We'll hear Herbert Marshall star in an adaptation of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (originally aired on Suspense on CBS on November 3, 1952).

Oct 25, 2017
Episode 248 – Back to Baker Street (New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes)
01:33:52

The game’s afoot as we join Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in three of their old time radio adventures. John Stanley is the world’s most famous detective and Alfred Shirley plays his loyal companion and biographer in these original adventures that feature a locked room mystery, a ghostly menace to an old family, and a woman in fear for her life. We’ll hear “The Case of the Dog that Changed Its Mind” (originally aired on Mutual on September 28, 1947); “The Case of the Cradle that Rocked Itself” (originally aired on Mutual on November 30, 1947); and “The Case of the Very Best Butter” (originally aired on Mutual on April 18, 1948).

Oct 22, 2017
Seven Percent Solutions

On October 20, 1930, Sherlock Holmes arrived on radio, and he would remain on the airwaves for nearly two decades. Holmes of course was already popular from the stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and a stage play that toured the country starring William Gillette as the sleuth. But it wasn’t until actress, writer, and producer Edith Meiser persuaded NBC to take a chance on the character’s radio prospects that Holmes made his way into homes throughout the United States. For nearly ten years before Basil Rathbone first donned the deerstalker cap in The Hound of the Baskervilles, Sherlock Holmes was a mainstay on American radio.

In honor of the anniversary of that first broadcast, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite radio adventures of the master detective of Baker Street. These episodes, a mix of Conan Doyle adaptations and original radio mysteries, will make a fine playlist as you celebrate the on-air career of Sherlock Holmes and his loyal friend and biographer, Dr. John H. Watson.

“The Immortal Sherlock Holmes” – Technically not an episode of the Holmes radio series, but I think you’ll forgive my making an exception for Orson Welles. In this episode of The Mercury Theatre On the Air (a show that aired a month before the infamous “War of the Worlds” broadcast), Welles adapts and stars in a radio version of the Gillette play, a story that blends elements of several Holmes stories into one adventure pitting the sleuth against his nemesis Professor Moriarty. Ray Collins, years before he was Lt. Tragg on Perry Mason, narrates as Dr. Watson, and Eustace Wyatt plays Moriarty in this top-notch production from one of radio’s best dramatic anthologies. (Originally aired on CBS on September 25, 1938)

“The Notorious Canary Trainer” – To generations of fans, Basil Rathbone is Sherlock Holmes. Rathbone made an indelible impression as the detective in fourteen films between 1939 and 1946, but he also starred in hundreds of radio episodes alongside Nigel Bruce in The New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. These shows, written by Anthony Boucher and Denis Green, are fantastic, and one of the best is this original mystery about a murderer who confesses before he commits suicide, but there is no evidence of a killing beyond two dead canaries found at the scene. (Originally aired on Mutual on April 23, 1945)

“The Second Generation” – One of the most famous stories in the Holmes canon is “A Scandal in Bohemia,” the tale that introduced Irene Adler. Known forever to Holmes as “the woman,” the beautiful and brilliant Adler has appeared in nearly all of the recent Holmes adaptations (the Robert Downey, Jr. films, Elementary, and Sherlock), and subsequent works have explored the exact nature of the relationship between Holmes and his lovely adversary. This Green and Boucher script acts as a sequel to “Bohemia” (a story they adapted on the series one week prior), and it tells of Holmes and Watson’s encounter with Irene’s daughter two decades later. One of the great things about the Green/Boucher run was they explored the entire timeline, with stories set in the early days of the Holmes/Watson partnership, some during the “great hiatus” after Holmes supposed death, and some in Holmes’ later years of semi-retirement as a beekeeper. “The Second Generation” is one of those “Holmes in twilight” stories, and it adds an additional level of emotion to the proceedings. (Originally aired on Mutual on December 17, 1945)

“The Adventure of the Tolling Bell” – After Basil Rathbone left the role of Holmes in 1946, Tom Conway took over as the detective for one radio season. He stars as Holmes in this mystery set in the idyllic English countryside. A vacationing Holmes and Watson (Nigel Bruce) learn of a strange series of deaths in the village when they come to the aid of a young woman. Their investigation leads them to a demented villain’s reign of terror and a showdown in a church bell tower. It’s a classic example of the “small town with a secret” genre, and it proves once again (as Holmes said in “The Copper Beeches”) the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside."  (Originally aired on ABC on April 7, 1947)

“The Case of the Sudden Senility” – Listeners of the podcast will know that my favorite radio Holmes is John Stanley, and my favorite run of episodes is Stanley’s 1947-48 season – a year where he was supported by Alfred Shirley as Watson and performed scripts penned by Edith Meiser. In this Meiser original that serves as an unofficial sequel to Doyle’s “Silver Blaze,” Holmes and Watson investigate when a five year-old horse dies in his stable of old age. The case involves a black cat, a mysterious house, and an appearance from Holmes’ greatest enemy. (Originally aired on Mutual on January 11, 1948)

“The Empty House” – Edith Meiser adapts the story that brought Holmes back from the de