Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Those Old-Time Radio Shows

I grew up listening to radio. We didn't have a television until I was in high school.
If you had the experience I think you'll agree, radio gave us something the TV generation missed out on. Listening to radio inspired more use of imagination than that required by the visual media. I'm not saying television viewers lack imagination.
The point is radio, as in reading, requires the listener to imagine the scene, create the speaker in his mind--'pictures' and sound that are more personal than those projected visually. Who can forget that squeaking door and the eerie organ music of 'Inner Sanctum'? Or the sonorous voice of 'The Shadow'? Do you see The Whistler?

I believe listening to those old time radio shows was as much an incentive as my youthful reading in inspiring me to want to write my own stories. Willa Cather said much of the material a writer uses is acquired before the age of fifteen.
I spent a lot of time listening to those old radio shows in those teen and earlier years. These included Inner Sanctum, The Whistler (noted for its unexpected twists at the end), Mr. and Mrs. North, Boston Blackie and many others. One of my favorites was 'I Love a Mystery,' about three friends who ran a detective agency and traveled the world in search of adventure. It originally aired from 1939 to 1944 and then was revived and ran from 1948 to 1952. I was too young for those earlier episodes, but many are still available online.
The Shadow, one of the most popular of radio shows, ran from 1930-1954, prompted a magazine and a series of novels. The opening line is haunting, "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows."
Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons, was another popular show and one of the longest running, 1937-1955.
The radio version of The Thin Man, based on Dashiell Hammett's novel, ran in 1936, before I was born, but I've seen the film and the TV adaptation. William Powell and Myrna Loy reprised their film roles in the radio show but were replaced by Peter Lawford and Phyllis Kirk on TV.
Of course mysteries weren't the only shows I listened to. There were also many good Westerns, comedies and drama. Still, mysteries remain my favorite.


11 comments:

  1. My favorite old radio programs are the Lucille Ball ones. I have a cd set of them and listen to them all the time. Lots of great stuff in this post!

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    1. What did Lucy do besides My Favorite Husband, which you can tell inspired I Love Lucy? I would enjoy more of her talents.

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  2. Thanks, Amy. Lucy was another we listened to along with Fibber McGee, Amos & Andy and others.

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  3. I once found a radio station that replayed the old shows at night. I listened to it faithfully, and I recall one that really made me nervous, even without visuals. Then I bought tapes of the old shows for my mother-in-law and listened to them with her. And, thank you, you may have just inspired some thoughts for a book. : ) Great post!

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    1. Radio is fun--even today. My son guided me to some sites online and now and then I tune into some of the old favorites. Glad the read inspired you, Marja.

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  4. Fantastic post. Small cream Crosley. Use this memory in our new novel, Legacy of Death. My home town had only 1 TV for some months. On Saturday we'd go uptown & watch the show through the window of Slone's Furniture store. Cather was on the money. Now I wonder if I can get that sound on our website, nashblack.com I've got the door to a free story. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Irene. We had a similar situation here in the early TV days. One store had a set and invited kids to come in and watch, probably hoping the experience would convince parents to buy.

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  5. I'm a youngun, but my husband listened to I Love a Mystery, Captain Midnight, and Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy.

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    1. Oh, I forgot about Jack Armstrong. Thanks for reminding me, Maggie. And for commenting.

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  6. I like the mysteries, comedies, and western the best. The sci-fi shows seems too dated, but I do still listen to some of them.

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  7. Pretty much my pattern, too, Jim. Thanks for commenting.

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