Old Time Radio Listener’s Guide

Brief discriptions of 127 commonly traded Old Time Radio shows
for the benefit of the newer listener or collector.

Programs are listed in alphabetical order.

Abbott & Costello


Many radio personalities of the 1940s who had begun as vaudeville acts began to move away from vaudeville-type formats. But not Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. They were most comfortable with their vaudeville-style and it made them stars. Their routines are very funny. (Who can forget "Who's On First?") They started out as a summer replacement series for Fred Allen in 1940 and by 1942 had a series of their own. Radio set them up to be movie stars, as well, but their act didn't translate well into TV.


Adventures by Morse


Carlton Morse was not only arguably the most gifted writer of the Golden Age, but most-likely the most prolific, as well. "Adventures by Morse" was a syndicated series that was similar in style to Morse's earlier and more famous program, "I Love A Mystery". Plot-lines run from episode to episode. Story settings are from around the world and often involve the rationalizing of what otherwise appears to be a supernatural mystery.


Aldrich Family, The

situation comedy

The opening to each episode of the Aldrich Family did a great job of setting the tone and general theme of this very popular situation comedy of the 1940s: Mrs. Aldrich yells out the door to her son. "Henry! Henry Aldrich!" And Henry responds dutifully, "Coming Mother!" Henry was a respectful son in a loving family and yet his adventuresome spirit got him into some minor crisis every week. Always funny and always wholesome. A great family program. During WW II various young actors played Henry's part until they were drafted or volunteered for military service. In fact, there was an entirely different cast when the series ended in 1953 than when it began in 1939.


Amos 'n Andy


Amos and Andy were friends and business partners operating the Fresh Air Taxi Cab Company. Earliest episodes from the 1920's and 1930's are ongoing stories told in 15 minute daily segments. Stories were both humorous and heart-tugging. It has been said that the actor/writers that were Amos and Andy, Freeman Gosden and Charles Correll, evented both the soap opera and situation comedy when they created this series. By 1943 A&A had become a conventional sitcom and had lost much of its charm. Series continued in varying formats till 1960. Has been criticized by some as be-littling to blacks. (Amos and Andy were black, the actors who portrayed them were white.)



crime drama

There were actually two different Avenger series. No copies are known to exist of the first series which was live on WHN radio in NY . The second series was transcribed/syndicated and episodes are available. Scientist Jim Brandon had developed inventions that enabled him to fight crime. Only Fern Collier, his assistant, new his secrets. Remarkably similar in over-all concept to the Shadow. Both Shadow and Avenger were written by Walter Gibson.


Baby Snooks

situation comedy

Baby Snooks began as a running skit on the "Zigfield Follies on the Air" show but soon received its own time slot on NBC. Snooks was a brat and would insist on being involved in whatever Daddy was trying to do. Snooks never took no for an answer. Whether it was playing the piano or wall-papering the living room, Snooks would be under foot incessantly asking inane questions and generally being a pest. Daddy would suffer with her errant behavior and finally, at times, would have enough and the listening audience would hear the clear sounds of Snooks being paddled. Baby Snooks was played by Fanny Brice, a classic vaudeville commediene who was in her forties at the time.


Backstage Wife (Mary Noble)

soap opera

Mary Noble's husband Larry was a matinee idol and Mary suffered long as women, thousands of them, fawned over her husband.


Bickersons, The

situation comedy

The Bickersons began as a skit on the old Don Ameche show "Drene Time" in 1946 and later was on Edgar Bergen's show. Don Ameche was John Bickerson and Frances Langford was his nagging wife Blanche. For a few weeks in 1951 it was a series with Lew Parker playing John. This show was unlike nearly anything else on radio at that time. The aptly named Bickersons yelled and screamed at each other until she cried and then they'd forgive each other--until the next argument. Whew! It could be funny but children undoubtedly would have been unnerved by this husband and wife nagging and holllering at each other. The best episodes are the skits with Ameche playing John, such as the time John uses her cat, Nature-boy, as an oil-rag. Bickersons set the tone for such future TV shows as the Honeymooners and Flintstones.


Bing Crosby Show, The


Bing Crosby excelled in nearly every form of public entertainment: no one sold more records; he was a popular, oscar-winning motion picture actor; and he had one of the most popular shows on radio. When he was first on the radio, Bing used a music-only format, later he added humor. By the 1940s, his show was perhaps the premier comedy/music program on radio. His laid-back style appealed to the American listener. Bing had as guests most of the popular entertainers of that day. Note: It was Bing that changed radio forever by his insistence about 1945 that he be permitted to record and edit his program before it was broadcast. His network, NBC-red, said "absolutely not" and in the process lost a major program and star to sister network (soon to be ABC) NBC-blue. Bing's show, now on a new network, continued to be popular and the conventioal-wisdom about audiences accepting nothing but live radio from the networks changed forever. (Syndicators had broadcast disk recordings since the 1920s)


Black Museum, The


At the beginning of each episode of this anthology series, narrator Orson Welles would slowly walk through Scotland Yard's repository of crime-evidence, the Black Museum, and would pick out a particular piece of crime memorabilia and then narrate for our benefit the relevant crime story. Well-done writing and acting plus the charisma of Welles make for an appealing show.



situation comedy

Chic Young's comic strip, "Blondie", leaps out of the funnies onto the radio pretty much intact. More related to the movie series than the comic strip, it's always entertaining.


Bob & Ray


Bob and Ray were made for radio, or maybe radio was made for them. Like Freeman Gosden and Charles Correl of Amos and Andy fame, Bob Elliot and Ray Gould seemed to be able to read each other's minds which made for some incredibly funny, dry-witted seemingly off-the-cuff moments. Bob and Ray could do a whole room full of characters all by themselves. Always entertaining, it's hard to believe they worked largely unscripted. Strictly comedy, they had no guests other than the guest-parts they played themselves. Over the years their shows varied in venue and length. Some are an hour others are only fifteen minutes. The CBS series from 1959 to 1960 is generally considered their best work.


Bob Hope Show, The


Few radio shows were more popular than Bob Hope's when orginally on the air. His quick-wit, rapid-fire joke presentation backed-up by high-quality and high-quantity writing (he used three writing teams to produce each half-hour script) made for very funny and timely shows. Unfortunately, timeliness doesn't age well and much of the humor is gone. But, on the other-hand, there was so much humor crammed into each show, that there's still a lot of laugh's per episode. Basic comedy-music format. Enjoyable half hour. Not many episodes have survived unfortunately.


Bold Venture


Movie stars didn't always do well with radio's format and necessary limitations. In the days of live radio there could be no retakes. Even with syndicated transcribed shows, disks were nearly impossible to edit and it simply wasn't done. Humphrey Bogart had been on some anthology series such as Lux Radio Theater but generally disliked the idea of radio. Enter the tape recorder developed by the Nazis during the thirties. After the war, audio tape technology came to this country and, with the help of Bing Crosby, changed the face of radio. Now episodes, whole or in part, could be redone until director and actors were satisfied. Bogie and his wife, Lauren Bacall, could now make a radio series and then be out of the country, if necessary, when it was broadcast, which is exactly what happened. Bogie and Bacall made this one-year series and then left for Africa where Bogie made a little movie called "African Queen". Bold Venture, a program about adventurer Slate Shannon and his "ward", Sailor Duvall (Bacall). OK series mostly noted for its two stars. For Bogie fans its a must-listen.


Box 13


Alan Ladd would soon be a big movie star, but in 1948 he was just a busy radio/movie actor looking to cash-in on the growing radio syndication business. It was his own Mayfair Productions production company that produced "Box 13". "Box 13" was a short-lived series that told stories about Dan Holiday a fiction writer who would run newspaper ads seeking wide-flung adventures to later use as material for future novels. Box 13 was where ad-respondents were to write him.


Bright Star

romantic comedy

After he was the murdering insurance agent in "Double Indemnity" but before he was Disney's "Absent Minded Professor", Fred MacMurray took some time out to play newspaper reporter George Harvey in this light comedy-drama. Irene Dunne played the owner of the newspaper, Hillsdale Morning Star. Short-lived series. Served its two stars as "Bold Venture" had served Bogart and Bacall. MacMurray is enjoyable, as always, and this light series is a must-listen for his fans.


Broadway is My Beat

crime drama

Danny Clover had grown up selling newspapers on New York City's Broadway and knew the area and its people like the back of his hand. When he grew up to be a cop, it was fitting that the Broadway he had grown up on as a boy should be his beat.


Buck Rogers in the 25th Century

juvenile sci-fi

After being in suspended animation for 500 years, Buck Rogers awoke in a new, and very strange world filled with death rays, space ships and gamma bombs. Episodes were serialized so episodes had cliff-hanger endings to insure that the youngsters would be back tomorrow: same time, same station.


Burns & Allen


Vaudevillian married couple, George Burns and Gracie Allen, thrived on radio. His cigar-smoking, deep-sighing, dry-wit combined with her "dumb Dora" dizziness delighted audiences. At first their act called for them to be an unmarried couple. George decided that was silly and one day, after reminding his audience that he and Gracie really were married, informed them that henceforth he and Gracie would be playing a married couple. Later, of course, Burns and Allen made the successful transition to television and thrived there, as well, until Gracie decided she'd had enough and retired. George went on to act and produce television shows on his own and later got back into movies and personal appearances. Always funny. Always entertaining.


Calling All Cars

police drama

Straight forward dramatizations of actual crimes with certain data modified to protect the privacy of involved individuals. Kind of an early Dragnet--sort of.


Captain Midnight

juvenile adventure

Serialized adventure series about mysterious Captain Midnight, adventurer, pilot, government agent. Intended for a juvenile audience.


Casey, Crime Photographer


Casey, a police crime photographer, would invariably discover something in one of his photos that required investigation and suddenly the photographer is a detective.


Cavalcade of America

historical drama

Superb cast and extraordinary writing make Cavalcade of America a great series of dramatizations of American history. Such historical events as the Mayflower, the writing of the Declaration of Independence and the Oklahoma land rush were dramatized.


Chandu, the Magician

juvenile adventure

Frank Chandler (Chandu) used powers of the occult to fight the powers of evil.


Charlie Chan


Asian detective Chan solves mysteries with the assistance of his number one son. Classic mystery series.


Chase, The

dramatic anthology

Each story in this series told a tale about someone being on the run.


Cinnamon Bear, The

children's fantasy

This fantasy series told the tales of Jimmy and Judy Barton and magical Paddy O'Cinnamon, a stuffed bear come to life. This short-lived series has a very strong fan-following. There are twenty-six 15 minute chapters in this serial.


Cisco Kid, The

juvenile western

The Cisco Kid was a Robin Hood-like character in old Mexico and southwest America. Intended for a juvenile audience.


Command Performance


Armed Forces Radio Service presented this series to our fighting personel during WW II. Popular entertainers donated their services and created spectacular productions out of each episode. Episodes had as guests entertainment personalities like Bob Hope, Jimmy Durante, Bing Crosby, and the list goes on and on. Soldiers, sailors and marines would write in their request for some kind of performance or another. It made for some very interesting programs.


Couple Next Door, The

situation comedy

Less abrasive than the Bickersons, the never-named Couple Next Door had their ups and downs in their relationship but love always won out in the end. Clever writing and plot-development make this 15 minute daily series a joy to listen to.


Damon Runyon Theater, The

dramatic anthology

Dramatization of Runyon's stories about the "Guys and Dolls" of New York City as narrated by the series' central character, "Broadway". The "thugs" and "dames" that occupied these tales were sentimental, sensitive and otherwise sympathetic characters. There was Harry, the Horse; Dave, the Dude; Sorrowful Jones; etc. Very entertaining and unique. Transcribed (recorded) series.


Day in the Life of Dennis Day, A

situation comedy

Dennis Day was Jack Benny's nit-witted boy-singer. Day's own show, at least initially, was a situation comedy where the Dennis Day character is a woe-begotten and unsuccessful young man attempting to woo his girl and impress her parents while being decidedly unimpressive. Later the series becomes more of a variety show.


Dick Tracy

juvenile adventure

Chester Gould's Dick Tracy leaped out of the funnies and into radio with all the good guys and villains in tact. Series was serialized so that there was always a cliff-hanger keeping the young listener on the edge of his seat and eager to hear the next installment. A juvenile adventure that many adults enjoyed then and can enjoy yet today.


Dimension X

science fiction

There had been space operas like Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers and there had been hints of sci-fi in various anthology series, but Dimension X was arguably radio's first real adult science-fiction series. Each episode was half an hour long. Episodes were dramatizations of many popular sci-fi authors of the day such as Bradbury, Asimov and Heinlein. This is a true classic radio series. A "must-listen" for any science fiction fan. Series was short-lived but returned as "X minus One" a few years later.


Dr. Christian


Each week Dr. Paul Christian would have an interaction with one of his patients who made up the small town of River's End. Positive, up-beat view of life lived by the Golden-Rule. Wholesome entertainment for the whole family. TV and radio don't do it like this anymore. Starred Jean Hersholt as Dr. Christian and Rosemary DeCamp as Nurse Judy.



police drama

Just the facts, Ma'am" Jack Webb had been in radio a few years and had played a lot of parts when he came up with the notion of a radio drama where the acting wasn't acting, but was as real as "pouring a cup of coffee". With the assistance of the Los Angeles police department, Dragnet plots were developed from real cases with names changed "to protect the innocent." Stories hold up over the years as indicated by the fact that many of the radio scripts made their way into Webb's two Dragnet television series almost un-modified. Show can be quite entertaining. Dragnet certainly always put the best light on law-enforcement. A favorite radio show for many.


Duffy's Tavern


The voice of the owner of Duffy's tavern, was never actually heard, but every episode of this situation comedy started out with him calling the tavern. Archie, the manager, would answer the phone: "Duffy's Tavern, where the elite meet to eat. Archie the manager speaking. Duffy ain't here. . . Oh, hi, Duffy." The plot of each episode centered around the employees, regular customers and occasional high-profile personalities that graced the bar. In addition to Archie (played by Ed Gardner) there was Eddie the waiter, Finnegan the idiot and Miss Duffy, the owner's daughter. Duffy's Tavern can be very humorous. Said to be the inspiration for the Cheers TV show, though their only similarity is the tavern locale.


Easy Aces

serial comedy

Because it was one of the first radio situation comedies, Easy Aces help define what radio humor would be. Goodman Ace, a writer, developed this show specifically for him and his wife, Jane. Jane's character was extraordinarily dumb, and it was a dumbness that was magnified by her tendencies toward malapropisms, some of which became national catch-phrases: "time wounds all heels", etc. Goodman's character was always kind of grumpy, especially when Jane would do something dumb causing him to grouse, "Oh, isn't that awful!" Can be funny, though rarely very funny. Never a huge hit, it never-the-less was on for many years. When networks no longer wanted Easy Aces, smart Mr. Ace took the transcription disks he'd made over the many years and released them into syndication in the 1940's. Seems to have created the syndicated rerun. It also means many of the older episodes are still available out there for us to enjoy. 1931-1948

Eddie Cantor


Eddie Cantor's act was always a vaudeville act. He never changed. Unlike Burns and Allen, Jack Benny and others, Cantor never grew beyond vaudeville into what radio as a medium could mean to a performer. However, he can be entertaining in his vaudeville/variety comedy and music format. He was well known for introducing future stars such as Deanna Durbin and Dinah Shore. Helped get other vaudevillians such as George and Gracie started in radio (and they would later elipse him).


Edgar Bergen & Charlie McCarthy Show, The


What a strange act to put on the radio: ventriloquism. While Edgar Bergen may have been only a so-so ventriloquist, but on radio that didn't matter. It was character-development that was important and at that he was a genius. Listen to the show and you have no doubt that his dummies, Charlie and Mortimer Snerd, are individual personalities. Very popular at the time and still very funny. Could even be controversial. Mae West was for all purposes banned from radio after her appearance on the show. Shows vary in length from an hour to half an hour depending on year and sponsor. Comedy-variety format with a lot of music.




Escape was a radio series whose network treated with disregard but which was adored by its fans. It was moved all over the broadcast schedule and yet its listeners managed to find it. The budget was small and yet, because of great material and a great cast and production staff, managed to produce episodes that are highly regarded to this day. Anthology of dramatizations including such classic stories as "The Most Dangerous Game", "Three Skeleton Keys" and "Earth Abides". Great series.


Exploring Tomorrow

science fiction

Short-lived science fiction anthology series. Sci-fi fans will enjoy this series, but it is not on the same level as Dimension X or X minus One.


Falcon, The


Michael Waring, aka The Falcon, solved cases while offending the cops and disappointing women all the while using some witty, snappy repartee.


Family Theater


Family Theater was formed by catholic priest, Patrick Peyton, as a way of utilizing the power of radio to positively influence the general population in the matter of family prayer. The Mutual network donated the broadcast time on three conditions: the appeal to family prayer could not be Catholic-specific but had to be more non-denominational; Hollywood personalities would have to be used in each weekly episode to appeal to the general listening public; and production qualities would have to be top-notch. And they were. Just about every Hollywood star made an appearance on Family Theater. The series was pretty much similar to other anthology series of the era, with the exception that the only "commercial sponsor" during the series' entire run was the Family Theater itself promoting that "the family that prays together, stays together." Still fine family listening almost fifty years later.


Father Knows Best

situation comedy

Jim Anderson sold insurance, lived in a lovely home with his wife Margaret, and with her raised three children: Betty, Bud and Kathy. Few, if any, major crises ever came to the Anderson house-hold, but weekly there were minor ones. However, the love of family and the wisdom of parents got the family through these crises every week. Today there are those who scoff at such middle-class homes and banal life-styles, but many, many others find such homes either readily identifiable or much preferable to their own experiences. Nice entertaining show.


Fibber McGee & Molly

situation comedy

This situation comedy about married couple Fibber and Molly ran for more than two decades. Fibber couldn't tell a story without exaggeration, speak without mispronunciation and his cluttered closet was legendary. Real-life married couple Jim and Marion Jordan played Fibber and Molly through-out the run of the show. Through most of the run, episodes were half-hour. In the last half of the 50's, the format was changed to 10 minute segments. Very funny. Always delightful.


Fire Fighters


"True-to-life" stories of those brave men fighting "demon fire". 15 minute stories of firefighting. Intended for a juvenile audience.

dates unknown

Flash Gordon

juvenile sci-fi

Short-lived space opera. Serialized episodes. Intended for juvenile audience.


Frank Race, Adventures of


Attorney Frank Race couldn't settle down after the war and became an adventurer.


Fred Allen Show, The


Fred Allen's humor was more sophisticated than most of the funny-stuff on old time radio. His wit could be caustic and political. He was very funny, especially when ad-libbing. His long-term (and phoney) feud with Jack Benny was legendary and set up some of the best one-line digs you'll ever hear. Allen's humor was timely and, therefore, can seem dated, but we fans don't mind a bit. On the show with him was his wife, Portland, and the characters that lived in his fictional "Allen's Alley" where he would weekly visit to see how the occupants of that street were dealing with some minor crisis in the news (traffic, etc.)


Frontier Gentleman


Actor John Dehner portrayed J B Kendall a newspaper reporter for the London Times who came to America in the late 19th century to report on its violent West and became a participant in it instead. Well-done adult western from old time radio's swan-song years.


Fu Manchu

serial thriller

Fu Manchu was an evil scientist chased by Nayland Smith and Dr. James Petrie. Episodes were serialized.



crime drama

The goal of Gang Busters was to present, with as much authenticity as possible, dramatizations of real-life situations where federal and/or local police chased and captured such well-known criminals as Baby Face Nelson, Bonnie & Clyde ,Pretty-Boy Floyd, etc. This exciting series was so loud and boisterous that the term "coming on like Gangbusters" soon became, and has remained, a part of the American lexicon.


Gene Autry's Melody Ranch


Singing cowboy Gene Autry would capture rustlers, defeat criminals, win out over evil and still find time and breath to sing a song and strum a guitar during these 15 minute episodes. Intended for a juvenile audience. A must-listen for die-hard Autry fans.


Grande Ole Opry


George Hay was hired away from Chicago's radio station WLS in 1925 by station WSM in Nashville with the idea of developing a radio show along the lines of the "National Barn Dance" which Hay had helped develop. With the help and talents of fiddle-playing 83 year-old civil-war veteran "Uncle" Jimmy Thompson, the show became a local institution. NBC began broadcasting the show sporadically to the nation in 1939 and then, in 1943, on a regular weekly basis.


Great Gildersleeve, The

situation comedy

Throckmorton Gildersleeve had been a neighbor and foil of Fibber McGee in Wistful Vista until he moved to the town of Summerfield to take care of his niece and nephew. The weekly stories of this highly successful series centered around Gildy, his nephew Leroy, niece Marjorie, Judge Horace Hooker and other members of the Summerfield community. Gildy's romances highlighted many episodes. Because many story-lines were on-going, at times there was an almost serialized feel to the series. Production qualities were always high. Never as entertaining as Fibber McGee and Molly from which it "spun-off", it none-the-less maintained a long history of popularity with the radio audience. Nice situation comedy for family listening.


Green Hornet, The

juvenile adventure

The Green Hornet was a modern-day Lone Ranger. Masked man, Britt Reid, and his faithful companion Kato fought crime while the local police thought of them as criminals. The similarities between the two series should come as no surprise since both were created by George Trendle. Trendle even connected the two by informing the audience that Britt Reid was the great-newphew of John Reid, aka the Lone Ranger. As the Lone Ranger had used the "William Tell Overture" for its theme song, so the Green Hornet used the "Flight of the Bumble Bee". Intended for a juvenile audience.




Previous to Gunsmoke, radio westerns were almost always juvenile westerns, but the plots of Gunsmoke could, and did, hold the attention of an adult audience. As good as the Gunsmoke television series could be at times, the radio drama was as consistently good or better. Plots dealt with the lives and activities of Marshall Dillon, Doc, Miss Kitty, Chester, and the other residents of Dodge City, Kansas in the late 19th century. William Conrad was an excellent Matt Dillon. New enough that transcriptions were all tape-recorded, the quality of existing recordings is usually very good to excellent. Great family listening on an adult level.


Halls of Ivy, The

situation comedy

Movie star Ronald Coleman and his wife, Benita Hume Coleman, had proven their instincts for comedy when they successfully took on an on-going gig playing themselves as Jack Benny's neighbors in the mid to late 40s. This series, created by Don Quinn ( who also created Fibber McGee and Molly), tells the humorous comings and goings of Ivy College President William Todhunter Hall and his wife, Vicky. The humor is more genteel than Fibber, et al, without being stuffy. A pleasant half-hour show, it's a must-listen for any Ronnie Colman fan.


Have Gun Will Travel


Paladin wasn't just any hired gun. He was cultured and refined.


Henry Morgan Show, The


Henry Morgan was a comedian with a snidely, mean streak who had absolutely no regard for his sponsors or his network. Morgan, therefore, suffered the fate that comes to most dogs who bite the hand that feeds it. Historically interesting.


Hermits Cave, The


"Ghost stories! Weird stories! Murders, too! The Hermit knows them all! Turn out your Lights!" This older syndicated program experimented with many special effects that other horror anthology shows would use later on. Scary stuff.


Hop Harrigan

juvenile adventure

Here's another juvenile adventure that has an airplane as a main character (see Jimmy Allen and Captain Midnight) Serialized episodes were intended for a juvenile audience.


Hopalong Cassidy

juvenile western

Hopalong Cassidy was a well-known figure from the Saturday matinees of the 1930s. Inexplicably, he was many years later able to translate that success into a radio show aimed at an entirely different generation of youngsters. Perhaps it was because the parents of the new generation of kids remembered Hoppy from their own childhood and wanted the values he'd represented when they were young passed on to their own children. Cassidy's world was black and white. Good and evil would never be confused. Right always overcame wrong. Hoppy never drank or smoked and he never kissed the girl. I have a feeling that grade school age kids would enjoy Hopalong Cassidy as much today as they did when this show was first aired, assuming that his values are the same values their parents are trying to in-still in them today.


I Love a Mystery


ILAM is generally regarded by Old Time Radio aficionados as the best adventure series presented on radio. It was created, produced, directed and written by Carlton Morse, the highly regarded creator and writer of "One Man's Family". Production qualities and acting are out-standing in this series. The stories of ILAM center around the adventures of the three men who make up the A1 Detective Agency: Jack Packard, Doc Long and Reggie Yorke. Their adventures take them all over the world. A very enjoyable series to this day.


I Love Adventure


I Love Adventure is a sister series to I Love A Mystery. Stories still center around the three men who had made up the A1 detective Agency but had separated during the war.


Information, Please

quiz show

This quiz show was dedicated to showing how smart people could be, instead of the normal quiz show practice of showing how dumb the average person is. Both the permanent panelists and the guests were all very knowledgeable and intelligent and not easily stumped. Not your typical game show.


Inner Sanctum


Raymond was the bizarre and creepy host of this horror anthology series and each week there was a varying cast of great radio and movie actors, but the real star of the show was the creaking door that would open each episode. Actors in this series were some of the greats of radio and screen such as Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, Richard Widmark, etc. Excellent writing, production qualities and acting. A must-listen for any horror fan.


Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy

juvenile adventure

Jack Armstrong was wholesome, athletic and adventurous young man and his adventures sent him around the world. Intended for a juvenile audience.


Jack Benny


Vaudeville comedian Jack Benny was a natural for radio. Jack's program combined the elements of a variety show with a situation comedy by basing the weekly scripts on the comings and goings of the cast as they prepared for the weekly "show". Besides Jack, the audience becomes acquainted over the many years with such regulars as Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Mary Livingston (Mrs. Benny in real life), Don Wilson, Dennis Day and Phil Harris. Classic program.


Jeff Regan


A routine detective series starring Jack Webb. Hard-core detective and Jack Webb fans will enjoy this series. Not generally considered some of Webb's best work. In October of 1949 Webb no longer played the detective and others took the lead role.


Jimmy Allen, The Air Adventures of

juvenile adventure

Juvenile series telling the adventures of Jimmy, his two pals Speed Robertson and Flash Lewis, and his airplane. Episodes were serialized. Very popular with young boys when originally broadcast.


Journey Into Space

science Fiction

British science fiction series.

dates unknown

Jungle Jim


Jungle Jim had a long run as a syndicated (Hearst) series. Using a serialized format, the series followed the same story line each week as the comic strip. 15 minute episodes. Can still be quite entertaining.


Life of Riley, The

situation comedy

Chester Riley was a hard-hat wearing every-man who struggled as a husband and as a parent. He wasn't perfect and maybe not even very bright, but he loved his family and they knew it. Riley was played by William Bendix and the portrayal made him a star.


Lights Out


Arch Oboler was one of the great radio writer/artists of the golden age and his "Lights Out" stories creepily horrific. Between Oboler's writing and the masterful skills of sound-effects personnel, this was a show that would leave you looking in the closet and under the bed before retiring for the night with the lights left ON. No kidding, the use of such special-effects as melons and hatchets to simulate crushed skulls and raw meat being cleavered to simulate . . . well, you get the idea! Not a show for children. Classic series.


Little Orphan Annie

juvenile adventure

Ultimately it gave way to Captain Midnight, but for many years the adventures of Little Orphan Annie (sometimes called Radio Orphan Annie) thrilled youngsters who would rush home from school to listen to the daily serialized episode. Though hundreds of live episodes were broadcast, recordings exist today of probably fewer than ten.


Lone Ranger

juvenile western

The outlaws thought that they had succeeded in killing the entire group of Texas Rangers that day, but John Reed lived because of the good-samaritan-like actions of Tonto. After recuperating, Reed decided to let the world continue to think he was dead while he and Tonto took to fighting crime and injustice wherever they found it in the old west. Classic juvenile western. Promotes wholesome values. Good and evil are always clear and distinct. Does not have an anti-indian bias.


Lum & Abner


Many similarities existed between Lum and Abner and the older series of Amos and Andy. The series used the proven humor/serial format that A&A had developed and it utilized "dialect" humor, though in the case of Lum and Abner, at least the accent was their own. Also like A&A Lum and Abner drew a large, loyal audience. The setting for L&A was in the Arkansas Ozarks where they ran the Jot-It-Down store. Something of an acquired taste today.


Lux Radio Theater


A common anthology format used in the 1930s was that of performing radio plays based on popular motion pictures. Lux, because of their large budget, dedication to production quality and an hour-long format succeeded where others failed. Very popular series that put out radio-play versions of such great films as Wizard of Oz, It's a Wonderful Life, It happened One Night, Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House and the list goes on and on. Delightful series. Great for the whole family.


Maisie, The Adventures of

situation comedy

Ann Sothern reprises the role she performed in the series of ten motion pictures.


Man Called X, A


The Man called X was "the man who crosses the ocean as readily as you and I cross town. He is the man who travels today as you and I will travel tomorrow. He is the man who fights today's war in his unique fashion, so that tomorrow's peace will make the world a neighborhood for all of us." So was X introduced by the series' announcer.


March of Time, The

news dramatization

Series that dramatized current events in the news. Some of the finest radio actors of the day participated in this program--and their substantial skills were required to weekly pull this show off.


Mel Blanc Show, The

situation comedy

Mel Blanc may have been the best "voice man" on the radio. He played a multitude of voices on dozens of radio series over the years. He was best known for his Jack Benny work and his voice-characterizations for cartoons (Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, etc). This is not his best work but is a must-listen for any true Mel Blanc fan.


Mercury Theater on the Air


This notable series starred Orson Welles and his repertory group of actors. Mercury Theater started out as a "sustained" series, meaning it had no single commercial sponsor but had to sell individual ad time. The series struggled to find an audience and advertisers until an unintended event occurred on Halloween night in 1938. Inexplicably, many listeners, were frightened by the dramatization of H G Wells' War of the Worlds, thinking it was an authentic news broadcast. The panic by some made head-lines around the country. Welles was disturbed that his dramatic production could have been taken as a real event. However, the Campbell Soup Company was suitably impressed and offered to sponsor the show which, by December, became Campbell Playhouse. Brilliant acting, excellent writing and producing (by John Houseman) made for classic radio productions. A must-listen for Orson Welles fans and anyone interested in radio drama.


Michael Shayne


Typical radio detective series based on the books by Brett Halliday.


Molle Mystery Theater

detective/mystery anthology

In 1948 this series moved to CBS and shortened its name to "Mystery Theater", but it is the NBC years from 1943 to 1948 that are generally regarded as its best. Modern detective stories from writers such as Raymond Chandler were dramatized as well as classic mysteries from writers such as Edgar Allen Poe.


Mr. Keene, Tracer of Lost Persons


This radio series had soap opera leanings but otherwise was typical radio detective fare.


Mr. President

historial dramatization

Here is an example of a type of program that could not have been done in a visual medium such as television or motion pictures. Each week acclaimed character actor Edward Arnold played a different US president in a historically accurate tale told with the usual dramatic license. The catch? Until the very end of each episode, you did not know which president Arnold was playing. It was a kind of game, see? You were supposed to figure it out. President Truman supposedly loved this series and repeatedly invited its star to the White House. Can be interesting for the right person. Unique program.


Murder at Midnight

horror anthology

"Midnight, when graves gape open and death strikes!" Short-lived horror series. The kind of stuff radio has always done better than movies, television or stage.


My Favorite Husband

situation comedy

Delightful situation comedy starring Lucille Ball and Richard Denning. Lucy's character here (Liz Cooper) is not nearly the ditsy house-wife she played in "I Love Lucy", though she has her moments of being a bit of a ding-a-ling. Fun banter between Liz and husband George and between Liz and her husband's boss, Mr. Atterbury, played by Gale Gordon (That's right: Mr. Mooney of TV fame.)


Mysterious Traveler, The


"This is the Mysterious Traveler, inviting you to join me on another journey into the strange and terrifying. I hope you will enjoy the trip, that it will thrill you a little and chill you a little. So settle back, get a good grip on your nerves, and be comfortable--if you can." So spoke the Mysterious Traveler before each episode. He would then unravel the tale. Scary stuff.


National Barn Dance, The


Before it was redefined as country music, it was known as hill-billy and this was the first network show to broadcast this entertainment genre. National barn Dance was the fore-runner of Grande Ole Opry. Broadcasted out of Chicago. Acquired taste required.




Film noir star Frank Lovejoy played news reporter Lucky Stone who worked the night beat searching "through the city for the strange stories waiting for him in the darkness." Above average in quality of story and production.


One Man's Family

serial drama

For almost three decades "One Man's Family" told the on-going saga of Henry Barbour and his family, which as you can imagine, grew larger and older as the years went by. Considered to by aficionados to be the best example of what radio could provide in the way of a soap opera. Scripts were written by Carlton Morse.


Our Miss Brooks

situation comedy

One of the great situation comedies of the swan-song years of Old Time Radio. Connie Brooks (Eve Arden) was an english teacher and a maiden lady. Episodes humorously dealt with her relationship with her employer, Principal Conklin; her love interest, Mr. Boynton; her students, most notably Walter Denton (Richard Crenna); and her land-lady, Mrs. Conklin.


Ozzie & Harriet, The Adventures of

situation comedy

Band-leader Ozzie Nelson turned his real family into a radio-family (and later a television-family). Real wife, Harriet Nelson, and real sons, David and Ricky, played themselves in this radio sit-com.


Pat Novak for Hire


Jack Webb played Pat Novak as a detective so hard-boiled as to be funny. This series made Webb a force in radio even before Dragnet made him a media star.


Perry Mason

crime drama serial

Erle Stanley Gardner's most famous literary creation not only existed in books, movies and television, he also lived for a while on radio. More soap opera than crime drama, the average fan of the Perry Mason of book and television will probably be disappointed in this series. However, it is probably a must-listen for the really hard-core Mason fan.


Pete Kelly's Blues

crime drama

Pete Kelly and his combo played jazz in the speak-easies of the 1920's and encountered the crime and scum that made those kind of places home. Short-lived (only 12 episodes) Jack Webb series, ran concurrently with Dragnet. Considered some of Webb's best work. Led to a movie by the same name. Good acting and lots of jazz, of which Webb was an aficionado. A must-listen for any Jack Webb fan.


Phil Harris & Alice Faye

situation comedy

Married couple, Phil Harris and Alice Faye, ostensibly played themselves in this situation comedy. Format was not unlike the "Jack Benny Show" from which it spun. Phil was supposely Benny's egotistical and obnoxious bandleader.


Philip Marlowe, The Adventures of


Series based on Raymond Chandler's hard-boiled detective.


Philo Vance


Series based on the detective of S. S. Van Dine's novels.


Quiet, Please


This series' story-telling prose sounded like poetry. It's stories were of a dark fantasy nature. Considered a classic series now, it was not popular in its own day.


Radio City Playhouse

dramatic anthology

Anthology series comprised of high-quality thirty-minute dramatic radio plays.


Railroad Hour, The

musical plays

No matter what Broadway musical or operetta was being performed each week, Gordon MacRae always played the male lead in this series sponsored by the Association of American Railroads (hence the name). Production values were always of high quality and no one did this type of musical better than MacRae (MacRae played Curly in the motion picture version of Rogers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma"). A nice radio series.


Red Ryder

juvenile western

Actor Reed Hadley played Red Ryder, a two-fisted cowboy who lived with his mother, the "duchess", and had an Indian ward named "Little Beaver" who would agree with him by saying, "You betchum, Red Ryder". Acquired taste required. A must-listen for fans of the comic-strip and/or short stories.


Red Skelton


This comedy series showcased Red's many comic characters such as Clem Kadiddlehopper and the "mean widdle kid". Very popular show interrupted by a 1 1/2 year absence while he did his military duty during the war. Though Mr. Skelton was at his best with physical humor (basically he was a panomimist) he none-the-less was found by a large audience that thought him incredibly funny. His long run on radio led to an even longer run on television (1951 - 1971).


Richard Diamond


Richard Diamond could be light-hearted or severely sober, whatever the occasion required. Top acting on the part of the star, Dick Powell, was the key to the success of this private eye series.


Rocky Fortune


Frank Sinatra's short-lived detective series. A must-listen for Sinatra fans. Only so-so as a detective program


Roy Rogers

juvenile western

This transcribed (pre-recorded) series showcased the singing cowboy talents of Roy Rogers and his side-kick, Gabby Hayes, at first, and later Pat Brady. Kids were the target audience. Not as entertaining as his later television series.


Saint, The


When police, because of procedural rules or a criminal's constitutional protections, could not help a victim or soon-to-be victim, the Saint would help and most likely do it the old-fashioned way: by breaking the law. The Saint character had been in a series of novels, a movie series and would later be on television. Series starred Vincent Price and is a must-listen for true Price fans.


Sam Spade


Dashiell Hammet's detective came to radio and was played by Howard Duff. One of the better radio detective series.


Scarlet Pimpernel


British series that told stories based on the Scarlet Pimpernel.


Shadow, The


“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows." Lamont Cranston, scientist and mystic had learned to cloud the minds of men so as to render himself invisible to them. He would use this unique ability to overcome the force of evil in the hearts of men. Very popular at the time and still is.


Sherlock Holmes


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective came to radio early and stayed very late. For 25 years Holmes and the slightly dull Dr. Watson solved crimes on the air waves. Many actors played the detective and the physician, but the most popular were the same ones who had made the motion picture series so popular, Basil Rathbone (Holmes) and Nigel Bruce (Watson).


Six Shooter


"The man in the saddle is angular and long-legged. The gun in his holster is gray steel and mother-of-pearl, its handle unmarked. People call them both . . the Six Shooter!" Jimmy Stewart was a rarity. He was a movie star that was actually good on radio and he enjoyed it! Television was already overshadowing radio as a story-telling medium when Stewart volunteered to do this show--and it’s a good one. A must-listen for officiandos of adult westerns and fans of Jimmy Stewart.


Straight Arrow

juvenile western

Of Comanche heritage, rancher Steve Adams would become western hero Straight Arrow when trouble came up. This relatively short-lived series has to this day an incredibly strong following. Considered by many to be superior to other shows of this genre.



juvenile adventure

Superman flew out of the comic books and into radio in 1940 where he found a good home. Superman's invulnerability and super-powers were very difficult to portray in motion pictures of that era and on early television. But radio could allow the listener to imagine anyting: leaping over the tallest building and running faster than a speeding bullet! Daily episodes were presented in a serialized format.




"From the heart of the jungle comes a savage cry of victory! This is Tarzan, lord of the jungle!" The Tarzan series was a loose adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough's novel "Tarzan of the Apes". Very popular serial and well-done. Episodes are fifteen minutes long and are serialized. Series tells the story of white infant raised by apes to adulthood in Africa. Because the serial was transcribed (pre-recorded) for syndication, recordings of even the earliest episodes are available to collectors and listeners.


Terry and the Pirates


Juvenile adventure series based on the comic-strip by Milton Caniff. Episodes are 15 minutes long and serialized allowing for plenty of cliff-hanger action.


Unexpected, The


Short-lived dramatic series with terror elements.


This is the FBI

crime drama

The FBI opened their files to this show's writers so that the series maintained authenticity. The first episodes made during WW II dealt with Nazis while the later episodes made during the early 1930s tended to deal with communist infiltration.


Truly Yours, Johnny Dollar


As an insurance investigator, Johnny Dollar had to report his expenses to the insurance company for reimbursement and it was through these reports that he related his cases to the listening audience.Older episodes are thirty minutes long and tell a complete story. Later, 15 minute daily episodes were used with a serialized-type format.


Two Thousand Plus

science fiction

Two Thousand Plus was the second adult sci-fi anthology to come out in 1950. The other was Dimension X. Good series, just not great.


Vic & Sade

serial comedy

Each weekday this series opened a listening-window on the lives of the Gook family for fifteen minutes. Not a soap opera; not even a serial, each quarter hour vignette was a story unto itself. Over the years the listening audience go to know Vic, the father; Sade, the mother; Rush, the son and Uncle Fletcher. Vic and Sade was humorous without being comedic. Entertaining program. Nothing else was quite like it in the Golden Age.


Voyage of the Scarlet Queen


Adventure on the high seas told through the log of the ship's captain.


Whistler, The


“I am the Whistler and I know many things, for I walk by night. I know many strange tales, many secrets 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." The Whistler had similarities with both the Shadow and the Mysterious Traveler. He was the teller of the tale, the accuser, the conscience.


X Minus One

science fiction

"From the far horizons of the unknown come transcribed tales of new dimensions in time and space. These are stories of the future, adventures in which you'll live in a million could-be years on a thousand may-be worlds." When the sci-fi anthology series Dimension X returned to network radio it had a new name: X Minus One. Many of the old stories were retold with even the old scripts themselves being reused. Additionally, many other science fiction stories were told. The recordings of the X minus One shows are superior to the those of the older series. However, sci-fi aficionados disagree as to which series was the better. You choose. Definitely a must-listen for any sci-fi fan.


You Are There drama

CBS took us back in time each week via their newsroom. Sometimes we were back at Gettysburg or at the Lincoln White House. Can be very entertaining. Great for kids.


You Bet Your Life

quiz show

Groucho Marx's quasi quiz show. "Say the secret word and split a hundred dollars." People didn't go on YBYL to win money, there wasn't much to win. No, they went on the show to be teased by the master, Groucho (and maybe have their fifteen minutes of fame.) Just as entertaining on the radio as it was on television--maybe more so.