Monday, October 24, 2005

Old Time Radio

Yesterday on our drive to Galveston, Judy and I listened to a couple of radio shows. The first was an episode of The Six Shooter, starring James Stewart. This a show I'd never heard on radio, as it wasn't broadcast until around the time we got our TV set and weren't listening to the radio in the evenings any more. The episode we heard was "Johnny Springer," about Britt Poncet (Stewart) and a sheriff tracking down the killer whose name is the title of the episode. Nothing new, but Stewart was really good as the hero/narrator.

We also listened to an episode of Suspense. This was a really popular show at my house when I was a kid, and everyone knew what your were talking about when you intoned, "a tale well calculated to keep you in . . . suspense!" The one we heard starred Howard Duff as a radio-show writer whose boss tells him he's no longer any good. Duff, who had ambitions of being a great novelist and feels he lowered himself to write radio shows for money, is naturally resentful, so he decides to kill his boss and record the murder for a radio show. Suspense nearly always had a twist ending, and so does this one (it even kids the idea), but it's not much of a twist. Anybody who hears it will probably guess the ending about five minutes into the show. Heck, you've probably guessed it already. Still, it was fun. Duff was one of my favorite radio actors in Sam Spade, another one we never missed, and it was nice to hear him in this bad-guy role.

3 comments:

  1. I can remember listening to "Suspense" when I was about 4 years old. My favorites though were "The Shadow" and "Mr. Keene, Tracer of Lost Persons." My brother and I would argue about who would sit closest to the radio.

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  2. Anonymous8:08 PM

    I started listening to THE SIX SHOOTER a couple years ago on local radio...and then found the shows on the web somewhere as mp3s. They are really very good and Britt is a much more complex character than you'd expect from a radio western. I suspect this was a show very much influenced by the radio GUNSMOKE. While Britt was easy-going, he sure rode into a lot of ugliness.

    Lee Goldberg

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  3. Todd Mason1:26 AM

    Happily, some years ago I got to listen to most if not all the episodes of THE SIX SHOOTER via DC's WAMU-FM showcase of radio drama and variety, THE BIG BROADCAST, a Sunday-night staple for decades (GUNSMOKE's a staple, there, as well, as are any number of other good shows, such as the JOHNNY DOLLAR series, even if I never have developed a taste for LUM AND ABNER). The sound files and streaming audio all over the web have done for dramatic radio what eBay has done for pulps, I think...though some of the more recent adventures, notably the NPR series EARPLAY, seem to be rather poorly represented. Most of the best western series seem to have been creatures of the '50s; I was rather startled to learn some time back that CBS was running JOHNNY DOLLAR, SUSPENSE and one other weekly till 1962, albeit they were the last regularly scheduled network drama for some time, not counting BOB AND RAY sketch comedy nor the inspirational drama on Christian stations, but barely a decade passed before CBS and NPR were experimenting with new series, and 1979 and '80 even saw regular (if uneven at best) regularly-scheduled western drama with the SEARS RADIO THEATER/MUTUAL RADIO THEATER.

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