RARA-AVIS: Radio drama

From: Todd Mason (foxbrick@yahoo.com)
Date: 12 Mar 2010

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    Well, I have been posting the web archive links here occasionally, I think, to WAMU (in DC)'s Sunday night package of vintage radio drama, THE BIG BROADCAST...which features GUNSMOKE and YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR (an often excellent and hardboiled series) weekly, along with DRAGNET (also better on radio on balance than on tv, and certainly better than the latter '60s tv revival) with other items of interest to this list:


    Of course, there are any number of other ways to hear at least samples of the good, bad, and brilliant shows running up to contemporary drama (often on the BBC, such as their spoken word-oriented Radio 4 http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/

    and any number of others (occasionally Pacifica Radio in the States, and various other projects here...while older radio drama can be heard readily on sites such www.otr.net --unfortuately many of the recordings archived there are off rather battered transcription discs, but others arent').

    My own favorite among "our" writers here to get all over radio is Robert Arthur, who worked on any number of series including his own THE MYSTERIOUS TRAVELLER, and Anthony Boucher, who with Denis Green did among other work the notable SHERLOCK HOLMES series (far less hb than much of Arthur's work, but nonetheless). There were a number of solid adaptations and spinoffs of Hammett, Chandler and their peers. And GUNSMOKE was indeed almost always at least worth hearing, during its eight-year run (and recall that MANHUNT's publishers produced a GUNSMOKE magazine, albeit only two issues...dunno if CBS chased it out of existence more than sales figures did). GUNSMOKE was on CBS radio till 1960, albeit with some repeats and re-recordings of older scripts in the final seasons, and JOHNNY DOLLAR and SUSPENSE were still on the network till 1962...CBS was, of course, the network most amenable to reintroducing drama in the '70s, with the CBS RADIO MYSTERY THEATER, and eventually the shortlived GENERAL MILLS RADIO ADVENTURE THEATER and the SEARS RADIO THEATER, the MYSTERY and SEARS series somewhat insanely produced as "strips" for every weeknight, and not averaging as good as SUSPENSE or ESCAPE in the '50s, but with some interesting work...while NPR offered occasionally relevant work through EARPLAY and other packages, a few other commercial productions such as Rod Serling's ZERO HOUR ran briefly, and particularly in the 1970s CBC radio was producing a lot of good drama.

    And it's still around, if you look for it.

    Todd Mason (John Hocking--I'd ask your friends who shy away from old radio drama if they have the same response to fiction or film of a similar age...if so, just give them the dope slap and move on...if not, I think your point is already made.)

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