Old-Time Radio

A place to gab about OTR… or even newer time radio programs.

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In my early teen-age years, I remember being in the car with the family, late at night, as we drove to (or from) visiting relatives, and pops would play the radio so we could be creeped out by the CBS Mystery Theater, which ran in the 70s.

That creaking door, the all-knowing host (E.G. Marshall) - the urgency in the actor’s voices had you on the edge of your seat, and while you couldn’t see the story, your imagination would run wild. Man, it was intense, I loved it.

Along with that, they used to play OTR shows in my neck of the woods, and I was especially fond of comedy and scares/mysteries.

Later came cassette collections and now, you can hear them online.

A few faves…

  • Fibber McGee and Molly
  • Our Miss Brooks (Better on radio, never much cared for the TV version, even though it had the same actors)
  • The Aldrich Family (I think I liked this, I remember listening to it a lot)
  • The Shadow
  • The Whistler
  • Lights Out
  • The Inner Sanctum
  • Suspense

Arch Oboler has been spoken about on the forum of late, he was known for Lights Out – “Chicken Heart” was a biggie as was “The Dark”. Course when I was a kid it was all about the scares, and being disturbed, later I learned that Obler was slipping in anti-fascist messages into the program… and “The Dark” becomes something else in that light.

This is a 1962 remake (since the original is long lost)

The Simpsons parodied this at the end of “Nightmare Cafeteria”

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I don’t mean this to be an advertisement but I discovered a bunch of shows on the RadioClassics channel on SiriusXM. Among the shows they played they had Burns & Allen, Suspense, The Whistler, Yours Truly Johnny Dollar, Gunsmoke, Fiber McGee & Molly, The Great Gildersleeve, Escape!, Our Miss Brooks, Dragnet, and the list goes on.

I never had a feel for how big radio was until I found this channel. Radio was the theater of the mind until television took over.

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Nightfall remains my favorite. No one does horror quite as well as the Canadians.

https://archive.org/details/NightfallUPGRADES

“The Porch Light” and “The Book Of Hell” are two incredible stories from the series, and there are loads more.

Other radio shows I’m a fan of include:

  • Lights Out
  • Suspense
  • The Goon Show
  • The Bickersons
  • Flywheel, Shyster, and Flywheel (a recreation of the unproduced Marx Brother scripts)
  • In Our Time (BBC)

And for modern stuff in the same vein, I highly recommend the Lovecraft adaptations from Dark Adventure Radio Theatre.

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Thanks for posting the Nightfall link, I’ll check that out.

I’m listening to “Sub-Basement” from Lights Out right now.

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I listened to X-Minus One all the time and went out of my way to seek out the stories the plays were based on. Sometimes they were way, way different (like the adaptation of James Blish’s Surface Tension), but, as dated as they are, I quite enjoy them.

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Also, my absolute favorite OTR is the incredibly surreal Vic & Sade, which has been almost totally forgotten. It’s a parody of sitcoms where people speak in advertising language and the house next door has a Lovecraftian nightmare in the attic (amongst other things).

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That sounds really cool, will have to hunt it up!

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A lot of episodes are missing, but some are here- Vic and Sade (1) : Paul Rhymer : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

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@JakeGittes already described most of my old-time radio memories … CBS Mystery Theater, creaking door, lots of bass clarinet for some reason. My folks also had a some K-Tel-esque collection of old-time radio on 8-track that we used to listen to on road trips. I recall The Shadow more than anything else but don’t have any specific memories of storylines.

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Come iiiiinnn… I’m E. G. Marshall.

Ever hear Nightfall? It’s like the Canadian version of CBS Radio Mystery Theater.

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I haven’t but will check it out. I’m picturing creepy, but very polite about it.

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Gotta love the Internet Archive!

Edit: Nightfall

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I wish I could remember the name of the person and the show, I think it was a more modern (late 70s), one-and-done type special - when I told my father about it, he mentioned that the star of the piece was an old-time comedian, maybe Phil Harris or Henry Morgan or someone like it. But it was one of the funniest things I’ve ever heard. Smart, biting… kills me that I can’t remember specifics because I’d love to find and hear that again. (and looking up those names doesn’t reveal anything)

Another guy I thought was funny was Fred Allen. Very absurdist type humor.

I also liked Jack Benny

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Benny’s “war” with Fred Allen was also pretty entertaining. Mocking each other on their respective shows was a lot of fun.

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Look up Jeff Green for some old by now but not golden era canuckery.

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Nightfall is quite gory, unlike CBSRMT. I remember “Hands Off”, I can’t listen to that again.

Quiet Please is my favorite old series, and I run a website about it. The CBS Radio Workshop, X-Minus One, Escape and Destination Freedom are some other good oldies that aren’t dated. I got into CBSRMT during the 1998 revival. But mostly I listen to BBC Radio 4 Extra these days, a mix of old and new.

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Those are good shows as well, especially Escape. I’ve mentioned this episode before from that show, still a classic. Vincent Price!

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This the stuff? Seems promising, thanks!

https://archive.org/details/soundings-by-jeff-green

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I’m getting a lot of ideas, lots of stuff to check out.

I looked at your website Lembach, I’ll be giving those a listen.

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